Our Best Singles of 1993 list continues with a collection of #1 hits, breakthrough hits, and should’ve been hits. Kicking things off is the debut single from one of the decade’s most successful vocal groups. #30 “Goodbye Says it All” BlackHawk Written by Bobby Fischer, Charlie Black and Johnny MacRae Peak: #11 #9 – SG | #31 – BF BlackHawk enjoyed a nice run of hits from their debut album, including this kiss-off song. Lead singer Henry Paul was best known for his work in the Southern Rock band The Outlaws, but his distinctive voice adapted well to mainstream country, too. “Goodbye” showed off the great harmonies from the trio (Paul, Dave Robbins and the late Van Stephenson), and it also proved the adage that nothing good has ever written been down in lipstick (Patty Loveless’ “She Drew a Broken Heart” is Exhibit B). – Sam Gazdziak
And so we come to the end. The top of our list includes a wide range of artists singing a wide range of country music styles. Thematically, these entries are diverse, but what they all have in common is what has always made for great country music. They are all perfectly-written songs delivered with sincerity by the artists who brought them to life.
400 Greatest Singles of the Nineties: #25-#1
Smoke Rings in the Dark
1999 | Peak: #12
A dark, atmospheric wonder, as Allan delivers the final eulogy for a love that couldn’t help burning out. – Dan Milliken
Just to See You Smile
1997 | Peak: #1
Being deeply enamored of someone can make it easy – even appealing – to forfeit your own well-being. This single’s sunny sound reflects the persistent affection pulsing through its protagonist, but its story demonstrates the heartbreak to which such unmeasured selflessness leads. – DM
As might be expected, the subject matters are getting more intense as we edge closer to the top. But there’s still room for some carefree moments here, thanks to the Dixie Chicks and Jo Dee Messina.
400 Greatest Singles of the Nineties: #75-#51
When You Say Nothing at All
Alison Krauss & Union Station
1995 | Peak: #3
This Keith Whitley classic was recorded as part of a tribute album to the late country star. It became a hit all over again, perhaps because Krauss performed it in a near-whisper. The quiet arrangement matches the sentiment beautifully. – Kevin Coyne
1993 | Peak: #1
Lawrence dishes on his ex’s cheating ways to her new potential lover. How did she get that way? He reveals that he’s the one who taught her everything she knows from the cheater’s playbook. Moreover, he seems regretful of her corruption. – Leeann Ward
This section begins with a song about a farmer and his wife and ends with one about Mama. Doesn’t get much more country than this!
400 Greatest Singles of the Nineties: #275-#251
Somewhere Other Than the Night
1992 | Peak: #1
About a woman who only feels truly appreciated by her husband when they’re having sex. That kind of says it all, doesn’t it? – Dan Milliken
Looking Out For Number One
1993 | Peak: #11
From his rocking side, Tritt is tired of trying to please everyone around him, including his demanding lover. As a result, he brashly declares that he’s going to make some changes, which will include looking out for himself. Get out of the way, because his ferocious performance makes him seem quite serious about his epiphany. – Leeann Ward
Let That Pony Run
1992 | Peak: #1
Gretchen Peters wrote the gorgeous song and Pam Tillis, in turn, beautifully sings it. The song is about Mary, a woman who is forced to start a new life after her husband confesses his infidelities with no apologies. The story is sad, it’s resilient, and it’s hopeful. – LW
I Just Want to Dance With You
1998 | Peak: #1
Any monotony in the verses is overcome by the song’s completely enticing rhythm and flavor. How can you not get lost in this? – Tara Seetharam
Written by Music & More blogger Bob Losche.
Connecticut born songwriter Gary Burr got his first break when he broke his leg in a high school soccer game. With time on his hands, he taught himself to play the guitar and began writing songs. His second break came in 1982 when, without a co-writer, he penned Juice Newton’s “Love’s Been a Little Bit Hard on Me”. That same year, he became the lead singer for Pure Prairie League after Vince Gill left the group to pursue a solo career. Gary remained with PPL until 1985 and headed to Nashville in the late 1980’s. He has since been awarded ‘Songwriter of the Year’ on three separate occasions by three different organizations: Billboard, Nashville Songwriter’s Association International, and ASCAP. He has also received over twenty of ASCAP’s recognition awards for radio play activity, and cds featuring his songs have sold more than 50 million units world-wide. He’s currently affiliated with SESAC. Most recently, he was Carole King’s guitarist on her “Living Room Tour”, performing some of his own songs as well.
If you go to Gary’s website and click on Discography you’ll see a Short List of 35 of his best known songs, in alphabetical order by recording artist. If you click on Full List, you see the names of about 170 songs. You’ll find hits and albums track (“hidden treasures” to some) by country artists such as Hal Ketchum, Patty Loveless, Randy Travis, Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Tanya Tucker, Ty Herndon, Faith Hill, Leann Rimes, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Gary Allan, Andy Griggs, Kathy Mattea, Lorrie Morgan, Terri Clark, Collin Raye, Doug Stone, Ricky Van Shelton, Diamond Rio, Conway Twitty, Chely Wright and many others plus pop artists Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, etc . The website list does not include the current Sarah Buxton hit “Outside My Window”.
Earlier this week, Tara Seetharam posted about songs that resonate for reasons beyond the lyrics. This got me thinking about something close to the opposite: What about songs that stand out because of a particular lyric, a line that takes on a life of its own beyond the song?
I first heard “Too Many Memories” on the Patty Loveless album Long Stretch of Lonesome. It was later recorded by Hal Ketchum. It’s a good song, no doubt, but the kicker that ends the second verse has grown into words to live by for me:
What makes you grow old is replacing hope with regret.
I’ve used that quote countless times, and as I get older, it gets ever more true.
Is this just me, or do any of you also have lines from songs that are words to live by?
#10 The SteelDrivers, The SteelDrivers Chris Stapleton’s voice just blows me away. As Lee Ann Womack has recently observed, he sings like a real man. He takes Travis Tritt’s soulfulness to a whole new level. With incredible harmonies and terrific songs not limited to “Blue Side of the Mountain” and “Drinkin’ Dark Whiskey”, this is a strong project that certainly stood out in 2008. #9 Jason Boland & The Stragglers, Comal County Blue I love Boland’s folk-tinged country voice, which sings these memorable fiddle laden melodies to great affect. While the lyrics can be abstract at times, they still manage to feel meaningful. I’ve come to realize that what ultimately appeals to me about this album is the fact that it reminds me of good nineties country music, which is the era that drew me to this genre in the first place. #8 Darrell Scott, Modern Hymns My admiration for Read More
Happy holidays, everybody! I’m back with my personal top ten albums of the year, a list that took a stupid-long time to put together but is very nice to have done. All I would say as a note is that I like all of these albums very much and don’t think the rankings should be scrutinized to death, because my tastes certainly change frequently enough. Okay, you get it. Let’s do this. Va-VOOM! #10 Dailey and Vincent, Dailey and Vincent I typically lean progressive in my bluegrass tastes, but there’s simply no arguing with this dynamic twosome, whose debut finds them ripping into a straight-ahead traditional style with such crazy-polished singing, playing and writing that they practically become the new standard. Excellent. #9 Kathy Mattea, Coal Confession: I wasn’t quite sure how to take this one. Although I like Kathy Mattea’s voice and generally love concept albums, I had trouble Read More
Hal Ketchum Father Time If you’re looking for slick productions that include loud drums, obligatory guitar solos or simply the polished sounds of today’s country music, this is not the album for you. However, if you were hoping for Hal Ketchum’s signature soulful but sensitive vocal prowess, thoughtful lyrics and gentle instrumentation that will actually allow you to focus on the words rather than being distracted by the production, Father Time will likely be an album that you’ll want to add to your music collection. Because Hal Ketchum was lamenting the fact that musicians and artists didn’t seem to record together in the studio anymore, he was inspired to try to do it himself. As a result, he called his favorite musicians and created a live, direct to two track album where almost everyone gathered in the same room to record their parts. While this endeavor only took two days Read More
Hal Ketchum, “In Front of the Alamo” He was one of the oldest of the new country stars, and there was always an aura of wisdom about him from the start. Here, he writes a beautifully sympathetic portrait of a woman leaving a bad relationship behind. After all, what better a place to make a stand than in front of the Alamo? Before you worry that this is one of those over-the-top country numbers with a tortured metaphor, it’s actually wonderfully understated. The character is so believable that it seems just a happy accident that she makes a tough choice in front of a historical landmark. Country radio just sounded better when Ketchum was on it. It’s so good to hear his voice again. Grade: A- Listen: In Front of the Alamo