“The Song Remembers When”
Written by Hugh Prestwood
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
December 10, 1993
Trisha Yearwood arrives with the best No. 1 single of the decade.
The Road to No. 1
Trisha Yearwood last appeared on this feature with “The Woman Before Me,” the final single from her self-titled debut album. She followed that set with the critically acclaimed Hearts in Armor set, widely seen as one of the strongest albums in a consistently excellent catalog. It produced two top five hits: “Wrong Side of Memphis” and “Walkaway Joe.” After two additional top twenty singles, Yearwood previewed her third album with its title track.
The No. 1
And yes, it is the best No. 1 single of the decade.
Brilliantly composed by Hugh Prestwood, delicately produced by Garth Fundis, and flawlessly performed by Trisha Yearwood, “The Song Remembers When” is the pinnacle of nineties country music, where all the best elements come together to form a great record.
I’ve written about what it gets right so many times, but let’s talk about what could’ve gone wrong. The lyric could’ve been ham-fisted instead of subtle with its metaphors. The production could’ve been drenched in strings or electronic keyboards, like any number of AC-leaning country ballads of the decade. Yearwood could’ve tapped into her limitless vocal power and gotten in the way of the song, undercutting the nuance and longing nostalgia of the lyric.
Instead, we got the best singer of her generation delivering the best song she ever sent to radio, and in that brief window of meritocracy, it actually went to No. 1.
I don’t think I’ll ever miss the nineties more during this feature than I do right now.
The Road From No. 1
MCA stopped after two singles from this album, after “Better Your Heart Than Mine” peaked outside the top twenty. Yearwood released a well-received Christmas set, then a stopgap single that went to No. 1 well before it was featured on her fourth studio album. We’ll get to it in 1994.
“The Song Remembers When” gets an A.
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