Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, “Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer to You)”

“Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer to You)”

Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers

Written by Larry Gatlin

Radio & Records

#1 (4 weeks)

December 9 – December 30, 1983


#1 (2 weeks)

December 24 – December 31, 1983

The most surprising thing about “Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer to You)” is that it topped both charts at the end of 1983.

On the surface level, at least.  The old school harmonies were tailor made for the crossover countrypolitan sound that dominated the end of the seventies, but were falling out of fashion by the time this record came around.

The signs of the times are still there, though.  Under that thick layer of stacked voices, you can hear some truly fantastic instrumentation that borrows heavily from Western swing.  If you just had George Strait singing by himself over the backing track, it would fit in perfectly on any of his eighties albums.  

Larry Gatlin and his brothers are fine singers and you can hear how this would snap, crackle, and pop on a live stage.  On record, they reach for some notes that they don’t catch, and it makes the chorus weaker than it should be.  It’s really the verses and the musicianship that shine here.

The Gatlins earned six more top ten hits on the country charts, and then ran their own musical theater in Myrtle Beach.  Gatlin and his brothers have continued to record for independent labels, and Gatlin himself appears regularly on radio and television on a variety of musical and political programs.

“Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer to You)” gets a B

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. Under that thick layer of stacked voices, you can hear some truly fantastic instrumentation that borrows heavily from Western swing.

    That right there makes the whole thing for me. Loved the Gatlins, and this is my favorite of their singles.

    I rather wish we had a George Strait recording of this song now. With as many times as he’s played the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo it’d fit like a glove. I was fortunate enough to see a couple of those shows.

  2. This was such a refreshing change of pace for the Gatlins and I echo the sentiment that the instrumentation is the star here. Songs like this one make me long for more mainstream artists to lean into western swing but I’m afraid a lot of them probably don’t even know who Bob Wills is.

  3. It’s a shame Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers had such erratic chart success. Cocaine and alcohol problems plagued the brothers in the ’80s. Their harmony singing was special. It was right their with the Oak Ridge Boys and the Statler Brothers. Larry’s songwriting was in the same vein as Earl Thomas Conley’s, smart, contemporary, and country.

    This song certainly does swing and sparkle in all the right places. A personal favourite sing-along, as are “Broken Lady, ” “Love is Just a Game,” and “All the Gold in California.”

    Because he has been highlighted so much this decade, it is worth noting the Gatlins worked with Jimmy Bowen on his new Universal label in 1989 and would later follow him to Capitol when Bowen moved there later in the same year.

    The Gatlins were among the collateral damage of veteran stars when new country broke big in the ’90s.

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