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Music / Gary Allan

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A Country Music singer hailing from La Mirada, California. Gary Allan Herzberg (born December 5, 1967) began playing in local bars with his dad, drawing influence from Bakersfield country such as Buck Owens. In 1996, Decca Records picked him up and he issued Used Heart for Sale and It Would Be You. Both albums had one Top 10 hit each, but singles were otherwise unsuccessful and reception mixed.

After Decca closed, he was taken over by MCA Records, where he broke through with a string of successful albums: Smoke Rings in the Dark, Alright Guy (which produced his first #1 hit "Man to Man"), and See If I Care.

In 2005, Allan's wife committed suicide, leading to the very dark but very well-received Tough All Over, driven by a cover of Vertical Horizon's "Best I Ever Had". Living Hard, Get Off on the Pain, and Set You Free followed in the similarly dark and moody mode, with the last of these producing his biggest hit to date, "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)". Diminishing returns on singles have stalled the release of any subsequent albums until 2021.

Allan's music mixes honky-tonk sounds with a rougher rock edge, and impassioned vocals.


  • Used Heart for Sale (1996)
  • It Would Be You (1998)
  • Smoke Rings in the Dark (1999)
  • Alright Guy (2001)
  • See If I Care (2003)
  • Tough All Over (2005)
  • Greatest Hits (2006)
  • Living Hard (2007)
  • Get Off on the Pain (2010)
  • Set You Free (2013)
  • Ruthless (2021)

Tropes present:

  • B-Side: "Right Where I Need to Be" was originally the B-side to "Smoke Rings in the Dark". After "Loving You Against My Will" was released, a few stations began playing "Right Where I Need to Be" anyway, so the singles were hastily changed.
  • Blowing Smoke Rings: Referenced in "Smoke Rings in the Dark".
  • Bowdlerise: His cover of Todd Snider's "Alright Guy" softens a few of the lyrics: "Now maybe I'm dirty and maybe I smoke a little dope / Hey, it ain't like I'm goin' on TV and tearin' up pictures of the Pope" became "This one time for medicinal purposes, they forced me to smoke some dope / I'm pretty sure I can still be the President, but I don't think I'll ever get to be the Pope". Surprisingly, the line referring to a group of police officers as "a couple of dicks" was uncensored, despite being muted in the radio edit of Snider's version.
  • Darker and Edgier: Tough All Over was clearly influenced by his wife's suicide, and it shows.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Before Tough All Over, his voice was softer, his material was generally more upbeat (with occasional exceptions such as "Smoke Rings in the Dark" and "No Judgment Day"), and he wore a cowboy hat. However, after his wife committed suicide in 2005, he seemed to undergo a permanently Darker and Edgier sound, with heavier production, raspier vocals, and melancholy lyrics. He also lost the hat.
  • Hidden Track: It Would Be You features the closing track "No Judgment Day", a hidden track based on a real story about the murder of a restaurant owner in Texas.
  • Intercourse with You: "Nothing On but the Radio".
  • List Song: "Songs About Rain" lists off various songs that mention rain, reflecting the narrator's mood.
  • Retcon: Partway into the chart run of "Right Where I Need to Be", Billboard shrank the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart from 75 to 60 positions. As a result, every song on the charts at the time had its number of weeks altered to count only weeks spent at #60 or higher. This meant that by the new rules, "Right Where I Need to Be" would only have 16 weeks counted instead of 23, thus allowing it to stay on and eventually climb to #5.
  • Slut-Shaming: "Waste of a Whiskey Drink" has been accused of this, as it's about a man telling another not to buy a woman a drink because she'll just dump him later on.
  • Vocal Evolution: His voice became more raspy around Tough All Over, and he began using falsetto more often.