The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [December 1992]


This is the past pulse of mainstream country music. Each week, I take a look at the Billboard Country Airplay Chart (or, “Hot Country Songs” as it used to be called) from years ago and grade the top 30 songs. Each week will be a different year. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive one of the following scores: +5, +4, +3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, -5. 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 +150 and the lowest possible score being a -150. The grade I would give it determines its Pulse score. The grading key: 10 [+5], 9 [+4], 8 [+3], 7 [+2], 6 [+1], 5 [0], 4 [-1], 3 [-2], 2 [-3], 1 [-4], 0 [-5].

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 will take a look at the top 30 songs of the Billboard Hot Country Songs from December 26, 1992. In honor of my ongoing chart request archive, this week’s chart goes out to commenter jmartin103. Thanks for reading jmartin103!

  1. Vince Gill – “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away” +3
  2. Alan Jackson – “She’s Got The Rhythm (And I Got The Blues)” +3
  3. Garth Brooks – “Somewhere Other Than The Night” 0 (Since I don’t have the CD with this song on it, I have no clue what to grade this song. Of course it isn’t anywhere on the Internet and I haven’t heard it before so it’s not going to help or hurt the Pulse)
  4. Hal Ketchum – “Sure Love” +1 [Least Good Song] (It’s just more “meh” than outright bad)
  5. Clint Black – “Burn One Down” +4
  6. George Strait – “I Cross My Heart” +2
  7. Trisha Yearwood – “Walkaway Joe” +4
  8. Brooks & Dunn – “Lost & Found” +3 (One of the few B&D songs featuring Kix on lead vocals. I haven’t checked, does Kix still have more solo songs than Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line? Dead serious)
  9. Restless Heart – “When She Cries’” +3 (Probably too pop for 1992 but still a good song)
  10. Tracy Lawrence – “Somebody Paints The Wall” +3 (The George Jones version is obviously highly recommended as well)
  11. Randy Travis – “Look Heart, No Hands” +3
  12. Lee Roy Parnell – “Love Without Mercy” +2
  13. Reba McEntire – “Take It Back” +3 (Probably being a little gracious, but it is certainly fun)
  14. Sammy Kershaw – “Anywhere But Here” +3
  15. John Michael Montgomery Gentry – “Life’s A Dance” +4 [Best Song]
  16. Ricky Van Shelton – “Wild Man” +3
  17. Doug Stone – “Too Busy Being In Love” +1
  18. Tanya Tucker – “Two Sparrows In A Hurricane” +3
  19. Alabama – “I’m In A Hurry (And Don’t Know Why)” +4 (It’s a damn fun song with a good message. We CAN make them!)
  20. Diamond Rio – “In A Week Or Two” +3
  21. Little Texas – “What Were You Thinking” +3
  22. Travis Tritt – “Can I Trust You With My Heart” +2
  23. Chris LeDoux – “Cadillac Ranch” +3 (There’s a lot of big names that came from the 90’s, but ironically enough Chris was one of the first artists from before 2000 I ever listened to)
  24. John Anderson – “Let Go Of The Stone” +3 (The one, two, three punch of Tritt, LeDoux, and Anderson is just awesome)
  25. Wynonna – “My Strongest Weakness” +2
  26. Confederate Railroad – “Queen Of Memphis” +2
  27. Mark Collie – “Even The Man In The Moon Is Cryin’” +3
  28. Billy Dean – “If There Hadn’t Been You” +3 (Borderline +3. The production is a little too sleepy for my tastes)
  29. Suzy Bogguss – “Drive South” +3
  30. Wynonna – “No One Else On Earth” +4 (A.K.A, the better Wynonna song here)

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: +77

It’s getting a little cliché at this point, but there’s really not much else to say other than this is another great chart! A little bit of a step up from last week even if there still wasn’t a song here that outright blew me away. Even still, when you have artists like Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Clint Black, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Randy Travis, Reba, Sammy Kershaw, John Anderson, Chris LeDoux, Wynonna and SO many more cranking out at least great songs, there’s not much to complain about.

As an additional note, I have to say that the 90’s charts are always my favorite ones to listen to and rank. Sure, it’s not perfect, but nothing really is. These charts are always highly enjoyable and bring tons of great songs that are a better representation of country music than a lot of the stuff we have today.

22 thoughts on “The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [December 1992]

  1. Ron September 23, 2016 / 11:12 am

    When She Cries was a big pop/AC hit for them in 92/93. Somewhere other than the night is an ok Garth song. Not one of his best. Probably a +1


  2. Stew September 23, 2016 / 11:24 am

    Kix Brooks also sang lead on these songs:

    You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone
    South of Santa Fe
    Rock My World Little Country Girl
    Mama Don’t Get Dressed Up For Nothing
    Days of Thunder

    He also sang lead on numerous album cuts as well. So a lot more than the Brian Kelley lol


    • Justin W Adams September 23, 2016 / 12:08 pm

      This is the best chart you’ve done. It’s funny to go down this list and see how many songs I have saved on spotify.

      I like Somewhere Other than the Night. I think it was one of Garth’s more underrated songs


  3. FeedThemHogs September 23, 2016 / 11:31 am

    God Almighty that is a beautiful chart. Walkaway Joe is my best song, hard to pass out a worst song.

    Not sure if you could even find this information, but how about reaching way back and finding a chart from the late 50’s or 60’s. Is that even possible?


  4. Scotty J September 23, 2016 / 11:34 am

    Kix Brooks sang lead on ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone’ and ‘Rock My World’ to name a couple I know there are more though. I really like ‘Lost And Found’ and it is probably the best of the Kix songs from them.

    I always liked ‘Somewhere Other Than Night’ as it is a very strong descriptive story song. I would probably give it +3.

    I liked ‘Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away’ but it was such a huge hit (Gill’s biggest) and was played to death for many years as a recurrent and I kind of tired of it.

    Of course ‘I Cross My Heart’ was from the Pure Country movie and was somewhat different than what Strait had been releasing for the first decade of his career and his fans were pretty mixed on it and ‘Heartland’ if I remember correctly.

    Couple other thoughts: Tanya Tucker is awesome and at this point she had such a lived in voice. ‘Queen Of Memphis’ is a fun song and isn’t remembered as well as ‘Trashy Women’ but it was actually Confederate Railroad’s biggest hit.

    Overall this is a very strong chart from a time when country radio was really strong.


    • Frank the Tank September 23, 2016 / 12:26 pm

      “Lost and Found” is one of my favourite B&D songs. From what I remember, B&D has a pretty reasonable ratio of Brooks to Dunn singing lead (obviously with Dunn singing more). I quite like the contrast between the two of them though.


  5. Daniel September 23, 2016 / 11:46 am

    Is this a record positive?


  6. Amanda September 23, 2016 / 11:54 am

    I love the past pulse, Zack. And regarding Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn, does he also sing lead in Rock My World, Little Country Girl?


    • Zackary Kephart September 23, 2016 / 12:15 pm

      He does. I didn’t say he only sang one, just few 🙂

      Like I said, if I had access to the Garth song the chart could be better (or worse).

      Btw, thought I’d share, next week’s chart is going back to ’89 and the week after is 2013.


      • Amanda September 23, 2016 / 1:43 pm

        I thought so! Not the world’s biggest Brooks and Dunn fan, though they are alright. 🙂


  7. OlaR September 23, 2016 / 12:25 pm

    John Michael Montgomery Gentry…?
    Can’t remember the Garth Brooks song. But i’m not a fan.

    +5: Trisha Yearwood – “Walkaway Joe” (with Don Henley)
    +4: Suzy Bogguss – “Drive South” (love the Forester Sisters & Bellamy Brothers version too)
    +3: Vince Gill, George Strait, Restless Heart, Tracy Lawrence, Sammy Kershaw, Tanya Tucker, Alabama, Billy Dean, Wynonna & Wynonna
    Meh: Doug Stone (one of my hit or miss artists) & John Michael Montgomery (one of my miss or miss artists)


  8. jmartin103 September 23, 2016 / 12:35 pm

    Thanks for the shoutout Zack! This is a great pulse indeed. I really like Garth’s song, as well as John Anderson’s. I also love the variety on this chart, with lots of female artists and good quality songs, most of which, unfortunately, wouldn’t stand a chance on today’s radio. But, overall, awesome chart.


  9. Cobra September 23, 2016 / 12:41 pm

    It’s not a studio version, but here is a live performance of the Garth Brooks song:


    • Scotty J September 23, 2016 / 2:08 pm

      I have a fondness for songs like this that are about adults and their problems and relationships as we never hear them anymore in mainstream country. Another favorite example of this is the Mac McAnally written song ‘All These Years’ which was a hit for Sawyer Brown.

      Mainstream country music used to have music for grownups mixed in whereas now it really is quite juvenile.


    • Scotty J September 23, 2016 / 3:05 pm

      And it’s gone!


  10. Frank the Tank September 23, 2016 / 12:52 pm

    I love the 90’s charts – right in my wheelhouse!

    I’d say the overall score is about what I would get if I ranked them all, but I would rank some songs a bit higher and some a bit lower.

    “Somewhere Other Than the Night” was quite good +3
    “Burn One Down” – I love Clint Black, but this isn’t one of my favourites of his +2
    “Walkaway Joe” – just excellent +5 (best song)
    “Lost and Found” +4
    “When She Cries” – I never liked this song – too sappy and poppy: -3 (easily the worst song)
    “Life’s a Dance” – John Michael Montgomery was hit or miss for me; some songs were very good (eg. this one) and some were just not (eg. “I Swear”) +3
    “Two Sparrows in a Hurricane” – excellent vocal performance and strong lyrics +4
    “I’m in a Hurry” – I really enjoyed this song at the time, but I would rank it a bit lower +2
    “Cadillac Ranch” +4
    “Queen of Memphis” +3 or +4 – much better than “Trashy Women”. On a related note, has anyone listened to Confederate Railroad’s new album? It was pretty decent overall – some songs were very good and some I would never listen to again (like the unnecessary updated version of “Trashy Women”).


  11. Amanda September 23, 2016 / 1:50 pm

    The Garth song is actually pretty good, I’d give it a +2. I’m actually really familiar with the song, as my mom was a massive Garth fan back in the 90’s. Two or three years after my parents married (around this time and before I came along, I was born in ’96), they were traveling due to my dad’s job. My dad had stopped for gas and a man asked him for directions. My dad was completely clueless as to who he was. My mom was in the car, having a fit because my dad had no clue who this man was–and it was Garth Brooks. I remember a few years back hearing my mom tell this story for the first time.


  12. Scotty J September 23, 2016 / 2:15 pm

    Garth Brooks’ stance on YouTube is really ridiculous especially for his older stuff. I can at least see it for new releases but the fact that you can’t pull up a 24 year old song is just so shortsighted in today’s day and age.


  13. Scotty J September 23, 2016 / 2:18 pm

    Thinking about ‘I Cross My Heart’ got me to thinking about Pure Country the movie from which it came. It wasn’t the greatest movie of all time and Strait didn’t exactly give DeNiro a run for his money in the acting department but it was an enjoyable watch for what it is.


    • Frank the Tank September 23, 2016 / 2:42 pm

      I agree. This movie was quite enjoyable. The soundtrack was quite good as well.


  14. petemarshall724 September 23, 2016 / 6:58 pm

    I really like all the songs in the top 30! “Somebody paint the wall” is also sung by Josh Logan #57 in 1989, and Drive South by Forester Sister and Bellamy Brothers hit #63 in 1990.


  15. petemarshall724 September 23, 2016 / 11:38 pm

    I really like all the artist but at the time I wasn’t a big fan of Hal Ketchum and Sure Love wasn’t my favorite at that time I would give it a 0 and I don’t know why. 90’s country is in my wheelhouse I was heavy into country music at the time country radio’s, TNN and CMT! Thank you Zack for posting this!


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