“The Shoes You’re Wearing”
Written by Clint Black and Hayden Nicholas
#1 (1 week)
July 11, 1998
Clint Black completes one of the most impressive chart runs of the nineties.
The Road to No. 1
This is the third consecutive No. 1 single from Nothin’ But the Taillights, following “Something That We Do” and the title track.
The No. 1
Clint Black had released so many songs about the meaning of life by this point. Most of them could be reduced to one of two concepts: love is needed to complete your life, and time is borrowed, so use it well.
“The Shoes You’re Wearing” goes deeper, reflecting on what we place value on in our society. It’s a bit of admonishment mixed in with a larger appeal to our better angels. The metaphor works quite well, too: “The shoes you’re wearing don’t make the man.”
My only mild criticism is one typical of late nineties Clint Black. He got his groove back, with increasingly creative productions, but lost his melodies somewhere along the line. Maybe he was just better at crafting a melody to go with a Haggard-style production. As his work got more electric guitar-driven, it felt like we didn’t get to hear him sing as expressively as he used to, which is a shame, because he’s one of the all-time greats in that regard.
The lyric is still so strong and his sincerity so apparent that I can’t ding it much for that one shortcoming. It’s one of his better records from the tail end of his RCA run.
The Road From No. 1
“The Shoes You’re Wearing” completed an incredible chart run for Clint Black, dating back to his very first single in 1989. From “A Better Man” through “Shoes,” all 27 of his solo singles went top ten on the Billboard chart. The final two singles from Nothin’ But the Taillights fell short of that mark: “Loosen Up My Strings” went top fifteen and “You Don’t Need Me Now” went top thirty. He’d return to the top with his final No. 1 single of the decade – and to date – toward the end of 1999.
“The Shoes You’re Wearing” gets a B+.
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