Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Mark Chesnutt, “It’s a Little Too Late”

“It’s a Little Too Late

Mark Chesnutt

Written by Mark Chesnutt, Slugger Morrisette, and Roger Springer


#1 (2 weeks)

February 8 – February 15, 1997

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

January 31, 1997

Mark Chesnutt rebounds at radio with the lead single from his hits collection.

The Road to No. 1

Chesnutt only scored one top ten hit from his critically acclaimed Wings album, but he returned to No. 1 with the first single from his hits collection.

The No. 1

“It’s a Little Too Late” revisits the Cajun sound of Chesnutt’s previous No. 1 hit, “Gonna Get a Life.”

But the material is stronger this time around, with a winning composition that Chesnutt co-wrote himself.  This time he’s the one being left, and he places the blame squarely where it belongs.

“Now would be a good time to change,” he rues, “but it’s a little too late.’

It’s still not quite on the same level as his best hits from earlier in the decade, but be patient.  His next chart-topper is one of the best records of his entire career.

The Road From No. 1

Greatest Hits produced an additional top ten hit with “Let it Rain,” and the collection became his fourth and most recent platinum-certified release. He wouldn’t get another RIAA certification again, but he still has two more No. 1 singles on deck before the end of the decade.  We’ll cover the lead single from his sixth major label studio album later in 1997.

“It’s a Little Too Late” gets a B+.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: Brooks & Dunn, “A Man This Lonely”


  1. I feel like any country song with “A Little Too Late” in the title, I like, and this one’s no exception.

    I do feel like Chesnutt/Morrissette/Springer should have been given a credit on Toby’s song from the 2000s, as “It’s a little too late / (I’m/She’s) a little too gone” isn’t exactly a common phrase. So I’m pretty sure this song influenced the later one.

    • There are a few of those, aren’t there?

      Deana Carter, “Strawberry Wine” – “I still remember when thirty was old” -> Alan Jackson, “Remember When”
      Pam Tillis, “Spilled Perfume” – “There’s a big difference between lonely and lonely for way too long” -> Patty Loveless, “Lonely Too Long”
      Sawyer Brown, “The Boys and Me” – “We talk too slow, drive too fast” – Lari White, “That’s My Baby”

      “Hung the moon” seemed to pop up everywhere after Reba’s “Greatest Man I Never Knew” – including in “Spilled Perfume” and the slightly reworded John Michael Montgomery’s “Rope the Moon.”

  2. I personally think that teaming up with Roger Springer as a songwriting partner is one of the best things that happened to Mark Chesnutt during the mid-late 90’s. Many of my favorite songs of his from that period are ones that Springer was involved with, this being one of them. I read in an interview with Roger with him mentioning that the reason he and Chesnutt worked so well together was because they both had very similar influences musically and grew up around the same areas in Texas.

    Like Alan Jackson’s “Little Bitty,” this is another one of my favorite fun upbeat, Cajun flavored songs from the late 96-early 1997 period! I especially love the fiddle and accordion. Again, I really miss hearing fun stuff like this on the radio! Unlike some of Chesnutt’s previous ditties (“Going Through The Big D,” “It Sure Is Monday,”) this one has aged a lot better to my ears, much of it thanks to Tony Brown’s more modern sounding production. It doesn’t sound like it was strictly made for the line dance floors. This is more like the fun songs of yesteryear from guys like Buck Owens and George Jones. Also love the catchy melody and the tongue twister of a chorus! And despite it being an upbeat ditty, Mark’s voice sounds more mature and deeper to me here than it did on previous albums. I especially like his lower register on the the last “it’s a little too late” on each chorus.

    I remember the first few times hearing this song in the car with my mom in the car, I was quite entertained by it. And for some reason, I used to picture Mark’s head turning from one side to the other like a parrot as he sang each line in the chorus, lol.

    The music video was also one I used to see a lot during my GAC watching days in 1997. I always thought it was hilarious with the dude in a trance like state, spending most of the time just sitting on the couch, munching on popcorn and watching TV as his wife and the moving men literally hauled everything around him out of the house, lol. Also, I never caught the lady at 1:54 being a pre-fame Lee Ann Womack until years later. Again, I love how fun and wacky country videos were getting by this time in the 90’s!

    As much as I love this song, I like the second single from his Greatest Hits, “Let It Rain,” even better. Hearing that one brings back SO many great memories from the Spring and Summer of 1997 for me, especially when my parents and I went to Maine that year. I also love its music video, which is another I used to see on GAC often in 1997. “Let It Rain” also further showcased how mature Mark’s voice had gotten by then, and it was complimented very well by the song’s beautiful melody and Tony Brown’s smooth production. Wish it had been a number one too!

  3. It was fun to watch Chestnutt grow and mature as a full-blown traditional artist, largely beneath the mainstream radar, despite still finding enough radio success to make him relevant. He would continue to flirt with playing by the Nashville rules, only to fully embrace traditional country music later in his career.

    With this single he does a wonderful job of holding contemporary radio success in dynamic tension with his more hard core tendencies.

    This song is fun and energetic.

    Like with Tracy Lawrence, I was always excited for what would come next from Mark Chestnutt. There was always the sense his best was yet to come.

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