Music

Country Flashback: Diamond Rio’s ‘Meet in the Middle’ Rewrites History

Diamond Rio made country music history when 1991’s “Meet in the Middle” became the first debut single by a country band to top the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. The song’s mix of Hammond organ, banjo and mandolin accompaniment with catchy lyrics positioned Diamond Rio as Nashville’s new Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. That’s to say they were old-time pickers with an ear for modern country hits.

The Chapin Hartford, Jim Foster and Don Pfrimmer co-write follows a couple from pre-teen puppy love to their eventual marriage. Early on, they live far enough apart (700 fence posts, to be exact) that they needed to identify an old Georgia pine tree as a meet-up spot in between their front yards. As a married couple, that same old pine tree symbolized the need to always reach for common ground in marital disputes and mutual decisions. Funny enough, the couple sought the same level of openness sung about by country singer Maren Morris and her pop star collaborators Zedd and Grey — although that song definitely has a different target audience.

A music video tells a pretty straightforward version of the story, interspersing clips of singer Marty Roe acting out the lyrics between footage of the band performing the song. Jimmy Olander in particular stands out with his checkerboard shirt and guitar. He looks like he was ready to step in if Cheap Trick needed a replacement for Rick Nielsen.

“Meet in the Middle” netted a Grammy nomination for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal, losing out to The Judds’ “Love Can Build a Bridge.” It was the first of 13 career nominations, including the group’s lone win for 2011’s Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album, The Reason. In addition, the song became the first of five number one hits, a list anchored by 2001’s “One More Day.”

“Meet in the Middle” Lyrics:

It was seven hundred fence posts from your place to ours
Neither one of us was old enough to drive a car
Sometimes it was raining, sometimes it would shine
We wore out that gravel road between your house and mine

I’d start walking your way, you’d start walking mine
We’d meet in the middle, ‘neath that old Georgia pine
We’d gain a lot of ground if we’d both give a little
There ain’t no road too long when we meet in the middle

It’s been seven years tomorrow since we said our vows
Under that old pine tree, you ought to see it now
Standing in the back yard reminding me and you
That if we don’t see eye to eye there’s something we can do

I’d start walking your way, you’d start walking mine
We’d meet in the middle, ‘neath that old Georgia pine
We’d gain a lot of ground if we’d both give a little
There ain’t no road too long when we meet in the middle

Babe I love the way we work it out
That’s what love is all about

I’d start walking your way, you’d start walking mine
We’d meet in the middle, ‘neath that old Georgia pine
We’d gain a lot of ground if we’d both give a little
Ain’t no road too long when we meet in the middle

I’d start walking your way, you’d start walking mine
We’d meet in the middle, ‘neath that old Georgia pine
We’d gain a lot of ground if we’d both give a little
Ain’t no road too long when we meet in the middle

I’d start walking your way, you’d start walking mine
We’d meet in the middle, ‘neath that old Georgia pine
We’d gain a lot of ground if we’d both give a little
Ain’t no road too long when we meet in the middle

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Country Flashback: Diamond Rio’s ‘Meet in the Middle’ Rewrites History