Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: Wynonna, “She is His Only Need”

“She is His Only Need”

Wynonna

Written by Dave Loggins

Billboard

#1 (1 week)

March 28, 1992

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

March 27, 1992

The better half of a Hall of Fame-bound duo launches her solo career with spectacular results.

The Road to No. 1

The Judds – Wynonna & Naomi – were a mother-daughter duo that took the country music world by storm in the eighties, becoming the most successful duo ever up until that point.  The pair dominated at radio and retail, selling multiplatinum albums and scoring fourteen No. 1 hits on the Billboard chart alone.

They also dominated the award circuit, to the point that the CMA created the Vocal Event category and made the Vocal Duo category for regular performers only, following The Judds winning Vocal Group three years in a row.  Their mantles were full of CMA, ACM, and Grammy Awards by the turn of the decade.

However, illness soon sidelined Naomi Judd, who announced her pending retirement, which went into effect after a grueling Farewell Tour.  Wynonna dropped her surname, switched to MCA Records, and went into record her debut solo album.  Expectations were high, and they were still completely shattered.

The No. 1

“She is His Only Need” is the first of four consecutive No. 1 singles from Wynonna, and it builds a careful bridge between the sound and theme of Judds records and Wynonna’s own distinctive approach to her solo work.

The story of a man who worked himself to the bone just to give his wife everything she wanted is squarely in the tradition of Judds hits like “Young Love (Strong Love)” and “Mama He’s Crazy.”  But what Wynonna does with it is something new, introducing the soul and blues influences that would dominate her solo material.

No longer constricted by the need to harmonize, Wynonna gives a fierce vocal performance, relying on growls and wails where the two-part harmonies used to go.  If this had been a Judds record, it would have the Hallmark Channel feel of an idealized small town love and marriage.  But as a Wynonna vehicle, it becomes all about the yearning and the sacrifice, capturing how hard Billy is working and what is driving him to do so.

With every note, Wynonna makes clear how lucky Bonnie is to have Billy, and just how rare that kind of love and dedication is.

The Road From No. 1

Wynonna debuted at No. 1 on the country albums chart, and more impressively, at No. 4 on the all-genre chart, where The Judds had never earned a ranking higher than No. 51.  The set has two more No. 1 singles on the way just this year, keeping the momentum going for what became the highest-selling studio album by a female country artist in history.   Stay tuned.

“She is His Only Need” gets an A. 

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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9 Comments

  1. I have always been a big fan of David Loggins as a songwriter and again he delivers a really fine song.

    I was never much of a fan of the Judds as a duo (I regarded Naomi as essentially eye candy and Wynonna as being the very soul of the duo) whereas I looked forward with great anticipation to Wynonna’s solo efforts. As I suspected, her solo efforts were mostly gems, and while she did not have the same number of #1 records as a solo artist (and there were long stretches of relative inactivity), I find myself pulling out her recordings with some frequency

  2. The female companion to Hal Ketchum’s “Small Town Saturday Night” for the most representative song of the nineties. I still actively listen to this song in its entirety everytime I hear it as if I am unsure of just how far Bobby will go for Miss Bonnie.

    I adore this song; an absolutely essential classic of not just this era, but all time.

  3. I completely forgot this was penned by Dave Loggins. In the last five-six years, I’m finding that a lot of my favorite songs by certain artists were penned by him (“She and I” and “40 Hour Week” by Alabama, “Maggie’s Dream” and “We’ve Got a Good Fire” by Don Williams, that Restless Heart song that you reviewed a while back that I think I did a dissertation on in the comments, etc). I’ve absolutely grown to love a lot of his work, and this is a nice slice of life song that holds up well.

    I also agree with Paul that I seem to go back more to the Wynonna solo stuff more than her work with the Judds. I don’t despise the Judds by any means, but some of her ballads during her solo heyday just absolutely blow me away, and just left more of an impression on me.

  4. I absolutely adore this song, and what a great way it was to start Wynonna’s solo career! I love her vocal performance, especially the growls near the end, and I really like the lyrics that tell a very charming small town love story. This song features the kind of storytelling that’s seemingly rarely ever heard in modern mainstream country, and sadly, I can’t imagine a song like this being successful on the radio today. Although, I’m a big fan of The Judds’ music, I enjoy many of Wynonna’s solo singles, as well, with this one ranking as one of my top favorites.

    This song is actually one I grew to really appreciate after digging out some of my old tapes I recorded in the early 90’s a few years or so back. This song continued to get a lot of airplay for us in early 1993, and it made it on to a couple tapes I recorded from that time. Anyway, I was just mesmerized by it when I heard it on one of the tapes, and it reminded me of what a great song it really is, and how songs like this seem so unheard of in mainstream country today. Also, the song just seems more special these days, with the kind of love and dedication described in the song seemingly becoming more rare with every passing year.

    Yet another winner from early ’92!

  5. This is a great song that I’ve always loved! I enjoy Wynonna’s music, but I’m one who loves the Judds even more than Solo Whynonna . I’ll say that I love her story though. I love that she had such a successful career as part of The Judds, but her career was even more successful on her own. As much as I love The Judds, it’s true that she found her full voice when she was able to strike out on her own. It’s amazing to me how much more soulful her voice became as a solo artist.

  6. This is my favorite song from her debut album, and the whole album is just great.

    It’s fair to point out Wynonna’s debut album was released after SoundScan became the tracking method. I suspect some of those later Judds albums would have charted higher on the Billboard 200 if there was more accurate counting.

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