Every #1 Single of the Nineties: John Berry, “Standing On the Edge of Goodbye”

“Standing On the Edge of Goodbye”

John Berry

Written by John Berry and Stewart Harris

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

May 19, 1995

John Berry tops the chart with the lead single from his second major label album.

The Road to No. 1

After reaching No. 1 with his breakthrough hit “Your Love Amazes Me,” John Berry went top five with final two singles from his platinum self-titled album: “What’s in it For Me” and “You and Only You.”  Berry then previewed his next set for Patriot/Capitol, Standing On the Edge, with the title-providing track.

The No. 1

Good Lord, this song is fantastic.

It has such an intensity to it, which plays well to Berry’s strengths as a vocalist.  Like “What Mattered Most” right before it, “Standing On the Edge of Goodbye” captures a relationship on the brink with specificity and powerful emotion.

It’s so well-written, too, with a chorus that has a melody as memorable as its sharply penned words.  I love the way that the bridge to the final chorus puts the shoe on the other foot, as it is now our narrator who is feeling the same as his soon departing partner: “There’s just no way that I can let her go….’cause I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, sometimes I find it hard to breathe. I break down and cry, not knowing why, and now I can’t lie. She’s standing on the edge of goodbye.”

If there’s a narrative about the nineties that’s needed correcting, it’s been that the introduction of pop-flavored country is what doomed that golden era.  This record, and “What Mattered Most” before it, are more intelligent, sophisticated, and grounded in emotional truth than so many of the fiddle and steel-laden singles from traditionalists that leaned heavy on novelty and line dance beats.

Pop-flavored country isn’t ruining the genre in 1995.  It’s rejuvenating it.

The Road From No. 1

Berry followed this with another fantastic single, “I Think About it All the Time,” which went top five.  His next two singles missed the top twenty, but he rebounded with “Change My Mind” in 1996, which led off his Faces album.  The second release from that set became his final No. 1 hit to date.  We’ll cover it when we get to 1997.

“Standing On the Edge of Goodbye” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

Previous: Ty Herndon, “What Mattered Most” |

Next: Clint Black, “Summer’s Comin'”

4 Comments

  1. This has always been my favorite John Berry tune. The intensity of the piano and his vocal push this song to the stratosphere for me! Almost losing someone never sounded so good!

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  2. Now we’re finally getting to where I was starting to pay more attention to country again!

    This song just seemed to be everywhere in mid 1995. It’s one of the songs I’d hear quite often on the radio, and I always enjoyed it. One day in the car with my mom, I remember her asking me who it was when this song was on. In fact, this song was also my introduction to John Berry. One day while in my mom’s room watching TV, I even got to see what he looked like when they were talking about John and his latest hit, and then showed a brief clip of this song’s music video. I remember thinking he didn’t quite look like how I pictured him before (For some reason, based on his voice and the song, I pictured some dude with longer, curly hair). Finally, this is another song that I would always enjoy hearing in the AMC Theaters on their pre-movie playlist in 1995, and it always brings back good memories of my parents and I going to the movies around that time. Overall, this is one of the songs that was responsible for gravitating me back towards country, and it’s one of the first songs I still think of when I think of John Berry.

    The first lines of the chorus always stood out to me right from the start: “I can’t eat, and I can’t sleep. Sometimes I find it hard to breathe.” It’s so simple, yet so effective in describing the helpless and crushing feeling of a relationship coming to an end and not wanting it to happen. Years later, especially after picking up his Greatest Hits in 2001, I would truly come to appreciate how Berry wrings out the emotion of that chorus and every single other line in the song with his powerful tenor. As mentioned by Kevin, I just love how intense his vocals are throughout the entire thing, but I especially love it when he growls and snarls out the final chorus. And yes, the bridge that sets up that final chorus is probably the most heartbreaking part of all. To top it all off, it’s just so catchy and sonically pleasing, as well. I’ve always loved the signature piano riffs (reminds me of Bruce Hornsby), the underlying steel guitar in the chorus, and the song’s overall melody. For me, this is another example on how great contemporary country can be lyrically mature, emotional, relatable, and catchy all at the same time. Like the previous Ty Herndon song, this song has also aged incredibly well and still sounds as wonderful today. I’ll echo Truth and say that a dying relationship has hardly ever sounded so good!

    Also similar to Ty Herndon’s “What Mattered Most,” they got everything perfect when doing the video for this song, from the location, the atmosphere, down to the clothes that John and the female actress are wearing. It all fits the sophisticated, urban feel of the song, especially the beautiful shots of the city scattered throughout. Even the way it’s edited perfectly matched it’s intensity. I especially love the part where John is approaching the woman in the park as she is feeding the birds, and they all scatter as she angrily yells at him, right at the bridge as he sings “I would do anything to let her know…” And one of the last scenes near the end in which his former lover is likely walking away from him for the last time as the camera slowly zooms out with John literally “standing on the edge” with a helpless, defeated look still gives me chills. Nevermind the songs, the videos are hardly ever done this well anymore either, it seems! This is also likely when hardly anybody made a big fuss about country videos taking place in the city, unlike today. I’d be rich if I had a dollar for every comment on Youtube I’ve read in recent years saying something like “This is country music. Why is this shot in the city?!”

    I’m also very much looking forward to the next John Berry entry coming up in this feature. That one, “Standing On The Edge Of Goodbye,” and “If I Had Any Pride At All” are probably my top 3 favorites from him. I also love “I Think About It All The Time.”

    I also agree completely with your last paragraph and the last sentence. If anything, it’s the rise of novelty songs and line dance ready ditties that ruined and ultimately ended the early 90’s neo-traditional period, which is a conclusion I’ve come to in more recent years. A lot of those gimmicky songs from around 1994 and early 1995 sound painfully dated and cheesy today to my ears, no matter how much fiddle and steel is on them, while these past two cuts from John Berry and Ty Herndon still stand the test of time. Thankfully, there is also a certain female Canadian coming up (or two actually, The other one wears a hat :) ) that will also put a new fun, energetic spin on the 90’s neo-traditional sound with her mid 90’s singles.

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    • Nice comment, and honestly this covered most of what I wanted to say. I loved “If I Had Any Pride Left At All” as well…I still remember Berry doing that live, acoustically, at the CMA’s and getting a standing ovation for it.

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  3. Berry’s performance here is vocal tour De force. It is ferocious and big in the way only the strongest of singers can pull off without screaming or becoming shrill.

    I re-visited this album after this post and was reminded of why I liked it so much back then.

    Berry was poised to become a much bigger star but I think some of the political maneuvering at Capitol would ultimately cost Berry the promotional support to push his career to the next level.

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