The following is a guest contribution from Country Universe reader Cory DeStein. An additional Six Pack written by Kevin J. Coyne will follow later this week.
K.T. Oslin appears to most often enter a conversation with the line, “Older woman who broke into the music business.” A better introduction would be genius songwriter. She was the first woman to win the CMA award for Song of the Year. Her first two albums sold platinum and in three short years, she was awarded three Grammys, four ACM Awards, and two CMA Awards. With theatrical videos such as “80’s Ladies,” “Come Next Monday” and “Mary and Willie,” along with her masterful songwriting skills, her work has a timeless quality, with the themes she addressed back then still being relevant and fresh today.
I first knew of K.T. Oslin through the video “Come Next Monday” when I was just a child in 1990, and Love in a Small Town became the very first album I ever owned. After hearing “Hold Me” on satellite radio in 2006, I quickly caught myself up on her catalog and was very pleased that I did. She may not be an elite vocalist like Trisha Yearwood or Carrie Underwood, but her refreshing tack on songwriting will please any discerning listener.
The song that broke down the barriers on Music Row and forever changed the rules of what could be written about in country music. Her feminist anthem for the middle-aged woman only peaked at No. 7 on the charts, but it went on to win Oslin her first Grammy and the CMA award for Song of the Year. Oslin has said of “80’s Ladies” that she wanted it to be something people would remember her by. She certainly succeeded on that front.
On a trip to North Carolina to visit friends in 2005, a song came on my satellite radio. The spoken verses described a husband detailing to his wife how he had planned to leave her that very morning. I found the lyrics quite harsh and brutally honest in his intentions. “When I left here this morning I was bound and determined I was never going to come back…” Never before had I heard a song take this approach. As the wife explained she too had left that very morning with no plan on returning. Oslin speaks the verses, but when the couple reconciles, she sings with gusto: “Don’t kiss me like we’re married. Kiss me like we’re lovers.”
Oslin moved from the busy streets of New York City to mild side streets of Nashville, Tennessee in the eighties. Shortly after her arrival, she was invited to Catfish Fry – not something that you would find in NYC. The event inspired her to write “Hey Bobby.” The lyrics almost seem to be from a man’s point of view, but instead it’s just K.T. breaking down yet another barrier, as she plays the seductress tempting her lover with the a tryst out in the countryside.
“Come Next Monday”
Love In a Small Town
On the last of her four No. 1 singles, Oslin sings half-hearted promises of losing weight, going to bed early, and dropping a lover who is no good for her. Oslin’s wit and personality shine through, as the listener knows she truly will be sorry come Tuesday when it all starts over again. The song shot to the top of the charts with the help with the Bride of Frankenstein themed music video.
“New Way Home”
Greatest Hits: Songs from an Aging Sex Bomb
I usually feel less is more in the production arena but in this tale of woman preserving her heart by finding a new way home, Ballard’s larger production works moer effectively. Oslin sings of finding a new way home to protect her heart from all that it has already had to go through. She “can’t be driving by your house no more” because “someday I’ll see something I don’t wanna see, and it will only break my heart all over again.”
“Maybe We Should Learn To Tango”
Live Close By, Visit Often
“Tango” could possibly be the sequel to Oslin’s 1988 “Hold Me,” with the married couple still working on ways to keep the flame alive. When we first met the two in the late eighties, they each made it to the edge of town, but turned the car around and headed back to each other’s arms. Now they consider taking tango lessons as a way to reconnect, hoping the physical closeness can help to close the growing emotional distance between them.
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As a relative newcomer to Country trying to catch up, I hadn’t heard of K. T. Oslin until now.
Just found “Come Next Monday” and “80’s Ladies”. These really are excellent songs. Just that late 70s/80’s production that I hear, particularly in “80’s Ladies” that I am a little uncomfortable with. Is bizarre as it might seem, given the lyrics, this one some how reminds me of a Meatloaf song that I would rather forget.
Thanks for bringing her to my attention Corry. I will check out some more of her songs.
Great piece. I’ve always been a big fan of K.T. Oslin. I’ve always felt she was under-appreciated . She seems to be forgotten lately too. Glad to see you recognizing her.
And the first 5 read like my own list of favorite K.T. songs. I would have included ‘I’ll Aways Come Back’ though. I don’t have Live Close By, Visit Often, but I’ve been meaning to get it.
Oh, and ‘Didn’t Expect It to Go Down This Way’ is another great example of K.T.’s genius at work lyrically too. Forgot that one.
Me and Kevin were talking and said that a top 25 is too small, but a 6 pack isn’t big enough!
I always thought that K.T. was a very gifted songwriter (check out “Old Pictures” from The Judds’ Heartland CD) but I never cared much for her singing.
Its angers me the songs I left off!!! So many great ones just not enough for a 25 list!
“Didnt Expect it to go down this way”- I love this song, everything about it. Countless times I think to myself this is NOT where I expected to be at this age and I felt I should have had so much more accomplished by now but its not and I am lonely and I am dissappointed, but there is no time for it and I gotta just keep on living it on….K.T. captured that perfectly for me.
“Mary and Willie”-I like the pop production that accompanies this song. The opening pop production is perfect for the feel of the lyrics. And I have been in both Mary and Willie’s position before, either they are not good enough or just not what I have pre planned and in the end it hurts you alot more than the other person.
“Do Ya”-So often now country women are singing of how good looking they are and how any man would be crazy to dump them. Well here K.T. is worried over a husband, someone she has been with a long time and is worried they dont find her attractive anymore because she is older, losing her looks, and has put on weight probally…..when has that vantage point been tackled since this 1987 #1??
“I’ll Always Come Back”-a relationship song that can be taken anyway, husband/wife….mother/son its about the union not the lust. Genius on her part and another master video.
Razor, “Old Pictures” is great and you can find it also on Oslin’s 1987 release “80’s Ladies”
Again, THANKYOU KEVIN and the rest of the staff here for this amazing oppurtunity to share some of my favorite music! You are all the best and run and AMAZING site!
Wow. I was so glad to see this six pack. There was a moment in the late eighties when KT Oslin was huge. She was like nothing else I had ever heard on country radio. She was such a breath of fresh air. Her image and music reminds me of my mom and my aunts. Because of that, I always get a bit choked up when I hear 80s ladies. It’s a really nostalgic song for me.
KT Oslin really changed the face of country music. If only her moment at the top could have lasted a little longer.
I’m not too familiar with Oslin’s music. She definitely has a unique voice. I think I really only know “Eighties Ladies”, “Come Monday” and “Face to Face” with Alabama. I’ll have to look into her some more. Good feature.
Alot of people who havent heard of Oslin’s music say they checked out “80’s Ladies” and “Come Next Monday” but the one I really want everyone to hear is “Hold Me”
Check out the video
Oh, I’ve actually heard that one too.
I didnt want to highjack Kevin’s George Strait topic with K.T. Oslin so I decided to state my opinion here on similar songs to her’s
Kevin already mentioned “If I Know Me” being similar to “Hold Me” and the carbon copy of “Mud on the Tires” with “Hey Bobby” some other examples which arent as obvious as Mud on the Tires but similar for sure I found
“Is there Life Out There”/”Didnt Expect It To Go Down This Way”-McEntire sings her tune of missed oppurtunities in 3rd person while Oslin sang her’s in 1st person. They both stand on their own but the subject matter is the same concept. Middle aged women, living their lives that havent quite met up to the standard they had set in the younger years. McEntire sings “She thought she done some living, now she’s just wondering what she’s living for” and Oslin “Im overworked, and im over weight, cant remember when I last had a date/ Oh I didnt expect it to go down this way”
Oslin’s “Money”-It wasnt the first song, and hasnt been the last song to praise the non-materalistic items in life. Similar to that of “Satin Sheets” and Yearwood’s “Bring Me All Your Lovin” off her 1998 album.
“New Way Home”-I find this song similar to Rhett Atkins “That Aint My Truck” to a certain degree. Oslin’s is more of finding a new way home to prevent the erruption of painful memories and the protection of “Seeing something I dont wanna see that will only break my heart all over again” where as Atkins is just a fool and goes and does it anyway. As similar as I find the two I find Atkins song even more similar to Toby Keith’s “Who’s That Man”
And on the concept of traveling through the decades of times gone by, is Mark Wills “19 something” and Oslin’s anthem “80’s Ladies” but Oslin’s song captures more the individual travels through the years where Wills looks more at the subject as a society and pop culture.
K. T. Oslin is multi-talented. Besides the music genre, she has comedic and acting gifts.
It’s so sad her health problems essentially interrupted her music career in the ’90s. She was interviewed by Larry King in the mid-’90s and she hadn’t written a song for around five years. That’s what I recall.
I personally feel that if she had been living in Los Angeles, as opposed to New York City, she would have been able to capitalize on her many talents much sooner. New York City may have been a good fit friend-wise, but I don’t think it was a good fit career-wise.
Oslin is very unique and distinctive. I love her songs and voice. ‘Money’ is a great song. “A dollar bill won’t give me a kiss when a kiss is all I need.” That’s a great song lyric.
Great piece about K.T.!
“Love In a Small Town” was my first K.T. record too; got it when it came out. It remains, as a whole, my favorite K.T. album. I especially love “Momma Was a Dancer”.
I also love “A Moment of Forever” from “Live Close By, Visit Often”; absolutely beautiful.
Hell, all of K.T.’s music is great! Not a clunker to be found.