Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Trace Adkins, “(This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing”

“(This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing

Trace Adkins

Written by Mark D. Sanders and Tim Nichols


#1 (1 week)

April 5, 1997

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

March 28, 1997

Trace Adkins earns the first of two nineties No. 1 hits.

The Road to No. 1

Trace Adkins was born and raised in Louisiana, and like many new nineties stars before him, he pursued both sports and music before finally settling on the latter.  He played the local clubs in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas for many years before finally moving to Nashville in 1992.  He signed to Capitol Records and released Dreamin’ Out Loud in 1996.  His debut single, “There’s a Girl in Texas,” went top twenty.  His second hit, “Every Light in the House,” went top five, setting the stage for the final two singles from his debut album to go No. 1.

The No. 1

“Every Light in the House” is a masterpiece, and would easily get an A if it had made it to the top.

“(This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing” isn’t of quite the same caliber, but it has enough elements that work to make it a success.  Key among them is Adkins’ deep baritone voice, which stood out among the young wave of B-list new traditionalists who often sounded like shaving was still many years away.

Also effective is the steel guitar hook, which is distinctive enough to distinguish itself from the rote arrangements that were accompanying most of the hat acts by this point of the decade.

The Road From No. 1

Adkins kept the momentum going with his next single, which we will cover later in 1997.

“(This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing” gets a B+.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. I’ve always wondered why I like this song. It has the obnoxious (parenthetical) in the title that doesn’t really need to be there. And the minor key doesn’t match the lyrics at all. And yet Trace hits it out of the park.

    (I hate using a baseball analogy with Trace considering the existence of “Swing” …)

  2. I love this song! For me, this is one of the coolest and more unique sounding songs that came from a male artist in early 1997. That haunting, catchy steel guitar riff is just everything, and I like how the chorus flows so well. I also think this features some of Trace’s best vocals that show how wide of a range he has for a bass singer. I especially love the high notes he belts and growls out at the very end and that “NOOOOOO!” he does right after the gorgeous steel guitar break. Also, between the math and science themed lyrics and the clean, stylish production by Scott Hendricks, there is a certain sophistication about this record that I’ve always loved. And despite the production of many songs becoming more sophisticated by 1997, I like how a lot of the electric guitar solos started rocking a little harder, with the solo in “No Thinkin’ Thing” being a good example.

    The first time I ever heard “Thinkin’ Thing” was one night while my mom, dad, and I were on the way back home after dinner and going to the mall. The female DJ excitedly announced it as Trace Adkins’ new song, and all of us were pretty much drawn into it from start to finish. Seriously, I don’t think any of us said a word while it was playing. Instead, we were all just enjoying it. Even my mom, who was pretty hit or miss about newer country by this time, seemed to really like it and was humming along to it much of the time. As for me, that signature steel guitar riff pretty much had me sold on it from the start, and I remember being very impressed by Trace’s performance throughout, especially during those high notes at the end. It was also the first country song to ever make me think of the science I was learning in school at the time, thanks to some of the lyrics, lol. It just didn’t sound like anything else on the radio at the time, and I had a feeling I was going to be hearing it a lot more in the future. As for my dad, it ended up being one of his all time favorite songs, and even in more recent years whenever it came on in the car from a mixed CD or my ipod, he’d get so excited and turn it way up. Heck, even when we heard a little snippet of the chorus playing in the mall from a Various Artist country CD they were advertising, he could never resist singing “This ain’t…no thinkin’ thing!” right along with it, lol.

    Of course, we ended up hearing this song more on the weeknights we all went out together during that time. Both this and George Strait’s “One Night At A Time” were two of my main jams by this time in ’97 while I was still in fifth grade. Both of those songs even ended up on side B of one of the tapes I’d listen to religiously during that time. On that side is: “Party Crowd” by David Lee Murphy, “No Thinkin’ Thing” by Trace Adkins, “We Danced Anyway” by Deana Carter, “Let’s Do Something” by Vince Gill, “One Night At A Time” by George Strait, “She Drew A Broken Heart” by Patty Loveless, “I Wanna Go Too Far” by Trisha Yearwood, “Holdin'” by Diamond Rio, and “Piece Of My Heart” by Faith Hill. As I mentioned in Ty Herndon’s “Living In A Moment” (which is on the A side) this was one of those faulty Memorex tapes that would sometimes get stuck from rewinding it too much, with the roll on the first wheel becoming unbalanced, causing it to stick after a certain amount of tape is rolled on to it. I experienced this when listening to it on my Walkman right after recording it, and it started sticking already when it got to Trace’s song (the earlier part of the tape was occupied by a Ray Stevens record). I remember hearing “No Thinkin’ Thing” again the following Saturday night while we were on the way home and thinking it was so cool I had it on tape now, but I was also worried I might not be able to enjoy it if the tape kept sticking and possibly mess up. Luckily, I did get to enjoy it on the tape many times, along with all the other songs, as long as I kept an eye on it all the time and tried not to rewind it too much. It did get stuck and nearly got messed up during Diamond Rio’s song one time, though.

    “No Thinkin’ Thing” even provided a bit of the soundtrack to the Florida trip that my mom, step dad, and I went on during the Spring of ’97. It actually came on the radio the night after we had been to Disney World and Epcot and were on the way back to the hotel, and it was followed by Deana Carter’s “Count Me In.” Again, Mom seemed to be enjoying both songs and was humming along to them. We were all so happy and excited that night, and it was definitely one of the most fun and memorable nights of my life. :)

    I also really love the video for this song, and like many other 1997 videos, it still looks very modern to me. And man, I really love the classy, stylish outfits Trace was sporting during this time! I especially like that nice fancy suit he’s wearing at about 1:07. I love how his wardrobe was often as classy and sophisticated as much of his music was during the late 90’s. Again, I really miss the times when these artists dressed up in style more often instead of just throwing on a t-shirt and beat up looking hat.

    I also really love “Every Light In The House,” and I’m quite shocked it wasn’t a number one, since it still seems to be one of his most popular songs today. The first time I heard it, I didn’t even know it was Trace Adkins at the time, and instead, based on his voice, I pictured some guy who looked more like Christopher McDonald (actor who’s famous for playing Shooter McGavin in Happy Gilmore, and other films like Flubber), lol. Perhaps I had him in mind because he was in the Halle Berry movie, The Rich Man’s Wife, which we saw pretty recently before then, lol. Of course, shortly after that, I’d find out it was the same artist who did “There’s A Girl In Texas,” and I remember him already being featured on the country award shows not long after “Every Light” was a hit.

    Much like Toby Keith, I greatly prefer the music Trace did in the 90’s and early 00’s over much of the stuff he did in the 2000’s and 2010’s, when he started taking on a more macho personality with his music and cut some of the worst ditties of those times. I have his first four albums from his debut up to 2001’s Chrome and pretty much enjoy them all. Except for not caring much for the title track to Chrome, I think those albums represent Trace at his best. The only other album of his I like after those is 2013’s Love Will.

    • Jamie,
      I’m sure I’ve already mentioned it more than once at this point, but your cassette tape stories remind me of a recurring dream that I have to this day where I’m trying to play a cassette tape and the tape inside keeps coming out and getting stuck in the player. I’ve had this dream at least a couple times a year for as long as I can remember and I have no idea why! I used to love to make mixed tapes and record tapes off the radio as a kid too, but I don’t have any of them anymore. I would have assumed the tapes wouldn’t have even lasted this long if I had wanted to keep them, but clearly they might have lasted after all.:)

      Also, this song is actually one of my favorite Trace songs and one of my favorite upbeat nineties country songs.

      • What you describe in your dream is almost exactly what sometimes happened to those Memorex tapes I’m talking about! The front wheel would sometimes get stuck, which caused the tape to go into the machine instead and get chewed up. How crazy is that?! It was mostly the Memorex brand tapes that had that problem though, while tapes of other brands (Maxell, Sony, TDK, etc.) have mostly been “safe” for me to play. And it’s pretty interesting that you still have those dreams too, btw! I’ve still had dreams about tapes getting messed up in more recent years, as well, though I couldn’t tell you the last time I had one.

        Btw, I actually just listened to the tape I mentioned up above the other night! Okay, well it’s not the EXACT same tape, but it’s a copy I made of it on to a better tape. :) I just wanted a backup copy and got tired of having to keep my eye on it all the time while playing the original Memorex one, lol. Anyway, all the songs still sounded great, especially coming from our old stereo.

        My tapes have surprisingly lasted a lot longer than I ever expected them to, and many of them still sound great! Heck, there are even a few that my parents had before I was even born that still play amazingly well today. :)

  3. After failing to ride Paul Brandt’s baritone to longer lasting chart success, Trace Adkins filled the void, with a surprisingly traditional inclination to his earliest material. It’s interesting to see, however, that Adkin’s physical sensuality is already in place with his dancing and posturing in this video. He would later play this aspect of his personality to contentious, lewd success with his future musical output. As of now, it is worth celebrating what a fresh voice and talent he was for traditional country music.

    Adkins more than fulfilled his promise from his debut record straight through to “Comin’ on Strong” from 2003. After that, it’s time to pull out the gloves when debating the quality and significance of Adkins’ output.

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