“Guys Do it All the Time“
Written by Kim Tribble and Bobby Whiteside
#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.
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