Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: Randy Travis, “Better Class of Losers”

Randy Travis performing at Great America in Mountain View, Calif. on August 14th 1992 Image By: Tim Mosenfelder/ImageDirect

“Better Class of Losers”

Randy Travis

Written by Alan Jackson and Randy Travis

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

February 21, 1992

You can keep your friends in high places.

The Road to No. 1

The superstar songwriting collaboration of Alan Jackson and Randy Travis already produced a No. 1 hit in “Forever Together,” and they repeated the success with the next single from the Travis album, High Lonesome.

The No. 1

For my money, this is the best of the three hit singles that Jackson and Travis wrote together.

It’s like an alternative timeline for “Friends in Low Places,” where the everyday Joe stayed with the high society girlfriend and got stuck eating caviar and having to grind his own coffee beans.

Some of the references are hilariously dated.  “I need friends who don’t pay their bills on home computers” is very, very 1992.  But the sentiment works just as well as it ever has, and the frustration that the narrator feels is expressed with a sharp wit throughout.

“I’m tired of you spending every dime I make to finance this way of life I’ve learned to hate.”

That’s some damn good songwriting, right there.

The Road From No. 1

Travis and Jackson wrote the former’s next single as well, “I’d Surrender All,” but it underperformed at radio.  However, the two will pair up again for No. 1 hit with Jackson on the mic later this year, and Travis himself has two more No. 1 hits on deck from his pair of hits collections released in 1992.

“Better Class of Losers” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

Previous: Garth Brooks, “What She’s Doing Now” |Next: John Anderson, “Straight Tequila Night”

7 Comments

  1. Remember the debate and drama about this Travis-Jackson penned song and the earlier Harlan Howard and Ron Peterson song of the same title? I first heard the Harlan Howard version on John Schneider’s 1986 album “Take the Long Way Home.” Apparently Ray Price first recorded it in 1984.

    Uptown, downtown, misery’s all the same!

    But back to this Travis-Jackson penned single, it is a gem. I love how tight the lyrics are. They cut and are concise. You can just feel the urgency the narrator has to get back to his familiar old ways and people.

    The song is an excellent example of writing about class and being proud of – and actually preferring – your perhaps more humble roots without explicitly banging the “I’m country” drum.

  2. Peter – I had read about that whole crazy story about the battle between those two songs and Harlan Howard suing Randy and Alan in Country Music Magazine! I remember hearing the title of this song in Mark Chesnutt’s version of “Uptown, Downtown (Misery’s All The Same)”, but didn’t really think much of it then and certainly didn’t know a lawsuit was involved. Pretty interesting stuff you learn every now and then!

    As for the song itself, I also see it as one of the much better executed “Knowing and being proud of where you’re from and where you belong” type of songs. There’s certainly been times I’ve felt out of place like the character in the song does. I’ve especially always loved the line Kevin mentions in the first verse, lol. In fact, I love the little doses of humor and cleverness throughout much of the lines in the song, for example: “When they look my way, they’re always looking down.” and “You said the grass was greener on the other side, but from where I stand, I can’t see grass at all.” And I’ve always liked the home computers and coffee beans line in the chorus, as well (even though it’s dated now).

    For me, this is also the most “90’s” sounding Randy Travis song yet, especially in the slightly more energetic production and even his performance. I love all the dobro featured in this, as well. You can also tell it’s an Alan Jackson co-write, as the same kind of good natured humor can be heard in other songs throughout his discography. Speaking of Jackson, there’s a video of him performing this song himself during a concert around 1991/1992ish floating around on YouTube, which is pretty neat. Still love the way Randy sings it though, where he makes good use of his lower register in the verses.

    This has also always been one of my dad’s favorite songs, and the song’s video is another one he remembers seeing on CMT all the time around late ’91/early ’92.

  3. Forgot to mention that I actually found out as a kid what caviar really was thanks to my dad telling me while this song was playing on the radio in the car one time, lol.

  4. I had Mark Chesnutt’s “Longnecks and Short Stories” CD with “Uptown, Downtown…” on it. I liked the song a lot but I had no idea that it was originally called “Better Class of Losers.” I love learning these facts from the various commenters!

    I forgot this was an Travis/Jackson co-write and I agree it’s the best of their co-writes. I agree with the A rating.

  5. Meh. I get why people like this song, but anymore, I’m like, “dude, a grinder and decent beans aren’t that hard to get.”

    (Yes, freshly-ground coffee is great, why do you ask?)

    Mostly because of that I think that Chesnutt’s “Better Class of Losers” is a far superior song.

  6. Just to clarify, I also really like “Uptown, Downtown” from Mark Chesnutt’s Longnecks and Short Stories, in case anyone thought I meant otherwise. I just never would’ve guessed there was a lawsuit involved between the two songs, which is probably how I should’ve worded it the first time. :)

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