Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Lonestar, “Everything’s Changed”

“Everything’s Changed”

Lonestar

Written by Larry Boone, Richie McDonald, and Paul Nelson

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

October 16, 1998

Lonestar closes out their first era with an appropriately nostalgic ballad.

The Road to No. 1

After “Come Cryin’ to Me” became their second No. 1 single, the band made their first attempt at pop-flavored country with “You Walked In,” written by “Mutt” Lange.  It went top fifteen, as did the album’s third single, “Say When.”  By the time the band released its fourth and final single from Crazy Nights, founding member John Rich had departed the lineup.  The rest of the band stayed, but got ready to ditch their cowboy hats.

The No. 1

“Everything’s Changed” was easily the strongest single from Lonestar up until this point.  It’s appropriately nostalgic, sounding like a requiem for the sound that had powered so many country bands from the early-to-mid-nineties.

The lyrics have a keen attention to detail, as a scorned lover wanders around his rapidly changing small town.   “They put up a plant where we used to park.  The old drive-in is a new Walmart.”

His lover is gone, but her memory remains, and changing all the landmarks associated with their time together just makes her memory that much more painful.

McDonald’s going to become closely associated with crossover country after this hit, so it’s worth recognizing one last time that he was also a pretty darn good pure country singer, with a more distinctive voice than so many band leaders and male solo acts that launched around the same time.

It’s a poignant record that perfectly marks the moment right before everything changed for Lonestar.

The Road From No. 1

The band previewed their third album, Lonely Grill, with the single “Saturday Night.” Their first effort without Rich didn’t even crack the top forty.  But the second single not only got them back on track, but became the biggest pop crossover hit since “Islands in the Stream.”  We’ll cover it toward the middle of 1999.

“Everything’s Changed” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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2 Comments

  1. This is, hands down, my favorite Lonestar song of all time! Gosh, this song just sounds so good, even today, and it’s another one of my personal favorite songs of 1998. It’s also one of Richie McDonald’s finest performances, imo, and the lyrics are so relatable.

    One thing I want to mention first is that I absolutely love the single mix/radio/video version of this song, and I prefer it to the original recording on the Crazy Nights album. The drums, the vocals, the fiddle, steel, etc. in the radio/video version are much more intense, and they’re mixed louder and in your face, while the Crazy Nights recording features the light and airy sound of the drums typical of Don Cook’s mid 90’s production style, and sounds a lot more tame in comparison. Since the single mix is the one that was mainly heard all over the country and is what you hear in the music video, that’s the version I’ll be talking about from here on out.

    The single mix of “Everything’s Changed” is probably one of the best sounding 90’s country songs of all time. With Richie’s vocals more front and center, you can hear all of the emotion in his performance even louder and clearer, and the way he intensely belts out each chorus just hits you hard each time. It’s simply perfect for the song’s lyrical theme and the anthemic, yet melancholy feel of the melody. I also really love the sound of the drums in this version, which are heavier, louder and have more of a stadium rock feel. The sound of the drums reminds me of the production style that other artists like Kenny Chesney, Collin Raye, Reba McEntire, and Lila McCann were using in 1998, as well. Just the sound of the drums in the intro combined with the signature piano riff, the boosted bass, and Bruce Bouton’s steel guitar sounds so good and really jumps out of the speakers with its intense, larger than life, wall of sound production style. Speaking of that piano, which plays the beautiful main melody, it’s just absolutely everything. It’s still known to get stuck in my head long after listening to it! I also love the smooth fiddle playing throughout, along with the excellent electric guitar and steel solos. It’s really too bad this version was never made available on CD or to download or stream. I do still enjoy the original Crazy Nights version, but when I hear it, I always miss the extra intensity of the single mix.

    Lyrically, “Everything’s Changed” has always resonated with me as someone who’s never been good at handling change, especially big changes that are not for the better (imo). The narrator of the song talking about all the changes in his town has also been relatable for me, as I’ve always been saddened whenever a place that I’ve loved since my childhood and had fondly associated with great memories ended up closing later on in my life. Even now, some of the places we used to go with my step dad have closed recently, and some of the people we used to know together have either moved out of town or passed on, while a lot of strangers have seemingly moved in lately. “Everything’s changed, except for the way I feel about you” just says it all. Not only is it relatable for many, but it sure makes for a heck of a great hook, as well.

    “Everything’s Changed” is actually the main song that reminds me of when my step dad, mom, and I flew to California in late August of 1998. I heard it for the first time in the backseat of the white Chevy Malibu that we rented as we were driving through Orange County in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, not long after we had lunch at Hof’s Hut. I instantly recognized Richie’s voice, and I just really loved the beautiful melody right from the start. And even then, the main hook, “Everything’s changed, except for the way I feel about you,” really stood out to me. The sound the the single mix with the loud, heavy drums and the piano playing the signature melody also just sounded perfect while we were driving through the urban areas of Southern California. Even today, whenever I hear this song, I always picture myself back in Orange County, and even though the song is likely talking about a small town, I always think of being the city when I hear it. As for the California trip, my favorite part is when we went to Universal Studios, but we also had a great time going to SeaWorld, Disneyland, and visiting my mom’s cousin. :) And I remember whenever we saw the Los Angeles skyline from a distance, my step dad would always tell me about what looked like clouds around the buildings: “That’s not fog. That’s smog!” lol.

    Even when I look at the pictures we took during the California trip, this is one song that always immediately comes to mind, along with Linda Davis’ “I Wanna Remember This,” which is the very first song we heard in the rental car. :)

    It also just seemed appropriate that “Everything’s Changed” was a late Summer release that also got played during the changing seasons from Summer to Fall. This song also brings back great memories from the beginning of my 7th grade year and when my step dad first brought home our brand new sandstone colored Chevy Malibu. I got to enjoy “Everything’s Changed” in the backseat of that Malibu many more times, as well. :) And early that fall when I was recording a tape from the radio, I remember wishing this song would come on, but unfortunately it never did. As I was recording Wade Hayes’ “How Do You Sleep At Night,” I thought the electric guitar and steel solos sounded a bit similar to the solos in Lonestar’s song.

    I always enjoyed seeing the video for this song on GAC back then, as well, and it’s pretty neat to see it now when Richie still wore a cowboy hat. I actually quite like the big white hat he’s sporting here, and think it looks good on him. Plus, it really fits the sound of the song. Interestingly, it seems that they were already halfway through ditching the hats since Richie and Dean are the only ones wearing them in this clip.

    Unfortunately, by 2004, “Everything’s Changed” was yet another excellent late 90’s tune that seemingly disappeared from radio altogether, at least in our area. We never even heard it Sirius’ Prime Country Channel during the brief time my dad had Sirius in his car (Perhaps, maybe they play it now, idk). I already had the Crazy Nights album in my CD collection by then, but I was itching to hear that glorious single mix again, but it sadly never happened.

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  2. This and “No News” rank as my favourite Lonestar singles.

    Being a favourite Lonestar single, however, is sort of like being the top selling menu item at a chain restaurant. It’s more a vote of comfort than confidence, say nothing about the actual quality of the product.

    Lonestar always stood out as an act flailing for an identity and a signature sound. They would land on the latter soon enough, but as for this song it sounds like they are in over their interpretive heads. They actually inherited a strong Larry Boone composition, but McDonald sounds as though he accidentally stumbled upon sincerity with this one. He sounds as uncertain as he looks in a cowboy hat.

    I never believe Lonestar when they performed.

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