“Don’t Laugh at Me”
Written by Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
October 9, 1998
Mark Willis makes a pitch for empathy.
The Road to No. 1
Mark Wills scored his first No. 1 single with “I Do [Cherish You]” and kept the trend going for the next two singles from his sophomore set, Wish You Were Here.
The No. 1
It’s heart is in the right place, and for the most part, “Don’t Laugh at Me” delivers on that heart.
Wills’ restrained delivery is a big part of this record’s success. It would’ve been insufferable if Collin Raye had gotten his hands on it, but Wills is smart enough to not get in the way of the lyric. It gives the characters he’s singing about more dignity, and keeps the focus on us to not take our pleasure from their pain.
Quite frankly, hearing a male country artist make a pitch for empathizing with bullied kids, the disabled, and the homeless felt ho-hum in 1998 but sounds revolutionary in 2022, when bullying the marginalized is a side hustle for some country musicians and their families. Lately, it feels like we’re one or two radio cycles away from “I Don’t Care, Do You?” being the No. 1 hit on country radio.
I mentioned in my review of “Holes in the Floor of Heaven” how nothing ages worse than yesterday’s sentimentality. How worrisome it is that nothing is aging better these days than yesterday’s kindness and decency.
The Road From No. 1
Mark Wills has one more No. 1 single on deck from Wish You Were Here, and we’ll get to it in the final year of this series.
“Don’t Laugh at Me” gets a B+.
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