Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: The Oak Ridge Boys, “It Takes a Little Rain (To Make Love Grow)”

“It Takes a Little Rain (To Make Love Grow)”

The Oak Ridge Boys

Written by Steve Dean, James Dean Hicks, and Roger Murrah

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

April 24, 1987


#1 (1 week)

May 30, 1987

“It Takes a Little Rain (to Make Love Grow)” is a fantastic record that also serves as a reminder of what we lose when we push our older acts off of the stage too soon.

There’s wisdom in these grooves. Yes, the same guys who gave us “Elvira” and “Bobbie Sue” during their crossover heyday delivered a complex and thoughtful meditation on love that is every bit as good as the best of the new traditionalist records they were now competing with. It could only be sung credibly by an older act, and the Oaks had gravitas to spare by 1987.

Helping things along is Jimmy Bowen in the producer chair.  The production quality is light years ahead of their earlier material, and while their harmonies were always undeniable, their individual vocals never sounded this clear, crisp, and compelling before.

The kicker is that the harmonies sound better too.  You can hear each part more clearly and get a real sense of their technique.  The way their voices intertwine so flawlessly is what happens when great singers spend so much time together on the road.

This is one of their last No. 1 singles with William Lee Golden in the lineup, and I’m happy we got a couple of chart toppers of this caliber while he was still around. And I say that as a massive fan of the singles that came after he departed for a few years.

It takes a little luck but a lot of talent to make your music stay relevant when times are changing around you so quickly and thoroughly.  The Oaks pulled it off, thanks to songs and performances like this.  That’s why they’re in the Hall of Fame.

“It Takes a Little Rain (to Make Love Grow)” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. Here’s a song I hadn’t heard in at least 20 years. When I saw the song title, the melody that was going through my head was Sweethearts of the Rodeo’s “Things Will Grow If You Give ‘Em Time”. Clearly this is a much different song, and I agree the lyric and the production showcases the maturity of the Oak Ridge Boys at this stage of their career. I can’t say I connected with it at a visceral level but I can still appreciate it.

    The Oaks are another act associated with some of my earliest country music memories as my mom had their 1980 Greatest Hits record spinning all the time on the turntable when I was a young boy. They came to county fair to since in 1997 and I believe they’ve been back five or six times since, most recently in 2021. I’ll always have a soft spot for their music and that signature delivery. For the longest time, I had it in my head that the Oak Ridge Boys were the voice of the Mazda truck ads of the early 80s but I just did a You Tube search and it’s quite obviously not them. They were clearly going for the Oaks’ sound and energy though. Check it out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYNLRrrBqzE

    Grade: B

  2. It was about this time that William Lee Golden began behaving oddly, and the Oak Ridge Boys brand ballooned into an unmanageable beast. The Boys had become victims of their own success. The band felt shackled by bad business decisions like purchasing a country music station in Terre Haute, Indiana. In a “Country Music” magazine feature, I recall Joe, Duane, and Richard sharing that despite all their recording and tour success, there wasn’t much money left at the end of the year. The fun had gone out of the game for them. Somehow, they were working just to pay the bills, a snake swallowing its own tail.

    Not that I hear that fatigue here at all. Rather, the Oaks still sound magical and increasingly magisterial, wise as Kevin points out.

    I loved the mighty Oaks when they kicked off the start of this ’80s ‘feature with “Leaving Louisiana In the Broad Daylight” and I love them here still.

    Easy to pillory and dismiss because of their campy enthusiasm, faith, and showmanship, the Oak Ridge Boys were absolute masters of their sound and style.

    I hope this feature has demonstrated that.

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