Music

'Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)': The Story Behind John Michael Montgomery's Fast-Talking Hit

Screengrab via YouTube

In 1995, John Michael Montgomery showed off his fast-singing skills in his spirited and humorous single, "Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)." The song, which has become a classic singalong in country music, finds Montgomery attending the Grundy County auction and spotting a lady he'd like to take home with him. He then uses auctioneer language to describe how he feels about the woman.

"I'm goin' once, goin' twice, I'm sold to the lady in the second row / She's an eight, she's a nine, she's a ten I know / She's got ruby red lips, blond hair, blue eyes / And I'm about to bid my heart good-bye," sings Montgomery.

The tune hit the No. 1 spot in both the US and Canada and has become one of the singer's best-known songs. "Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)" was written by Richard Fagan and Robb Royer, and it was inspired by a conversation they had while at the Boardwalk Café in Tennessee. Fagan explained to NSAI and The Tennessean that Royer had met a "slow-talking Tennesseean guy" who worked as an auctioneer, and that's what the idea for the song was born.

"He said, 'Could we write a song about an auction?' I said, 'Sure. I know there's only one song -- 'The Auctioneer' by Leroy Van Dyke, and I don't really know how it goes, so let's have at it,'" Fagan said of his conversation with Royer.

The hook of the song is undoubtedly when Montgomery sings the "goin' once, goin' twice" line, and Fagan said that line almost didn't make it in the song.

"We got a good start on it, maybe a first verse and part of the chorus. I said, 'Hey, man, how about we say, 'I'm going once, going twice, sold?' And he said, 'No,'" said Fagan of writing the song with Royer. "But he called me up about a half hour later [and changed his mind]."

Read More: 'I Love the Way You Love Me': The Story Behind John Michael Montgomery's First No. 1 Hit

Fagan explained that the music industry at the time was looking for songs similar to Montgomery's previous hit, "Be My Baby Tonight," and the songwriter believes they took "Sold (The Grundy Country Auction Incident)" to the next level.

"The tip sheets at the time were looking for 'A la 'Be My Baby Tonight,'" said Fagan. "You've got to out-do it. And gun to my head, I couldn't have done it, but once we wrote that song I knew we had done it."

The official music video for the song shows Montgomery at the Grundy Country Auction and proclaiming his love for the girl at the event. The song has gone down as one of Montgomery's greatest hits, alongside "Cowboy Love," "I Swear," "I Can Love You Like That," "Life's A Dance," "No Man's Land," and others.

"Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)" Lyrics:

Well I went down to the Grundy County Auction,
Where I saw something I just had to have
My mind told me I should proceed with caution,
but my heart said go ahead and make a bid on thatAnd I said, "Hey pretty lady! Won't you gimme a sign?
I'd give anything to make you mine, all mine,
I'll do your biddin' and be at your beck and call"
Yeah I've never seen anyone lookin' so fine,
Man I gotta have her, she's a one of a kind
I'm goin' once, goin' twice
I'm sold to the lady in the second row
She's an eight, she's a nine, she's a ten I know
She's got ruby red lips, blond hair, blue eyes
And I'm about to bid my heart good-bye!Well, the auctioneer was goin' 'bout a mile a minute
He was taking bids and callin' them out loud
And I guess I was really gettin' in it,
'Cause I just shouted out above the crowdAnd I said, "Hey pretty lady! Won't you gimme a sign?
I'd give anything to make you mine, all mine,
I'll do your biddin' and be at your beck and call"
Yeah I've never seen anyone lookin' so fine,
Man I gotta have her, she's a one of a kind
I'm goin' once, goin' twice,
I'm sold to the lady in the long black dress,
Well she won my heart, it was no contest
With her ruby red lips, blond hair, blue eyes
Well I'm about to bid my heart good-bye!

Yeah, we found love on the auction block and I hauled her heart away.
Now we still love to laugh about, the way we met that day!

When I said "Hey pretty lady! Won't you gimme a sign?
I'd give anything to make you mine, all mine,
I'll do your biddin' and be at your beck and call"
Yeah I've never seen anyone lookin' so fine,
Man I gotta have her, she's a one of a kind
I'm goin' once, goin' twice,
I'm sold to the lady in the second row,
She's an eight, she's a nine, she's a ten I know
She's got ruby red lips, blond hair, blue eyes
And I'm about to bid my heart good-bye!

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'Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)': The Story Behind John Michael Montgomery's Fast-Talking Hit