Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Steve Wariner, “Life’s Highway”

“Life’s Highway”

Steve Wariner

Written by Richard Leigh and Roger Murrah

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

May 9, 1986


#1 (1 week)

June 14, 1986

Steve Wariner hits his stride with “Life’s Highway,” which is not only the best single yet of his career, but also one of the best singles of the year.

Every element comes together on this record.  First, the brilliant and sophisticated song is perfectly matched with Wariner’s sharp and intelligent delivery.  Wariner clearly communicates that he understands all of the layers of complexity present in the lyric.  In one sense, the song is simply about the start of a new day.  But as the philosophical observations add up, the day as a metaphor for life’s journey comes into focus.

The extraordinary musicianship and clean, organic arrangement heighten the song’s message.  There is a breezy quality to the track that feels like it captures the sun coming up and everybody’s day getting started, and it carries Wariner’s vocal along, as if a light wind is gently pushing him forward.

This is the sound of Patty Loveless’ Honky Tonk Angel and Suzy Bogguss’ Aces arriving early, and like the best hits from those two albums, you could drop this on the radio today and it would still sound fresh and relevant.

What an outstanding effort from all involved.

“Life’s Highway” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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1 Comment

  1. I know Steve Wariner seemed like a low-key predictor of Vince Gill with the sweet singing and hot guitar licks, but Country Music magazine editor Bob Allen wasn’t far from wrong when he suggested in 1988 that Wariner could actually be the new Glen Campbell.

    All the proof for that claim is on display with this single. Wariner has slowly and smoothly matured into a full fledged star. Allen identifies his early RCA albums as “charming, but plagued by a touch of sweet-toothed anemia.”

    With “Life’s Highway,” Wariner has allowed all his talents as a songwriter, singer, and guitarists to come together for a sound that is uniquely suited to this tipping point in country music history.

    He can play both sides of the pop-country divide with “no less style and artistry” for whatever direction he chooses.

    This song is still a bright, bouncy, and breezy joy to listen to almost forty years later.

    I whole heartedly agree that it is an truly outstanding effort.

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