Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Diamond Rio, “Walkin’ Away”

“Walkin’ Away

Diamond Rio

Written by Annie Roboff and Craig Wiseman

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

March 29, 1996

Diamond Rio makes its fourth trip to the top spot.

The Road to No. 1

After “Love a Little Stronger” went No. 1, the album of the same name produced three more hits: the top ten “Night is Fallin’ in My Heart” and the top twenty “Bubba Hyde” and “Finish What We Started.”  They returned to No. 1 with the first single from their fourth studio album.

The No. 1

“Walkin’ Away” taps into the same vein as “Meet in the Middle” and “Love a Little Stronger” before it.   Love requires resilience, and both partners need to put the work in to keep it going.

I’d put it a notch above “Stronger.”  “Meet in the Middle” is a much higher bar to clear.

The harmonies are on point, and Marty Roe’s lead vocal provides its usual distinction to their work.   Much like Ronnie Dunn, Marty Roe could’ve given the very stacked Male Vocalist lineups of the nineties a run for their money.

It’s not one of their essential records, but it’s good enough to round out a hits collection.

The Road From No. 1

IV produced three more singles.  Two of them went top five (“That’s What I Get For Lovin’ You,” “Holdin’.”)  “It’s All in Your Head” went top fifteen.  They’d return to the top in 1997 with the lead single from their Greatest Hits set.

“Walkin’ Away” gets a B+.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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5 Comments

  1. Agree with your comments about Marty Roe’s vocals. Saw him at the 2002 Bloomsburg Fair with Trace Adkins. Both were great. For some reason I don’t remember why, I didn’t discover Diamond Rio til 1995 or ’96. Maybe I just didn’t listen to radio that much.

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  2. This was one of my absolute favorite songs back when it came out! It’s still one of my all time favorites from Diamond Rio to this day (probably in my top 5 too like Leeann). It’s also one of the first songs that comes to mind for me when I think of country in 1996.

    The catchy, easy going melody combined with the harmonies was what always attracted me to the song. Plus, I always liked the line in the chorus: “Even after all this time, this slipper still fits.” For some reason, that lyric always stood out to me as a kid. I also love the melody and harmonies in the song’s bridge, as well as the memorable guitar parts from Jimmy Olander throughout. More recently, I’ve come to appreciate it as a breezy feel good song that’s also grounded in reality. One line that stands out to me lately is: “Can’t you see you’re the keeper of my heart even when I lose my head?”

    This is probably the song that brings back the most memories of that tiny mouse shaped radio that my step dad bought back then. One more than one occasion I heard this song coming out of that radio as it sat on his desk while he was working from home, and I was busy playing Doom. Despite it being just a small radio that played the music mono and had no bass or anything, I remember this song still sounding really good coming from it. Even while playing Doom, it still caught my ear whenever it came on, and I remember one day hearing it while playing one of my favorite Doom II bonus levels/wads that came from a disk included with a Doom book we bought. To this day, whenever I go back and play that level, I always think of both this song and Clay Walker’s “Who Needs You Baby”. :) Other songs that take me back to my Doom playing days in early ’96: “What I Meant To Say” by Wade Hayes, “Not Enough Hours In The Night” by Doug Supernaw, and “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down” by The Mavericks.

    I also got lucky and managed to get Diamond Rio’s song on the first tape I recorded in 1996 while I was recording one afternoon. I remember being so excited as soon as it came on and telling my step dad how much I liked the song and how happy I was to be getting it on the tape. :) You better believe I listened to that thing over and over, lol. It was from hearing it on the tape on my Walkman that I noticed the cool echo effect in Marty Roe’s vocals during the first verse. The only drawback to this tape was that I didn’t have the volume setting that high while I was recording, and you had to turn the volume way up on your player to hear it good enough. But hey, I didn’t mind! lol This tape also included a previous entry here in Garth’s “The Beaches Of Cheyanne.”

    I also really enjoy the video for this song, and it’s one of my favorite ones they’ve done. I like how it shows each band member interacting with their significant other in various places. I especially like the scenes of the lady playing Gene Johnson’s partner riding her white horse through the nice scenery. I actually heard Jimmy Olander mention while he did a interview with Bill Cody on GAC that this was his favorite video they made.

    I also love all the other singles from Diamond Rio’s IV album, especially “Holdin'” and “That’s What I Get For Loving You.” “Holdin'” is especially another one of my favorite feel good songs of the 90’s, and it brings back great memories from early 1997!

    Really looking forward to the next Rio entry as well, btw!

  3. For all the heat I gave Doug Stone earlier for sounding so wimpy and lame, I can easily see how the same axe could be ground regarding Diamond Rio’s sound. For all the excellent musicianship, outstanding lead vocals, and bluegrass inspired harmonies, much of their music is pretty firmly entrenched in the middle of the road. I can see how it could be easy to hate the band Yet, I am a massive Diamond Rio fan. I love this song. I love their sound. The band has always held my interest enough that I still regularly listen to all their albums.

  4. I also remembering seeing Diamond Rio perform at the Minnesota Zoo Amphitheatre. A tiny, odd venue that didn’t often host concerts. A booking agent was likley fired for arranging this gig, but it was the perfect size space to highlight and notice the insane individual musicianship of each band member.

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