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Brooks & Dunn, ‘You Can’t Take the Honky Tonky Out of the Girl’ — Story Behind the Lyrics

Frederick Breedon/

The Boot caught up with songwriter Bob DiPiero to discuss the 2004 Brooks & Dunn hit, ‘You Can’t Take the Honky Tonk Out of the Girl,’ which spent five weeks at No. 3 on the country singles charts. Bob co-wrote the tune with Bart Allmand.

I’m such a TV and movie junkie. I’m addicted to the moving images on those screens! I went to see this movie called ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’ I didn’t like this movie, because it seemed to be every kind of country cliché and redneck cliché. I thought it was about as original as a piece of toast! [laughs] It just made me mad, because I’m not from the South but I got here as soon as I could. I kind of took offense to it.

So I was getting up to leave the theater, and one of the characters in the movie was talking about some redneck girl and said, “Well you can take the girl out of the honky tonk, but you can’t take the honky tonk out of the girl.” I was literally walking out of the theater and went, “Well that is interesting!” [laughs]

When I was writing with my co-writer, Bart Allmand, I just invented this story about this girl. The model for this story lives in Branson, Missouri, and she’s that girl in the song. We just took off on this story and came up with this song. It’s got a got a cool Keith Richards/country/rockin’ thing that Brooks & Dunn do so well. The song just grew its own wings and flew up the charts.

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