“What if I Said”
Anita Cochran with Steve Wariner
Written by Anita Cochran
#1 (1 week)
February 28, 1998
Radio & Records
#1 (2 weeks)
February 13 – February 20, 1998
The decade’s first genuine one hit wonder.
The Road to No. 1
A native of Michigan, Anita Cochran was a prodigious talent, mastering several instruments during childhood. She was particularly proficient with the guitar, and broke down barriers for female musicians as a band member and later as the manager of a recording studio. Warner Bros. Nashville was quick to identify her talent, and signed her to a deal in 1997. She soon recorded and released Back to You, an album dominated by Cochran’s own compositions and the first major label country album since Pam Tillis’ All of This Love to be self-produced by a female artist. Even more impressively, Cochran was also among the album’s musicians.
Lead single “I Could Love a Man Like That” and its follow-up, “Daddy Can You See Me,” were minor chart hits. The album’s third single, a duet with Steve Wariner, went all the way to No. 1 on both charts.
The No. 1
Wariner’s vocals complement Cochran’s quite well, and she chose a pure country arrangement for the track that supports the lyric’s yearning and lonesomeness.
Both parties are truly afraid of losing a valued friendship if they take the leap toward something more, and that fear of rejection and being left with nothing permeates throughout the record.
There’s a gender studies dissertation waiting to be written about how a self-produced and self-written country record by a female artist went all the way to No. 1, and the primary beneficiary was Steve Wariner, who received a (well-deserved) commercial renaissance, while Cochran was immediately sidelined by country radio, despite enthusiastic support for her among the Nashville community of musicians and performers.
Wariner’s great on “What if I Said,” but this is very much Anita Cochran’s record, and she should’ve had many more follow it toward the top of the charts.
The Road From No. 1
Back to You produced one additional minor chart hit, and despite one more album for Warner Bros. and several more singles, including an electronically engineered duet with the late Conway Twitty, Cochran never came close to the top forty after “What if I Said.” She’s continued to record and perform, and a bout with cancer brought out her deep support among the Nashville music community, with artists like Terri Clark and Wynonna appearing at a fundraiser for her.
“What if I Said” gets a B+.
Previous: Sammy Kershaw, “Love of My Life” |