Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Jeff Carson, “Not On Your Love”

“Not On Your Love

Jeff Carson

Written by Tony Martin, Troy Martin, and Reese Wilson

Billboard

#1 (1 week)

September 2, 1995

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

August 18, 1995

A young traditionalist charts his only No. 1 hit.

The Road to No. 1

Born in Oklahoma and raised in Arkansas, Jeff Carson played the harmonica and guitar during his childhood, and joined a band in high school.  As a band member and a solo artist, he found success through talent shows, and was soon playing the local scene in Branson, Missouri.  After moving to Nashville, he performed regularly at Opryland and recorded demos, eventually earning a contract with Curb Records.  His first single, “Yeah Buddy,” barely charted.  His second single went all the way to the top.

The No. 1

There were a lot of generic love ballads during the mid-nineties by interchangeable hat acts, designed more to keep people from changing the radio station than to truly engage them with what was being played..

“Not On Your Love” wasn’t one of them.

It’s a mature and thoughtful ballad that promises unconditional love against the backdrop of marital conflict, emphasizing the importance of open communication, resilience, and forgiveness in making a relationship work for the long haul.

Jeff Carson was on the wrong label, and he never was enough of a priority for Curb to get the long-term support that his talent deserved.

“Not On Your Love,” in retrospect, feels like a promise that wasn’t realized.  If only his label had been committed to Jeff Carson as he was to his partner in his only No. 1 hit.

The Road From No. 1

His self-titled debut album produced two more hits: the top five “The Car” and the top ten “Holdin’ On to Something.”  His second set, Butterfly Kisses, was completely ignored by country radio.  But he scored one more hit in 2001 with the title track from his third and final studio album, Real Life.  Carson retired from the music industry in 2009, and joined the police force.  Carson passed away from a heart attack in 2022, a few months after his 58th birthday.

“Not On Your Love” gets a B+. 

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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2 Comments

  1. Can’t argue with B+ – but I wouldn’t have objected to an A rating.

    The only other Jeff Carson song in my i-tunes library is his duet with Lisa Brokop, “God Save the World”.
    3/21/21 JubileeCast
    Though Carson has had never given up on his music career completely, he wasn’t expecting a resurgence either. This year the pandemic has raised interest in his 16 year-old single “God Save the World.” The song which speaks of how God cares enough to help us in our times of our needs strike a chord with many during this pandemic. As a result of radio’s interest, MCC/Curb Records have partnered with Carson and Brokop to re-release the single.

    May he RIP

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  2. This has always been one of my favorite ballads from the mid 90’s! It’s another one of the first songs I think of when I think of this time period in country music, and like so many other 1995 songs recently covered here, it brings back a lot of great memories.

    Besides the mature, thoughtful lyrics, I also love the tenderness and sincerity in Jeff’s vocals here. You really believe he’s in it for the long haul no matter what tough times he and his partner may go through. There’s also hints of regret when he’s recalling some of the darker times that he and his partner have faced in the verses, which is also effective. Another thing I’ve always loved is the production, which is very mid 90’s, yet at the same time still sounds great today. I’ve particularly always loved how reverb heavy it is, especially in the lead and background vocals. I can picture myself hearing this in a large empty building, like a nice fancy theater or even at the mall when there’s hardly anyone there. I also love the steel guitar in the chorus and the fiddle throughout the second verse. Even that brief electric guitar solo near the end is so delightfully mid 90’s! :)

    And while the video is pretty simple, it’s always been a favorite of mine, as well, and I actually find it pretty effective. I quite like the dark candle lit, old abandoned house as the setting, and I love how it appears to take place in the Fall with the leaves falling behind him in some shots. For some reason, I always think of Fall when I hear this song, so it’s perfect. :) Even Jeff’s appearance hits me with all kinds of nostalgia. I quite miss seeing that mullet, mustache, and cowboy hat look that was typical for a good number of male artists from this time frame.

    The first few times I ever heard this one was on more than one occasion when my dad was driving us to the indoor mini golf place that we used to always hang out at throughout the mid 90’s. Because of that, I often still think of that place whenever this song comes on, even though it’s sadly been gone for quite some time now. I really fell in love with this song, though, in the summer of 1996 when I had it recorded from the radio on to a tape. It was always one of my favorite songs to listen to over and over on it. I also got it on another tape that I recorded in early 1997, which I also listened to countless times. I even remember seeing his self titled debut album for sale in just about every store we went to throughout the mid 90’s. I finally got that album in the early 00’s when I was starting to feel a lot of nostalgia for mid 90’s country, which I still enjoy today.

    “Holdin’ On To Something” is another song of his I always enjoyed back then, and it seemed like it was always on the radio in the summer of ’96 (It’s actually on the flip side of the same tape I first recorded “Not On Your Love”). I particularly remember always hearing it at least once every time my step dad found a new country station as we were driving up to Maine that summer. :)

    I agree that he likely would’ve had a longer career if he was on another label besides Curb. His recent cover performances that he’d been sharing on YouTube prove how talented he was vocally, and that he could sing almost anything you throw at him.

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