Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: The Kendalls, “Thank God For the Radio”

“Thank God For the Radio”

The Kendalls

Written by Max D. Barnes and Robert Jones


#1 (1 week)

April 14, 1984

The Kendalls were an unlikely star duo, consisting of a father and daughter who had their biggest chart impact in the seventies with a cheating song.

“Heaven’s Just a Sin Away” was a big enough hit in 1977 to help the duo maintain a regular presence on country radio, and a move to Mercury Records in 1981 would eventually lead to their final chart-topping hit.

Their final appearance in this series is with an absolutely gorgeous tribute to the power of music.   “Thank God For the Radio” is easily their strongest single of the eighties, and quite honestly, the sweet sentiment of the lyric is a better fit for Jeannie Kendall’s high, delicate voice than any of their famous cheating songs.

It’s unfortunate that the most readily available version of this song is a re-recording, because the original is so uniquely touching. Jeannie Kendall captures all of the longing that a song associated with a memory can evoke, and how it can make you feel closer to someone you love when they’re so physically far away.

Alan Jackson does a lovely version of this song on Who I Am that is much stronger than his cover of Charly McClain’s “Who’s Cheatin’ Who.”  His version is probably what the song would’ve sounded like if Don Williams had recorded it instead of the Kendalls.

But the original remains the best.  I can’t believe how much I love this record.

The Kendalls would continue recording and performing until patriarch Royce Kendall passed away in 1998.  Jeannie has continued recording and performing as a solo artist, carrying on the legacy she built with her dad in the three decades that they performed together.

“Thank God For the Radio” gets an A

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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Next: Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson, “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”

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  1. I love Alan Jackson’s cover, but I agree this original recording by the under-appreciated Kendalls is the best! I’m delighted to see your favorable remarks and rating on this, their final #1 hit.

  2. It is such a comforting and charming song. It casts a warm sonic glow, inviting listeners into the cozy-corner of country music where you may well bump into Don Williams, Kathy Mattea, or Mary Chapin Carpenter.

    I will admit, I didn’t know this song charted in the ’80s. Happy to find it here though!

  3. Heh. I came here to mention the Alan Jackson recording. Up until Under the Influence, his cover of this song was the best cover he’d ever done. I do like the Kendalls’ version, but AJ’s is my favorite.

  4. I really liked the Kendalls and I really don’t understand why the “New Traditionalists” movement didn’t result in a Kendalls renaissance.

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