Cody Johnson got some help on a new version of his song "Dear Rodeo," with Reba McEntire stepping in to harmonize with the Texas-born singer. Johnson wrote "Dear Rodeo" with Dan Couch as a tribute to his former career of bull-riding, and the song is featured on Johnson's 2019 major-label debut album, Ain't Nothin' To It. The song reads as a letter to a former lover, and while the narrator would "do it all again," they know they would "still have to let you go."
"The story behind ‘Dear Rodeo’ is more a story about life and less about rodeo," Johnson said in a statement. "I feel like everybody has their own ‘Dear Rodeo’ story and when I found out that Reba was impacted by this song enough to want to do a duet, it was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my career."
"Reba adds a certain level of authenticity to this song that makes it so special," he continued. "I love it when people sing songs about rodeo and cowboys, but there’s a little bit of a different feel when you know that somebody can walk the walk they’re talking. Neither one of us has a problem saying ‘Hey, this is where I come from, you can check the credentials, we’ve got the scars to prove it.’ I think that the honesty is really going to speak to people, and hopefully we can help people with this song."
McEntire also grew up around the rodeo, competing in barrel racing when she was young. "It was a thrill to get to sing ‘Dear Rodeo’ with Cody because we’re both from the rodeo world," she shared. "I grew up in a rodeo family, I’m a third-generation rodeo brat. So the song means a lot to me because I did leave rodeo to be in the country music business. I sure miss it."
After harmonizing with Johnson for the majority of the song, McEntire takes the lead on the last verse, before Johnson returns to finish out the track with her. "Dear Rodeo / I'd like to think you miss me too / But I know you don't," the final lyrics read. "Oh, but that don't change the past / And that don't change the truth / I'm still in love with you / Dear Rodeo."
"Dear Rodeo" was Top 3 most-added at country radio upon impact and has earned more than 40 million global streams to date. In 2018, Johnson performed the song at RodeoHouston, which he has sold out for two consecutive years.