Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: Clint Black, “Burn One Down”

“Burn One Down”

Clint Black

Written by Clint Black, Frankie Miller, and Hayden Nicholas

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

December 11, 1992

A deliciously bitter highlight of the Clint Black catalog.

The Road to No. 1

The Hard Way only produced three singles, but all of them topped at least one of the two major charts. Following “We Tell Ourselves,” Black returned to No. 1 with “Burn One Down.”

The No. 1

This is my favorite Clint Black single ever.

I love the fiddle, I love the Haggard-reminiscent vocal, and I love the melody.

But all of them take a back seat to the lyric, which applies Black’s skilled wordplay to a legendary kiss-off that’s as clever as it is cutting.

Just the double meaning alone of that last lyric in the second verse: “Anyone can see you won’t be crying over me, and you never were that kind.”

It gets me every damn time.

He’s gathering up his pride on the way out the door by convincing his parting lover, and perhaps trying to convince himself, that he had her number the whole time:  “That’s just the way you are,” he insists. “I’ve known all along.”

Did he? Maybe not.

Is it a satisfying turn of the knife anyway? Hell, yeah.

The Road From No. 1

Next up is the third and final single from The Hard Way, and it will top both charts in 1993.

“Burn One Down” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

Previous: George Strait, “I Cross My Heart” |

Next: Alan Jackson, “She’s Got the Rhythm (and I Got the Blues)”

7 Comments

  1. An excellent pick for your favorite Clint Black song!

    I also love everything about this song, from the beautiful opening fiddle, the solid traditional country arrangement, the clever biting lyrics, and Clint’s performance. As as a little kid, my favorite single from this album was “When My Ship Comes In,” and that was the reason my step dad got me his The Hard Way album for me on cd back in early 1993. However, even though I still really like “Ship,” “Burn One Down” would eventually become my favorite single and song on this album, as I grew to love it more and more as the years went by. It also wasn’t until I got older that I recognized and appreciated the cleverness in that line you highlighted featuring the double meaning of the word kind. It’s simply pure genius, and it’s definitely one of my favorite parts of the song, as well.

    I also remember hearing this song on the radio often in the Fall of 1992 and going into early 1993. And not to make anyone sick of my Cracker Barrel references, but this is yet another song that reminds me of my parents and I going there. It especially reminds me of when I used to love those cinnamon broom sticks that they used to sell, and I remember my dad buying one of them to hang on his front door back in late ’92. I used to love smelling it whenever we visited his house back then. lol To this day, this is a song I still love to listen to on a nice chilly Fall/Winter night, and it’s another one that still occasionally comes to mind whenever we go to Cracker Barrel. Oh, and this song even made it on to a couple of the tapes I recorded from the radio in early ’93.

    Later on, and I’m not sure if anyone else remembers this, I would hear/read rumors about this song being sort of a kiss off message to his former manager, Bill Ham, who he was battling in court before the release of this album. However, as I had recently read in one of my vintage issues of Country Music Magazine, Clint denied any of the material being related to his situation then, stating that the songs were written well before any of his troubles with his manager began. Still, it’s an interesting thing to think about, and you can’t help but wonder…

    Btw, I also liked the piece you wrote on this fine tune in the old Forgotten Hits feature. It’s a shame that it’s become one of his more forgotten/lesser known hits even though it went number one. It deserves to be regarded as one of his best right along with most anything from the Killin’ Time era, imo.

  2. I love hearing an artist reinterpret their own material but the “D’lectrfried” version sounds like a performance from a late night talk show house band to my ears. Which might just mean it has a snappier, broader appeal than his decidedly country original recording. It’s just that the original recording is so damn beautiful for the reasons Kevin described.

    Clint Black recorded cool music.

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