The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [April 1989]


This is the Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music. Each week, I take a look at the Billboard Country  Airplay Chart 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 30 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 pulse 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 Country Airplay Chart from April 8, 1989. Since this chart came before 1990, I only have access to the top 25 songs. This means that the highest possible score for this week is a +125 and the lowest possible score is a -125. Once again, I am still wading through a ton of chart requests so this week’s chart is dedicated to reader Scotty J!

  1. Keith Whitley – “I’m No Stranger To The Rain” +4 [Best Song]
  2. George Strait – “Baby’s Gotten Good At Goodbye” +3
  3. Vern Gosdin – “Who You Gonna Blame It On This Time” +3
  4. Shenandoah – “The Church on Cumberland Road” +3
  5. Don Williams – “Old Coyote Town” +4
  6. Billy Joe Royal – “Tell It Like It Is” -1 [Worst Song] (His voice and the overall feel of this just don’t work for me)
  7. Hank Williams Jr. & Sr. – “There’s A Tear In My Beer” +4 (As an actual song it’s a +3, but considering the magic that went into this I have to give it its due.)
  8. K.T. Oslin – “Hey Bobby” 0 (Sorry, way too sleepy in the production and that “do you want to huh, huh” line just annoyed the crap out of me)
  9. Foster – “Fairshake” +2
  10. Roy Orbison – “You Got It” 0 (+2 for Pop though)
  11. Michael Martin Murphey – “From The Word Go” +3
  12. Patty Loveless – “Don’t Toss Us Away” +3 (Interesting production on this track)
  13. Lacy J. Dalton – “The Heart” +3
  14. Highway 101 – “Setting Me Up” +2
  15. The Judds – “Young Love (Strong Love)” +2
  16. Lee Greenwood – “I’ll Be Lovin’ You” +1 (Holy crap! A Lee Greenwood song that isn’t “God Bless The U.S.A!”)
  17. Baillie and the Boys – “She Deserves You” +3
  18. Randy Travis – “Is It Still Over?”+3
  19. Restless Heart – “Big Dreams In A Small Town” +2 (I wish the accordion was a little more prominent in the mix but still solid)
  20. Rodney Crowell – “After All This Time” +3
  21. Alabama – “If I Had You” +1
  22. The Bellamy Brothers – “Big Love” +1
  23. Barbara Mandrell – “My Train Of Thought” +3
  24. Reba McEntire – “New Fool At An Old Game” +2
  25. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – “Down That Road Tonight” +2

The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music: +56

This is certainly a good week, but I have to be honest that there’s more generic songs here compared to other past weeks. Nothing inherently bad mind you, just not really all that special. Of course, Keith Whitley was riding the top of the charts so what can I say?

As always, if you have any questions as to why I gave a song a certain grade feel free to ask me. Also, let me know what you guys think of the chart in the comments!

10 thoughts on “The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [April 1989]

  1. Ron September 30, 2016 / 11:07 am

    I know so few of those songs. This was a bit before the class of 89 broke out I guess. Had no idea You Got It made the country charts. Always thought of it as a pop hit


  2. Bob Loblaw September 30, 2016 / 11:28 am

    You should include a Spotify playlist for the Pulse posts, especially the Past Pulse.


    • Zackary Kephart September 30, 2016 / 11:33 am

      That’s actually a good idea. It’s a little hard to do for this particular chart since most of these songs aren’t on there (not a big deal, just went to Youtube). But for most of these charts that’s a great idea.


      • Bob Loblaw September 30, 2016 / 12:23 pm

        I didn’t think about the older songs not being on Spotify. Reading these posts just always makes me want to listen to the songs, and I’m too lazy to create my own playlist 🙂


  3. OlaR September 30, 2016 / 12:19 pm

    “Foster – “Fairshake” +2″…who?…Foster & Lloyd…yes!

    What a great week!
    +5: Keith Whitley, Restless Heart, Baillie & The Boys
    +4: George Strait, Don Williams, Barbara (She Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool) Mandrell & Reba McEntire
    All other songs: +3 – +1 (not one track below the +1)

    My Playlist – Current Songs:
    – Amber Lawrence – “Happy Ever After”
    – Amber Lawrence – “Drive By Breakup”
    – Hunter Brothers – “Long Way To Love You”
    – Viper Creek Road – “Gotta Get Outta This Town”
    – Lainey Wilson – “Two Sides Of Bad”
    – Kim McAbee feat. Ty Herndon – “All Kinds Of Time”
    – Doug Bruce – “Bad Weather”
    – Deep Creek Road – “If Only You Know Me When”
    – Alice Benfer – “Amamoor Creek”
    – Brandy Clark – “Love Can Go To Hell”
    – Post Monroe – “Dixie Dust”
    – Curtis Braly – “Storm Chaser”
    – Cody Johnson – “Wild As You”
    – Kelsey Waldon – “Life Moves Slow”
    – Sunny Cowgirls – “I’ve Got Your Back”
    – William Michael Morgan – “Missing”
    – William Michael Morgan – “I Know Who He Is”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Haven Hamilton September 30, 2016 / 2:03 pm

    27 years later and I still cringe thinking about that “do you wanna huh” part on the Oslin song.

    She had some good tunes but “Hey Bobby” always made me lunge to change the station.


  5. Scotty J September 30, 2016 / 3:01 pm

    ‘I’m No Stranger To The Rain’ hit #1 on. April 8, 1989 and Keith Whitley died a month later and that has always made the subject matter of this song extremely moving for me as he truly was no stranger to the rain. Obviously no one knows but I have always thought the Whitley would have joined George Strait as a timeless artist that would have continued to dominate throughout the 1990s if he had lived. Very sad. ‘I’m No Stranger To The Rain’ is a +5 for me.

    I was never that big a fan of the Judds but for some reason I always liked ‘Young Love’ and this would get a higher score from me, maybe a +3.

    ‘God Bless The USA’ was only #7 hit on the country charts in 1984 if you can believe it. Greenwood had seven #1 hits between 1983 and 1987 and some of them aren’t half bad. ‘Dixie Road’ and ‘Hearts Aren’t Made To Break’ are pretty good and ‘Mornin’ Ride’ is a great country song in the Conway Twitty style of double entendre (hint the ‘Mornin’ Ride’ he’s taking his baby on isn’t in car).

    ‘After All This Time’ is a great song also and this was the fourth of five number ones off of Rodney Crowell’s ‘Diamonds And Dirt’ album. This was the first country album to produce five number one singles. ‘After All This Time’ won the Grammy for best country song and would be a strong +4 in my opinion.


  6. petemarshall724 September 30, 2016 / 5:13 pm

    Call me crazy But I really like K.T. Oslin “Hey Bobby” I really like all songs in the top 25 except I wasn’t crazy about Lee Greenwood “I’ll be loving you” +1. the best song is Keith Whitley I’m no stranger to the rain and There’s a tear in my bear by Hank Sr. and Jr. +5. I really grade rest of them +3.5 songs except Lee Greenwood.


  7. seak05 September 30, 2016 / 10:33 pm

    It’s amazing how (almost) no bad songs were released back in the day :p


    • Zackary Kephart October 1, 2016 / 12:06 pm

      To be perfectly honest, whenever I do a chart from the 90’s or before, I’m usually not familiar with the majority of these tracks. Since I also deal with school and have family commitments and such, I don’t have to really sit and nitpick every individual song.

      I definitely listen to every single song, sometimes twice or more, but I honestly don’t have time to sit and really think about what each song does right or wrong or if there’s little details that make it not work. If I enjoy it, that’s what matters to me here.


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