Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: T. Graham Brown, “Don’t Go to Strangers”

“Don’t Go to Strangers”

T. Graham Brown

Written by J.D. Martin and Russell Smith


#1 (1 week)

May 30, 1987

The “Don’t Go to Strangers” that T. Graham Brown took to No. 1 isn’t the classic pop standard, but it explores a similar theme just as effectively.

Brown is cast as the man watching a woman settle for one night stands while he’s on the sidelines waiting to give her the true love that she desires.

There’s nothing lascivious or patronizing about his perspective here.  He sings from a place of genuine empathy and patience, much like Vince Gill would later do on “If You Ever Have Forever in Mind.”

Listening to this, it felt like I was hearing a long lost Vince Gill song that was recorded by Chris Stapleton.  Yes, Brown’s influence on Stapleton as a singer is all over this record, and it would fit in on the radio today just as well as it would have in the nineties.

We’ve only got one more No. 1 single on deck from Brown, and it’s the lead single from his third album. We’ll get to it in 1989.  All three singles from his second album, Brilliant Conversationalist, went top ten, but he’d only have a handful of additional hits after that final No. 1 single.

Is it too early to call him one of the most unjust casualties of the nineties boom?

“Don’t Go to Strangers” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. I have nothing against this song but am not as complimentary to it as you are. It has a modestly appealing bluesy vibe and soulful delivery from Brown, but I don’t find it to be operating at a level comparable to the best of Gill or Stapleton’s work. On the rare occasion I’m visiting my parents’ place on a Sunday night, the local station runs “Branson Country USA” and I caught it last year when T. Graham Brown stopped by. He performed this song and his “next #1”. It sounded good but also reminded me Brown was never among my top tier of artists in his era.

    Grade: B-

  2. Brown is certainly on the long list of unjust casualties of the nineties boom.

    It is a shame he had become a stranger to country music history.

    He was such a stylist. His songs immediately stood out from the pack of the more traditionally-country oriented youngsters. He was bringing up musical influences from multiple wells of southern forms. His Royal T-Ness was obviously not just listening to country music.

    I wonder if Stapleton has ever acknowledge Brown as a musical influence. I had never linked the two before, but it is hard to look beyond having had it now pointed out.

    Brown gets short-thrift for the special dynamic and style he brought to the New Traditionalist movement.

    I was so happy for Brown’s induction into The Grand Ole Opry on May 3rd, by Vince Gill no less!

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