Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Exile, “I Can’t Get Close Enough”

“I Can’t Get Close Enough”


Written by J.P. Pennington and Sonny LeMaire


#1 (1 week)

January 9, 1988

Exile doubles down on their mid-eighties power pop, just as the sound is on its way out across the radio dial.

Our focus in this feature is on country radio, but there was a similar sea change going on at pop radio at the same time the new traditionalists were taking over the Nashville sound. For the first time, women were the dominant voice in popular music, replacing men as that format’s leading gender.

So nobody was really buying what Exile was selling by early 1988, though career momentum was enough to make “I Can’t Get Close Enough” their final No. 1 country it. It’s an overblown mess, without a single emotional beat that’s remotely recognizable as human. It was soft pop AI, forty years before the technology was there for dreck like this to write itself.

Exile had a handful of additional radio hits, including a couple on Arista Nashville that have gone down the memory hole. Suffice it to say that the label’s successful successive launches of Alan Jackson, Pam Tillis, Diamond Rio, and Brooks & Dunn made holding on to a fading pop country band unnecessary.

Still, the band has remained active on the road and they’ve released two new albums in the past year, fifty years after their first album was released back in 1973.

“I Can’t Get Close Enough” gets a D.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

Previous: Kathy Mattea, “Goin’ Gone” |

Next: Rosanne Cash, “Tennessee Flat Top Box”

Open in Spotify


  1. It seemed like Exile was trying to channel a low-rent Restless Heart with this song…and perhaps the entire album. If I was randomly scanning my radio dial in the late 80s and found this song, I might have figured I was listening to a pop station. This was particularly true by 1988 when songs like this were getting fewer and further between on country radio. With all that said, it sounds good to me. Uninspired and a bit bland for sure, but light years better than any AI noise I’ve ever listened to. It’s not that hard to see why it made it to #1 if I’m being honest.

    Grade: B

  2. …it takes some imagination how this tune could make it to the top of a country chart, but it still goes extremly well with household drudges.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.