“I Do [Cherish You]”
Written by Dan Hill and Keith Stegall
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
June 12, 1998
A late nineties star enjoys his first No. 1 hit.
The Road to No. 1
Mark Wills hails from Georgia, and was heavily influenced by eighties rock bands in his early musical development, discovering country music toward the end of his teenage years. Although he performed live from a young age, it was his work as a demo singer in Atlanta and then Nashville that earned him a record deal. His first album for Mercury, Mark Wills, was released in 1996, and included the top ten hits “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Places I’ve Never Been.” His first of four No. 1 singles came with the lead release from his second album, Wish You Were Here.
The No. 1
Three of Mark Wills’ most recognizable hits were more popular in their pop/R&B versions by other artists. Of those three, “I Do [Cherish You]” is the only one that Wills recorded first.
It’s a pleasant, generic love ballad cut from the same cloth of so many other hit singles by young male artists in the nineties. The country elements are downplayed, and it sounds more like an Adult Contemporary record, which is consistent with where country music was going in that time.
Because Wills has a smooth voice, he navigated the stylistic transition of the genre better than most of the his contemporaries. I can’t say that any of the records he made were particularly memorable, but if you listen closely the next time you’re on an elevator, you just might hear one of his hits.
The Road From No. 1
The biggest single in terms of impact from Wish You Were Here was “Don’t Laugh at Me,” which became his second No 1 single. We’ll cover it before the end of 1998.
“I Do [Cherish You]” gets a C.
Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties
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Hearing Mark Wills sing at the Opry, years removed from his days of chart success, made me appreciate the warmth and range of his vocals. I can easily imagine him as a young artist, however, just doing what his label told him to do to be competitive, even if that seemingly meant compromising his country vocal credentials for crossover appeal in that AC market. I tend to gang Wills in my mind with other personality-less male performers from the late nineties like David Kersh and James Bonamy.
This song does nothing to elevate Wills as an artist or separate him from the pack as a personality. It just harmless floats in the air, pleasant and inoffensive. It is the sonic equivalent of a country music air-freshener.
Wills has a deep appreciation for country music history. I think he’s done better work once he got out of the major label system. Still can’t believe he passed on “Just to See You Smile” twice, though!