Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: Trisha Yearwood, “She’s in Love With the Boy”

“She’s in Love With the Boy”

Trisha Yearwood

Written by Jon Ims

Billboard

#1 (2 weeks)

August 3 – August 10, 1991

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

July 26, 1991

Another week, another superstar arrives.

The Road to No. 1

Trisha Yearwood was raised in Monticello, Georgia, and was obsessed with music from an early age.   Her family supported her dreams, but insisted that she complete her education, which led her to earning a Music Business degree at Nashville’s Belmont University.

From there, she found work as a receptionist on Music Row, and she used her networking skills to begin singing demonstration tapes for her songwriting friends and colleagues.  Soon, she was incredibly in demand for her session work, as she earned a reputation for being able to nail a demo recording quickly and flawlessly.  Sometimes, she’d even leave her car double parked in front of the studio, knowing she’d be right back out.

She connected with her eventual producer, Garth Fundis, and was initially managed by the team in charge of Garth Brooks, an old friend of Yearwood’s who was poised for megastardom.   A record label showcase intended to earn her a deal at RCA Nashville instead landed her at MCA, with Tony Brown offering to sign her on the strength of her performance.   While her debut album was being completed, Brooks offered her the opening slot on his 1991 tour.  In May of that year, MCA sent her debut single to country radio, and it became the first debut single from a female artist to top the country chart since Connie Smith’s “Once a Day” three decades earlier.

The No. 1

“She’s in Love With the Boy” captures the small town innocence that Yearwood came from, and made her country music’s “girl next door” right out of the gate.

It’s easy to look back at it as a happy anomaly in her career, given that she’d soon have the reputation of being a serious artist in the vein of Emmylou Harris.   “She’s in Love With the Boy” seems quaint held up to the standard of not just her later work, but even the rest of her debut album.

But the elements of a great Trisha Yearwood record are all there.  There’s the nuanced and intelligent performance, understanding her role as the storyteller and keeping her vocal power completely in the service of the song.  There’s the tasteful production, sounding at once timeless and current, something that is consistent through virtually all of her work with Garth Fundis at the console.

Most importantly, there’s the point of view, with Yearwood demonstrating that she is a smart and independent woman.   When Taylor Swift went up to her room during “Love Story” two decades later while her boyfriend and father decided her future for her, it seemed like we’d gone backward in time.   Women have all the agency in this story, and the attempt of Katie’s father to “have a talk” with Tommy is quickly interrupted by Katie’s mother, who stands in solidarity with her daughter while giving her husband a much-needed reality check: “My daddy said you wasn’t worth a lick.  When it came to brains, you got the short end of the stick.  But he was wrong, and honey, you are too.”

It’s a tale as heartwarming as “Walkaway Joe” is harrowing, but the moral of both stories is the same: Listen to women, especially your mother.  They usually know best.

It’s easy to take this one for granted, given that Yearwood’s going to record “Wrong Side of Memphis” and “The Song Remembers When” in the next two years.   That “She’s in Love With the Boy” isn’t even one of the ten best Trisha Yearwood singles isn’t a reflection on the quality of the song, but on the quality of the artist.

The Road From No. 1

As her self-titled debut album set sales records, becoming the first debut by a female country artist to go platinum, Yearwood scored two more top ten hits right after “She’s in Love With the Boy”:  “Like We Never Had a Broken Heart,” which had a powerful harmony vocal from Garth Brooks, and “That’s What I Like About You.”  We’ll see Yearwood again in 1992, when the fourth and final single from Trisha Yearwood tops the Radio & Records chart.

“She’s in Love With the Boy” gets an A. 

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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18 Comments

  1. Good song but I agree on this from KJC that “That “She’s in Love With the Boy” isn’t even one of the ten best Trisha Yearwood singles isn’t a reflection on the quality of the song, but on the quality of the artist.” In my i-tunes library there are probably 50 or more TY songs that I’ve played more frequently than this #1.

  2. I have to confess that I didn’t hear anything particularly spectacular in Trisha when I first heard “She’s In Love With The Boy” thirty years ago (YIPE!!!). It probably took me another two albums from her, until 1993’s The Song Remembers When, before I really took her seriously. In retrospect, of course, this was a very good way for her to start; and over time, she would take the same left-of-center approach to country that Linda and Emmylou had taken back in the 1970’s to even bigger and better things.

  3. This surprises me every time you say it, as Hearts in Armor was so universally acclaimed and The Song Remembers When, beyond its title track and perhaps “Lying to the Moon”, was seen as a much lesser album – a consensus I agree with, despite being fond of most of the tracks on it. Of that initial five album run with Garth Fundis, I’d only place Song over the debut album, and behind Hearts, Thinkin’ About You, and Everybody Knows, in that order.

  4. Thirty years later (I can’t believe it either!), it’s still a great song with a charming small town love story, and a good timeless message. As mentioned, the production still sounds great to this day, as well. Of course, Trisha would go on to release even better songs further into her career (Heck, I absolutely adore the very next single “Like We Never Had A Broken Heart,” and it would go in my personal top 10 of Trisha songs), but as Erik noted, this song was the perfect one to start off her career.

    I still remember very well the first few times hearing it in the car with my parents and always enjoying it, and Trisha Yearwood definitely being a new name to all of us at the time. I was also lucky enough to get it on one of the very few tapes I recorded during the summer of that year. Even as a kid in the 90’s, I would always love it when the mother puts the father in his place, and one of the last lines near the end which which is pretty much the overall message: “What’s meant to be will always find a way.”

    I admit that around the mid-late 00’s, it got to be frustrating that this seemed to be one of the only Trisha songs that radio still remembered, since I had gotten to enjoying and appreciating her full body of work around that time. However, like many other 90’s country songs I used to be tired of due to overplay, I’ve grown to appreciate it again in more recent years. While it still wouldn’t make my personal top ten of her songs, I would rather hear this song again for the millionth time than nearly anything on the radio today.

    Trisha’s first album was another early 90’s country album I absolutely fell in love with when I started collecting many artists’ debut records in the early 00’s. As I already mentioned, I simply love “Like We Never Had A Broken Heart” and I also really enjoy the fun “That’s What I Like About You,” both of which bring back some great childhood memories as well. I’m especially a bit surprised that the latter song never went to number one, since I remember it being played a lot back when it came out. After getting that album, it wouldn’t be too long until I’d get the rest of her 90’s albums, and eventually, the ones she released after that.

  5. …still one of my favourite protest songs. heard it on the radio at the time, bought the cd right away, and the next one, and the next one… garth is so right about miss yearwood.

  6. Interestingly, this is still one of my favorite Yearwood songs. It was one of the songs that I distinctly remember making me want to listen to country radio to hear it again when I was first getting into country music in late ’93.

  7. Back when chick country wasn’t formulaic schlock. Solid story, no overemotional hand wringing, just a talented singer telling a story about life. Despite not being much into women country singers, I probably like this one way more than the average country fan. I’ll give it an A+.

  8. @ Jamie:

    I completely sympathize with your frustration that, at some point, country radio devolved when it came to Trisha to the point where “She’s In Love With The Boy” was one of the few songs of hers they still played on the radio. The other frustration to me is how some wanted to only see her in the context of being married to the Garthmeister. It’s unfair to her reputation as being one of the great female singers of the last thirty years, regardless of genre (pop; country, etc.).

    As for the notion of “Chick Country”: I’d really love to know how country radio could possibly have its bottom line hurt by increasing the number of women they play in any given day (which is to say, more than just Miranda Lambert and/or Carrie Underwood). Even Trisha’s last album, Every Girl, didn’t get a whole hell of a lot of love from the format. But I guess the “Saladgate” mentality of 2014-2015 is still in effect over there. It’s one of a variety of reasons why Linda Ronstadt totally disdains country radio as playing what she calls “Mall Crawler Music”.

  9. This was one of the handful of 90’s era songs I remember exactly where I was when I first heard it;I was heading down Rockford Road in Plymouth,Minnesota on my way to crawl around Ridgedale Mall as a teenager!

    I was as smitten with her voice as I was the story of the song. I remember it shining and popping out of the car radio. I could just hear something special in the performance.

    I am surprised how happy I am to still hear this song when it comes on the radio. It is a charmed debut.

  10. Erik – Oh yeah, don’t get me started on how many people only seem to see Trisha as Mrs. Garth Brooks. That and radio (even Sirius!) forgetting the majority of her hits has definitely seemed to give give some people the misconception that she’s just a superstar’s wife who only had a few hits, which is very sad and unfortunate, since she was and is so much more than that. On the other hand, I was actually quite thrilled to see the title track of Every Girl make it as far as it did on the charts, though of course it deserved better.

  11. I’ve always liked this song. However, I do worry about Tommy’s & Katie’s children. Third generation of brains being short end of the stick.

  12. @ Jamie

    I think you are my musical soul person. Lol. I too started collecting 90s country albums in the early 2000’s once I turned 16 and got a job to buy them! I think we’re about the same age. I was born in 1984. Your memories echo alot of mine growing up on country music at its peak popularity. I loved country so much that I rocked a Reba t shirt to school often throughout middle school. Lol. Im so associated with Reba from anyone who knows me that you can’t see or hear Reba and not think of me. Haha! Im also a big Patty fan as you can tell from my name of choice! Thanks for all your post. Love to read them!

  13. Another of the reasons 1991 was such an amazing year in country music. A year in which the game changed forever.

  14. The_trouble_with_the_truth – Yeah, I figured we were around the same age since I could also relate to quite a few of your comments, as well. 1985 here, btw. :) If only I was lucky enough to be able to proudly rock a country artist’s shirt in middle/high school! Unfortunately, most of my classmates then hated country, despite it being a popular genre in the 90’s. That and being quiet and kind of a nerd didn’t do me many favors in landing me in the “cool” department, lol. I ended up hiding my love for country most of the time until my senior year when I started to not give as much of a you know what.

    Btw, I really appreciate that you and others enjoy my comments, and it means a lot! It’s always nice to meet other folks who also grew up during one of the greatest decades for country music, imo. Oh, and you couldn’t have picked a better Patty Loveless album to name yourself after! :)

  15. I really like this version of the song, too! I like the stripped down approach they took, as well as hearing it come from an older, more experienced Trisha. Loved all the mandolin, as well!

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