Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Deana Carter, “How Do I Get There”

“How Do I Get There”

Deana Carter

Written by Deana Carter and Chris Farren


#1 (1 week)

October 18, 1997

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

October 3, 1997

Deana Carter co-writes her final No. 1 single of the decade.

The Road to No. 1

After Did I Shave My Legs For This? produced No. 1 hits with “Strawberry Wine” and “We Danced Anyway,” its third single, “Count Me In,” went top five.  Carter topped the charts one more time with the album’s fourth single.

The No. 1

Hitting this period of the nineties has been a bit of a revelation for me, because I’m realizing how much I was taking for granted by 1997.

I remembered “How Do I Get There” as mid-level Deana Carter, a pleasant enough song that wasn’t as fresh or distinctive as the album’s other releases.  Hearing it again, I’m newly impressed by its organic arrangement and Carter’s excellent vocal performance.

The fiddle work is top notch, and it builds in intensity as Carter’s own expressions of her feeling become more candid and direct.  It’s a real journey from start to finish, as she summons up the courage to express to her best friend that she’s been in love with him all of this time.

I will say that I do remember 1997 being one of the decade’s better years, but I simply didn’t remember it being quite this good.

The Road From No. 1

Carter released the title track as the final single from Did I Shave My Legs For This?, and it went top thirty. Her second album, Everything’s Gonna Be Alright, produced the top twenty hit “Absence of the Heart” and the top forty hits “You Still Shake Me” and “Angels Working Overtime.”  Carter switched labels after that album, and her sole release for Arista – I’m Just a Girl – produced a top twenty hit with “There’s No Limit” and her final top forty hit to date with the title track.

Carter has been recording independently ever since exiting the Arista label, and has remained active on the road as well.  She recently released a 25th Anniversary edition of Did I Shave My Legs For This?which joins Wynonna’s self-titled album as the top-selling debut release from a female country artist in the 20th century.

“How Do I Get There” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: Tim McGraw, “Everywhere”


  1. This song has such a live, contemporary energy and sound to it while the crystal clear fiddle makes sure we know it is still a country song. It’s punchy and bouncy, full of nervous energy and uncertainty, but it also rings with a calm confidence that she will end up where she wants to be. Repeatedly calling out “You know I love you” serves as some sort of echo-location using heartbeats she knows will ultimately bring her to her destination. Carter was so cool and good on her debut album. How did Nashville miss the opportunity to create an enduring superstar and legacy act? Carter had all the mainstream attributes and alternative intangibles to cover so many marketing bases.

  2. Man, I love this song so much! Besides “We Danced Anyway,” this is another one of my personal top favorites from Deana. As soon as the intro starts, and the first verse comes in, all the great memories I have of that sweet period from the late Summer to the early Fall of 1997 come flooding back, and it’s like I’m suddenly back in that time frame. It always puts me in such a good mood! :)

    This is just one more example of how successfully mainstream country was finding a perfect balance between contemporary and traditional styles in the late 90’s. The intense fiddling and Dan Dugmore’s steel playing compliment the otherwise bouncy and cheerful pop country feel of the song so well. I really love the warm and classy production style by Chris Farren that manages to make this song and the other singles from this album sound great both in the warmer and cooler months. Deana’s vocals are also once again full of youthful and bubbly charm, and I especially always liked her warm and tender delivery of the verses. Additionally, I love the spirited way she sings “You know I love you” in the chorus, which is one of the things I’ve liked about the song since the first time I heard it. Even Chris Farren’s backup vocals at the end of the second to last chorus that sing the song’s title always put me in a great mood. And that fiddle in between the verses and during the break is just so joyful and uplifting. Gosh, I just really miss hearing stuff like this on mainstream radio!

    The first time I heard “How Do I Get There” was with my step dad in the car, shortly before we went on the vacation to Maine. By then, Deana Carter was already one of my newest favorite artists at the time, and this song only made me love her even more. Once again, I fell in love with her charming vocals, and I especially loved how she sang “You know I love you” in the choruses. I just loved how cheerful, yet confident she sounded when singing that line. My step dad seemed to be enjoying the song, as well.

    As I hinted earlier in my first paragraph, this song brings back great memories from both the Maine vacation in August AND when I started going to middle school that Fall. “How Do I Get There” is another song that I remember hearing on more than one occasion after we’d left whatever hotel we were staying in and were on the road again during the trip. It was also another great song to hear while up in Maine with the cooler and cloudier weather. :) I know I surely sound like a broken record by now, but again, as soon as I hear this song, it’s like I’m back up that beautiful state hearing it in the new rental car with my parents. It’s also a song that comes to mind immediately when I think of the time I was starting a brand new school year in a whole different school for 6th grade, which turned out to be one of my most favorite school years. I even remember having it stuck in my head more than once during my English/Language Arts class in the 3rd period. Even today, it still makes me think of a girl named Megan who sat next to me in that class during that time in the early Fall. :) A few years later, when I started getting nostalgic for my 6th grade year and the songs I heard during that time, “How Do I Get There” was one of the ones I kept thinking of, and the fiddle parts kept getting stuck in my head, especially.

    And of course, this song also went on to be included in the late 90’s/early 00’s country playlists I’d listen to whenever we went to Lancaster, Pennsylvania or Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, VA which are two other places I associate with that time period.

    I also wanted to add that Deana’s music from 1997 still makes me think of one of my favorite books I was reading at the time, which was Spell of The Screaming Jokers from R.L. Stine’s Ghosts Of Fear Street series. The character of Mrs. Davidson in the book always reminded me of Deana Carter in the way she was described, with long blonde hair and a cheerful smile and personality. Likewise, fellow new artist Kevin Sharp’s “Nobody Knows” always reminds me of another Ghosts Of Fear Street book, Never Get Sick At Granny’s, which I remember going through my head the first time I read it, lol.

    When reading a recent interview with Deana, the part that made me laugh was when she jokingly claimed that she’s the first one to put rap in country and started the whole rap/hip hop influenced country you mostly hear on the radio today because “How Do I Get There” was evidently the first country song to ever feature drum loops, which are heard both in the beginning and end of the track. I’ll admit I was surprised to hear the drum machines on “How Do I Get There” when I first heard it on the album, since I don’t ever recall hearing them on the radio/single version. Up to that point, I always thought the first one to feature them was Keith Urban’s “It’s A Love Thing.” But anyway, that part of the interview made me think of one time more recently when “How Do I Get There” was playing in one of our long time favorite barbeque places, and our waiter, which we’d known for a while now, was occasionally doing this fancy little hip hop style dance to the song, lol.

    I also really enjoy “Did I Shave My Legs This” which I heard quite a few times on the radio later into my 6th grade year. I also love the more fun live version with the sped up ending, which she performed on the 1997, CMA’s.

    And I absolutely adore “Absence Of The Heart,” which sounded so good on the radio during the Fall of 1998 when I was starting 7th grade. :) It’s simply gorgeous with it’s beautiful melancholy melody, the smooth and classy production, and Deana’s sad, yet very soothing vocals. Dan Dugmore’s steel playing is also so pretty on this track. It’s still easily one of my all time favorites from her today, and I so wish it was a bigger hit!

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