Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Mindy McCready, “Guys Do it All the Time”

“Guys Do it All the Time

Mindy McCready

Written by Kim Tribble and Bobby Whiteside

Billboard

#1 (1 week)

September 14, 1996

A promising young artist earns her only No. 1 hit.

The Road to No. 1

Mindy McCready was singing in her home state of Florida from the age of three, belting out spirituals at her Pentecostal church.  A bright and capable student, she graduated high school early at the age of sixteen, taking part-time work with her mother’s ambulance company to save up money for a move to Nashville.  She hit Music City on her eighteenth birthday, setting the goal of earning a recording contract within a year.  It worked, and she was signed to BNA Records a week shy of turning nineteen.

Her debut album, Ten Thousand Angels, was launched with the title track, which went top ten.  Her only appearance at the top followed right after.

The No. 1

We’re solidly in the part of the decade where Music Row started treating artists as disposable and replaceable, even if they had gold, platinum, and in McCready’s case, multi-platinum albums under their belts. Among female acts, they did it to Lari White first, and then McCready, and then Deana Carter.

But out of all of them, none got done dirtier than McCready, who was treated like she was disposable even when she was topping the chart.  She was a great singer with a promising future who was chewed up and spit out by the industry, and it’s a damn shame.  She deserved better.

“Guys Do it All the Time” is a great song, and Mindy McCready sings it perfectly.  Its role reversal storyline is coated with just enough sugar from McCready’s twangy performance to make its cutting gender commentary go down smoothly.

Listening to it a quarter century down the line, it’s obvious in retrospect how much of the narrative around this record and this artist was pure garbage.   It was presented as a dime store knock-off of Shania Twain’s pop-country by a marginally talented vocalist who was using sex appeal to sell her records.

That last part has always been bullshit, whether it was written about Mindy or Shania or Madonna or any other female artist who bypassed the salivating male audience completely and spoke directly to female record buyers.  But the rest of it is bullshit, too.

These producers wouldn’t know how to make a pop country record if they tried, and they didn’t try. It’s a standard nineties country song that has more in common with the neo-traditionalist records from earlier in the decade than the pop-country sound that allowed Shania, Faith, and Lonestar to cross over.  McCready is a great country singer, quite specifically, with a natural twang that would make pop airplay as impossible for her as it was for Reba and Loretta before her.

Yes, I’m going there.  It’s no coincidence that Reba openly celebrated this song when it was on the radio and wished she was the one singing it in concert every night.  This song is solidly in the tradition of down home country women putting their men in check and refusing to allow two different set of rules in their households.  If Loretta Lynn had come along in 1996, this is the kind of material she would have been singing.

The Road From No. 1

Ten Thousand Angels produced two more hits on its way to double platinum sales: the top twenty “Maybe He’ll Notice Her Now” and the top five “A Girl’s Gotta Do (What a Girl’s Gotta Do.)”  Her second album, If I Don’t Stay the Night, went gold in spite of lukewarm radio support, producing the top twenty hit “You’ll Never Know” and the top thirty hit “What if I Do.”  After her third album, I’m Not So Tough, failed to produce a hit, she was dropped from her label.

McCready resurfaced on Capitol for one album in 2002, and later recorded her fifth and final album, I’m Still Here, for an independent label in 2008. I won’t recount her personal journey here, but it sadly ended in tragedy with her taking her own life in 2013 at the age of 37.   I’ll say it again. She deserved better.

“Guys Do it All the Time” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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6 Comments

  1. Man, do I love this song and very happy to see that it was a #1 song. Kind of forgot about it as I never got in to Mindy’s music. But this song is a slapper, banger and certified twanger as American Aquarium would say.

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  2. Mindy McCready is a true music world tragedy, in my opinion. I still play her first two albums, played one just the other night (If I Don’t Stay The Night) and have always wondered how it could have been. She was so talented and beautiful, it’s a downright shame what happened to her. At least she left the music.

    As to the song, I really love it and the role reversal is done well.

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  3. This is one of my favorites of these 90’s country entrees you’ve written yet! Mindy McCready indeed deserved better.

    I just remember thinking this song was so cool the first few times I heard it on the radio while my parents and I were vacationing in Maine in August, 1996. I just loved the youthful charm and playfulness of Mindy’s vocals and the overall attitude and vibe of the song. I remember hearing it in the car on at least two separate occasions while my parents were driving around the Portland area, and I’d always wonder who it was singing. I finally found out after we had gotten back home one day while watching TV and seeing an ad for her debut album while they played a clip of this song. I was also lucky enough to get it on tape while I was recording Side B of the tape I mentioned in B&D’s “My Maria.” :) I had recorded Side A before the vacation.

    You pretty much nailed it in saying that this is NOT a pop country song, despite it often being labeled as such. It’s definitely more typical mid 90’s neo-traditional flavored country, but with a lyrical twist and a youthful charm and energy that Mindy brings to it. I absolutely love how she let all of her twang hang out here! The role reversal throughout the lyrics still never fails to make me smile and chuckle today, as well. :) Speaking of the producer, I believe David Malloy also had a hand in producing Daryle Singletary’s first two records, so it’s definitely not too surprising looking back how country sounding this song is, along with the rest of Mindy’s first album.

    The music video is also very cute, and she is simply stunning and just plain adorable in it, as well. I especially love the parts with her wearing the boxing gloves and putting shaving cream on her face. :)

    I also adore the rest of the singles from this album and wish they had all been number ones, as well. I do remember hearing and liking “Ten Thousand Angels” when it came out, and my dad commenting that he liked the song as well when we heard it in his car. I didn’t know who it was at the time, though. Again, “Ten Thousand Angels” immediately takes me back to the mid 90’s whenever I hear it, and it’s still one of my absolute favorite songs today! I also really love “A Girl’s Gotta Do (What A Girl’s Gotta Do),” which was one of my main jams in the Spring and Summer of 1997 and made me an even bigger fan of Mindy. “Maybe He’ll Notice Her Now” is a very beautiful song that shows that Mindy could also nail ballads convincingly with her emotional performance. The little “twist” at the end still gets me today, as well!

    My overall favorite song and video of hers, though, is probably the Kim Richey and Angelo tune, “You’ll Never Know.” I just loved hearing that song whenever it came on the radio during the Winter in 1998 when I was in 6th grade, and today, it still brings back wonderful memories of that time for me. I also really enjoyed seeing the video on GAC around that time. I absolutely love the beautiful snowy location, and it just looks like she was having so much fun making that video! Heck, I would be, too! :)

    “Oh, Romeo,” which I understand was a hit in the UK, definitely should’ve continued Matraca Berg’s streak of hit singles from different female artists. It’s such a cool, unique sounding song, and I just love McCready’s performance on it, especially her accent throughout.

    I also love 1999’s “One In A Million,” which sadly didn’t make it on the U.S. cd version of I’m Not So Tough (Luckily, it is on Spotify, though). Even though it wasn’t a big hit at all (unfortunately), I did get to hear it twice one night while my parents were driving back home from Pennsylvania in ’99, and I even remember the DJ exclaiming “Mindy McCready is back!”

    I even love her 2002 single “Maybe, Maybe Not” which is another one that always puts me in a good mood and features another very charming performance from Mindy.

    I have her first four albums and love each of them. Listening to them is a sad reminder of how heavily underrated and underappreciated she was as an artist. Not only was she a beautiful woman, but she also had such a beautiful, unique, and emotionally expressive voice, which is even more evident in her ballads, which I don’t think she got anywhere near enough credit for. It still makes my blood boil thinking about how the industry treated her, and it still truly breaks my heart thinking about how her story ended.

    I still really miss her today. :(

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  4. I think Mindy’s story is one of the great tragedies of all time when it comes to country music in general, and in particularly when it comes to this most active period for female artists in the genre’s history. She had such a promising start to a career, with “Guys To It”, that then should have been allowed to blossom and grow; but then the male-dominated Nashville music machinery just ate her alive. And while she may have been the one to take her own life, I can’t help but feel that she wasn’t also somehow metaphorically murdered by the system there.

    Might she have become big by going the pop/country route had she chosen to? Maybe–but would she necessarily have done it like Shania Twain or Faith Hill? There’s a clue on her album If I Don’t Stay The Night that might have said otherwise, namely her cover of “Long Long Time”, the 1970 Linda Ronstadt classic that, ironically enough, Linda herself had recorded in Nashville. When it comes to Mindy McCready, we are talking about a lot of lost opportunity–and it wasn’t necessarily all on her (IMHO).

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  5. In the moment,I admit I thought she was another derivative, mid-riff bearing female singer. I drank the mainstream Kool-Aid, despite loving “Ten Thousand Angels” and this single. Upon revisiting it here, I am surprised how hard her country twang is. I remember the manic energy around her and her image; you could feel the squeeze of the breathless,crushing intensity and expectations.

    Nashville trotted out an emotionally vulnerable nineteen-year old girl who came from a divorced home, raised her two brothers, and had been physically beaten by her her first boyfriend, and the publicity/image machine ran roughshod over her career.

    In a piece written for the short-lived country music and style magazine “Twang,” Dan Daley wrote a feature profile on McCready in the 1996 holiday issue.

    His closing paragraph read:

    The music that moves McCready resides in an intensely hot, tightly wound core, a vessel for all the slings and arrows of a childhood lost. It’s said that country is a music you can grow up with. For Mindy McCready, whi is wise beyond her years; who at 20 should be looking forward to courting dates instead of court dates, it would be nice if country music turns out to be a place you can also get the chance to be a kid again.”

    McCready tragically never received that support from Music City and never got that chance.

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  6. Loved Mindy and every song on her debut album. Completely broke my heart when she took her own life. Her final song “I’ll See You Yesterday” about the death of her boyfriend and how she couldnt deal with it is simply haunting and I still can barely listen to it without tearing up.

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