“No Matter How High”
Oak Ridge Boys
Written by Joey Scarbury and Even Stevens
#1 (1 week)
March 3, 1990
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
February 16, 1990
The final No. 1 single from a Hall of Fame vocal group that first topped the charts in the seventies.
The Road to No. 1
The Oak Ridge Boys started out as a gospel quartet, winning multiple Grammys for their work in that field, before pivoting to country music during the seventies. Their breakout hit, “Y’all Come Back Saloon,” topped the charts in 1977 and kicked off a long run of hits, which would include 16 Billboard No. 1 songs by the end of the eighties.
Best known for “Elvira” and “Bobbie Sue,” two huge crossover hits, they were a platinum-selling act at the peak of their fame in the early eighties. But they maintained a successful country career throughout that decade, even surviving the departure of key member William Golden, who was replaced by Steve Sanders in 1987.
Their final album of the decade, American Dreams, would also be their final album for MCA Records. The lead single, “An American Family,” was a No. 4 hit, and was followed up by “No Matter How High.”
The No. 1
If the infectious enthusiasm of this upbeat spin on “Wind Beneath My Wings” can’t hook you with the audio, then try to resist the impossibly endearing video, where all four members return to their hometowns to sing the song to their respective mothers.
“No Matter How High” reaches its own high in the chorus, which showcases their flawless harmonies and lifts up the pure joy of the lyric. The verses, on the other hand, tread a bit of water, with the solo lead vocal not being nearly as effective as the power punch of the four men singing together in the choruses and on the bridge.
It’s still a charming record, and its healthy dose of gratitude makes for a great way to end a long run of No. 1 hits.
The Road From No. 1
A label change to RCA brought two more studio albums and a final top ten hit in 1990 (“Lucky Moon”), as the Oak Ridge Boys became another huge act washed away by the new wave of nineties country stars. Toward the end of 1995, personal problems that were plaguing Steve Sanders led to his resignation from the band, creating the opening for William Golden to return shortly thereafter. The lineup with Golden has remained active ever since, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2015.
“No Matter How High” gets a B+.
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