Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Clay Walker, “This Woman and This Man”

“This Woman and This Man”

Clay Walker

Written by Michael Lunn and Jeff Pennig

Billboard

#1 (2 weeks)

March 18 – March 25, 1995

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

March 17, 1995

Clay Walker delivers one of his career-best singles.

The Road to No. 1

Walker’s previous two singles, “Dreaming With My Eyes Open” and “If I Could Make a Living,” both went No. 1.  With “This Woman and This Man,” he continued his run at the top.

The No. 1

This is one of the very best singles of 1995 and of Clay Walker’s deep catalog of hits.

It captures the difficulty of putting into words how you are feeling about your partner, when the relationship feels like it’s slipping away and you can’t quite find the way to articulate what you want to say.

The framing here is brilliant: “I know what I want to say. Can I get it through to you now in some other way?  Like there was this woman and there was this man, and there was this moment they had a chance to hold on to what they had.”

It reminds me of K.T. Oslin’s “Hold Me,” which used a similar conceit: talking about the couple in the third person for the first two verses, than revealing that she was really talking about her own relationship the whole time.

This second verse still floors me today:

A stranger’s eyes in a lovers face
See no signs of a better time and place
Have we lost the key to an open door?
I feel the need to reach out to you even more
It’s a circle we’re going round
If we don’t get us out from under
It’s going to take us down
Walker is wise beyond his years here, and delivers the song with heartfelt conviction.  He’s giving Tracy Lawrence some competition for the “how on earth did I forget how good this guy was?” title.
The Road From No. 1
“My Heart Will Never Know” was sent to radio next, and it just missed the top ten.  Walker then previewed his third studio album with another No. 1 single.  We’ll cover it toward the end of 1995.
“This Woman and This Man” gets an A.

2 Comments

  1. I’d almost forgotten how much I loved this one! This is probably the first Clay Walker song I heard when I got back into country in the middle of 1995, and it’s another song I would hear quite often whenever I was in the car with my dad during those times. I always liked it back then, but I guess the recurrent airplay for it pretty much stopped by 1997 or so, at least for us. I wouldn’t hear it again until 2000 on an independent station, which was when I was really getting into Clay Walker as an artist and not long after I got his debut album for my birthday that year. Hearing “This Woman And This Man” after not hearing it in so long instantly brought back great memories from 1995, and it quickly became another one of my favorites from Clay. It’s also mainly what made me want to also eventually get his sophomore album, If I Could Make A Living, not long after that.

    Two of the things that always stood out to me for this one were Clay’s performance and the overall production. I especially love it when he does his signature growling near the end and all of those high notes he hits, where he’s pretty much begging her to give their love another chance. Also at the end, there’s some excellent fiddle, steel, and electric guitar playing along with the cool sounding thundering drums that were featured on a lot of James Stroud produced records from around this time. It wasn’t until reading this review though, that I realized just how well the song is written, too, and it’s given me an even greater appreciation for it. Good call on the similarities with K.T. Oslin’s “Hold Me” (Another one of my all time favorites too, btw).

    This song’s video also instantly became one of my favorites of his the moment I saw it on GAC Classic in the early 00’s. I love how creative it is with him being inserted into classic black and white films. Plus, him just suddenly ripping off the suit and tie, revealing his signature western wear and putting on his cowboy hat and exiting the building is still one of the coolest and most badass moments in any 90’s country video for me!

    It’s too bad “My Heart Will Never Know” was not quite as big a hit for him. That’s been another one of my favorites of his since getting the If I Could Make A Living album. That one also has a great video, as well.

    You’re also right about him and Tracy Lawrence being about neck in neck as far as quality singles go in the 90’s.

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  2. This was the first Walker single I remember really getting excited about primarily for the spin on the songwriting.

    I have been spending time listening to Walker’s eponymous 1993 debut and his 1995 release “Hypnotize the Moon” as part of my reintroduction to his output, listening to see if I had unfairly dismissed him back in the nineties as the comments here certainly suggested I had.

    With each listen it is becoming clearer what I overlooked ( his ability as an expressive vocalist and stronger song material than I originally gave him credit for) and I am excited to listen more deeply to the album this cut came off of.

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