Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Dan Seals, “One Friend”

“One Friend”

Dan Seals

Written by Dan Seals

Radio & Records

#1 (3 weeks)

December 11 – December 25, 1987


#1 (1 week)

January 16, 1988

Dan Seals does his own spin on “Wind Beneath My Wings” on “One Friend,” minus the melodrama and the melancholy.

It’s a simple tribute to a person who has been by his side through thick and thin, and it’s written vaguely enough that it could work as a hosannah for a spouse or a platonic friend.

His vocal is sweet but not sickly, and he gets his sentiment across with sincerity. This kind of record is right in his wheelhouse.

But that wheelhouse is sounding a bit too 70’s AM Radio for the late eighties country radio dial, I do have to say. We’re definitely entering country music’s golden era now, and this doesn’t stand up as well in comparison to the recent string of hits from compelling new voices like Randy Travis, Highway 101, K.T. Oslin, and Ricky Van Shelton.

There’s a lovely acoustic version of this song on Seals’ 1997 In a Quiet Room album that improves on the hit version and is worth seeking out.

“One Friend” gets a B+.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. I never made any connection to “Wind Beneath My Wings” and still don’t know if I agree that it was an inspiration. I think it was another year or so before Bette Midler made the song a pop superhit. Otherwise, I have a largely similar take on “One Friend”. It hits pretty hard and is sweet without being saccharine. It definitely feels like the kind of cut that gets packaged in a Greatest Hits album as a marketable single. One thing I liked about Dan Seals is that, like Rosanne Cash, he kept you a bit off-balance with what kind of song he was gonna put out next as his style kept evolving. As you say, this one felt like it came from his 70s England Dan output, not that that’s a bad thing. I don’t think it rates near the very top of his catalog but it was an affecting that served its purpose from a guy who rarely missed.

    I also remember hearing him say that his original recording of this song came in under two minutes run time but that the record company asked him to extend it for a radio single.

    Grade: B+

  2. Turn down the lights, shut off the phone, lock the door, and throw some pillows and blankets on the floor in country music’s cozy corner.

    “One Friend” may not hold up by comparison to the exciting emergence of the new artists parading up and down the country music charts, but it holds up just fine on its own.

    A thoughtful vocal performance of a well written lyric tastefully produced; under what circumstances will this recipe ever result in an undesirable result?

    Staying with the food analogy, it’s like your favourite local restaurant. Is it the best place in town? Is it trendy, hip, and new? No, but it is consistent, comfortable and good enough.

    Nostalgic familiarity can be just as powerful as more aspirational artistic attributes.

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