Every #1 Single of the Nineties: BlackHawk, “I’m Not Strong Enough to Say No”

“I’m Not Strong Enough to Say No

BlackHawk

Written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

October 13, 1995

BlackHawk earns its final No. 1 single to date.

The Road to No. 1

After “Every Once in a While” went No. 1, BlackHawk produced three additional top ten singles: “I Sure Can Smell the Rain,” “Down in Flames,” and “That’s Just About Right.”  Their final No. 1 single followed.

The No. 1

This is what a “Mutt” Lange country song sounds like when Shania Twain isn’t there to co-write and Lange doesn’t get to produce.

The hooks and the melody are there, but they’re not a good fit for BlackHawk and its lead singer’s high-pitched voice.  He sounds weak and whiny, which does the regressive lyric no favors.  You see, if he participates in an extramarital affair, it’s her fault for not walking away because he can’t be expected to control himself.  Boys will be boys, I guess.

Given how Lange imploded his marriage to Twain many years later, this song sounds even worse in retrospect than it did at the time.

“I’m Not Strong Enough to Say No” was an early indication that Strong Enough wouldn’t live up to their debut album. Indeed, the drop off in quality caught up with them quickly.

The Road From No. 1

“Like There Ain’t No Yesterday” followed, and it went top five.  After selling double platinum with their debut album, Strong Enough only made it to gold, and its next two singles missed the top ten: “Almost a Memory Now” and “Big Guitar.” Its final single missed the top forty entirely.

BlackHawk released only two singles from their third album, Love & Gravity, and they both missed the top thirty.  They enjoyed one more radio hit with “There You Have it,” a top five release from their fourth album, The Sky’s the Limit.

Their Greatest Hits album produced a top forty hit, which would be their last meaningful impact on the country singles chart. The band dealt with tragedy as founding member Van Stephenson exited the band.  He was suffering from skin cancer, which claimed his life in 2001.

The band has endured many lineup changes since, while releasing independent projects and continuing to tour. Their most recent release was as a duo, a Christmas album released in 2019.

“I’m Not Strong Enough to Say No” gets a C.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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4 Comments

  1. Another one of my favorite songs of the 90s. I had no idea Mutt Lange wrote this, not sure if that would have changed anything if I had. But definitely my favorite BlackHawk song.

  2. Always loved this one, and like Stephen, it’s definitely one of my most favorite Blackhawk songs. Once again, I’m instantly back to being a kid in the mid 90’s as soon as this one comes on, and it just makes me so happy. :)

    For me, similar to the last Blackhawk entry here, this is another case in which the melody, the hook, the production, and the harmonies are strong enough (No pun intended, I swear!) to make me overlook the questionable lyrics. I personally always loved Henry Paul’s vocals on this, as well, and I think his unique vocal style fits the song well. I can’t imagine anyone else singing it, though it may just because I’m just so used to associating it with Blackhawk. I especially always liked the way he sings verses, plus the second “Please, please” during the choruses. Also, the production still sounds very fresh to my ears, and I especially love the powerful drumming and the guitar work, throughout. I love that unique sound the guitar makes in the intro, and even the solo during the song’s fadeout at the end has a very cool vibe to it, imo.

    Besides, Shania’s “Any Man Of Mine,” this is another song and video that I remember hearing/seeing for the first time in Circuit City back in ’95, which makes it kind of a coincidence after now being reminded that it was written by Mutt Lange. I also remember hearing this song on the car radio just when we were approaching the airport to fly to California to see my mom’s relatives for the holidays later that year. For some reason, the line in the second verse, “The sign says ‘Slow down: Slippery ice'” really stuck out to me back then, perhaps maybe because it was fitting for the colder weather we were getting by then. Well, it would be even more fitting after we got back from the trip early next year when we were greeted with literally wall to wall snow from the Blizzard of ’96, lol!

    I actually like Strong Enough the album, even if the overall quality wasn’t quite as strong as their debut. I also really enjoy both “Like There Ain’t No Yesterday” and “Almost A Memory”, along with “King Of The World,” which I often forget was a single, since I never heard it on the radio. From that album, I also love “A Kiss Is Worth A Thousand Words.”

    Other subsequent Blackhawk singles I love are “Postmarked Birmingham,” “There You Have It,” and “Your Own Little Corner Of My Heart.” I especially think “Your Own Little Corner..” is one of their most underrated singles, and I’ve loved it ever since it came out in early 1999.

    Overall, I love Blackhawk’s style of contemporary country and their very unique sound, which added even more variety to country radio in the 90’s. I’m bummed that this is their last number one.

  3. …interestingly, with a whopping five single releases each from their first two albums, there seems to have been a fair deal of accordance between their label and me: lots of good sounding stuff to be found there, including this one. then again, i am all but unbiased when it comes to blackhawk. still love their “blackhawk” and “the sky is the limit” albums quite a bit.

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