Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Ty Herndon, “Living in a Moment”

“Living in a Moment

Ty Herndon

Written by Pat Bunch and Doug Johnson


#1 (1 week)

October 5, 1996

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

September 20, 1996

A decent ballad that never gets out of first gear.

The Road to No. 1

After launching his career with the No. 1 title track from his debut album, What Mattered Most, Herndon went top ten with “I Want My Goodbye Back” and top thirty with “Heart Half Empty,” a duet with Stephanie Bentley.  He returned to the top with the lead single and title track from his sophomore album.

The No. 1

“Living in a Moment” is a beautifully written song with a heartwarming sentiment about loving someone so much, you’d die for them.

The backing track lacks such urgency, as if he wouldn’t die for her so much as take her to dinner if she’s willing to go dutch and skip dessert.

Herndon is a fantastic singer, as was clearly demonstrated on his breakthrough hit, “What Mattered Most.”  But even he can’t do much with this arrangement, which is so flat that even the transitions from the verses to the chorus are indistinguishable.

Just like with so many other No. 1 hits from this year, the goal seems to be, “Don’t change the radio station,” not “Commit to this talented artist.”

The Road From No. 1

Living in a Moment did better at radio overall than his debut album, and it repeated that set’s gold sales.  In addition to the top five hit “Loved Too Much,” it featured the top twenty hit “I Have to Surrender” and the top thirty hit “She Wants to Be Wanted Again.” His third album, Big Hopes, launched with the top five hit, “A Man Holdin’ On (to a Woman Lettin’ Go),” followed by his third and final No. 1 single to date.  We’ll cover that when we get to the end of 1998.

“Living in a Moment” gets a B-.


Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. “Just like with so many other No. 1 hits from this year, the goal seems to be, “Don’t change the radio station,” not “Commit to this talented artist.””

    You are absolutely right. Sadly, this continues for the next 25 years and on. I worked in radio for a number of years during and right after college, I can tell you they are not interested in thought-provoking or passion-invoking music and lyrics. We used to do listener polls and ask the listener to rate songs on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 meaning you hate it, 5 meaning you love it. And only songs rated 2, 3, or 4 got heavy rotation. Why? Because a 5 to me might be a 1 to you, and vice versa. What you love so passionately might cause me to change the station. Thats the cardinal sin in broadcast radio :you can’t play anything that might cause a listener to change the station. No passion, no politics, no controversy. Just vanilla music and corny, stale jokes, plus news and weather on the 10s.

    The 1996 telecommunications act allowing big media conglomerates to buy up all the stations in a market, effectively killing competition, left us with no regional flavor, and certainly zero listener input in what gets played. Rant over.

    As for this song, I liked it okay, but it’s not up to par with his previous #1. I’m surprised still today he was able to come back to radio’s good graces after his arrest. Good on Ty and his marketing team.

    • Thanks for sharing that interesting info, J.R. Reading that, it’s no wonder how so many incredibly bland songs actually became hits on country radio, especially throughout the 2000’s and after that.

      I also think the Telecommunications act of 1996 is one of the biggest keys to mainstream country’s long and painful downhill slide in quality, but it’s unfortunately also one of the most overlooked factors, imo.

  2. This song was ALL OVER the radio in the Fall of 1996 and into the Winter in 1997! While I do remember hearing “What Mattered Most” and “I Want My Goodbye Back” back in 1995, it was this song that made me truly familiar with Ty Herndon, and it was the first time I put the name to his voice. Because of that, along with the fact that it was played so much back then, I’ve always personally thought of this as his signature song.

    It was played so often that I ended up recording it from the radio on to two tapes: The first time in the Fall of ’96 and the second in early 1997, both of which I listened to religiously back then. The one I recorded in the Fall of ’96 was actually a tape that we also recorded a Jim Reeves cd on with the rest of the side including country radio. The radio part consists of “You’re Not In Kansas Anymore” by Jo Dee Messina, “I Let Her Lie” by Daryle Singletary, “Lousiana Saturday Night” by Mel McDaniel, “He Ain’t Worth Missing” by Toby Keith, “Lonely Too Long” by Patty Loveless, “Just Call Me Lonesome” by Radney Foster, “Living In A Moment” by Ty Herndon, and David Lee Murphy’s “The Road You Leave Behind” just barely making it at the end. I also enjoyed revisiting this tape on my Walkman in the Fall of 1999, including the Jim Reeves part of it. :)

    As for the early 1997 tape, that’s one I had to always watch carefully, especially whenever it got to Ty Herndon’s song, which was one of the first ones a little closer to the end of the tape. It was one of those faulty Memorex 90 minute tapes from the early 90’s, in which the tape’s first wheel would occasionally get stuck when more tape was rolled onto it, especially if you rewound it too much and the roll got crooked. If the wheel got stuck, it would cause the tape to go into the machine and chew it up. I still remember the specific part of “Living In A Moment” in which the tape would sometimes start to stick, which was the beginning of the second verse where Ty sings “If we never get rich on what money can buy…” That’s when I’d always have to start keeping a close eye on it. Whenever it didn’t get stuck and continued to play on fine was considered a lucky day for me. Even some years later when I finally got the song on a CD, I would always think of my tape getting stuck and possibly chewed up whenever I hear him sing the start of that second verse, lol. Heck, that part of the song STILL reminds me of those days, lol!

    As for the song itself, it’s personally still one of my all time favorites! I happen to love how it’s produced. It’s smooth, polished, and overall very classy. And despite the presence of fiddle and steel, the record has an overall appealing urban, contemporary feel to it for me. This is a song that sounds just as good to me in a city setting as it does in a country one (I personally love listening to it when I’m at one of my favorite malls). I’ve especially always loved the sound of the drums on it, particularly when they have an extra kick right after the song’s bridge. Personally, I also love Ty’s tender vocal performance on it, especially the verses. I also like how he growls out the beginning of the final chorus as he sings “And when they CARVE my stone, all they need to write on it…” Even the way he sings the bridge: “Ashes to ashes, dust into dust…” still sounds great to me. This song is just overall another example of the kind of contemporary country that I miss hearing on the radio.

    I also love the song’s video, which was a perfect fit for the song’s urban feel when using the crowded, but beautiful train station building as a setting. I’ve also noticed that the blonde actress is one who appeared in quite a few of his other videos afterwards, such as “I Have To Surrender,” “Hands Of A Working Man,” and “Heather’s Wall.”

    “Loved Too Much” is another one of my personal favorites from Ty, not only because it brings back great memories from 1997, but also because it’s pretty relatable for me. Not to mention, its melody is just so pretty. I also really love “I Have To Surrender,” which I always enjoyed hearing on the radio during my 6th grade year in late 1997 and early 1998. It’s one of the many songs from that period I can still listen to over and over and never get tired of. :)

    • I think it’s fair to say that “Living in a Moment” is his signature hit and the one that has remained the most popular in the long run. “What Mattered Most” is a relatively close second, according to YouTube views.

  3. Herndon rivals Doug Stone for the most disappointing follow-ups to stunningly good and promising debut singles. After “What Mattered Most,” Herndon faded into the innocuous bland noise consistently being produced by this generation of male Nashville star. So many of these songs are either mild, or extra mild.

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