Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Reba McEntire, “You’re the First Time I’ve Thought About Leaving”

“You’re the First Time I’ve Thought About Leaving”

Reba McEntire

Written by Kerry Chater and Dickey Lee


#1 (1 week)

April 30, 1983

After waiting seven years for her first No. 1 single, McEntire earned her second in just a few weeks.

“You’re the First Time I’ve Thought About Leaving” was a reversion to type, going back to the waltzy ballads that had defined her recording career up until this point, before “Can’t Even Get the Blues” provided an uptempo diversion.

It’s an excellent song, for sure, and the kind of number that McEntire would later knock out of the park once she teamed up with Jimmy Bowen.  Here, she’s still annoyingly restricted by her current producer’s insistence that she not do the distinctive vocal licks that make her one of the most distinctive vocalists of any genre. It casts a pall over all of her work on Mercury, as well as her first album for MCA.  

It’s fine for what it is, but much like with “Can’t Even Get the Blues,” check out later live performances of the song to hear it in its finest form, like this one from 1996. 

We’ll see Reba again next year, when she kicks off a lengthy run of chart-topping singles for her next label. 

“You’re the First Time I’ve Thought About Leaving” gets a B. 

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

Previous: Shelly West, “José Cuervo” |

Next: John Conlee, “Common Man”

Open in Spotify


  1. I love Reba’s style both then and now. I will probably be the only one with this opinion though. I actually preferred the Reba style when she didn’t overdue the “Reba licks” that she is so known for. It’s good for sure but always seems to overdue more than the song calls for.

    • For me, Reba was at her best when she could sing really strong material the way that she wanted. Her taste in songs faltered quite a bit after For My Broken Heart, and a lot of her oversinging coincided with that, like she was trying to sell shoddy goods.

  2. I just can’t be disappointed in a performance that sounds so classically country. This song could be a bit in any number of decades. Her vocal restraint is perfect partner to her mental condition, a subdued take on her own surprise at thinking about cheating. She sounds guilty.

    Anyone who wants to maintain ’80s country was southern fried adult contemporary music need only listen to this wonder (among many other options to dispute the claim).

    I love this song and performance.

Leave a Reply

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