Written by Billy Livsey and Don Schlitz
#1 (1 week)
November 20, 1993
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
November 12, 1993
Mark Chesnutt is bringing Billy Sherrill back.
The Road to No. 1
Almost Goodbye was led off by the No. 1 single “It Sure is Monday.” The title track was the second single sent to radio, and it replicated the success of the lead single.
The No. 1
Mark Chesnutt is known as one of the traditionalist titans of his time, so what to make of this string-drenched ballad?
My take: It’s an homage to those dramatic domestic disturbance records released by George Jones and produced by Billy Sherill.
“Almost Goodbye” captures a near breakup following a fight where “everything we said, we made sure the neighbors heard.” But before it goes too far, as they reach the moment where it all comes “down to one word – but you couldn’t say it and I couldn’t say it.”
So the drama of the record comes from the strings, which imply an alternative timeline where our narrator didn’t hold his tongue, and all that would’ve been lost if he or his partner hadn’t stepped back from the precipice.
As he notes in the bridge, “sometimes the most important words are the ones that you leave unspoken.”
The Road From No. 1
Another great single from Almost Goodbye is on the way, and it follows on the heels of Chesnutt’s surprise Horizon Award victory at the 1993 CMA Awards. We’ll cover it in early 1994.
“Almost Goodbye” gets an A.
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The sudden skittering of those strings from the alternate timeline early in the song’s intro capture the adrenaline rush of the emotional near miss that is the rest of the song. It’s a brilliant production touch.
I have always loved how theatrical this performance is and how breathy Chestnut is as a vocalist. Kevin rightly reference Billy Sherill’s influence on the production. I hear so much of Charlie Rich in this song. Chestnut covered Rich’s “Who Will the Next Fool Be” on his previous album and Don Gibson’s “Woman, Sensuous Woman” on this one so he was seemingly as steeped in the Nashville Sound as much as he was hard country. This song just sounds like the 90’s to me in all the best ways possible.
This is one of my favourite all time Chestnut performances.
This isn’t necessarily one of my top favorites of Chesnutt’s ballads because it’s a lot more contemporary than usual for him, but it’s still a very good song. Great call, Kevin, on the Billy Sherrill influence, and it’s a connection I never made until now. As already mentioned, I love the dramatic strings throughout the record, especially on the second verse, and it’s a pretty cool observation on how they represent how things would’ve gone if they had, in fact, said goodbye to each other.
Also, Peter, great points on Mark’s connections with Charlie Rich and the Nashville Sound era. He would also eventually cover Rich’s “Rollin’ With The Flow” which I thought he did a great job with.
Fantastic song – one of his best!