“Sticks and Stones”
Written by Roger Dillon and Elbert West
#1 (1 week)
January 25, 1992
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
January 10, 1992
Another major artist launches his career with a No. 1 single.
The Road to No. 1
Born in Texas and raised in Arkansas, Tracy Lawrence was performing music from a young age. Resisting the ministerial path his parents wanted him to follow, he was singing in local bars by his mid-teens, and later dropped out of college to be in a country band based out of Louisiana.
When that band broke up, he moved to Nashville, and within seven months of performing locally, he’d been signed to Atlantic Records. His debut album was recorded in Spring of 1991, but then was delayed when Lawrence resisted an attempted robbery and assault at a local hotel. He was shot four times, and underwent major surgery.
By that fall, he’d recovered, and Atlantic sent his debut single to country radio.
The No. 1
Once again, a fantastic debut single launches a core nineties radio artist. But in this case, it’s a singer taking a decent song and elevating it into an instant classic through the power of his performance.
Lawrence is a criminally underrated singer, so I can’t stress enough how this song wouldn’t work nearly as well if delivered by a lesser vocalist, like any one of the C-list hat acts that would crowd the charts in the coming years.
The way his voice drops down low and rises back up when he sings, “So take everything we have if it makes you happy” is so key in building the emotional resonance of this record, and he uses his upper range to great effect in the chorus.
It’s the sound of a man attempting stoicism but being betrayed by his emotions as he processes the loss of the woman he sacrificed everything for. He realizes that being surrounded by their material possessions will make her memory that much more haunting.
Lawrence has a lot of great records on the way that will top the charts, and he started off with one of the very best.
The Road From No. 1
Lawrence will do very well with the singles from Sticks and Stones, with his next two releases also topping the charts in 1992.
“Sticks and Stones” gets an A.