“I am a Simple Man”
Ricky Van Shelton
Written by Walt Aldridge
#1 (1 week)
July 27, 1991
Ricky Van Shelton keeps the hits coming with his fourth album.
The Road to No. 1
Shelton actually preceded his Backroads set with two No. 1 hits, as sharing a label with Dolly Parton allowed their chart-topper “Rockin’ Years” to be included on both of their new studio albums.
Columbia’s long range plans for Shelton’s album kept changing, as evidenced by the 45 issued for “I am a Simple Man,” which features later single “Backroads” as the B-side and has the album’s tentative title, Between the Lines, based on the lyric of his next chart-topper. But “Simple Man” had no issue keeping the hits coming for Shelton.
The No. 1
There’s an irritability to “I am a Simple Man” that works very well in its favor. Shelton’s got more of an edge on this single than he showed on earlier records, adding heightened believability to his bewildered annoyance that his partner can’t figure him out.
It’s a working man’s anthem, with the frustration rooted in having to explain himself when he just wants to ease his sore backache and relax after a hard day’s work. Like we keep seeing with great nineties songs, its sentiment is universal while the details remain specific to a particular country lifestyle.
The Road From No. 1
Shelton has another two chart-toppers on the way from this album, and we’ll see the next one before the end of 1991.
“I am a Simple Man” gets a B+.