Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Barbara Mandrell, “Till You’re Gone”

“Till You’re Gone”

Barbara Mandrell

Written by Walt Aldridge and Tommy Brasfield


#1 (1 week)

July 17, 1982

Barbara Mandrell followed her gold-selling Live album with the lead single from In Black and White, earning her third consecutive No. 1 hit.  

“Till You’re Gone” was co-written by Walt Aldridge.  One of the fun discoveries of this series has been hearing No. 1 hits written by songwriters I more closely associated with the nineties. Aldridge wrote my favorite singles ever by Reba McEntire (“The Fear of Being Alone”) and Pam Tillis (“Deep Down”), so it’s a thrill to hear the songs that put him on the map as a songwriter.

This composition isn’t the same league as those two classics, but his skill for structuring a solid lyric is already evident.  It’s really the arrangement that holds the song back.  Mandrell goes for a saxophone-laden nightclub feel, and it isn’t a good fit for the song’s melancholy longing.  I’m sure it was a showstopper when she did this live and picked up the saxophone herself, but as a standalone record, it comes off as warmed over elevator music. 

Mandrell followed “Till You’re Gone” with the top ten hit “Operator, Long Distance Please” and the top five hit “In Times Like These.” She’ll return to the top in 1983.

“Till You’re Gone” gets a B. 

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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1 Comment

  1. Mastering a style you are historically criticized for raises any number of critical questions. Mandrell really owned this production style and sound. Like Ronnie Milsap, the criticism of Barbara Mandrell that would pile up in later years quickly fades when you revisit her musical output of early ’80s’ hits. She was firmly her own woman.

    It’s interesting when Don Markham’s saxophone playing is featured on Merle Haggard recordings it is celebrated as innovative and jazzy. When Mandrell plays the sax herself on her recordings, it is often heard only as slick, night-club pop.

    What gives?

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