Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: The Oak Ridge Boys, “Touch a Hand, Make a Friend”

“Touch a Hand, Make a Friend”

The Oak Ridge Boys

Written by Homer Banks, Carl Hampton, and Raymond Jackson

Radio & Records

#1 (2 weeks)

September 20 – September 27, 1985


#1 (1 week)

October 26, 1985

The Oak Ridge Boys come full circle with their latest No. 1 single, as they return to their gospel roots with a top rate Staple Singers cover. 

“Touch a Hand, Make a Friend” revives a song that is beautifully optimistic: the world is getting better, and you can be part of that my reaching out to others:

It’s been reflected in the attitudeOf other people just like youReach out and touch a handAnd make a friend if you can
Can’t you feel it in your heart now?A new thing is taking shapeReach out and touch a handMake a friend if you can
We get so many songs about “a world gone crazy.”  I noticed it recently when I heard “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” and “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days),” two hit singles released three decades apart.
We don’t get nearly as many songs that lean into the ways the world gets better with time.  I love that the Oak Ridge Boys revived this twelve years after the Staple Singers made it a hit, being a voice of optimism for a new generation.  
It’s so hard to even get a conversation going these days that suggests that some things are getting better and we can all be brought closer together.  The focus always seems to be on what aggravates us and keeps us apart.
Maybe we need the Oak Ridge Boys now more than ever.  What a timely sentiment.
“Touch a Hand, Make a Friend” gets an A.


Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. The Oaks did a fantastic take on a Great Staples Singers song. That being said, Kevin, Have a Wonderful Christmas! Thank you for your website and ALL that you do here!! The best is yet to come!

  2. The Oaks sold joy and happiness as well as anyone. Those emotions and sentiments flowed throughout so much of their music.

    They were an essential part of the positive persona they pitched as their stage presence as well, which is consistent with their gospel roots and the personal faith of each member of the quartet.

    I think the Oak Ridge Boy’s can just as easily put people off as attract them with all their smiling and hamming it up for publicity photos.

    If you “get” the Oak Ridge Boy’s, however, there is a special feeling and connection with their music that few other acts can touch.

    As campy as they often present, there is a genuine sincerity to their music. For every novelty number there is a song of substance, like this one.

    Either way, novelty or the numinous, the Oaks seldom did anything by half-measure.

    And they did it all in gorgeous four-part harmony.

    I believe the Oaks were less concerned with being cool then being consequential.

    I think their run of number one hits in the 80s so far is testament to their success with the later.

    I absolutely agree that we need the Oak Ridge Boy’s now more than ever for any number of reasons.

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