Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Vince Gill, “Pretty Little Adriana”

“Pretty Little Adriana

Vince Gill

Written by Vince Gill

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

February 14, 1997

Vince Gill’s final No. 1 single of the decade.

The Road to No. 1

Vince Gill followed his previous No. 1, “You Better Think Twice,” with “Go Rest High On That Mountain,” a top fifteen hit that has become a signature song for him. Gill then launched his critically acclaimed High Lonesome Sound album with the title track, which also went top fifteen, and then “Worlds Apart,” which went top five. The third single from this album is his most recent solo No. 1 single to date.

The No. 1

High Lonesome Sound features a reinvigorated Vince Gill, as he more fully taps into his bluegrass roots.  This sense of release elevates “Pretty Little Adriana,” a gorgeous ballad that Gill sings as well as anything he’s ever sung on record.

Those high notes toward the end are spine-tingling, and the journey toward them is perfectly constructed, with Gill’s vocal gaining in intensity as the song progresses.  The arrangement is looser than on his hit ballads from his previous three MCA albums.  It’s such a warm record, with an intimacy that makes it sound like it was a personal recording meant for only him and Adriana to ever hear.

It’s a shame that radio didn’t embrace his latter work in the decade with as much enthusiasm, as some of his best singles came during this period of time.  But with his final No. 1 hit from a decade that his artistry helped define, he went out on a high note.

The Road From No. 1

“Pretty Little Adriana” won Gill a Grammy, and it was followed by two more hits from the album: the top five “A Little More Love” and the top ten “You and You Alone.”  Gill’s next album, The Key, featured the top five hit “If You Ever Have Forever in Mind,” and it was followed by Let’s Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye, which included his most recent top ten solo hit, “Feels Like Love.”

Gill remained a minor presence on the radio through the 2000s, but continued to do well at retail without radio support, most notably on his 4-CD epic release, These Days.  He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and has continued to record and tour, most recently as part of the Eagles.

“Pretty Little Adriana” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. This song feels intimate because Gill’s inspiration for writing it was the death of a 12 year old girl in a the Hickory Hollow Megamart parking lot in 1995. Adriane Dickerson was the unintended victim of gun violence.

    As the best performances do, one need not know the historical context of the song to feel the emotion. Gill is at his emotive best here. The song aches and weeps with hurt and tenderness. This is a gem of a heartbreaking ballad. It is personal and vulnerable.

    • I’m sure it’s just me, but it’s the inspiration behind this song that’s always kept me from being able to like it the way I probably should. Knowing that a tragedy involving a 12-year-old girl is what inspired it while it sounds like an intimate lover that he’s singing about doesn’t allow me to connect with the song and creeps me out a bit. Vince is my very favorite, so I know it’s not meant to be creepy at all, but I haven’t been able to separate the two things for me to enjoy the song.

  2. Such a beautiful song, and another one of my favorites from Vince! It’s kind of sad seeing a lot of artists having their last number ones in this 90’s feature already (Vince, Patty, Tracy Lawrence, etc.).

    I absolutely love the warm sound of this record and it’s smooth and sophisticated arrangement. I’ve especially always enjoyed Vince’s smooth, yet haunting guitar parts throughout this song. I also love Vince’s tender, heartfelt performance and how his vocals soar in each chorus. And yes, the way he cries out “Adriaaana!” throughout the end does give me chills. I also always thought this song had one of the prettiest melodies of all his songs.

    As for the song’s inspiration, I can see how some might be weirded out by knowing its backstory and then hearing it being presented as a love song. Personally, it’s never bothered me any, though that might be because I never knew the inspiration behind it until many years after it came out. And as Leeann mentions, he surely didn’t intend for it to come off as creepy, knowing how big hearted he is in real life.

    This is another song that sounded so good during the Fall and Winter months in late 1996 and early 1997! I really enjoyed it every time I happened to hear it on the radio during that time frame. I even got to see Vince perform it on the 1996 CMA awards when my mom and I were watching it in her room. :) Funny enough, this is also the same time period that Vince was seriously becoming one of my favorite artists, and I was revisiting his earlier breakout hit, “When I Call Your Name,” on one of my older mix tapes from the early 90’s. I grew a whole new appreciation for that song and would just listen to it over and over on my Walkman while at home. So it was also cool that he additionally had a current song on the radio in “Adriana” that I also really enjoyed at the same time. :)

    I always knew it wasn’t a number one, but I’m still bummed that we won’t be covering my most favorite single from this album, “You And You Alone.” That song, like many others from the late Summer of 1997, was such a big part of the soundtrack to the trip my parents and I took to Maine that year. The whole feel of that song was simply perfect for the beautiful overcast days that we experienced while in the Portland area of the state. It’s another one of my very favorite ballads from him, and I love its beautiful, haunting melody. It’s video is one of my favorites of his, as well, and it brings back great memories of my GAC watching days in 1997.

    1998’s The Key definitely should’ve produced more number ones! It’s easily one of my personal favorite albums of his. The lead single, “If You Ever Have Forever In Mind,” has always been one of my favorite songs of his, especially. Love its throwback 60’s style and somehow it was still right at home on country radio in the summer of 1998. It especially brings back great memories of the 1998 trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania that my mom, dad, and I went on just when Summer break started. It was actually playing on the radio when we first pulled up to the Hampton Inn in Greenfield, which was the first time we ever stayed in that hotel. :) It also reminds me of the trip to California that we went on with my step dad later that summer. My step dad always recognized the Ray Charles influence of that song whenever it came on the radio while in the car with him.

    Also love his return to the traditional country shuffle in early 1999 with “Don’t Come Crying To Me.” Brings back great memories of 7th grade! Some excellent steel playing featured on this one, too. It’s hard to believe it was only in 1999 that you could still hear stuff like this on mainstream radio.

    The duet with Patty Loveless “My Kind Of Woman/My Kind Of Man” is such a gorgeous slice of classic country that definitely deserved to do better on the charts (though it did at least get recognized at the award shows).

    Also really love the upbeat “Feels Like Love” from the Summer and Fall of 2000. It’s another one of those songs that always puts me in a great mood whenever I hear it. It takes me back to the times we spent in York and Lancaster, PA throughout 2000, and it’s one I still had on the playlist I listened to whenever we went back to PA in more recent years. It’s just perfect for listening to while driving through the beautiful country scenery in those areas! I also love its incredibly cute music video. :)

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