“It’s Your Call”
Written by Bruce Birch, Shawna Harrington-Burkhart, and Liz Hengber
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
July 23, 1993
A longtime leader falls behind.
The Road to No. 1
Reba McEntire followed her No. 1 duet with Vince Gill, “The Heart Won’t Lie,” with the third and final single from It’s Your Call.
The No. 1
It’s the title track, and it’s a mess.
Coming off of her two best studio albums, Rumor Has it and For My Broken Heart, Reba McEntire had positioned herself as both a creative and commercial leader among female country artists.
She’d maintain the latter status until the mid-nineties, but “It’s Your Call” was the single that signaled she wasn’t in sync anymore with where the women of country were going.
Only two short years ago, it had been Tanya Tucker and Lorrie Morgan who were selling the most records besides Reba, and their material was largely cut from the same “victim queen” cloth that Kitty Wells, Tammy Wynette, and Reba herself had woven entire careers from.
But by 1993, the most compelling voices were Mary Chapin Carpenter, Pam Tillis, Wynonna, and Trisha Yearwood, and they were recording intelligent and sophisticated material that featured independent women that all had a strongly developed sense of self-worth. They got hurt, but they were survivors, not victims.
McEntire had been heading in that direction herself. “Take it Back” had her leaving a cheating man, while “Buying Her Roses” and “Rumor Has It” were frozen at the moment of finding out about the infidelity, so at least one could imagine that she was headed out the door.
But oh my God, “It’s Your Call.” Originally slated to be the lead single, this finds McEntire handing the phone to her philandering partner: “It’s your call. It’s her. Would you rather take it in the other room?”
What follows would make even Tammy blush, as she gives an ultimatum that lacks even a shred of dignity: “If you stay, tell her goodbye….I can’t stand another night of wondering if I even matter. It’s something only you can answer.”
Good Lord, lady. Leave. You don’t have to fix him a supper with black-eyed peas, but don’t be such a doormat.
Look. She sings the fire out of this song. She sounds absolutely fantastic. But on the radio dial next to “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” and “Let That Pony Run,” she also sounds like something from another era.
The Road From No. 1
Reba followed “It’s Your Call” with a duet that won her a Grammy and powered her second hits collection to five million sales. It’s an even bigger mess. We’ll get to it before the year is out.
“It’s Your Call” gets a C.
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