“Straight Tequila Night”
Written by Debbie Hupp and Kent Robbins
#1 (1 week)
March 14, 1992
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
February 28, 1992
The comeback of the decade.
The Road to No. 1
John Anderson was one of the most important neo-traditionalists of the early eighties. Although his musical influences were rock artists and he was in a rock band in his early teens, he changed direction when he discovered Merle Haggard and George Jones.
He worked his way up through the Nashville club scene, eventually earning a deal with Warner Bros. in the late seventies. His debut album was released in 1980, and included his breakthrough singles “Your Lying Blue Eyes” and “1959.” He continued to grow in popularity with John Anderson 2, which included his classic top five hit, “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday).” Three more top ten hits followed from that album and its follow-up, I Just Came Home to Count the Memories.
He reached his first commercial peak with Wild & Blue, which featured the chart-topping title track and the gold-selling No. 1 single “Swingin’.” Anderson won the CMA Horizon Award and the album also went gold. Momentum continued with “Black Sheep,” which became his third No. 1 single, but after that, his career momentum slowed.
After one top five hit from his 1984 album, Eye of a Hurricane, all but one of Anderson’s eighties singles fell short of the top ten. Two label changes failed to restore his popularity, and with the new wave of talent topping the charts in the early nineties, his deal with RCA spin-off BNA seemed like a longshot. Indeed, his first single for the label, “Who Got Our Love,” barely charted.
The No. 1
But Anderson had an ace up his sleeve with “Straight Tequila Night,” which went to radio in late 1991.
With a strong hook and a beautiful fiddle track perfectly intertwined with Anderson’s distinctive vocals, the record rejuvenated Anderson’s career, and rightfully so.
I’ve talked a lot about the meritocracy of the early nineties, and this is yet another example of radio playing a song because it was damned good, despite it being from an artist who was coming off twelve straight misses spread over multiple labels.
“Straight Tequila Night” is one of the best singles of the entire decade. It’s relentlessly catchy and evokes empathy for the woman being romantically pursued, who feels like a real person and not just a plot device.
It kicked off the comeback of the decade, propelling one of the best eighties traditionalists into a new creative and commercial peak.
The Road From No. 1
Anderson scored another huge hit with “When it Comes to You,” a Mark Knopfler cover that went top five. Next up was the title track from his comeback album, Seminole Wind. We’ll see that later in 1992.
“Straight Tequila Night” gets an A.