Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: Eddie Rabbitt, “On Second Thought”

“On Second Thought”

Eddie Rabbitt

Written by Eddie Rabbitt

Billboard

#1 (2 weeks)

February 17 – February 24, 1990

Radio & Records 

#1 (1 week)

February 2, 1990

An Urban Cowboy icon enjoys his final No. 1 single.

The Road to No. 1

Born in Brooklyn, NY and raised in New Jersey, Eddie Rabbitt didn’t fit the profile of most country artists of his era.  But his songwriting chops and some good timing on his part made him one of the biggest stars of the late seventies and early eighties.  His initial hits impacted only the country chart, but as the Urban Cowboy era got into full swing, he became one of the biggest crossover stars of that time.  He was one of the few artists to actually score a No. 1 pop hit (“I Love a Rainy Night”), and he also found success at country, pop, and AC radio with big hits like “Drivin’ My Life Away,” “Step by Step,” and “You and I”, the last of which featured harmony from Crystal Gayle.

Even as pop radio moved on, Rabbitt remained a very successful country act, scoring 32 consecutive top ten hits from 1976 through 1988.  After one single faltered in early 1989, he returned with what would become his final No. 1 single.

The No. 1

Hits like “Drivin’ My Life Away” were the sound of a man completely in tune with the times. “On Second Thought” is the sound of an older man trying to keep up with the changing times.  As the airwaves were now dominated by new traditionalists like Randy Travis and Clint Black, Rabbitt earned his final No. 1 by going just as traditional, perhaps even beyond his own comfort zone.

It’s a cute song about jealousy that has none of the dark, moody undertones of his earlier hit, “Suspicions.”  Here, the dude gets jealous, says some unkind words, and walks out…only to backtrack immediately, realizing he’s in the wrong.  It’s one of his better songwriting compositions, and it’s not surprising that he topped the charts with it, given its sound and his enduring popularity as an artist.

The sound doesn’t quite fit him though, and he just can’t ease into a fiddle and steel groove the way that he could effortlessly do so on a pop and R&B flavored track.   This is very much not his kind of country.   It’s a game effort, though, and an enjoyable late career hit from an eighties superstar.

The Road From No. 1

“On Second Thought” was the lead off single from his 1990 album Jersey Boy, which produced three more singles, including his final top ten Billboard hit, “Runnin’ With the Wind.”   Rabbitt then fell victim to the nineties wave of new artists which would push nearly all of the artists of his era off of the radio dial.  His next album, released only one year later, produced only one charting hit, and would be his final major label release.

Rabbitt returned in 1997 with Beatin’ the Odds, an independent release that was recorded as he was undergoing chemotherapy.  The following April, he released Songs From Rabbittland, which was a collection of songs and stories for children.  Only one month later, he passed away at the age of 56, following a battle with cancer.

“On Second Thought” gets a B. 

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

Previous: Ricky Van Shelton, “Statue of a Fool”

Next: Alabama, “Southern Star”

 

6 Comments

  1. I remember this song being played a lot during my childhood. I would have been 5 when this came out, wow, how time flies. This tune is so nostalgic for me. I have a few from 1990 that are. I also get taken back to my early childhood by “Black Coffee”, “Don’t Go Out, and “Chains”! I’d rate this as an A+ but sometimes nostalgia puts blinders on us I guess!

  2. I saw Eddie on several occasions during his run as a pop star. It never seemed to me that Eddie was uncomfortable doing the more traditional country songs (he would slip an occasional “classic country” into his live performances as well as some Irish riffs – these were quite well received).

    I’m not sure I would regard him as an “Urban Cowboy” icon as he released six albums on Elektra before the Urban Cowboy flick came around and they are all good albums with pop chart action on some of his singles. Moreover his songwriting skills (“Kentucky Rain”, “Pure Love”) were already in evidence before 1975.

    “Every Which Way but Loose” opened him up to a wider audience but he was already making pop inroads prior to the film.

    He was a heck of a performer and by all accounts, a really good person who left this world much too soon. I would give this song an A-

  3. It sounds like The_trouble_with_the_truth and I are around the same age, as I was also about five when this was all over the radio (actually four going on five when it was first released as a single). I specifically remember hearing it playing in a Cracker Barrel store around that time. And yeah, I’m also quite guilty at times of putting the nostalgia blinders on when it comes to the music of my childhood. :)

    I definitely agree that pop flavored country was Eddie Rabbitt’s strength, and he’s one of my favorite artists from the Urban Cowboy era. That said, I always thought he pulled of this nice little country shuffle very well. There are also several other tracks on his last Capitol album, 1991’s “Ten Rounds,” with a similar style that I really like. Man, would I give anything to go back to when songs that sounded this good were still regularly played on the radio.

    Imo, from the Highway 101 song up to this one, the 90’s sure got off to a heck of a good start, as far as the number ones went.

  4. Eddie Rabbitt was the sound of country music on my mom’s pop radio stations when I was a kid in the 80’s. At the time, I wasn’t a big fan but I have come to appreciate he was triple threat musician: songwriter, performer, and star.

    The beauty and appeal of this feature is how sentimental and nostalgic many of these performances are. It’s tough to be objective when you are falling in love.

  5. Absolutely, Peter. My own sentiment and nostalgia kick in around 1991, though the Clint Black “Killin’ Time” album was a favorite of my Dad’s, so that has some pull as well.

    That being said, there aren’t really any dud #1 singles for the first four years of this feature. It’s going to be a lot of As and Bs with an occasional C until the redneck humor/hat act craze both get out of control.

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