Written by Matraca Berg, Gary Harrison, and Harry Stinson
#1 (1 week)
March 2, 1996
Martina McBride earns her first No. 1 hit.
The Road to No. 1
Martina McBride hails from Kansas, where she grew up singing and playing keyboards in her family band, The Schiffters. She then played in additional bands, such as the Wichita-based rock outfit The Penetrators and her own outfit, Lotus. She soon met her husband, John McBride, and they both moved to Nashville to pursue music industry careers. Soon, John was part of Garth Brooks’ sound crew and Martina was selling t-shirts on the road.
When Martina heard that RCA was looking for a new act but only listening to request material, she put her demo tape in a big purple envelope and wrote “Solicited Material” on it. The gambit worked, and by 1992, she was an RCA recording artist releasing her debut album, The Time Has Come. That set produced one top thirty hit with its title track. McBride had her big breakthrough with her second album, The Way That I Am. The first of several platinum albums, it included the top five hit “My Baby Loves Me,” the top ten “Life #9,” and her signature hit, “Independence Day,” which went top fifteen.
McBride’s third album, Wild Angels, was released to critical acclaim in 1995. After a top five lead-off hit, “Safe in the Arms of Love,” the title track gave McBride her first No. 1 single.
The No. 1
Matraca Berg’s second planned country album was going to be called Wild Angels, and most of the songs planned for it were eventually cut by Nashville’s leading female artists. McBride is the perfect pairing for “Wild Angels,” which has sharp and sophisticated lyrics that McBride delivers with alternating power and nuance.
It’s difficult to overstate how important Berg was in making the mid-nineties the golden age for female country artists. “Wild Angels” captures a marriage between equals benefitting from celestial guidance that colors outside the lines as often as the couple entrusted to these “wild angels.”
“We still break each other’s hearts sometimes, spend some nights on the jagged side, somehow we wake up in each other’s arms.” Other nights, “I watch you while you sleep. I swear I hear the sound of beating wings.”
It’s adult, clear-eyed realism with an undercurrent of spiritual meaning. God, I miss stuff like this being on the radio.
The Road From No. 1
McBride released three more singles from Wild Angels, all of which missed the top twenty. Still, the album went platinum and earned McBride a CMA Award nomination for Album of the Year in 1996. At the same ceremony, she earned her first of many Female Vocalist nominations. McBride first previewed her fourth studio album, Evolution, with the Clint Black duet, “Still Holdin’ On,” which was also included on Black’s Nothin’ But the Taillights set. McBride’s first proper release from Evolution will return her to the top in late 1997.
“Wild Angels” gets an A.
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