Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, “Baby’s Got a Hold On Me”

“Baby’s Got a Hold On Me””

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Written by Bob Carpenter, Jeff Hanna, and Josh Leo

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

May 15, 1987

Like we’ll see next year with Kathy Mattea, the first single from Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s 1987 album Hold On was a chart-topping hit that was completely overshadowed by the second single from the same album.

“Baby’s Got a Hold On Me” is an entertaining single in its own right that deserves its moment in the sun, showcasing the masterful musicianship of the venerable band, as well as the songwriting chops of two of its members.  It’s more percussion forward than most country tracks of the day, which is a refreshing contrast: NGDB goes rockabilly when they do a fifties throwback, rather than leaning into the doo-wop ballads favored by their contemporaries at the time.

The creative use of repetition in the chorus also gave the album its title, which is an interesting footnote.  Yes, the next single is a bona fide classic and very much the main course.  Enjoy this lovely appetizer in the meantime.

“Baby’s Got a Hold On Me” gets a B+.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

Previous: Michael Johnson, “The Moon is Still Over Her Shoulder” |

Next: Randy Travis, “Forever and Ever, Amen”

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  1. I didn’t recognize the title of the song but it definitely rung a bell when I started listening. I wouldn’t have expected it to have been a #1 though. The tempo and groove both stand out. Maybe it’s just me but it reminds me of the Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life” which was a hit only a year earlier. I wasn’t overly taken by the lyrics but this one was beat-driven effectively enough to be above average.

    Grade: B

  2. I’ve never really known what to think about the NGDT other than to say that I have liked most of their recordings. I bought one of their early singles “Buy For Me The Rain” which did not strike me as a country recording, then didn’t purchase anything else by them (no money, then living overseas) until Uncle Charlie and his Dog Teddy, released a few months before I returned to the US in August 1970. After that I bought Circle 1 and thereafter bought (randomly) their albums occasionally although I did make sure to pick up Circle 2 and Circle 3.

    The liner notes, etc for Circle 1 are the best I’ve ever encountered. While I picked up Circle 1 on CD, nothing could get me to part with my vinyl copy.

  3. The Nitty Gritty Dirt band occupied this special place in my country universe where they were recording and existing just beyond the mainstream. They would drop mainstream hits, but their musicianship and brand was something all together different than say what Alabama, Restless Heart, or Exile were doing.

    Sort of elder country music statesmen who were above playing the game, weird older uncles whose connection to the family I didn’t clearly understand but wished they visited more often nonetheless.

    I like this fun song a lot.

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