Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Barbara Mandrell, “Wish You Were Here”

“Wish You Were Here”

Barbara Mandrell

Written by Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

November 6, 1981

Barbara Mandrell earns another No. 1 single from her gold-selling album, which topped the R&R Chart shortly after she became the first artist in history two win the CMA Entertainer of the Year award twice.

“Wish You Were Here” is an inexplicably jaunty tune about a woman being alone on vacation, unable to fully enjoy herself because her lost love isn’t by her side. The song meanders along with a midtempo beat, and Mandrell does far too little with the melody to make the song memorable.

“Wish You Were Here” is neither here nor there.  The country instrumentation isn’t prominent enough to make it fully work as a country song, and there isn’t a strong enough melodic hook to make it work as a pop song. 

It speaks to what the real problem is when Nashville players without pop sensibilities try to cross over: they know how to downplay the country elements from a record, but they don’t know how to effectively incorporate pop elements in their place.

So you’re left with a record that feels improperly mixed, with the canned applause track drowning out the decent steel guitar licks.  Competent production?  Wish you were here.

“Wish You Were Here” gets a C.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

Previous: The Oak Ridge Boys, “Fancy Free” |

Next: Hank Williams Jr., “All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)”


  1. Barbara, I gotta’ be honest. This is a pina colada of a song.

    It is sweet and smooth in the moment, but it ultimately ends up leaving you wanting something other than what you have in hand. Unless, of course, you are Garth Brooks, in which case, your hands are full.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.