Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Clay Walker, “If I Could Make a Living”

“If I Could Make a Living”

Clay Walker

Written by Alan Jackson, Roger Murrah, and Keith Stegall


#1 (1 week)

November 26, 1994

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

November 11, 1994

Alan Jackson co-writes Clay Walker’s fourth No. 1 hit.

The Road to No. 1

Clay Walker’s self-titled debut album produced three No. 1 hits, including its fourth and final single, “Dreaming With My Eyes Open.”  Walker kept the momentum going with his sophomore set, which kicked off with two more No. 1 hits, starting with the title track.

The No. 1

Alan Jackson had a great side hustle in the nineties as a songwriter for other artists.  We’ve already covered two of his collaborations with Randy Travis in this feature, and while his singles for Faith Hill and Chely Wright didn’t top the charts, this Clay Walker hit did.

I remembered this one as being a bit slight, perhaps because of its stunningly brief running time of 2:14.   It does rely very heavily on its chorus, opening with it and squeezing it in three more times, with only two four-line verses to be found.

But it’s more tight than slight, written economically and performed with Walker’s signature enthusiasm,  The fiddle and steel are relentless.  Rave ups like this have never really been Jackson’s lane as a recording artist, but they are very much in Walker’s wheelhouse.

I can understand back in the day why all the “hat acts” started blending together at some point, but this feature is a great reminder that Walker belongs more in the company of the great traditionalists that immediately preceded him than the glut of young hat acts that followed.

The Road From No. 1

Walker’s next single is one of his very best, and we’ll cover it in early 1995.

“If I Could Make a Living” gets a B+.

[Editor’s Note: In an attempt to make this feature’s posts more consistent and predictable for readers, I will be posting one entry a day, instead of batches at a time at irregular intervals. – KJC]

 Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. Joe, don’t throw me! I am still committed to listening to his older stuff with new ears, as I was dismissive of Walker’s music in the moment.

    Jackson was still learning to play by Nashville’s rules on how to write a hit with this too country, positive, up-tempo love song. The song is weak yet redundantly strong…

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