Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: Travis Tritt, “Nothing Short of Dying”

“Nothing Short of Dying”

Travis Tritt

Written by Travis Tritt

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

May 15, 1992

Travis Tritt goes fully traditional for the last in his string of consecutive No. 1 singles.

The Road to No. 1

“Nothing Short of Dying” is the fifth consecutive No. 1 single for Travis Tritt, and the fourth from his best-selling studio album, It’s All About to Change.

The No. 1

“Nothing Short of Dying” is one of Tritt’s strongest compositions, and it should’ve been one of his best records of this era.

But by going purely traditional with the arrangement, Tritt sounds like he’s holding back, as if he’s slightly out of his element.  The lyric is sharp and its desperation palpable, but Tritt never fully engages with it.

He could be very guilty of going over the top on some of his later records, but here, he needed to be more intense in his vocal delivery.   He doesn’t sound like his hurt is nothing short of dying.  He sounds like he forgot to fill up on gas and he’s running a little late for work.

The Road From No. 1

Tritt’s next single was the top five hit, “Lord Have Mercy On the Working Man,” which led off his third Warner Bros. set, t-r-o-u-b-l-e.   That album would produce only one No. 1 hit.  We’ll get to it in early 1993.

“Nothing Short of Dying” gets a B-. 

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: Ricky Van Shelton, “Backroads”

3 Comments

  1. Sad to say, I have to agree with KJC about this one. TT could really nail heartbreak songs, but he simply missed here. I’m reminded there’s a couple versions of Tied to the Whipping Post that sound way too upbeat in the vocals, and it ruins the effect. What do you think George would have done with this song?

  2. This has actually always been another one of my favorites from Travis, because I just simply love how it sounds, and it’s not too often you hear him do a straight up traditional ballad like this. I do agree though that he does sound a bit more detached than usual from the lyric. If he had put just a little more emotion in his performance, it would’ve definitely been a killer record. Still, I find myself enjoying it whenever it comes on one of my playlists because, as I said, I just love the sound of it. By the way, this is another one I never knew went to number one!

    With even Travis Tritt having big success with a song like this during this time, I’m reminded again of how amazing it is that so many traditional leaning songs were allowed on the radio back then. Vince Gill had two of his most traditional leaning songs out with “Look At Us” and “Take Your Memory With You.” Steve Wariner, an otherwise more contemporary leaning artist, was having big success with the old standard, “The Tips Of My Fingers.” Joe Diffie and Tracy Lawrence had classic country styled ballads with “Is It Cold In Here” and “Today’s Lonely Fool.” Collin Raye had one of the countriest sounding singles of his career with “Every Second.” Mark Chesnutt had the western swing flavored “Old Flames Have New Names.” Aaron Tippin was being successful with a voice that was a complete throwback to the Hank Sr. days. Ricky Van Shelton had the pure country sounding “After The Lights Go Out.” Brooks & Dunn had honky tonk classics like “My Next Broken Heart” and “Neon Moon.” Lorrie Morgan had the fun traditional toe tapper, “Except For Monday.” Tanya Tucker and Diamond Rio also had some of their more traditional leaning singles with “Without You (What Do I Do With Me)” and “Mama Don’t Forget To Pray For Me,” respectively. Even Kenny Rogers was making a brief comeback with a song that was a throwback to his more country sounding classics (Ex: “The Gambler”) with “If You Want To Find Love.” And so on and so on. It was just an overall great time to be a traditional country fan, at least in my eyes.

  3. I have always thought Tritt’s subdued and reserved vocals on this song captured the stunned mood of his position. The guy is dazed and confused, a deer in the headlights of lost love. He is terrified of the only condition that could be worse than being left alone.

    I just love the swooping country swells of the song. I think it works as a beautiful bleak song.

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