Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Clay Walker, “Rumor Has It”

“Rumor Has It

Clay Walker

Written by M. Jason Greene and Clay Walker

Billboard

#1 (2 weeks)

April 12 – April 19, 1997

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

April 4, 1997

Clay Walker’s final No. 1 single of the nineties.

The Road to No. 1

After scoring two No. 1 hits from Hypnotize the Moon, the final two singles went top five (“Only On Days That End in ‘Y'”) and top twenty (“Bury the Shovel.”) The lead single from Walker’s fourth studio album, Rumor Has It, remains his most recent No. 1 single.

The No. 1

At the time, “Rumor Has It” felt like Walker treading water.  It doesn’t break any new ground for him musically, and he’d covered the idea of a guy falling in love on several previous No. 1 singles.

All of these years later, what sounded rote back then sounds quietly competent now.  The song is immaculately produced, Walker gives a strong vocal performance, and the uptempo arrangement sidesteps the sappy ballad syndrome that had infected country radio during this part of the decade.

It’s not nearly as good as the best single from Rumor Has It (“Then What”), but it’s a few steps above the other two releases from the album.

The Road From No. 1

Walker went top twenty with “One, Two, I Love You,” and then top five with “Watch This” and “Then What.”  His lead-off single from his first hits collection underperformed, but he rebounded to the top five with second release from Greatest Hits, “You’re Beginning to Get to Me.”  Walker continued to be a presence on country radio throughout the 2000s, going top ten with “A Few Questions” and “I Can’t Sleep,” and top five with “The Chain of Love,” “Fall,” and “She Won’t Be Lonely Long.”

Walker recently released a new album and is currently touring with fellow nineties MVP Tracy Lawrence, with a set list chock full of the No. 1 hits covered by both artists throughout this feature.

“Rumor Has It” gets a B.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next:Kenny Chesney, “When I Close My Eyes”

 

2 Comments

  1. In revisiting my initial dislike of Walker’s musical output, it might be largely because of this single which is sort of just sitting there, and found Walker “treading water” as Kevin described it.

    This was a fascinating time in the evolution of country music and the sounds of so many records from this era capture both the future possibility and potential of the genre as well as the restraining shackles and chains of traditionalism. The two obvious opportunities were to either move country music forward with modern sounds and influences or to honour the past. The result was often a song like this which really did neither. As Kevin points out, “Rumour Has It” is a typically clean and professional Nashville production which often translates to safe and boring.

    Coming of the insane success of the early nineties, I don’t think Nashville knew which horse to harness to successfully ride into the future.

  2. I love this song, and it’s another one of my all time favorite feel good songs from the late 90’s! I pretty much agree with all of the review. Clay’s “Rumor Has It” may not have sounded too out of the ordinary when it originally came out, but man, does it sound like a breath of fresh air today, and it’s still a regular part of my rotation. It’s simply one I can never get tired of hearing. The typical late 90’s neo-traditional production has aged extremely well, and Clay gives it a performance full of charm and sincerity. And man, do those fiddles sound great in the instrumental break! And as always, Paul Franklin’s steel playing really shines here, as well, and it’s very refreshing to hear compared to what’s regularly heard on the radio today.

    The first thing I noticed about hearing Clay’s “Rumor Has It” when it first came out was that there was suddenly another country song called “Rumor Has It.” I had actually been listening to Reba’s earlier song of the same name quite often on one of the tapes I recorded in early 1991, not long before the Clay Walker song came out. On the first few times I heard it, it was on nights while Mom and I were driving up and down one of the main shopping center areas in our town. She would always imitate the way Clay sang “wiiiine” in the chorus with his strong Texas twang, lol. On those same nights I would almost always also hear Gary Allan’s then breakthrough hit, “Her Man.” And for some reason, Clay’s “Rumor Has It” also reminds me of the time when we all saw the Joe Pesci and Danny Glover movie, Gone Fishin’, which we all loved, especially my step dad, lol.

    By 2004, this song, along with many other of my favorite late 90’s country songs, had already long disappeared from our main stations. I was not happy with much of the current music that was being played instead, so I often just found myself listening to either my CD’s or tapes, and occasionally I’d try to tune in to the independent station that usually had much more variety in recurrents. Unfortunately, that station’s signal had weakened a lot by the mid 2000’s, but one day while in the car with my dad, I tuned into it and “Rumor Has It” was playing. Man, it just felt so good to suddenly be hearing it again! Especially compared to a lot of the then current stuff that was on the other stations. Hearing that late 90’s country sound with Paul Franklin’s steel was just everything to me, not to mention the great memories it brought back. While it was frustrating that the station’s signal was fading in and out, I tried my best to not let it ruin my enjoyment of the song.

    Luckily, a few years later, I would find a used copy of Clay’s Rumor Has It album while we were in the King Of Prussia mall in Pennsylvania. It has been one of my favorite albums of his ever since, and so many cuts from it are still heard regularly on my main playlists. I especially love “I’d Say That’s Right,” “Country Boy And City Girl,” “That’s Us,” “Heart Over Head Over Heels,” and “You’ll Never Hear The End Of It.” The album’s title track also reminds me of the countless times we’ve been back to PA around the Lancaster area, and it feels like I’m back there again every time I hear it. :)

    As for the rest of the singles, I also love “Then What,” and I’m shocked it didn’t reach number one on either chart, since it remained one of his most popular recurrents going into the early 00’s. I’ll always think of it as one of the rare island sounding songs that still sounds great during the winter, and it still always takes me back to the Winter in early ’98 when I was in 6th grade and on my second year in the youth bowling league. I also really enjoy both “Watch This” and “One, Two, I love You.”

    Other singles of his afterwards that still remain my all time favorites are “You’re Beginning To Get To Me,” “She’s Always Right,” “The Chain Of Love,” and the extremely underrated “If You Ever Feel Like Loving Me Again.” I especially adore “You’re Beginning To Get To Me” which takes me back to 7th grade in late 1998, early 1999. :) I also still really love late 2001’s “If You Ever Feel Like Loving Me Again” despite it not being that big of a hit. I’m still mad about that one today, lol. The slept on parent album it came from, 2001’s Say No More, is actually another one of my favorite albums of his, and it has a lot of great stuff on there worth checking out or revisiting, imo.

    Finally, I also have to say I love the music video for “Rumor Has It” and find it to be cute! It’s another one I used to always see on GAC in 1997 when I started watching it more often. The use of now dated 90’s technology in the video is actually part of its charm for me, which takes me back to simpler times. It’s also another nice reminder of how country videos in the mid-late 90’s were not afraid to take place in more contemporary, urban settings, and it proudly displayed how wide country music’s appeal was throughout the decade.

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