Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: Mike Reid, “Walk On Faith”

“Walk On Faith”

Mike Reid

Written by Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin

Billboard

#1 (2 weeks)

February 23 – March 2, 1991

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

February 8, 1991

An NFL player turned songwriter scores his only No. 1 hit.

The Road to No. 1

Mike Reid played college football for Penn State University and then for the National Football League, spending several years playing for the Cincinnati Bengals.  But he was even more successful in his second career, retiring from football in 1975 to pursue songwriting full time.  Reid had an especially productive relationship with Ronnie Milsap, writing several No. 1 hits for him, as well as picking up a Grammy for penning Milsap’s crossover hit, “Stranger in My House.”   Reid even provided vocals to the 1988 Milsap hit “Old Folks,” which reached No. 2.  Reid also wrote eighties and early nineties hits for The Judds, Willie Nelson, Lorrie Morgan, Sylvia, Don Williams and Conway Twitty.

Based on his success as a writer, Mike Reid scored a recording contract with Columbia.  In late 1990, he released his debut single for the label, “Walk on Faith.”

The No. 1

For all of his incredible success as a songwriter, Mike Reid was effectively a one hit wonder at country radio.

But that one hit is a hell of a wonder.

“Walk On Faith” is a joyous, uplifting and inspirational record, with a positive message that floats atop Reid’s beautiful piano work.  Reid’s vocal is effective at conveying the depth of the lyric without weighing the record down with needless sentimentality.

It’s the type of record that seemed destined to launch a massive career until it didn’t, but it’s still a priceless gem from the golden era of the early nineties.

The Road From No. 1

Mike Reid’s solo career fizzled quickly, with the next two singles from his debut album, Turning From Home, missing the top ten.  A second solo album followed in 1992, but it failed to produce a top forty country hit.

But Reid was hardly absent from the country charts, as his songwriting career continued to produce major hits.  He penned No. 1 singles for Collin Raye (“In This Life”), Wynonna (“My Strongest Weakness,” “To Be Loved By You”), and Tim McGraw (“Everywhere”), as well as top ten hits for Tanya Tucker and Lee Roy Parnell.  His greatest triumph, however, happened outside of the country charts.  His composition “I Can’t Make You Love Me” became a pop standard.  It was a pop and AC hit for Bonnie Raitt, and has since been covered by countless artists.  Future country superstar Carrie Underwood used the song for her initial American Idol audition.

Reid was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005, and has spent most of this century penning musical scores that have supported theatrical performances in New York, Nashville, and other major cities.

“Walk On Faith” gets an A.

 

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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13 Comments

  1. This is a solid A for me! One of the best songs by a one hit wonder in Country music history!

  2. I love this song! It must’ve been so exciting for him to get a number one with his first release, but disappointing for him when his recording career fizzled out.

  3. This song stands out as one of the great message-songs of it’s time. Just a brilliant song to have as your one-hit as a performer.

    I will keep repeating that having songs like this from artists like Mike Reed fill in the gaps from the slew of hits from the emerging superstars is what made the charts so consistently engaging and strong.

    I love this song.

  4. Walk On Faith was the masterpiece of a GREAT album! I’ll Stop Loving You and Till You Were Gone were also Great songs!

  5. Absolutely love this song! Another essential tune from my early childhood, for sure. This song always makes me smile and think of those times, plus it has such a great, uplifting message that I can’t help but be happy whenever I hear it. Even as soon as I hear that intro, I’m already in a much better mood. I’ve always really liked his unique deep voice, as well.

    Even though he is considered a one hit wonder, our stations actually played Mike Reid’s music pretty consistently throughout the early 90’s. Besides “Walk On Faith,” I also remember hearing “Til You Were Gone,” “As Simple As That,” I’ll Stop Loving You,” “I Got A Life,” and “Call Home” on the radio during my early childhood, and every one of them made it on at least one of my tapes. I also love both of the albums he released on Columbia. Overall, he’s another one of my favorite singer/songwriters in the genre. I love how guys like him and Paul Overstreet were able to have success as recording artists for a little while before they went back to being mainly songwriters.

    BTW, I always thought he had one of the coolest background stories of all the 90’s country artists with him being in the NFL prior to his success as a country singer/songwriter. Also, he was another one of those few artists who was already in his 40’s when he released his debut album, which sadly, rarely ever happens anymore in the mainstream.

  6. I remember quite a few Mike Reid singles getting airplay in Central Florida, although none with the impact of this song. For some reason, at the time this song was released it reminded me of a recent pop hit (perhaps by Dire Straits, but I am not sure of that at all) but I have never really been able to zero in on why the song seemed so familiar.

  7. It’s very similar to Dire Straits’ Walk Of Life, tune, tempo, accordion and sport themed music video, not mention the title. (My brother was a big DS fan.)

  8. great song. Saw Reid twice at the Bluebird Cafe (in 2017 & 18) with Gary Burr with whom he wrote Wynonna’s “To Be Loved by You”.

  9. I’m so happy to see the Mike Reid love, both for “Walk On Faith” and for his songwriting in general. I should note that while listening to these songs on the radio from 90-91 as a kid, I was also getting big into Penn State football (hence the “PSU Mike” moniker), and heard a lot about Mike Reid’s story. For the record, he was one of the best defensive linemen Penn State ever had, and was an Outland Trophy winner (best lineman in college). I believe he was all-pro for a couple of years as well when he made the NFL. The main reason he retired was because he was seeing what the damage of playing in the NFL was doing to his hands, and he was a classical trained pianist…he didn’t want to lose the ability to use that skill. I always admired that, as I’m sure football was probably the more financial lucrative option at that time…but it showed how much he loved making/creating music.

    Taking the PSU connection away, I always love Reid as a songwriter, particularly his work with Milsap and many of the songs mentioned in the review. He just had a mature, intelligent way of looking at relationships and emotions, and his songs almost always worked for me. About ten years ago, he did another album that I loved called “New Direction Home”. I wouldn’t call it country, as it’s more piano driven…but I truly loved the record, and think Kenny Chesney even covered one of the songs on it (Always Gonna Be You) for this “Welcome to the Fisbowl” album. Listening to that, I was happy to see Mike Reid hadn’t lost a step.

  10. PSU Mike – Thank you for sharing that insightful background info on Mike Reid! I really enjoy reading things like that. Also cool to find out he was the inspiration behind your name. :)

    Like you, I also enjoy many of the songs he wrote for other artists, like the many cuts he wrote for Milsap, and especially Wynonna’s “My Strongest Weakness,” and Tim McGraw’s “Everywhere.” There’s also a cut on Ty Herndon’s Big Hopes album he wrote that I really enjoy called “The Only Way I Know.”

  11. I was shocked that Mike Reid rarely only had four(!) music videos (including this song, his final Top 40 country hit I’ll Stop Loving You, Keep on Walkin’ and Call Home) apart from his rare onscreen live performances.

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