Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: Aaron Tippin, “There Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With the Radio”

“There Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With the Radio”

Aaron Tippin

Written by Buddy Brock and Aaron Tippin

Billboard

#1 (3 weeks)

April 18 – May 2, 1992

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

April 17, 1992

Another young traditionalist earns his first No. 1 hit.

The Road to No. 1

Born in Florida and raised in South Carolina, Aaron Tippin took the long way to Music Row success.  He worked as a pilot and a pipe fitter before making the move to Nashville, where he earned a publishing deal with Acuff-Rose, following his appearance on TNN’s You Can Be a Star.   He earned a handful of cuts, including minor hit singles for other artists that he’d eventually release himself.  A 1990 club performance caught the attention of RCA Nashville, and they signed him to a recording contract.

His debut album, You’ve Got to Stand For Something, included the top ten title track and was eventually certified gold.  Two other singles underperformed, but he rebounded with the lead single from his second album, Read Between the Lines.

The No. 1

“There Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With the Radio” is an energetic and uproarious ode to a broken down car that still gets great radio reception:

“The older she gets, the slower we go, but there ain’t nothin’ wrong with the radio.”

Tippin would spend most of his career documenting his working class bona fides, but this record did as much as any of his more explicit explorations of that identity to establish his everyman status.

In an era with so many great traditional male vocalists, Tippin might have been the most unabashedly old school, sounding like a modern day Hank Williams meets Webb Pierce.

He only has a handful of No. 1 singles to his credit, but his radio success always trailed behind his popularity with audiences.  Here’s one time that country radio got it right.

The Road From No. 1

Read Between the Lines produced two more top ten hits on its way to platinum: “I Wouldn’t Have it Any Other Way” and “My Blue Angel.”  His next album, The Call of the Wild, also went platinum, despite including only one top ten hit: “Working Man’s Ph.D.”  His fourth album, Lookin’ Back at Myself, didn’t produce any top ten hits, but still went gold.   RCA responded by pushing Tippin in a different musical direction, and it brought him his second No. 1 hit, which we’ll cover when we get to 1995.

“There Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With the Radio” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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7 Comments

  1. Love this song! Aaron Tippin is one of those 90s artists that didn’t end up have an especially long peak, but he sure had some really solid singles. He is one of the artists whose singles are very familiar to me (due to radio play and the Super Hits CD I owned), but I’m not as familiar with his back catalogue.

  2. Frank the Tank, Tippin’s back catalogue is pure country gold. His debut album is an under celebrated classic. Tippin was almost too country for country music even when Nashville was embracing its country-ness like never before. His hard twang was shocking. Kevin isn’t incorrect in invoking Hank Williams and Webb Pierce. His early sound is that jarring, in the best imaginable way. I hadn’t heard a contemporary artist sound this genuinely old-fashioned since Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s 1988 album “Fair and Square.”

    “I Wonder How Far It Is Over You” and “Ain’t That a Hell of a Note” are stunning songs from Tippin’s debut. Check them out.

    Staying with Tippin’s first number one hit from his second album here, it was just unapologetically fun. “There Ain’t Nothing Wrong with the Radio” hits with the punchy intensity of his best up-tempo songs. Tippin recorded muscular, masculine country music with all temerity and no toxicity.

    Aaron Tippin will be the one artist from this era whose early creative output will be best served by a retrospective collection to introduce a new generation to his shockingly good songwriting and vocal capabilities.

    I have been eagerly awaiting to hear the comments to this artist perhaps more than any other to date.

  3. Another one of the most fun songs to come from the early 90’s, and it was an absolute perfect match for Aaron Tippin’s ultra twangy voice! It’s got some great fiddle and guitar work, and even as a kid I could relate, since I was fine as long as there wasn’t “nothin’ wrong with the radio.” :) I personally love how Aaron’s voice sounded during this part of his career! Even in the middle of the neo-traditionalist movement, his twang easily stood out from the rest of the pack, and you knew it was an Aaron Tippin song as soon as he started singing. It kind of reminds me of a quote from him I read in Country Music Magazine before where he jokingly stated: “Even Randy Travis is pop compared to me!” lol That even someone so unapologetically hillbilly in vocal style could break through during this period is yet another reason why I love the early 90’s!

    For some reason, I don’t recall hearing “You’ve Got To Stand For Something” as much when it originally came out, but I most definitely remember hearing this song for the first few times. Even as a little kid, I noticed right away how twangy his vocals were compared to everyone else, and I remember even being amused by his singing every time this song would come on while I was riding in the car with my parents, almost like it could’ve been a cartoon character singing. I remember even my parents would easily be able to identify him whenever one of his songs came on because of his truly unique voice alone. Anyway, this song would also make it on to many tapes I recorded in 1992, along with a couple from early 1993. I even remember the DJ even having fun with the song’s title after I had recorded it one time. And whenever it came on as a recurrent while my dad and I were in his car, we’d always enjoy it all over again, no matter how many time we’d heard it.

    I also really like both “I Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way,” and “My Blue Angel” and it’s too bad those didn’t also reach the top. I especially remember “..Any Other Way” being another one of my favorites during the late summer of 1992, and my step dad even caught me singing along to it on the radio quietly while we were parked in our new garage (I had become super shy about singing out loud to anybody by then). Both my dads were also fans of Aaron, with my step dad especially liking him not only because of his songs and style, but because he was also from South Carolina. My dad, on the other hand, just really liked his super twangy voice, and every time one of his songs would come on in the car, he’d always sing along and try to mimic his voice, lol. He was also a fan of “My Blue Angel” and its video, especially, and he considered “Any Other Way” to be one of his theme songs. Aaron’s songs from this time period would always just bring back great memories for us, as well.

    The Read Between The Lines album is actually one of my personal favorite records of his, with lots of other great cuts like “If I Had It To Do Over,” “This Heart,” “These Sweet Dreams,” and “The Sound Of Your Goodbye (Sticks And Stones).” As Peter pointed out though, his debut is great, as well. It’s a shame that “I Wonder How Far It Is Over You” wasn’t a big hit, especially.

  4. @Peter Saros – thanks for the response! I just finished listening to his debut album and it’s really good. I’ll have to check out the rest. Looking back, I realize that there are a lot of these artists whose singles I know really well, but due to limited funds as a teenager, I couldn’t dig into everyone’s entire catalogue, which is one of the benefits of streaming services now.

  5. Speaking of Aaron Tippin’s Hank Sr. influences, I just remembered this cover of “Lovesick Blues” that he really nailed on the old Hot Country Nights TV show. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuPTyjbA3Lc (The video title says 1989, but I’m pretty sure it’s either late 1991 or early 1992) I really wish we could still have shows like that on TV by the way!

    The only other one from the early 90’s I can think of who probably took the Hank Sr, influence even further was young Kentuckian, Marty Brown, who unfortunately wasn’t as commercially successful as Aaron, but was also quite talented nonetheless. I have his first two albums on MCA and really enjoy them both!

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