Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Rick Trevino, “She Can’t Say I Didn’t Cry”

“She Can’t Say I Didn’t Cry”

Rick Trevino

Written by Tony Martin, Troy Martin, and Reese Wilson

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

September 2, 1994

A promising young artist tops the chart with his breakthrough single.

The Road to No. 1

Rick Trevino grew up surrounded by music.  His father was a local Tejano musician, and his family cultivated their son’s prodigal musical talents, including through classical piano and clarinet lessons.  He was also a talented athlete, and her turned down a college baseball scholarship to study music instead.

By an odd twist of fate, a Sony record executive ended up stranded in Austin, where he visited a club that Trevino played often.  He wasn’t on that night, but the club staff gave the executive a tape of Trevino’s work, which eventually led to him being signed to Columbia Records.  Despite Trevino not being bilingual, the label insisted that his first album be recorded in Spanish first, preceding the English-language version to the market.  This frustrated Trevino, who felt that it labeled him as a Tejano artist crossing over to country, which wasn’t the case.

The album’s first two singles – “Just Enough Rope” and “Honky Tonk Crowd” – were minor hits, and laid the groundwork for his third single to break through at country radio.

The No. 1

Rick Trevino’s debut album is full of personality and distinctive vocal performances, but it also established the trend that Columbia would stick to with his music: releasing the safest and most conventional recordings to radio.

“She Can’t Say I Didn’t Cry” is a perfectly fine ballad that Trevino elevates through a strong delivery of it.   He expresses real vulnerability and regret in his performance.

It makes the production cry out for some intense fiddle and steel guitar, but the arrangement never goes there.  It’s another one of those records from this era where it seems the intent was to make sure nobody changed the radio dial.

It’s a great singer performing over a sterile and generic instrumental track.

The Road From No. 1

Rick Trevino eventually went gold on the strength of this hit and the top five follow-up, “Doctor Time.”  His second album, Looking For the Light, produced the top ten single “Bobbie Ann Mason.”  His third and final album for Columbia, Learning As You Go, would produce two No. 1 hits.  We’ll cover them when we get to 1996.

“She Can’t Say I Didn’t Cry” gets a B.


Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. The emphasis, albeit contrived, on Trevino’s heritage combined with the fact he was a trained pianist immediately set him apart from his peers. Which was no small feat. Trevino shared, “Feeling the competition” at the time of his debut.

    I fished out the July/August 1994 issue of Country Music magazine and found crusty old Rich Kienzle ( I have never actually known his age) fawning over his debut album. Kienzle wrote,” Trevino falls into that select group of young singers with substance and his own voice…..What’s more, his voice is so distinctive that he runs very little risk of being mistaken for somebody else when you hear him on the radio.”

    Trevino felt fresh, very Texan, and full of potential.

    I loved this single.

    The album included cuts written by Marty Stuart (“Honky Took Crowd”),Bill Anderson “Walk Out Backwards”) and even slacker Todd Snider (“She Just Left Me Lounge”).

    This performance and his debut were real reason to beleive in 1994 again.

  2. Thinking about Rick Trevino’s debut reminded me of one of the songs he was coached to sing in Spanish for the English-language Columbia release. It was “Un Momento Alla.”

    That song was a Spanish-language translation done by Flores Pergerino and Victor Guerra of a Mike McGuire-Billy Maddox-Billy Henderson titled “For a Moment There.” That English-language original version first appeared on a 1992 Columbia album by a trio known as Mathews Wright & King. The trio was assembled so Columbia records would still have a country music band on their roster after Shenandoah’s contract with Columbia was terminated because of the bankruptcy filing over disputes about rights to their name. Interestingly, one of the songwriters – Mark McGuire- was also one of the founding members of Shenandoah in Muscle Shoals, Alabama in 1984.

    The Mathews Wright & King debut was named “Power of Love.” It was produced by Steve Buckingham who also produced Trevino and most famously Ricky Van Shelton.

    Holly Gleason wrote the liner notes pushing their harmony skills and industry credentials of the individual musicians: Raymond Mathews, Woody Wright, and Tony King.

    The title track peaked at 41 on the Billboard charts. The would release a second album in 1993 titled “Dream Seekers.”

    The band disbanded shortly after its release.

  3. Rick Trevino is actually one of my all time favorite 90’s country artists, with a lot of his music bringing on a lot of mid 90’s nostalgia for me, especially. I personally think he’s one of the more underrated artists of the decade, as well.

    As for this song, I’ve always really loved it, and these kind of ballads always give me a lot of mid 90’s nostalgia. Sure, the arrangement could’ve used a bit more spicing up, but Rick’s emotion filled performance combined with Sonny Garrish’s steel playing, and the beautiful melody have always been enough to sell it for me. I can really feel the narrator’s sadness and regret every time I hear it. I once long ago read someone reviewing Rick’s debut album referring to this song as a “Garth Brooks like ballad.” Somehow, that always stuck with me, and I can definitely hear some of the similarities. Melody wise, it kind of reminds me a bit of Garth’s “What She’s Doing Now.”

    I also consider Rick’s debut to be one of the stronger ones to come out in 1994, with a lot of great neo-traditional selections and solid production from Steve Buckingham. Besides this track, I also love “Doctor Time,” “Life Can Turn On A Dime,” “What I’ll Know Then,” “She Just Left Me Lounge,” this entirely Spanish sung “Un Momento Alla,” and his versions of “Walk Out Backwards,” and “It Only Hurts When I Laugh” (Jann Browne also did an excellent version of the latter song on her criminally underrated 1991 album of the same name).

    I think it’s quite a shame that other than “Bobbie Ann Mason,” his equally solid second album, 1995’s Looking For The Light, didn’t do as well commercially. I particularly adore the title track, and to this day, I still can’t get through it without tearing up. I remember being very pleasantly surprised to see it make it on the Best Singles of the 90’s list that y’all did a while back.

    Peter – I found myself agreeing with a lot of Rich Kienzle’s album reviews from around this time period. For the most part, he seemed to have a good eye (or ear) for who was making genuine country, and who was mostly doing it to pander to the line dance/Hot New Country crowd. If I recall correctly, he also gave great reviews for both Tracy Byrd and Doug Supernaw’s debut albums in 1993, and those also happen to be two of my favorite neo-traditional flavored debut albums, as well.

    Also, I appreciate you bringing up yet another very underrated early 90’s country act in Matthews, Wright & King! I found their debut album a while back in a used cd store, and it’s actually been one of my favorites ever since. Love the harmonies, solid song selection, and the typical traditional flavored production by Steve Buckingham. I remember being surprised to hear their earlier English version of “For a Moment There” (I heard Trevino’s version first). Also on that album, I particularly love “Leavin’ Reasons,” “When The River Runs High,” and “You Found A Way.” I’m still on the hunt for their second album, but I’ve heard the single “I Got A Love,” which I also really love. The video looked like so much for to make, as well! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dep8gANO-mI

  4. I’ve always liked this song. My favorite songs of his are “Save This One for Me”, which I don’t think was a single, and the somewhat more recent “Separate ways.”

  5. I always have loved “San Antonio Rose to You” from his second album.

    Trevino had at least two albums never see the light of day. I beleive a third Sony album was shelved and the “Whole Town Blue” album, which included “Separate Ways,” never actually reached music shelves on its own merits because the lead single failed to take at radio. It was later available as a double album collection for Trevino. I don’t know all the timing actual details of his decline at radio.

    I do love his Warner Brothers 2003 Raul Malo and Paul Worley produced album “In My Dreams.”

    It was also cool to see him fully embrace his heritage with Los Super Seven participation and his all-Spanish “Mi Son” album.

    He deserved better mainstream success than he got.

    • Ooh, I love Rick’s In My Dreams album, and I especially LOVE the song of the same name. I remember being blown away by it when I first heard it in 2003, and I was so excited and hopeful that it would launch a nice comeback for Trevino. I kept my eye on it for nearly all of it’s chart run, and I remember being so disappointed and frustrated that it didn’t even make it in the top 30. Heck, I’m still very bummed by it. It’s just a gorgeous song, plain and simple, and it definitely has that Roy Orbison/Mavericks feel that I just love (which is not surprising, since the album was produced by Raul Malo). I also consider that song to be one of Trevino’s finest vocal performances, and I still get chills every time I hear it.

      I also really love the title song for the Whole Town Blue album (which I believe was also produced my Malo), and a good number of songs off that record, as well, including the already mentioned “Separate Ways.” Rick Trevino and Raul Malo really made a great match, and it’s too bad that none of the music they made together saw the commercial success that it deserved. Unfortunately, I believe country radio was already slipping in quality quite a bit by the time Rick tried to start that new chapter of his career on Warner Brothers.

      As for the third unreleased Sony album, I believe it was going to be titled Changing In Your Eyes. According to many sources, it was supposed to come out in 1998, but the lead single, “Only Lonely Me,” tanked at radio, and Trevino was dropped from the label not long after that. I’ve heard people in other forums saying that they were able to find rare copies of that album on Ebay, but I’ve had no such luck in finding it myself. I do really love “Only Lonely Me,” though, and you can hear it on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9GtOyTJ-iU

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