“All Roads Lead to You”
Written by Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan
#1 (1 week)
December 19, 1981
Steve Wariner had one of the most interesting chart runs in country music history, successfully recording for four major labels and scoring at least one No. 1 hit for each of them.
Wariner’s musicality developed while growing up in Kentucky, where he taught himself to play multiple instruments. Dottie West heard him playing in Indianapolis when he was just seventeen, and noting his talent and potential, chose to mentor him. So he completed his high school degree through correspondence while touring with West, and he was even a session musician on some of her seventies hits, including her signature song, “Country Sunshine.”
Wariner exited West’s band to focus on his songwriting, and after having several songs cut, his demos caught the attention of RCA label head Chet Atkins. He signed with the label in 1976 and started releasing singles, none of which would eventually appear on his self-titled debut album in 1980, which would produce six singles in its own right. After the top ten hits “Your Memory” and “By Now,” Wariner earned his first and only No. 1 single for RCA Records.
“All Roads Lead to You” is pure Steve Wariner in embryonic form. His distinctive phrasing is already there, but he struggles with emoting, sounding very much like the young recording artist that he was. The early eighties production cliches do him no favors, and his guitar work isn’t prominently featured like it would be on his later hit singles.
It’s a very nice song that he delivers competently, but it pales in comparison to his later work for MCA, Arista, and Capitol. He’d release another album and a few more singles for RCA, including the top five hits “Midnight Fire” and “Lonely Women Make Good Lovers,” before exiting the label to join MCA, where the vast majority of his No. 1 singles would be released. We won’t see him again until 1985, but we’ll see a whole lot of him after that.
“All Roads Lead to You” gets a B-.
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In the 1980’s, Steve Wariner prepared the way for Vince Gill in the ’90s.. Mister Nice Guy was a sweet voiced, brilliant guitarist with a rock solid country music pedigree.
I can’t even fault the saccharine production elements here because I can hear Wariner’s vocals straining to escape them, even as all the roads he travels in the song still take him to the same place.
This soft and comfortable sounding song holds a special spot in my country heart.