Written by William Wallace and Steve Wilkinson
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
September 18, 1998
The mini-Canadian invasion continues with the debut hit from a family trio.
The Road to No. 1
The Wilkinsons are a family trio founded in 1997, consisting of father Steve Wilkinson and his children Amanda and Tyler Wilkinson. The band signed to Giant Records, and soon recorded their debut album, Nothin’ But Love. While all of their music would be quite successful in their native Canada, their debut hit was their first and biggest hit south of the border.
The No. 1
The Wilkinsons were the fourth Canadian country act to score their first No. 1 hit in as many years, following Shania Twain, Paul Brandt, and Terri Clark. They hit the scene with the perfect single to showcase their familial harmonies.
“26 Cents” may require some explaining for our younger readers. There used to be these things called pay phones. At the time of this song’s release, they usually cost a quarter. The song is built around the touching idea of a mom’s farewell letter to her daughter, who has moved out on her own. The letter includes “a penny for your thoughts” and “a quarter for the call,” should she get lonely and want to reconnect with her mom.
That this was a band that literally left their mother behind as they hit the road made the song all the more endearing, which I’m sure that their father was aware of when writing it. It’s not quite 26 years later, but in 2022, it still gives all the feels, even if the communication technology hasn’t held up as well as the sentiment behind the lyric.
The Road From No. 1
The Wilkinsons earned a gold record in the United States and Canada for Nothin’ But Love. The album’s second single, “Fly (The Angel Song),” went to No. 1 in Canada and top fifteen in America. The band would only score one more top forty single in the U.S. – 1999’s “Jimmy’s Got a Girlfriend” from their second album, Here and Now, but they remained consistent hitmakers through the next decade in Canada, with Amanda alternating between a solo career and her work with her family band, while Tyler fronted his own rock band. Following father Steve’s official retirement, Amanda and Tyler have worked together under the moniker Small Town Pistols.
“26 Cents” gets a B+.
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