Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: Garth Brooks, “Not Counting You”

 

“Not Counting You”

Garth Brooks

Written by Garth Brooks

Radio & Records 

#1 (1 week)

March 30, 1990

The biggest country star in history kicks off the decade that he will own, with a self-written hit.

The Road to No. 1

Clint Black may have been getting the most attention at the start of the nineties, but Garth Brooks was no slouch himself.   He was already a hometown legend by the time he moved to Nashville in 1987, having been a superstar on the Oklahoma country club circuit.  He auditioned for every major label in town, until Capitol Records recognized his potential and signed him to a record deal.

He was a hit right out of the gate, reaching the top ten with his debut single, “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)”, which was followed by the massive chart-topper “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” the first of many modern standards that Brooks would release in his early years.

As a follow-up to that big hit, Capitol sent the album opener of his self-titled debut album to country radio.

The No. 1

Those who heard “Not Counting You” first as a part of Garth’s legendary live shows might have been surprised by how understated the actual record was.   Brooks wears his George Strait influence on his sleeve here, with an arrangement and delivery that could’ve been lifted right off of an eighties Strait record from the Jimmy Bowen years.

But it’s more than just a retread of that Strait style.  Garth’s playful humor cuts through the track, aided by a lyric written with tongue firmly planted in cheek.  You can already hear some of that personality that would bring arenas to their feet in the coming years.

He would’ve knocked this one out of the park on No Fences, but as is, it’s an enjoyable opportunity to hear the Garth sound in its embryonic form.

The Road From No. 1

This is the first of many, many appearances from Garth Brooks.

“Not Counting You” gets a B+.

 

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

Previous: Randy Travis, “Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart”

Next: Alan Jackson, “Here in the Real World”

 

 

7 Comments

  1. It gets forgotten quite a bit in Brooks’ catalog – likely because it’s the one early hit that’s NOT an instant classic – but this has always been mildly enjoyable for what it is.

  2. I remember noticing as a kid that he sounded different in this song, not as full voiced, but still liking the song. As an adult, I appreciate approach even more.

  3. Yeah, this is no doubt one of the most overlooked of Garth’s earlier records, but it’s always been one of my favorites. Always really loved the straight ahead country style and Garth’s performance on it, plus Bruce Bouton’s steel playing. And yes, Leeann, I’ve always noticed how slightly different he sounded in this song compared to others. He’s a bit twangier than usual, but doesn’t completely let it all hang out like on “Two Of A Kind…”. It’s kind of hard to put my finger on it.

    And yes, this song is another one I enjoyed regularly throughout my childhood on one of my tapes from early 1993.

  4. I was just struck by how unabashedly country the production was at the time. The fiddle was so far forward in the mix. I love this song.

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