The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [April 1993]

Every week I take a look the Billboard Country Airplay chart from years ago and grade the top 30 songs. Each week will be a different year. It could be 10 years ago, 20 years ago or even further back. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive either a +1, -1 or a 0. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the past top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +30 and the lowest possible score being a -30. How do I determine if a song is rated a +1, -1 or 0? Songs rated between 7 and 10 receive a +1. Songs rated between 5 and 6.5 receive a 0. Songs rated 4.5 or lower receive a -1.

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the past state of mainstream country music and determine if it was better or worse compared to now. To see the full list of the top 30 country airplay songs for this week, click here. This week I take a look at the top 30 on the Country Airplay Chart from April 3, 1993. This is the first time the past pulse has went back to the 90s, so the chance of our best score yet is highly possible.

  1. Clint Black – “When My Ship Comes In” +1
  2. Garth Brooks – “Learning To Live Again” +1
  3. George Strait – “Heartland” +1
  4. Mark Chesnutt – “Ol’ Country” +1
  5. Pam Tillis – “Let That Pony Run” +1
  6. Brooks & Dunn – “Hard Workin’ Man” +1
  7. Reba McEntire & Vince Gill – “The Heart Won’t Lie” +1
  8. Tanya Tucker – “It’s A Little Too Late” +1
  9. Radney Foster – “Nobody Wins” +1
  10. Billy Ray Cyrus – “She’s Not Cryin’ Anymore” +1
  11. Sammy Kershaw – “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful” +1
  12. Tracy Lawrence – “Alibis” +1
  13. Restless Heart – “Mending Fences” +1
  14. Alan Jackson – “Tonight I Climbed The Wall” +1
  15. Hal Ketchum – “Hearts Are Gonna Roll” +1
  16. Mark Collie – “Born To Love You” +1
  17. Aaron Tippin – “My Blue Angel” +1
  18. Alabama – “Once Upon A Lifetime” +1
  19. Kathy Mattea – “Standing Knee Deep In A River (Dying of Thirst)” +1
  20. Trisha Yearwood – “You Say You Will” +1
  21. Lorrie Morgan – “What Part of No” +1
  22. Little Texas – “I’d Rather Miss You” +1
  23. Mary Chapin Carpenter – “Passionate Kisses” +1
  24. Doug Stone – “Made For Loving You” +1
  25. Lee Roy Parnell – “Tender Moment” +1
  26. Dwight Yoakam – “Ain’t That Lonely Yet” +1
  27. Neal McCoy – “Now I Pray For Rain” +1
  28. Gibson/Miller Band – “High Rollin'” +1
  29. John Michael Montgomery – “I Love The Way You Love Me” +1
  30. Dolly Parton – “Romeo” +1

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: +30

Perfect score! I knew we would find a chart with a +30 score. It was close on a couple of songs, but each song was good enough to merit a +1 from me. The songs that came close to getting a 0 were Hal Ketchum’s “Hearts Are Gonna Roll” and Mark Collie’s “Born To Love You.” None of the songs came I considered giving a -1. Last week we looked at March 2004 and I considered a +15 pretty good. But this point in time in country music was truly great. It’s really hard to choose my favorites from all of these. There’s a lot of variety too, with several female artists on it. Garth Brooks wasn’t starting to put out corny songs yet either. Can radio go back to these kinds of songs please?

As is now customary, fire away with your comments and questions about this week’s past pulse. Recognize some old favorites? Maybe a few you would like to not be reminded about?

16 thoughts on “The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [April 1993]

  1. Raymond April 3, 2015 / 1:10 pm

    I’ve only heard of one of these and that’s Sammy Kershaw I guess that’s the only one I could ask you about. Hopefully next week I’ll have more songs to ask. Sorry I never hear any of these songs and Sammy is the only one and that’s only once in a while. Having said that you’ve introduced me to a couple of artists. When you did 2005 I decided to hear Lee Ann Womacks song I May Hate Myself In The Morning and Blaine Larsen I’ve also heard Love & Theft Dancing In Circles and well a couple others. Thanks again I hope next week will be in the 2000s. Preferably late 2006-2010 but as long as I can identify a song I’ll be happy.

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    • Josh Schott April 3, 2015 / 1:24 pm

      Kershaw’s “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful” is one of my favorites from him. It’s a sweet song with a loving sentiment. The mid-tempo pace and the fiddles are just icing on the cake.

      Glad to hear I’ve introduced you to some new songs! It’s what I like to hear. I know you like Reba, so I think you would definitely like her duet with Vince on “The Heart Won’t Lie.” It’s one of my favorite Reba songs. And really you could just pick any song from above to check out. All definitely get my approval. Who knows you might find something you really like.

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      • Raymond April 3, 2015 / 1:36 pm

        Ok I only somewhat like Reba her legacy is incredible but the only 90s songs I’ve heard from her is.
        Fancy which what’s your opinion on.
        Is There Life Out There and Lights Went Out in Georgia.
        Not that I disagree but can you say some Garth Brooks song you’ve found corny apparently.

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  2. Derek Hudgin April 3, 2015 / 1:38 pm

    Wouldn’t this be a +30? Or is it just a personal cap at 25. Either way, bring this back!!!

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    • Josh Schott April 3, 2015 / 1:43 pm

      D’oh! My math and attention span went out the window on this post apparently. Haha! Thanks for pointing this out!

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      • Derek Hudgin April 3, 2015 / 1:47 pm

        Haha! No problem, I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something. But A perfect score is amazing.

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  3. ron12274 April 3, 2015 / 1:48 pm

    I’m sure most charts from the late 80s thru at least the mid 90s would be +25 or greater

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    • Josh Schott April 3, 2015 / 1:53 pm

      Definitely!

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  4. Clovis Mello April 3, 2015 / 3:17 pm

    What an awesome freaking decade for Country music. Most of these songs are still on heavy rotation on my iTunes library. I remember having “The Heart Won’t Lie” on repeat on my CD player for a few weeks back when it was out. I could spend a lot of time talking about songs on this list. My favorite five songs from this list would be: “The Heart Won’t Lie”, “Ain’t That Lonely Yet”, “Tender Moment”, “I Love the Way You Love Me”, and “Nobody Wins”. But that’s not to say the other ones are far behind.

    Thanks for digging this up, I imagine I’ll have a similar reaction to most lists from this era.

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  5. John in Georgia April 3, 2015 / 5:35 pm

    What’s interesting about this list is how much better it is compared to the average weekly top 30 in say, 1985. Country radio never hit rock bottom in the mid-80s, but it was definitely heading in a bad direction. I’d compare the state of the radio then to country radio of 2008-2011. Whereas artists like Randy Travis, Dwight Yoakam, and Keith Whitley emerged in 1986 and steered the genre back in a traditional direction, bro-country took hold in 2012 and drove the genre to rock bottom.

    Really not a bad song in the bunch. My personal favorites are “Ol’ Country,” “Nobody Wins,” and “My Blue Angel.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Scotty J April 3, 2015 / 5:40 pm

    Mark Chesnutt was a really good underrated singer and ‘Ol Country’ is a great song and an example of how these kinds of songs can be done. Pam Tillis was also very good and put out many really good songs ranging from the more deep ‘All The Good Ones Are Gone’ to the more lighthearted ‘Mi Vida Loca’. Radney Foster was maybe too good for mainstream country radio but ‘Nobody Wins’ was one of his biggest mainstream hits. ‘What Part Of No’ is a great fun song with an attitude but is not the angry pissed off attitude songs that Miranda Lambert has made her stock and trade. ‘Ain’t That Lonely Yet’ is a very good Dwight song from the end of his sadly too short peak years.

    On the negative side for some reason I really disliked Mary Chapin Carpenter maybe because she seemed to always come across as too cool for country music and some of her songs were very off putting so that one would have been a 0 for me. And the JMM song is just too schmaltzy for me and so this would have been -1 for me.

    And the Reba/Vince song had one of the most interesting videos with approx. 40 year old Reba as a navy(or was it army?) recruit falling for her drill instructor Vince. It was well made but always a head scratcher to me.

    I would say this is about a +25 for me with a lot of pretty good songs by many of the genres best artists at the time.

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  7. Lorenzo April 3, 2015 / 5:49 pm

    great! love that Clint Black song, one of my favourites! and what about She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful? amazing song!!

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  8. Don April 3, 2015 / 7:41 pm

    I didn’t love every song from that era of course, but you could generally turn on the radio and just let it play without wanting to drive your car into a tree. Most of the music was pretty darn good. To me, that is always the test, can I just leave the radio on? Unfortunately, it has been quite awhile since that was possible.

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  9. Zack April 3, 2015 / 8:58 pm

    I wish I knew more of these. Thanks for turning me on to some new songs though! The 90’s is one of the few decades in country that I haven’t quite dug up yet but that definently needs to change!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. bon April 3, 2015 / 10:27 pm

    Surprised to find 7 songs I never heard before. The list includes some of my favorite country artists, Hal Ketchum, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Kathy Mattea, Trisha Yearwood and Lee Roy Parnell. Sure beats today’s country.

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  11. DimM April 5, 2015 / 3:18 pm

    90’s country! What a pleasure! My favorite is Kathy Mattea’s (what a great voice!) and Dwight Yoacam’s.
    Some songs deserve 0 like Alabama’s , Collie’s & Stone’s. i don’t like these ballads at all.

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