“If the World Had a Front Porch“
Written by Kenny Beard, Tracy Lawrence, and Paul Nelson
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
September 29, 1995
Tracy Lawrence mines nostalgia for this No. 1 hit.
The Road to No. 1
Like Alibis before it, I See it Now produced four No. 1 hits. This final single follows the title track, “As Any Fool Can See,” and “Texas Tornado.”
The No. 1
This kind of idealistic pining for the good old days are hard to pull off, simply because those “good old days” were horrible for many people.
This one works because Lawrence keeps things specifically to his own front porch growing up, with details about his own life and the role different family members played in a childhood he warmly remembers.
The world wouldn’t really be better off if things were like they were in those good old days, but maybe it would be if it was Lawrence’s specific childhood front porch that was the standard.
The Road From No. 1
Tracy Lawrence missed the top spot with the lead single from his fourth album, Time Marches On. “If You Loved Me” went top five. Atlantic then released the album’s title track, which would become the biggest hit of Lawrence’s career. We’ll cover it in 1996.
“If the World Had a Front Porch” gets a B+.
Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties
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“Treatin’ your neighbour like he’s your next of kin”. should never be considered old-timey. LOVE this song!!!
Absolutely! I actually envy those who are lucky to still have a neighborhood like that. It’s sadly pretty much “gone with the wind” in ours. :(
Front porch as panacea always seemed so selectively sentimental and naive. Yet, Lawrence charms his way into my good graces with the optimistic nostalgia and vocal sincerity of his performance on this one despite singing “we’d all have our problems, but we’d all be friends.” I like this song more than I feel I should.
This is probably my second favorite of the I See It Now singles behind “Texas Tornado.” It all just comes together perfectly for me, from the beautiful melody, Tracy’s warm delivery, and the likeable and inspiring nostalgic lyrics. I’ve always loved the production, as well, which kind of recalls some of Lawrence’s early 90’s music. I especially love the dobro playing throughout! And while Lawrence is singing about his personal experiences of his childhood here, it still resonates with me these days because I also long for the days of my childhood and earlier teenage years (For me, it’s the 90’s and the very early 00’s). Personally, my life was a lot better and happier back then. It may be naive or simplistic and the nostalgia talking (and I won’t act or pretend like everyone was better off back then, because that wasn’t the case), but it did seem like we were a bit closer and happier in those times than we are now, and that it was easier to make/have friends (Unfortunately, as an awkward and shy kid with social anxiety and possible autism, I didn’t quite take advantage of that or fully appreciate it), family members cared more for one another, etc. Again, just speaking from my own experience.
This was also one of my dad’s most favorite songs back when it first came out, and I remember every time it came on in the car, he would always turn the volume up and talk enthusiastically about it. One of his favorite lines was always “Where the bulldog had her puppies and us brothers had our fights.” :) It was still getting a lot of decent recurrent airplay the following year in 1996, and I actually remember one of our stations even played a live version of the song one time later in that year. Again, my dad turned it up and sang along, and he was so into the song, I don’t think he even realized it was a live version playing this time, lol. Anyway, that’s one of the rare instances I can think of a station throwing in a live version of a song for a change instead of the standard single version. I don’t remember anything like that happening much after that unless the live recording was the actual single (Ex: Garth Brooks’ “Your Song”) or if you were listening to a show like The Road, which played nothing but live performances from concerts.
I’m bummed to hear that “If You Loved Me” missed to top spot on both charts. I absolutely loved that song in early 1996, and it’s still one of my favorites of his today.