Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Shenandoah, “If Bubba Can Dance (I Can Too)”

“If Bubba Can Dance (I Can Too)”


Written by Bob McDill, Mike McGuire, and Marty Raybon


#1 (1 week)

May 14, 1994

Shenandoah’s final No. 1 single to date is also their most dated.

The Road to No. 1

Hot off the heels of their No. 1 hit “I Want to Be Loved Like That,” Shenandoah took a song connected to a very specific time and place to No. 1.

The No. 1

In 1995, Shenandoah won the CMA Award for Vocal Event of the Year for “Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart,” which featured guest vocals from Alison Krauss.  It’s a gorgeous record, with Marty Raybon’s already impressive bluegrass-influenced vocal style blending perfectly with Krauss, who received a warm reception from country audiences for her efforts here.

It was such a nice moment for the band, and you couldn’t help but cheer them on.  They even returned to the Vocal Group lineup that year, and had a couple additional hits from the album, which was their first and only release for Liberty.

Let’s remember their hitmaking run that way.  Wasn’t “Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart” great?

This record is terrible, though, and I can’t write more than a sentence about a song inspired by line dancing video ads that played during CMT commercial breaks.

The Road From No. 1

As noted above, the band would return to the top ten with “Vicinity” as well as its follow up, “Darned If I Don’t (Danged if I Do).”  They released a Christmas album on Capitol in 1996, and then Marty Raybon took a hiatus to form Raybon Bros., an MCA act that did quite well on the singles sales charts with their cover of “Butterfly Kisses.”  Raybon then returned to Shenandoah and the band has continued to tour ever since, releasing occasional independent albums. Their most recent release, Every Road, featured appearances by Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, and many other contemporary country artists.

“If Bubba Can Dance (I Can Too)” gets an F.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. It’s had to beleive Bob McDill had a hand in writing this the same way it’s hard to believe Jamey Johnson had a hand writing “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.”

    I wanted to try to connect the field leveling message of this song with the broader every-man appeal of country music.

    Then I stopped.

    Raybon sounds good as he ever does, but he also sounds uninspired which isn’t great for a dance song.

    I wouldn’t fail this song but it barely passes.

  2. Wow, our second F of the year already! I’ve personally always considered 1994 to be one of the weaker, if not THE weakest year of the decade, as far as the quality of mainstream country was concerned, with this, “Indian Outlaw,” and “Watermelon Crawl” being just a few of the examples on why I’ve always felt that way. For a while, I always wondered if I was alone though, since those dopey ditties still seem generally popular and loved today. I’m glad to see that this feature so far is showing me that I’m not quite by myself.

    Yeah, this is no doubt Shenandoah at their lowest point, and it couldn’t be more obvious how much pandering they were doing here. Still, I can’t hate this one TOO much. One: The whole idea is so overly silly that I just can’t help but laugh at how silly it is. Two: I actually have a good memory of my step dad singing along to this one in early 1996 while we were both downstairs in our house. I was on the computer playing games while this song was playing on the brand new portable mouse shaped radio that he bought.

    Overall, I consider Shenandoah switching to Don Cook as their producer to be one of the biggest factors to the overall decline in quality of their material. Most of their Robert Byrne produced stuff from the 80’s and early 90’s still sounds great to my ears, but a lot of their Don Cook stuff now sounds more dated (except for his work with the Mavericks, this can actually apply to a lot of stuff Cook produced in the mid 90’s for other artists, as well). Even though I like a few songs off of Under The Kudzu (namely “I Want To Be Loved Like That,” “I’ll Go Down Loving You,” and “Just Say The Word”) much of that album sounds like their attempt to stay alive on the charts by keeping up with the boot scootin’, novelty, line dancing trends of the times. The follow up, In The Vicinity, was an improvement, though, and I definitely agree with you that the title track off that record is excellent. I also really wish that one was a number one, and it definitely deserves to be more well remembered than it actually is today.

    • 1994 was weak in terms of chart-toppers, but I have to say that it produced several of my favorite nineties country albums, including:
      Johnny Cash, American Recordings
      Patty Loveless, When Fallen Angels Fly
      Mary Chapin Carpenter, Stones in the Road
      Pam Tillis, Sweetheart’s Dance
      Kathy Mattea, Walking Away a Winner
      Alan Jackson, Who I Am
      Olivia Newton-John, Gaia (yes, very country flavored – more so than her actual 1998 “country” album)
      Lari White, Wishes
      Iris DeMent, My Life
      George Strait, Lead On
      Randy Travis, This is Me
      The Mavericks, What a Crying Shame

      What a year!

      • Chiming in out of sequence here to agree with you. 1994 was a weak year for chart-toppers but an excellent year for songs that missed the top, or in some cases missed the top-20. Mediocrity was beginning to get rewarded and, once that precedent was set and repeatedly reinforced, it led to the great unraveling where most of the risk-takers were nudged aside and survival required checking the right boxes for either boneheaded novelty songs or assembly line wedding ballads.

  3. This is actually one of Shenandoah’s more traditional sounding songs (more fiddle and steel than they usually had) but everything else about this song is dated and super cheesy. I’ve actually tolerated a lot of the ditties of this era, so I don’t hate this song, but definitely one of my least favorites up until this point.

  4. I wonder what I would have thought of country music if I started trying to listen to it a couple years earlier than I did? As it is, I came into it in late ’93 and loved it. But I also liked that it had pop elements to it and always said at the time that I loved country music, but not that old twangy stuff. I was even impressed when a country song that I liked was a crossover hit. However, it’s interesting that I still love so many songs from the mid-nineties, the time that I fell in love with country music, but my general taste in country music definitely now leans toward more traditional, including the more traditional songs from the nineties but also including that old twangy stuff.

    With that said, I did not remember that this song went number one. This is one that I never liked.

  5. Kevin – Oh yeah, if we’re talking about albums, it’s definitely a different story! I guess it’s just sometimes easy for me to forget a lot the good stuff that also came out when we’re mainly focusing on the chart toppers here or if you’re just looking at the charts. I actually sometimes forget that What a Crying Shame, specifically, was a 1994 release since my first exposure to the Mavericks and the album’s singles was in 1995. I also own and still enjoy several of the other albums you’ve listed.

    Other ’94 albums I really like:

    David Ball – Thinkin’ Problem
    Joy Lynn White – Wild Love
    George Ducas – George Ducas
    Doug Supernaw – Deep Thoughts From A Shallow Mind
    Blackhawk – Blackhawk
    Rick Trevino – Rick Trevino
    Marty Stuart – Love And Luck
    Merle Haggard – 1994

    Leeann – Sometimes I wonder if I’d like some of these late ’93 and 1994 songs a lot more I were actually still listening to country radio during that time. 1990 and 1991 are the years I first really got into country music, which was when the neo-traditional sound was still pretty much on top, so that’s likely one of the biggest factors on why I still love and mainly prefer traditional sounding country to this day, and why I still love early 90’s country so much. It also might be why it didn’t take me too long to warm up to the “old twangy stuff” from the 50’s, 60’s and older. However, my stations were actually still playing a good amount of late 70’s and 80’s Urban Cowboy style hits as recurrents around that time as well, so that’s also probably why I tend to have a higher tolerance for that style of country than others here. When country started becoming more pop influenced in the late 90’s and early 00’s, though, I’ll admit that I didn’t really like some of those poppier sounding records, at first, especially a lot of Shania’s singles from Come on Over and after that. But now I find I have a much higher tolerance for that kind of pop country and even love a lot of those records now and look back fondly on them with nostalgia. My higher tolerance for pop country only extends to the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and early 00’s, though. Modern pop country is still definitely not for me, I’m afraid, lol.

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