Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Ronnie Milsap, “Lost in the Fifties Tonight (In the Still of the Night)”

“Lost in the Fifties Tonight (In the Still of the Night)”

Ronnie Milsap

Written by Fred Parris, Mike Reid, Troy Seals

Radio & Records

#1 (2 weeks)

August 30 – September 6, 1985


#1 (2 weeks)

September 28 – October 5, 1985

In all of the debate about what I consider country music’s rightful place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,  Ronnie Milsap is completely overlooked.

That’s a damn shame because a record like “Lost in the Fifties Tonight (In the Still of the Night)” perfectly distills the way that rock, pop, R&B, and country have their pasts and presents intertwined. 

This is a country record first, full of nostalgia for the old days, but it draws that nostalgia from an R&B record that is as representative as it gets of the early days of rock and roll. 

“Lost in the Fifties Tonight” is a timeless example of how music resonates with us over the years, conjuring up an old memory while creating a new one in the present day.  Milsap isn’t genreless so much as he’s beyond genre, so he’s the perfect vocalist to deliver this beautiful little time capsule.

It’s reverent of the past but quite innovative in its presentation, using the melody and chorus of an old song as the anchor for a new one.  It creates a new storyline around a familiar lyric. Suddenly, a song that was about young love becomes a moment of deep gratitude for a love that has endured beyond those early years.

This approach to storytelling is all over popular music right now, with the approach being utilized by everyone from Frank Ocean to Cole Swindell.  In his telling of the past and present, Ronnie Milsap showed us the future in 1985.  

Grade: A

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. This one has grown on me over the years. I discovered Ronnie Milsap in my teens and then I was more into songs like “Smoky Mountain Rain”, “There’s No Gettin Over Me”, and his more country songs like “Houston Solution.” But I play this one more and more these days.

    It makes me nostalgic for a time I never knew. Similarly, Reba’s “Sunday Kind of Love” strikes the same chord with me.

  2. I think Ronnie is able to do these kinds of songs as successfully as he does because there has always been the R&B component to his music. And as is said here, it’s not a matter of being genreless, it is beyond genre…and really, not far removed (if at all) from timelessness as well (IMHO).

  3. I always remember Milsap maintaining he was a vocalist and not a stylist.

    He didn’t have to wait for the perfect song for him to come along.

    He could bring his prodigious vocal skills to any song or style.

    He nails this one.

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