“The Chill of an Early Fall”
Written by Green Daniel and Gretchen Peters
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
December 6, 1991
George Strait provides a breakthrough hit for Gretchen Peters.
The Road to No. 1
George Strait’s previous three singles had gone No. 1, including the first two from his 1991 album, Chill of an Early Fall. MCA followed up with the title track, which has the distinction of being the first major hit for co-writer Gretchen Peters, who would later provide signature songs for many of the decade’s biggest female artists.
The No. 1
“The Chill of an Early Fall” has the lyrical imagery grounded in nature that Peters would frequently revisit in her later work, and it’s a treat to hear Strait sing something so metaphorical and reflective, let alone score a No. 1 hit with such a song.
To borrow from his previous No. 1, there are times where it sounds like he’s wearing a shoe that’s too small. It’s like he knows he has a great song, but isn’t quite sure how to make it work within the confines of the typical George Strait sound.
This may be the first time in their long collaboration as co-producers where Strait is noticeably reaching the limits of what he can accomplish with Jimmy Bowen. If this had appeared on, say, Easy Come Easy Go or Lead On, I think it would’ve been given some more room to breathe.
So it’s a solid record, for sure, but one that doesn’t reach its full potential.
The Road From No. 1
A fourth single from the project, “Lovesick Blues,” was Strait’s first single to miss the top ten since 1981’s “Down and Out,” and his lowest charting single ever for MCA Records. He bounced back with the top five hit, “Gone as a Girl Can Get,” which previewed his final album with Bowen, Holding My Own. The second and final single from that album will be covered in 1992.
“The Chill of an Early Fall” gets a B.