If you are in the Nashville, Tennessee area, then you are likely in the same position I am this morning. You tossed, turned, and woke up to wall-shaking claps of thunder all night long. So, naturally, when I officially succumbed to the madness and got out of bed, I had stormy songs on the mind.
What kind of storm playlist do you have if it does not include Garth Brooks‘ 1991 hit, “The Thunder Rolls“? An incomplete one; and one void of major early nineties controversy.
“The Thunder Rolls” was co-written by Brooks and Pat Alger and appeared on Brooks’ 1990 album, No Fences. While it was previously recorded by Tanya Tucker, it remained under cover until the release of a 1995 box set. By then, Brooks had already brewed a storm with his version, taking ownership of one of his signature songs.
The controversy is somewhat laden in the track itself, as the tune touches on topics that were pretty taboo back when it was released. However, it was the music video that crossed the country music lines in the days of yore, placing it on television blacklists.
The lyrics discuss a married man who has disappeared on a rainy night to go someplace forbidden. His wife, who sits at home staring out the window, has no doubt that infidelity has entered their relationship. Rather than leaving the man, she becomes violent and acts on her rage, making sure no woman can have him. The third verse, which is performed at shows and has only been released as live recordings, describes the scene where the wife pulls a gun from her drawer to end the matter once and for all.
Brooks portrayed the husband in the music video, wanting creative control over the amount of hatred he could stir up for the man from the audience. Though he did not include the obviously violent third verse in the video, the treatment hinted at the outcome. Immediately, television channels dedicated to videos played the short film-like production, raving about its honesty.
Then, responses took a turn.
After one channel, TNN, pulled the video from its rotation, CMT followed. In the wake of country music banning it from its channels, VH-1 picked it up and added it to its pop-based format.
Regardless of the country music channels removing “The Thunder Rolls” from its lists and refusing to play it, the video went on to win Brooks a CMA Award for Video of the Year. It also received a nod from the 1991 GRAMMYs when it was nominated for Best Music Video – Short Form.
Watch the controversial, hard-to-locate Garth Brooks “The Thunder Rolls” video here and let us know what you think!