“Help Me Hold On”
Written by Pat Terry and Travis Tritt
#1 (1 week)
May 12, 1990
Radio & Records
#1 (2 weeks)
April 20 – April 27, 1990
The Class of 1989’s southern rocker scores his first No. 1 hit.
The Road to No. 1
Travis Tritt got an early start in music, singing in the church choir in his native Georgia. His mother encouraged him to pursue a career in Christian music, but he was drawn to country and southern rock. As a teenager, he played in a bluegrass band and nearly won a local music tournament with his rendition of “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.”
In 1987, he recorded a demo album called Proud of the Country, which led to a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records. His debut single, “Country Club,” hit the charts in 1989 and went top ten, setting the stage for his second single, which would become his first No. 1 hit.
The No. 1
It’s a bit surprising in retrospect that Tritt broke through with a tender ballad before being successful with one of his southern rock-flavored jams, but radio wouldn’t warm to the latter until his second album.
“Help Me Hold On” is a Tritt ballad in his signature style, which he had down pat from day one. His voice is well suited for communicating vulnerable lyrics that retain the same grit present in his rave-ups, making him sound like the inner monologue of a tough guy who’s really a big softie at heart.
The lyric holds it back a bit, running out of new ways to say the same thing by the second verse. But it’s still a warm, inviting record, and the chorus is solid.
The Road From No. 1
It seems like every entry, I’m writing that this is the first of many No. 1 hits to come for a new artist, or the end of a long run of them for a veteran artist. That’s country music in 1990 and 1991. Tritt will make many return trips to this feature, with some straight up classics on deck.
“Help Me Hold On” gets a B+.
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