I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool

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"I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool"
Single by Barbara Mandrell
from the album Barbara Mandrell Live
B-side "A Woman's Got a Right (To Change His Mind)"
Released April 16, 1981
Recorded c. March 1981
Nashville, Tennessee
Genre Country pop
Length 3:40
Label MCA
Writer(s) Kye Fleming
Dennis Morgan
Producer(s) Tom Collins
Barbara Mandrell singles chronology
"Love Is Fair"
(1981)
"I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool"
(1981)
"Wish You Were Here"
(1981)

"I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool" is a song written by Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan, recorded by American country music artist Barbara Mandrell. It was released in April 1981 as lead single from the album Barbara Mandrell Live. It featured a guest appearance by country artist George Jones who was not credited on the record charts. The song reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in July 1981 and peaked at #14 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks chart.

Background and context[edit]

"I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool" was a song produced by Tom Collins. Mandrell recorded the song as a "live" performance; however the track was actually recorded in the studio with an audience applause track inserted over various sections of the song to fit into the context of the Live album. The song also featured a guest appearance on part of the chorus by country vocalist, George Jones.[1] The song was released during a period of rapid growth in the popularity of country music related to a dance-focused form of the genre called neocountry that was popularized, in part, by the movie Urban Cowboy. In the song, the singer explains her relationship with country music as being authentic and part of long tradition, and not a part of some fad or, worse, something that's merely "cool."

I was country when country wasn't cool
I was country from my head down to my boots
I still act and look the same
What you see ain't nothing new
I was country when country wasn't cool

The song was released as the tenth track on Mandrell's 1981 live album. Unlike the studio single version, the album version of the song was recorded during a live concert at the Roy Acuff Theater of Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee. Applause from the audience can be heard in the beginning and end of the song, as well as when Jones makes his guest performance and when Mandrell references Jones in the lyrics in the early part of the song.[2]

Chart performance[edit]

"I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool" was released as Mandrell's second single of the year in mid 1981. The song became a major hit shortly after its release, reaching number one on the Billboard Magazine Hot Country Songs chart on July 4 of that year. George Jones was never credited as a featured vocalist on the recording charts at the time of its release. It has since been considered to be one of Mandrell's signature recordings during her career. The single helped her 1981 live album, Barbara Mandrell Live certify gold by the Recording Industry Association of America and also helped her win the Country Music Association's "Entertainer of the Year" award in 1981.[3]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1981) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs 1
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 14
Preceded by
"Blessed Are the Believers"
by Anne Murray
Billboard Hot Country Singles
number one single

July 4, 1981
Succeeded by
"Fire and Smoke"
by Earl Thomas Conley

Parodies[edit]

  • American country music parody artist Cledus T. Judd released a parody of "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool" titled "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Pop" on his 2003 album A Six Pack of Judd.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Country Music Discographies - Barbara Mandrell". Country Discography. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  2. ^ "Barbara Mandrell > Live". Allmusic. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  3. ^ Coyne, Kevin John. "100 Greatest Women - #14: Barbara Mandrell". Country Universe. Retrieved 5 January 2010.