Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Wynonna, “Only Love”

“Only Love”


Written by Marcus Hummon and Roger Murrah

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

September 24, 1993

Wynonna taps into her folk roots.

The Road to No. 1

After four No. 1 singles from Wynonna, two top five hits followed: “A Bad Goodbye,” a duet with Clint Black that led off his No Time To Kill set, and “Tell Me Why,” the title track from Wynonna’s sophomore solo album.  That album would produce another four big hits, but only one of them made it to the top of one of our charts.

The No. 1

There is a clear line between what The Judds did as a duo and what Wynonna did on her own.

“Only Love” is easily the most acoustic and stripped down single of Wy’s solo career, yet it only serves to further demonstrate how different her approach was to such material.

It’s easy to imagine Wynonna and Naomi going full twang on this and turning in a record that sounded like “Young Love” or “Mama He’s Crazy.”

Instead, “Only Love” is Wynonna’s AM Radio moment, and she’s never done anything else quite like it, before or since.  She is able to channel all of those great seventies folk records that had women strumming their guitars and barely singing above a whisper.

Perhaps one needs to know the full power of her voice to full understand the choice she makes on this record. For Wynonna, love is such a miraculous thing that only a whispered prayer of gratitude can celebrate such a blessing.

It’s a stunning record, and it’s still only the third or fourth best single from the album.

The Road From No. 1

Tell Me Why produced three additional top ten singles: the devastating “Is it Over Yet,” a lightly remixed “Rock Bottom,” and the Mary Chapin Carpenter-penned “Girls With Guitars.”  Wynonna’s solo career kicked off with ten straight top ten singles before she took some time off to have her first child.  We won’t see her again until the spring 1996, when the lead single from her third album, revelations, tops the chart.

“Only Love” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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1 Comment

  1. It is such a reverential and restrained performance. Kevin is right to comment what artistry is required not to go full bombast with the production or vocals here. I can easily hear James Taylor or Dan Fogelberg singing this which is not to diminish Judd’s version. Rather, it is a wonderful tip of the hat to just how influential the folkies from the 70’s were to this generation of country stars, sonically and lyrically.

    Such a soft, tender, and gorgeous single.

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