Friends in Low Places

 Although the term “friends” has been the subject of much literature, perhaps the most infamous use is that by Garth Brooks in his song “Friends in Low Places.”

The topic of “friends” has been the subject of many popular stories, poems and songs. Perhaps one of the most infamous uses of “friends” in a modern American song was when it was used rather paradoxically by Garth Brooks. Troyal Garth Brooks is a successful American country music artist whose progressive approach to including elements of rock and roll music in country music recordings and live performances has earned him huge popularity around the world. His first album was released in 1989 and reached number 2 in the US country album chart while his subsequent recordings have earned him dozens of awards over the years as his work has crossed over into the mainstream pop genre and exposed country music to a much larger audience.

Friends in Low Places" is a song released by Brooks in 1990 that took only eight weeks to reach #1 on the Billboard Hit Chart where it stayed for four weeks, making it one of Brook’s biggest hits and eventually one of the top favorite tunes among his legion of fans. Brooks and the song's co-composers DeWayne Blackwell and Bud Lee, got the idea for the song that eventually became one of country music’s all-time greatest hits when they ran out of cash at a popular Nashville eatery and when the check came Lee said “Don't worry. I have friends in low places. I know the cook.” The group recognized that the line "friends in low places" had potential, but they didn't act upon it until Brooks included it on his hit “No Fences” album.

The tune is a ballad about a cowboy who turns up at the engagement party or wedding reception of an old flame. The song is a crowd pleaser whenever Brooks introduces it with the recognizable four note arpeggio on his acoustic guitar that always brings roars of applause. Right from the beginning, the song caused a commotion in the press as Brooks was receiving constant letters from high school students saying that they wanted to use it as their "class song," only to have it opposed by their principals because the song is about escaping into drinking. In time, Brooks agreed with the principals and said “We've had a lot of fun with that song, but it's nothing to base your values on.”

When performed live, Brooks always invites the audience to sing the mysterious third verse which is only performed live and contains a mild expletive that is often confused and sung incorrectly. The actual lyrics to the mysterious and infamous third verse are:

“I guess I was wrong
I just don't belong
But then, I've been there before
And everything is alright
I'll just say goodnight
And I'll show myself to the door
I didn't mean to cause a big scene
Just wait 'til I finish this glass
Then sweet little lady
I'll head back to the bar
And you can kiss my ass”

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