Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: The Oak Ridge Boys, “Love Song”

“Love Song”

The Oak Ridge Boys

Written by Steven Runkle


#1 (1 week)

August 20, 1983

When a record is remarkably joyous even by Oak Ridge Boys standards, it’s a pretty darn joyous record.  

“Love Song” opens the American Made album, and as well as the lead single and title track showcased how the boys could deliver complex line readings of dense lyrics without sacrificing their trademark harmonies, this release showcases, “Love Song” showcases how infectious those harmonies can be with a simple lyric and even no lyric at all.

Yes, the peak of this record comes when the boys put the lyrics aside completely and do a vocal breakdown as a bridge.  Almost all of the musicians drop out, and they do some doo-wop flavored freestyling that manages to elevate the lyric while detouring from it completely.  It’s like you get to a certain point of a love song, and words just simply aren’t enough to capture the feeling.  It works incredibly well as the climax of a record that was already pretty great before it. 

Going into this feature, my strongest Oak Ridge Memories were “Elvira” and “American Made” from the earlier part of the decade and their Jimmy Bowen-produced hits of the late eighties. “Love Song” is a new discovery for me, and once again, I find myself challenging my assumptions about eighties country in general and the Oak Ridge Boys in particular.  They made many more excellent records than I could have imagined, and this is one of the best.

“Love Song” gets an A.  

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

Previous: Ronnie McDowell, “You’re Gonna Ruin My Bad Reputation” |

Next: Johnny Lee, “Hey Bartender”

Open in Spotify


  1. Kevin, it has been my joy to see you open up to the charm and allure of the Oaks.

    The Oak Ridge Boys were so foundational to my country music education that I can’t really listen to them as anything but a fawning fan. One of the first two albums I was ever gifted was “Fancy Free” (the other was Marty Robbins “Greatest Hits).

    For each of their chart toppers this decade, I have repeatedly celebrated their special sense of showmanship. They are entertainers from a different era. For an act so often dismissed as just ’80s pop country, they actually bring a whole bevy of musical influences and styles to their productions. They had good song instincts and could sound contemporary in ways their only musical rival,the Statler Brothers, never could dream of as they mined the nostalgia vein

    If you have not already, challenge your Oak Ridge Boys’ assumptions even further and listen to their most recent Dave Cobb produced albums. He really tapped into what they did better than anyone else. They are an absolute blast.

    All Hail the mighty Oaks!

    • What I’ve loved about this feature is discovering why artists were superstars back in their day, when I only knew them from the ultra gold recurrents that still got played on the radio.

      It makes me wonder if there are newer country fans who have no idea about how many brilliant hits that someone like Patty Loveless had, because they only hear “Blame it On Your Heart,” or Trisha Yearwood had, when they only know “She’s in Love With the Boy.”

      And I get the fawning fan thing for your formative artists. I can cite a ton of music journalists who will say that my Holy Trinity of the Nineties – Patty Loveless, Pam Tillis, and Trisha Yearwood – made some of the best country music in history. I can do some writing on my own that will be just as convincing.

      But when it comes down to it, I love those three ladies the most because they were my favorite artists at my most formative moments of becoming a lifelong country fan.

      There are artists that have come along since that I love just as much – the Chicks, Jason Isbell, Tami Neilson, Kane Brown – but they can’t recreate that feeling of discovering country music for the first time, even if they can remind me of it by executing their work at the same level.

Leave a Reply

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