Lee Roy Parnell
Written by Rory Bourke, Cris Moore, and Lee Roy Parnell
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
May 7, 1993
Another unlikely nineties country star tops the chart for the first time.
The Road to No. 1
Lee Roy Parnell’s Texas musical roots run deep. His father toured medicine shows with Bob Wills when the legend was still a teenager, and Lee Roy’s first public performance would be on Wills’ radio show when he was only six years old. Before he was out of his teens, Lee Roy was playing with Kinky Friedman, and he became a regular on the Texas honky-tonk and roadhouse circuits.
His local success spurred a move to Nashville, where he quickly landed a publishing deal. That soon led to a recording contract with Arista’s new Nashville division. They released his self-titled debut album in 1990, which reviewed well but was considered too left of center for country radio.
Parnell struck a stronger balance between country and blues on his sophomore set, Love Without Mercy. After its lead single, “The Rock,” peaked outside the top forty, the album produced two top ten hits: “What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am,” which just missed the top, and then the title track. For the fourth and final single, Arista chose the upbeat “Tender Moment.”
The No. 1
“Tender Moment” is a great example of how country radio in the nineties was willing to accept idiosyncratic and unique artists, provided they were willing to smooth out their rough edges for their singles.
Parnell’s blues-inspired vocals cut through the cut-by-numbers production, as was typical for his run of hits. No matter how standard the rest of track was, you could always count on Parnell’s voice and slide guitar to cut through and stand out.
Parnell’s heartfelt delivery of the lyric helps to counteract the somewhat condescending lyric, but his heart’s in the right place and the remedy is a good one. A “tender moment,” like “a loving word or the touch of your hand,” will cure what ails her.
Or take her bowling, I guess. Nineties videos didn’t always make sense.
The Road From No.1
Parnell’s next album, On the Road, got off to a good start with its top ten title track. The second single went to No. 1. We’ll cover it in 1994.
“Tender Moment” gets a B+.
Previous: Alan Jackson, “Tonight I Climbed the Wall” |