The Best Singles of 1993, Part One: #40-#31

How strong a year for country music was 1993? Well, if our Best Albums list revealed how many great artists were overlooked, our Best Singles list reveals why there is so little room at the inn.

Out of the forty singles ranked among our best, all but five reached the top twenty of the Billboard country singles chart.    Ten of them made it all the way to #1, and another nine of them stopped at #2.   Country radio in 1993 was good.

Our list kicks off today with the first ten entries of the top forty.  We’ll reveal ten more every day until we get to the top of the list on Tuesday. Under each entry, you’ll see each single’s peak position on the Billboard chart and the individual ranking for each writer who included it on their own top forty list.

Lee Roy Parnell On the Road

“On the Road”

Lee Roy Parnell

Written by Bob McDill

Peak: #6

#11 – KJC | #28 – JK

In one of his finest moments, Lee Roy Parnell weaves the stories of a frustrated housewife, high school underachiever, and retired couple into a seamless narrative of finding both escape and salvation on the road. His signature slide guitar licks provide an undercurrent of tension that heightens the intensity of the storylines as they unfold. – Kevin John Coyne

Joy White Between Midnight and Hindsight

“Cold Day in July”

Joy Lynn White

Written by Richard Leigh

Peak: #71

#13 – JK | #23 – BF

White’s rapid-fire vibrato lends a degree of feistiness to her uptempo numbers, but it also creates a real sense of vulnerability in her performance on a heartbroken ballad like “Cold Day in July.” Though the song has been covered by some terrific vocalists over the year — Suzy Bogguss and Natalie Maines, most notably — White’s rendition conveys perhaps the deepest hurt. – Jonathan Keefe


Sawyer Brown Outskirts of Town

“Thank God for You”

Sawyer Brown

Written by Mac McAnally and Mark Miller

Peak: #1

#23 – JK | #26 – LMW | #38 – KJC

Sawyer Brown’s frontman Mark Miller famously threw out his back while dancing up a storm in the video for “Thank God For You,” something of a harbinger that the band’s fortune as a reliable hit-maker were about to take a turn. “Thank God for You” was the band’s final #1 hit, and it remains the best example of the working-class frivolity that was one of their trademarks. – JK


Clint Black No Time to Kill

“No Time to Kill”

Clint Black

Written by Clint Black and Hayden Nicholas

Peak: #3

#12 SG | #21 – JK

Black released No Time to Kill four years after his debut, Killin’ Time. In between, a lawsuit with a former manager delayed an album release, and several other male singers stepped up to fill Black’s absence. The title track certainly conveys a sense of urgency that Black may have been feeling (“I can look ahead and see that time ain’t standin’ still), as the Garths and Alans of the country world rose to fame while he was in legal limbo,

Perhaps it was time to get over the past and focus on the future (“Quit this work and worry lookin’ back at where I’ve been). Or maybe it has nothing to do with his career and is just another in a long line of good Clint Black nineties singles. – Sam Gazdziak


Faith Hill Take Me As I Am

“Wild One”

Faith Hill

Written by Pat Bunch, Jaime Kyle, and Will Rambeaux

Peak: #1

#29 – LW | #30 – KJC | #37 – BF | #39 – SG

Faith Hill’s first single went to number one, which would be unheard of for a female artist today. While “Wild One” only hinted at her powerful vocal abilities, the bright eyed coming of age anthem was a fresh introduction to someone who would soon become one of the standout talents of the nineties. – Leeann Ward


Kelly Willis Kelly Willis

“Whatever Way the Wind Blows”

Kelly Willis

Written by Marshall Crenshaw

Peak: #72

#11 – JK | #21 – SG

Even Willis’ love songs are tempered with a bit of harsh reality. On her flirty, relentlessly charming cover of Marshall Crenshaw’s “Whatever Way the Wind Blows,” Willis offers a cockeyed promise: “Whenever winds of change go tearin’ across this world / I’m always gonna be beside you / I’m your girl.” – JK


Pam Tillis Homeward Looking Angel

“Do You Know Where Your Man Is”

Pam Tillis

Written by Carol Chase, Dave Gibson, and Russell Smith

Peak: #16

#13 – BF | #18 – KJC

Tillis delivers a clever spin on a classic PSA slogan as well as an interesting variation on the classic country cheating song. She doesn’t excuse unfaithfulness, but offers a wise caution not to fuel temptation by taking one’s spouse for granted. – Ben Foster


Pam Tillis Homeward Looking Angel

“Cleopatra, Queen of Denial”

Pam Tillis

Written by Jan Buckingham, Bob DiPiero, and Pam Tillis

Peak: #11

#20 – BF | #26 – SG | #33 – KJC

With a clever lyric, a wry performance and sizzling guitar work, Tillis’ “Cleopatra” proves that neither rock influences nor puns are inherently evil. What today’s artists usually get wrong, Tillis got right. – BF


Patty Loveless Only What I Feel

“Blame it On Your Heart”

Patty Loveless

Written by Harlan Howard and Kostas

Peak: #1

#14 – BF, SG

Technically, the song title should be “Blame It on Your Lyin’, Cheatin’, Cold Deadbeatin’, Two-timin’, Double-dealin’, Mean, Mistreatin’, Lovin’ Heart.” That would have been a mouthful for DJs to say, though Loveless had no problem singing it.

The song was written by Harlan Howard and Kostas, and the combination of a songwriting legend and a contemporary ace proved to be a winning combination. It was also recorded by Deborah Allen, but Loveless proved to be the voice needed to make “Blame It on Your Heart” a smash hit. – SG


Clint Black No Time to Kill

“A Bad Goodbye”

Clint Black with Wynonna

Written by Clint Black

Peak #2

#23 – KJC | #25 – JK | #27 – LW

A melancholy ballad with clever wordplay, the contrast between Black’s pure country twang and Wynonna’s soulful wail made for one of the most effective superstar collaborations of the decade. The inspiration for the collaboration was so they’d have something to sing together on their Black & Wy tour, but the song’s impact still resonates more than two decades after the tour came to an end. – KJC

The Best Albums of 1993
Part One | Part Two

The Best Singles of 1993
Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four

1 Comment

  1. The best singles of ’93 list is off to a great start. Favorites for me are Lee Roy Parnell’s “On the Road”, Clint & Wynonna’s “Bad Goodbye”, Patty Loveless’s “Blame It on your …. Heart” and Pam T’s “Queen of Denial”. As far as “Cold Day in July”, Suzy B’s version is still the best.

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