Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Tracy Lawrence, “Can’t Break it to My Heart”

“Can’t Break it to My Heart”

Tracy Lawrence

Written by Earl Clark, Tracy Lawrence, Kirk Roth, and Elbert West


#1 (1 week)

August 28, 1993

Another quintessential nineties country hit from Tracy Lawrence.

The Road to No. 1

Tracy Lawrence was enjoying his commercial peak with the Alibis project, kicking off four straight No. 1 hits with the title track.  In between that chart topper and this one, he won the ACM Award for Top New Male Vocalist.

The No. 1

His peak was perfectly timed with the moment where the nineties country formula was perfected, but before it got stale under the deluge of hat acts with less talent than Lawrence.

It’s almost a sin that his label didn’t want him to record this song.  They were trying to push him to do love ballads like labelmate John Michael Montgomery.

But Lawrence fought to include it on the album, and turned in a fantastic performance.  The lyrics are complex and difficult to deliver, but he does so flawlessly.

This could’ve been some clever wordplay in search of a song – “I’ve got it through my head, I just can’t break it to my heart” – but he builds it out into a genuine expression of confusion and heartbreak.  This song captures the moment when you understand that a relationship has come to an end, but you aren’t quite ready to emotionally process it.

He’s still going through the stages of grief, with the second verse capturing the bargaining phase quite well, but we know how this is going to end, and so does he.

What a great song.

The Road From No. 1

Lawrence has an all-star video on deck for his next single, giving Vince Gill’s clip from earlier this year a run for its money.

“Can’t Break it to My Heart” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: Dwight Yoakam, “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere”


  1. Another one of my all time favorites from Tracy Lawrence! Unfortunately, this is another one I missed during its original chart run. When I came back to country in the mid 90’s, I only heard it ONE time on the radio…and that was only the intro of it! My step dad and I drove to Fredericksburg one day around 1995ish, and just as we had parked at the Spotsylvania Mall, this song came on. The intro sounded pretty neat to me with the unique steel guitar part, but he cut it off before I had a chance to hear who it was going to be. That intro was enough to intrigue me, though, and I even remember it still going through my head as we looked around the mall.

    I wouldn’t hear that intro again until I got a copy of The Best Of Tracy Lawrence in the early 00’s, and I remember having that “Ah Ha!” moment as soon as it came on and going like “Oh yeah! It’s THAT song!!” lol. Not surprisingly, I instantly fell in love with it, and it quickly became another one of my already long list of favorite songs from Tracy. I absolutely love the production, the beautiful melody, Tracy’s performance, and as mentioned, it just perfectly captures the all too relatable feeling of not yet being able to fully except that a relationship has ended.

    Luckily, I was able to find a used copy of the Alibis album at the Park City Mall in Lancaster, PA when we were up there around 2003, and it’s been another one of my favorite Tracy Lawrence albums ever since, nearly just as solid as his debut. I have to say, though, that I slightly prefer the version of this song on his Best Of (1998) album because of the longer ending featured on it with the extended guitar solo.

  2. This single is proof alone Lawrence packed more talent under his hat than most of his generation. Maybe Lawrence and Diffie are the two male artists to receive the most retrospective love and respect from this feature.

    Lawrence slays this performance.

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