Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: Collin Raye, “Love, Me”

“Love, Me”

Collin Raye

Written by Max T. Barnes and Skip Ewing

Billboard

#1 (3 weeks)

January 4 – January 18, 1992

Radio & Records

#1 (3 weeks)

December 20, 1991 – January 3, 1992

A breakthrough hit for Collin Raye ends 1991 on a high note.

The Road to No. 1

Collin Raye had already been a professional recording artist for many years by the time he broke through as a solo artist.  He got his start in the family band The Wray Brothers Band, which used the spelling of his given name.  Later, they shortened their name to The Wrays, with Collin adopting the stage name Bubba Wray.  The band was intermittently active on the country charts for a long stretch in the eighties, first for independent labels and then with Mercury Records, where they had their biggest hit, “You Lay a Lotta Love On Me,” which peaked at No. 48 in 1987.

After they were dropped from Mercury, Bubba Wray become Collin Raye and he earned a solo deal with Epic Records.  His first single, “All I Can Be (is a Sweet Memory)” was a moderate hit, peaking just outside the top twenty.  The label followed up with “Love, Me.”

The No. 1

How many more times are we going to have new artists release instant classics?

“Love, Me” is the tender but powerful tale of a young couple that doesn’t have the blessing of the girl’s parents, and are forced to live apart for a while before they can be together.

Then we get the sucker punch in the second verse, and find out that the tale of young love that a grandfather is telling his grandson is being shared at a church, while his grandmother is nearing her death.

Raye’s empathetic and sincere delivery further heighten the emotional impact of one of the best country songs of the decade.  He’d go on to record some more great records through the years, but with the exception of a No. 1 we will cover when we get to the summer of 1994, he never quite reached these heights again.

The Road From No. 1

And just like that, Collin Raye was a core radio artist, and would remain so for the rest of the decade.  Epic released one more single from All I Can Be, the top five hit “Every Second.”   We’ll see Collin again in the fall of 1992 with the lead single and title track from his sophomore album.

“Love, Me” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

Previous: Brooks & Dunn, “My Next Broken Heart” | Next: Tracy Lawrence, “Sticks and Stones”

9 Comments

  1. Another Minnesota High School moment for me with this song! As Kevin pointed out in the review, “Love, Me” was just the latest instant classic to reach an even wider audience as country music’s popularity continued to swell. As proof of that reach, I offer my Spanish teacher, a tiny woman from Guatemala.

    I remember her pulling me aside after class in what would have been my senior year, and talking about this song with me, in Spanish! She shared the song reminded her of rancheras, Mexican folk ballads. She adored this song and couldn’t believe it was a “new” song. She was enchanted by the story.

    From an English teacher’s intrigue with Randy Travis “Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart” to my high school sweetheart’s fascination with Travis Tritt’s “Here’s Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)” to my Senora’s obsession with Collin Raye’s “Love Me,” people not typically identified as a country music listeners were, if admittedly not hard-core country music fans, at least aware of what was happening with this wave of talent crashing across Nashville, and hearing the music somewhere! I suspect KEEY K-102 was punched into a lot of car radios for the first time because of songs like this.

    Country music would ever have this level of positive currency in my life again!

    It was such a thrill for country music to become popular and have significant mainstream appeal. Before this, my love of country music was a secret love I almost had to hide like a back street affair. My sister would try to humiliate me in front of my friends by trotting out my Conway Twitty and Marty Robbins albums and saying,”This is what Pete listens to!”

    And then this! Times changed and country was suddenly cool! Cool enough that that same sister went to a Mark Collie show at the Medina Ballroom with me!

    Bringing it back to the actual #1 song featured here, Raye’s “Love,Me” is a wonderfully written song tenderly song. I loved how a listener was rewarded for actually listening to the whole song from start to finish.

    A classic nineties country ballad if there ever was one!

  2. Always loved this song so much! Just that opening acoustic guitar and the overall production of the song with the pretty sounding keyboards brings back so many great memories. And no matter how many times I’ve heard it by now, it simply never gets old, and I’m always touched by the story in the lyrics. Always really loved Collin’s smooth vocals on it, as well. Even as a steady recurrent for the rest of the decade, I’d always enjoy it when it came on the radio.

    This is probably one of the songs that really takes me back to when my parents and I moved out of our old house and temporarily moved into my dad’s one story, three bedroom house in Fredericksburg, VA the most. Back then, Fredericksburg still pretty much had a sleepy, small town feel to it (not so much now), and it’s another place I’ve always loved being in. However, the first few times I remember hearing the song was actually just before we made the move. Again, the very first time I heard it was also the first time I got it on tape. It was almost already near the end of the tape, and just barely made it (“Wildfire” by Michael Martin Murphey, which followed it afterwards, wasn’t as lucky. Great song too, though, especially for Winter). Unfortunately, that tape was already too worn out at the time, and had to be pitched not too long after. I would, however, get this beautiful song on many other tapes after that. Another one of my favorite tapes including this song is one we recorded around the Holiday season in late 1991. On part of the tape, we recorded a copy of John Denver’s Rocky Mountain Christmas that we borrowed from my dad’s record collection, while the rest of the tape was country radio. Besides “Love, Me” the radio parts also include “If The Devil Danced (in Empty Pockets) by Joe Diffie, “The Tracks Of My Tears” by Linda Ronstadt, “Ocean Front Property” by George Strait, “Leave Him Out of This” by Steve Wariner, “Hard Candy Christmas” by Dolly Parton, “Georgia On My Mind” by Willie Nelson, “Baby I Lied” by Deborah Allen, “Some Guys Have All The Love” by Little Texas, “He Talks To Me” by Lorrie Morgan, and a little snippit of Conway and Loretta’s “It’s True Love” which got cut off early at the end of the tape. At still six years old, of course I didn’t quite get the emotional impact of the song just yet, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless simply because I thought it was so pretty.

    Collin Raye’s debut album is another one of my favorite early 90’s country records of all time. The record from beginning to end has such an appealing classic country sound, thanks to Jerry Fuller and John Hobbs’ production and Collin’s lovely smooth vocals, and I just love every song on it. I’ve also always loved the follow up single to this, “Every Second,” and it’s too bad that one didn’t go number one. Even though he moved further away from the traditional sounds of that first album as the years went by, I’d enjoy almost all of the singles he’d release for the rest of the decade, as well as most all of his 90’s albums.

    Peter, your posts almost kind of make me wish I went to high school in the early 90’s when country music was actually seen as cool. Unfortunately, by the time I made it to high school in the early 00’s, it was pretty much back to being uncool (or at least it seemed that way in my school). Still, I wouldn’t trade my experience as a little kid during these years for nothing. Thanks for sharing another cool story, btw. :)

  3. This song is very sentimental in many of our lives.I got hooked on Collin Raye here. BUT, my post is about leaving 1991. I so miss this year as country music hooked me. So many new artists with so many debuts and so many lasting careers. 1991. MY year. Hello 1992.

  4. I still remember the first time I heard this song and how it hit me. It was a wonderful feeling to be moved by a song so much. I felt the same way when I first heard “Where’ve You Been” by Kathy Mattea and , I’ll admit, even “Don’t Take the Girl” by Tim McGraw.

  5. I was thinking about this when I was listening to it again for the review. It reminds me of “Where’ve You Been” because like that song, “Love, Me” never diminishes in its impact, no matter how many times I hear it. That’s not the case with me for most songs like this.

  6. I love this song, but it’s one that I find hard to listen to very often as it’s so emotional (similar to “How Can I Help You to Say Goodbye”).

    Kevin – I agree that this is one that never diminishes in its impact.

    Jamie – I agree that Collin Raye’s debut album was quite good, especially “Every Second” and “All I Can Be (Is A Sweet Memory)” and he did seem to move away from the traditional sounds as time went on.

  7. “Where’ve You Been” is another one of my absolute favorites, and it still never fails to make me emotional. I actually remember hearing that one a lot as a recurrent on the radio around early 1992, as well.

  8. As much as I rail on sap, I simply love this song. A simple story, no cheap appeals to sentimentality, just a nice story in the TTH tradition.

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