Mark Cooke – “Can’t Cheat in a Small Town”

Sam Gazdziak | July 22nd, 2010

Mark CookeSongwriters: Brad Wolf, Abby Boykin and Don Goodman

Country songs these days would have you believe that living in a small town is as close to paradise as you can get. Living in the holler, the sticks, the backwoods–whatever you want to call it–is a nirvana filled with bonfires, pretty preacher’s daughters and general stores, and all city dwellers are just jealous. Of course, there’s a downside, which is explored in the debut single from Texan Mark Cooke. In “You Can’t Cheat in a Small Town,” released on Cotton Valley Records, the drawback to living where everybody knows everyone is that everybody knows everyone, and a secret rendezvous with a new guy isn’t kept secret for very long.

Think of it as the male version of Miranda Lambert’s “White Liar,” where the boyfriend gets to play the part of the aggrieved party. Like Lambert, Cooke even hints that he already got his revenge by meeting someone new. That’s not to call it a ripoff, as this song is as much a description of small-town life as it is a broken relationship. “There’s probably someone watching you right now,” he sings, adding a dash of creepiness missing from other songs about country living. The arrangement is more on the amped-up side of the country music spectrum, but the lead guitar never becomes obnoxiously loud, and Cooke gives it a solid, East Texas twang-filled performance.

Cooke fronted his own Cooke County Line Band in Texas before trying his luck in Nashville. Now he’s immediately thrown into the big Nashville pond with all the other would-be stars, and he’s doing it on a record label that’s promoting its first ever single. It’s not an enviable situation, but judging from this song, Cooke has some talent that bears watching.

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  1. [...] New artist Mark Cooke released a video for his debut single, “Can’t Cheat In A Small Town,” a song Sam reviewed back in July. [...]
  1. Jason
    July 22, 2010 at 8:25 am

    I missed that single when it came out last month. Good tune! Thanks for the heads-up.

  2. Thomas
    July 22, 2010 at 8:54 am

    …quite pleasantly, although not very originally, arranged piece of wisdom. but even if it reaches no. 1, there’ll always be someone who thinks he/she can. bless ‘em – what would country music be without them.

  3. Ben Foster
    July 22, 2010 at 10:02 am

    I like it. It’s a nice twist on two familiar concepts – cheating songs and small-town songs. I wonder if country radio will pick up on this one – of course, it might not be inane enough for country radio.

  4. Rick
    July 22, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    That bombastic intro was almost enough to get me to tune out even before the vocals kicked in. I’m not a fan of Eric Church but I have to admit Eric’s music is far superior to this gussied up, run of the mill tripe. If Mark is aiming for the Jason Aldean fan base though, he might have a shot.

  5. Leeann
    July 22, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    His voice/style actually reminded me of Eric Church.

  6. Mike Wimmer
    July 22, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    I like it. Quite solid and hell, any song that doesnt wank itself at the idea of small town living is refreshing.

  7. Ben Foster
    July 23, 2010 at 8:25 am

    I’m usually not a fan of the guitar riffs in country songs, but I think in this particular song they were just subdued enough to keep from drowing out the pedal steel, and to keep from ruining the song. Besides that, the song had great lyrics. Just try listening to this after listening to “She’s Country,” “Backwoods,” or “Eight Second Ride” – it ain’t that bad.

  8. Darlene
    July 24, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Well I have just seen Mark Cooke at Leon’s Steak House in a live proformace and he is REALLY GREAT I had a really nice time. I have lived across the street from his Grandmother and Grandfather JB & Myra Cost and they say he’s a really Great singer and he’s gonna go far. I met him and he’s just as nice as they say. I also got to hear his first cd with lots of wonderful songs and my favorite is Lovin You. I decicate this love song to my husband Ronnie. This cd came out in 2003 so you should try to find it. All songs written by Mark Cooke. So I hope to see him again and hear his new cd that will be out this year. His voice is like fine wine it gets better with time. July 23, 2010
    Dog Mom

  9. Stormy
    July 24, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Grandparents rock!

  10. PaulaW
    July 26, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Sounds like a remake of Ricky Skaggs “Dont Cheat In Our Hometown”. Ricky did it better.

  11. Jon
    July 26, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Sounds like a remake of Ricky Skaggs “Dont Cheat In Our Hometown”. Ricky did it better.

    As I’m sure Ricky would be quick to point out if he were in the habit of reading blogs like this one, “Don’t Cheat In Our Hometown” was written by Ray Pennington and first recorded by the Stanley Brothers back in 1963.

  12. Jon G.
    July 26, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    I like it. It’s a solid song.

  13. mark cooke
    September 8, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Hey Folks!
    I just found this blog and thought the comments were pretty interesting! Ya’ll probably know that that i didn’t write this one, but I enjoyed hearing the song the first time and thought it sounded great so we tracked it…I sure hope that all that hear will enjoy the tune as well.We maded a video last week in Shelbyviile and Bell Buckle,Tenn and it should be posted and played in a few weeks. The whole video was pretty cool from production crew to the folks that live in those two towns…and what beutiful country too.Ya’ll be sure to tell me what you think about it when it comes out and hollar back at me with any questions you might have.
    mark cooke

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