Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Lorrie Morgan, “What Part of No”

“What Part of No”

Lorrie Morgan

Written by Wayne Perry and Gerald Smith

Billboard

#1 (3 weeks)

February 27 – March 13, 1993

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

February 26, 1993

A polite but firm Lorrie Morgan sets some boundaries.

The Road to No. 1

Lorrie Morgan earned consecutive No. 1 singles for the only time in her career, following up “Watch Me” with her longest-running chart topper on the Billboard chart.

The No. 1

“What Part of No” is one of Morgan’s best uptempo singles, and it captures the reality of women being harassed by unwanted suitors in as diplomatic a way as country radio would likely allow back in the hat act era.

She’s still a bit too apologetic by modern standards, especially as she explains, “I don’t mean to be so mean, I don’t think I’m getting through,” as if it’s her fault that he has to be told, “What part of no don’t you understand?”

But in 1993, this was an aggressive kiss-off, and coming from that era’s heir apparent of Tammy Wynette, it packed an extra punch.

The Road From No. 1

“What Part of No” helped power Watch Me to platinum status, making Lorrie Morgan the first woman in country music history to have her first three albums go platinum.  Radio played “I Guess You Had to Be There” and “Half Enough” less than its first two singles, then completely abandoned Morgan’s fourth album, War Paint, which produced three singles that all fell short of the top thirty.

In a sign of Morgan’s enduring appeal with audiences, War Paint still went gold.  She’d return to the penthouse with the lead single from her Greatest Hits project, which we’ll cover in 1995.

“What Part of No” gets a B+.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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6 Comments

  1. Really love this song, and it’s one of my all time favorites from Lorrie! Not only do I like it because it’s totally relatable, but I also love just how classic country sounding it really is. From the twangy guitar in the intro and throughout the second verse, the excellent steel playing from Sonny Garrish, the fiddle, the catchy melody, and Lorrie’s flawless pure country vocals, this song is nothing short of a delight to listen to from beginning to end. For me, the “politeness” in how she tells the unwanted suitor to shoo has always been part of the song’s charm, and I think it fits the classic country feel of the song perfectly. That a song this country sounding (and by a female, nonetheless) could still be such a big success on the radio is yet one more reason why I love this late 1992/early 1993 period so much. If it wasn’t for “I Guess You Had To Be There,” this would easily be my favorite single from this album.

    I also remember this song still being a steady recurrent for us when I was getting back into listening to country radio regularly in the mid 90’s, and it was still being played regularly as late as 2001. And yep, you guessed it! It also made it on to at least a couple of tapes that I recorded from the radio in early 1993. One of those is another colorful My First Sony tape, and besides Lorrie, Side A also includes “I’ll Think Of Something” by Mark Chesnutt, “The Last One To Know” by Reba, “Mirror Mirror” by Diamond Rio, “You Really Had Me Going” by Holly Dunn, “He Walked On Water” by Randy Travis, “Wild Man” by Ricky Van Shelton, and “A Long Line Of Love” by Michael Martin Murphey.

    It’s always been such a mystery to me why radio suddenly cooled on her after the success of this song. I also really love both “I Guess You Had To Be There” and “Half Enough” and it’s too bad neither was nearly as successful (though “Half Enough” did at least make top 10). Admittedly, I think War Paint is one of her weaker 90’s albums, though there are some songs on there I really like too (especially “Exit 99,” “The Hard Part Was Easy,” “Don’t Touch Me,” and “Heart Over Mind.”) Thankfully, she rebounded nicely after that, and I’m really looking forward to the coverage on her mid 90’s hits!

  2. …still one of the catchiest hooks in country music. not to mention “good as i was to you” later. dishing out rarely has come more dishy. her’s and emmylou harris’ hairdresser would deserve a place in the hall of fame – or at least an exhibition there in nashville.

  3. ah, my first crush as a kid. such a big fan of her. i wish she would have had more success in her career. what an incredible talent. i always wonder what would have been if keith never died.

  4. At her peak, Morgan’s ability to indulge her pop sensibilities while still consistently creating rock-steady country records paved the road for so many female country stars who would follow. Morgan was such an important inspiration to a generation of young stars and a role model of what a modern female country artist could be. She had so much personality, confidence, and punch. Shania Twain doesn’t happen without Lorrie Morgan.

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