Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Wade Hayes, “Old Enough to Know Better”

“Old Enough to Know Better”

Wade Hayes

Written by Wade Hayes and Chick Raines


#1 (2 weeks)

February 25 – March 4, 1995

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

February 17, 1995

Wade Hayes is the last young traditionalist of the nineties to launch his career with a No. 1 single.

The Road to No. 1

Wade Hayes grew up in Oklahoma as part of a musical family, with a temporary move to Nashville when his father earned an independent record deal.   Once Hayes was a teen, he played in his dad’s band while he honed his own musical skills.  He attended three colleges before fully committing to his musical career, moving back to Nashville on his own and developing his songwriting talent.  His writing partner Chick Raines put Hayes on the radar of established record producer Don Cook, who helped Hayes sign a deal with Columbia Records.

The No. 1

Hayes started hot, topping the chart with his debut single.  Even in a crowded field of “hat acts,” with so many traditional male country vocalists on the radio, he immediately stood out.

“Old Enough to Know Better” is cleverly written and reflects the youthful energy of Hayes early in his career.  It’s striking how even on a simple rave-up, his deep baritone and rich vocal style shine through.

Hayes would likely have been held in the same regard as Mark Chesnutt, Tracy Lawrence, and Tracy Byrd if he’d come along just a little bit earlier.

He’s just a damn good singer that came along a little too late in the nineties to be fully appreciated.  At least radio was on board for his first album.

The Road From No. 1

Wade Hayes kept the momentum going with his second single, which reaches No. 1 a bit later in 1995.

“Old Enough to Know Better” gets a B+.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. Hayes is a superb vocalist, as in outrageously good. His mainstream albums were consistently strong and always showcased that rich, emotive voice with the yelp to it. His later independent albums are also well worth looking into.

    Here, his debut single brought some blue-collar credibility to country again for this new generation of stars, a lived-in kind of wisdom.

    If you are not up on Hayes music, check out his pleading “Where Do I Go to Start All Over” from his second album to get a sense of what he is capable of vocally. It didn’t do well on the charts, but his performance is a tour de force. “Hurts Don’t It” is also stunning.

    I am a huge fan of Wade Hayes.

    • Couldn’t have said it any better Peter. To me, Wade Hayes and Daryle Singletary are the two artists that emerged during the mid to late 90s that I think would’ve been a lot of bigger had they emerged a few years earlier. I’d argue both Wade and Daryle had two of the finest voices not just during this period but throughout the entire history of country music. Simply superb.

  2. Besides Rick Trevino, David Ball, and Daryle Singletary (as mentioned above), Wade Hayes is another one of my favorite male traditionalists who arrived in the mid 90’s. His debut album is still one of my favorites, as well, and it still brings back good memories from when I got it around early 2001 during my freshman year in high school and would listen to it during trips to Pennsylvania around that time. Besides the singles from it, I also really enjoy “Family Reunion,” “Someone Had To Teach You,” “Steady As She Goes,” “It’s Gonna Take A Miracle,” and “Kentucky Bluebird,” which features some excellent harmony vocals from Patty Loveless.

    As for this song, while it threatens to sound like a line dance ready ditty at the start, it quickly stands out from the pack thanks to Hayes’ unique hard country vocals, and it has enough grit and working class charm to make it sound more like an updated version of a Merle Haggard upbeat song. I’ve also always liked some of the funny lines scattered throughout like “Neon lights draw me like a moth to a flame,” “Boss man’s yelling something at me that I don’t understand” and “I don’t know how I got work, but I’ll sure know I’m there.” Also doesn’t hurt that the title line is quite relatable for many.

    I also really agree with you on the last line of the review. I can’t help but wonder how Wade’s career would’ve gone if he had started in 1991 or 1992 instead. Same could be said for many other traditional sounding artists who debuted in the mid-late 90’s.

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