100 Greatest Men: #68. Mark Chesnutt

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

Even among the new traditionalists of the early nineties, Mark Chesnutt stood out as a traditionalist, bringing pure country to the radio dial for more than a decade.

Chesnutt was born into a musical family, as the son of singer Bob Chesnutt.   Born and raised in Beaumont, Texas, he quickly became a fixture on the local country music scene.   His dad encouraged the music bug, and while still in his early twenties, he was already recording for local independent labels.  His debut album, Doing My Country Thing, was released in 1988 on Axbar Records.

Chesnutt headlined at the Beaumont club Cutter’s, a joint that would also launch the career of Tracy Byrd.   His growing popularity garnered buzz in Nashville, and he landed a recording contract with MCA.   He was a big hit right out of the gate, scoring a top five hit with the now-classic weeper, “Too Cold at Home.”

Chesnutt’s album of the same title went platinum, and featured an additional four top ten hits.   His next two releases extended his streak to twelve consecutive top ten hits, including several #1 singles.  One of those chart-toppers was a cover of the fairly obscure Hank Wililams Jr. single, “I’ll Think of Something.”   Chesnutt’s musical knowledge helped him flesh out many of his studio albums with lesser-known tracks from classic country artists.

The industry recognized Chesnutt’s talent with the CMA Horizon Award in 1993, and radio remained firmly on board throughout the next few years.  As the genre moved toward a more crossover sound, Chesnutt remained firmly planted in traditional country music, releasing classic singles like “Almost Goodbye”, “Thank God For Believers”, and “Goin’ Through the Big D.”

His last big hit was a surprising one: a cover of the Aerosmith pop hit, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”   Even with strings, however, the end result was more classic Nashville sound than anything close to pop.

After departing MCA, Chesnutt had a brief stint on Columbia.   Since the mid-2000′s, he’s scored a handful of radio hits on independent labels, the most recent being a top thirty cover of Charlie Rich’s “Rollin’ With the Flow.”   He received astonishing critical acclaim for his 2004 set, Savin’ the Honky Tonk, and has earned good notices for his 2010 cover album, Outlaw.

Chesnutt is still touring actively, and his most recent release is Live From the Big “D”, a concert set recorded in Dallas.

Essential Singles:

  • T00 Cold at Home, 1990
  • I’ll Think of Something, 1992
  • Bubba Shot the Jukebox, 1992
  • Almost Goodbye, 1993
  • Thank God for Believers, 1997

Essential Albums:

  • Too Cold at Home, 1990
  • Longnecks and Short Stories, 1992
  • Almost Goodbye, 1993
  • Wings, 1995
  • Savin’ the Honky Tonk, 2004

Next: #67. Steve Wariner

Previous: #69. Travis Tritt

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

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10 Comments

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10 Responses to 100 Greatest Men: #68. Mark Chesnutt

  1. Michael A.No Gravatar

    Nice. One of my favorites. In my opinion, “I’ll Think of Something” is one of the Top Ten Singles of the 90s.

  2. I was listening to Willie’s Roadhouse the other day and Wade Jessen was interviewing, I believe Gene Watson (don’t quote me). I only heard it for a minute or two but they were talking about Mark Chestnutt and how “Too Cold At Home” sounded different than anything else at country radio at the time.

    Gene (or whomever it was) was saying how he’d hear different versions of the song depending on the city – they’d change out “Dodgers” for each market’s baseball team. I love that song and love it more now than I did growing up. Straight up country music is indeed my favorite.

    When “Thank God for Believers” came out in 1997, I never looked at it as anything special but I’ll have to go back and listen to it.

    To his essential singles list I’d add – “Brother Jukebox,” “It Sure Is Monday,”
    and “Gotta Get A Life.” He could do anything in his day from honky tonk ballads to shuffles without them seeming less then or like filler. He’s just that good a vocalist.

    Good call mentioning “Bubba Shot The Jukebox.” That one’s underrated and deserves more attention.

  3. Michael A.No Gravatar

    Well… he may have had some filler. I recall a song from an album (Almost Goodbye, I think) called “Vicki Vance Gotta Dance”. ;-)

  4. “Old Flames Have New Names” would also be filler, I guess. I’ve never really liked that song

  5. SweetcheeksNo Gravatar

    Michael A – “Vicki Vance Gotta Dance” was on Almost Goodbye. Part of the lyrics included these lines, “Oooh she can’t stand still/She’s dancing on the wall/Dancing on the windowsill.”

    Also, in “Ive Finally Broken Mine” (from the Wings album), he sang, “I kept on throwing rocks/At the window of our future/An begging your forgiveness once again.”

    Anyway, Chesnutt was a great singer and I wish he had more popular success. His star seemed to fade a bit starting in 1995.

    I was really happy when “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” revived his career for a bit. Sadly, the album lacked another radio hit. It had a cajun-inspired tune, a western swing inspired tune, some forgettable honky-tonk songs, a ballad that was surely “too country” for radio in 1999. So the follow up was a kinda boring song called “This Heartache Never Sleeps,” which took over a minute to get to the hook and failed to make the top ten on radio. MCA only released 2 singles from “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing.” I guess it knew the title track was really the only hit worthy song. Its a shame. With a decent follow up single, Chesnutt might have gotten his career back on track.

    Chesnutt’s been making some good records on the independent labels, but his voice was so suited for radio. I just wish had could have adapted to the trends at radio in the late 1990s and early 2000s to stay in the spotlight longer. I think he had one of the best voices of the 1990s.

  6. bobNo Gravatar

    Somehow I missed him in the 90′s so I bought a Best of MC from 2001 to catch up. I have enjoyed his old music. I bought a few more recent songs on I-Tunes that I really like, “Things to Do In Wichita” and “When You Love Her Like Crazy”.

  7. Motown MikeNo Gravatar

    Plenty of Mark Chesnutt in my 90′s playlist on my MP3. A guy who made a pretty good career recording little to know pop fluff or filler.

    Some of my favorites are Old Country, Your Love is a Miracle, I Just Wanted You to Know and of course, my personal favorite, Bubba Shot the Jukebox.

  8. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar

    I really liked Mark Chestnutt but I find it unfathomable that you could possibly rate him above the likes of Travis Tritt, Gene Watson, Ferlin Husky, Vern Gosdin, The Everly Brothers and Johnny Paycheck.

    Mark should be sitting between 90-100

  9. SweetcheeksNo Gravatar

    I’d say Travis Tritt and Mark Chesnutt belong somewhere together. At radio Chesnutt had a few more top 10 songs and a few more number 1 songs. However, Travis Tritt sold more albums and — I think — got more publicity. I’d have expected Tritt to be ahead of Chesnutt, but both with similar rankings. Both seemed to have success on radio for about 10 years and neither seems likely to be able to have a mainstream radio hit or record a gold selling album anymore. Of course, the list is of “greatest men” not most popular. But I’d say Tritt and Chesnutt are fairly close (though I’d say Tritt was “greater” than Chesnutt”).

  10. Tom PNo Gravatar

    I love your lists and love this site. We all have different opinionls of course. I have to agree with Paul Dennis on this one. I think Mark Chestnut is good but he should not be above the singer that Paul mentioned. A good singer but most of his songs with the exception of “Too Cold at Home” don’t really stand the test of time.

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