The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [April 1987]

No single cover for "Rose In Paradise" since Waylon is too badass for that.
No single cover for “Rose In Paradise” since Waylon is too badass for that.

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’m going to go all the way back to the eighties. Since I can only find the top 25 for anything pre-1990, the highest and lowest scores will be +125 and -125, respectively. This week I will take a look at the top 30 songs of the Billboard Hot Country Songs from April 25th, 1987.

  1. Waylon Jennings – “Rose In Paradise” +4 [Best Song] (Waylon’s final number one will be thirty years old next year. Hard to believe)
  2. T. Graham Brown – “Don’t Go To Strangers” +3
  3. Michael Johnson – “The Moon Is Still Over Her Shoulder” +3
  4. Michael Martin Murphey & Holly Dunn – “A Face In The Crowd” +3
  5. The Trio – Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris – “To Know Him Is To Love Him” +4 (three females on one song?!? Damn, we can barely get three women on the charts these days!)
  6. The O’ Kanes – “Can’t Stop My Heart From Loving You” +2 (Props for the accordion in the chorus)
  7. Kathy Mattea – “You’re The Power” +2
  8. The Oak Ridge Boys – “It Takes A Little Rain”  +2 (Before they liked “doing it” to country songs)
  9. Don Williams – “Senorita” +2
  10. Reba McEntire – “Let The Music Lift You Up” +2
  11. Steve Earle – “Goodbye’s All We’ve Got Left” +3 (80’s Steve was SOOOO good)
  12. Conway Twitty – “Julia” +3
  13. Judy Rodman – “Girls Ride Horses Too” +2
  14. The Bellamy Brothers – “Kids Of The Baby Boom” +4
  15. John Conlee – “Domestic Life” +3
  16. Dan Seals – “I Will Be There” +1 [Least Good Song]
  17. Billy Joe Royal – “Old Bridges Burn Slow” +2
  18. Gary Morris – “Plain Brown Wrapper” +2
  19. The Forester Sisters – “Too Many Rivers” +2
  20. Lyle Lovett – “God Will” +3
  21. Moe Bandy – “‘Till I’m Too Old To Die Young” +3
  22. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – “Baby’s Got A Hold On Me” +2
  23. Highway 101 – “The Bed You Made For Me” +3
  24. Keith Whitley  “Hard Livin'” +3
  25. T.G. Sheppard – “You’re My First Lady” +3

The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music: +66

Once again, it’s nice to see a positive score on this thing. Not as good as last week, mostly because there’s a lot of cheesy love songs with sleepy production. Still, nothing inherently bad here. When you have songs by Waylon, Keith Whitley, and Don Williams, how can you really complain?

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!

Album Review – Pat Green’s ‘Home’

Pat Green started his career as an independent artist self-releasing his first three albums. Then in 2001, Green signed with Universal Records in Nashville, which began a string of five straight top 10 albums for Green released under Universal and BNA. After 2009’s What I’m For, Green decided to move back to Texas and continue his country career through the Texas/independent scene. It’s been six years since an album of original material, but Pat Green has released his first album since leaving Nashville in Home.

The album kicks off the title track, a song about settling down back home after some time away chasing dreams. The song paints the picture of youthful naivety that life is “nothing but money and pretty girls.” However, the lyrics suggest that this song could be Green’s homecoming to Texas after nearly a decade in the Nashville side of country music. You can hear a faint fiddle mixed with a nice mid-tempo production that does a good job getting the listener excited. “Break It Back Down” explores the busy, instant gratification life of the modern-day. Green lists a range of trends in today’s world referencing Twitter, random YouTube stars, tabloids, reality TV, and the misguided notion that money is all you need to be happy. The jump is made in the chorus how he wishes for him and his baby to break it back down to just the two of them and shut the world out. While I get the sentiment Pat Green pushes for, the content varying from the verses to the chorus is too different. It’s a song that could have been better with some lyrics devoted as to how the busy world actually affects their relationship.

Pat Green is joined by Lyle Lovett to sing a pandering Texas song called “Girls from Texas.” The pair list off simile after simile of how the girls are around the nation. Take the opening stanza: “Girls from Georgia are sweeter than peaches, the ones from California are made for bathing suits and beaches. Minnesota gals sure fill out the sweater, but the girls from Texas are just a little bit better.” And that’s the song in a nutshell, simply with other states involved. When it comes to the Texas country scene, these “Texas pride” songs are just as cliché as a back road party in Nashville. “Bet Yo Mama” is more rock influenced with a heavy guitar riff carries the song throughout. Lyrically, the song deals with Pat Green telling this girl of his affection how hot the rest of her family is. Mom, sister, grandma, and aunts all get thrown in to build his theory of how good looks run in the family. I find this song to be annoying and just a bit creepy.

Pat Green strips it down with a sentimental ballad in “Right Now.” He knows that he’s not the best man in the relationship. He knows she expects more from him, and he wants to be that man she expects to see. The song acts as his declaration to change his ways for the better of the relationship. It’s a touching song made better with vocal harmonies by Sheryl Crow. While I would have liked to hear a duet between the two, Crow’s harmonies add a nice layer to the song. This is followed by Green’s current single “While I Was Away.” This song explores the relationship between a traveling musician father and his child. The chorus and the song are tied together through the heartbreaking line “the hardest part of working hard ain’t the bills I got to pay. It’s you growing up while I was away.” This poignant ballad shows the power of a country song.

The collaborations continue as Pat Green is joined by Delbert Mcclintion and Lee Roy Parnell for “May the Good Times Never End.” This upbeat, old-time rock and roll influenced song features a great harmonica and quick drum beats led by simple guitars and a keyboards. The song is simply about people enjoying life while reminiscing on the good times back in the day. Mom and Dad look happy in an old photograph, and they’re still joyous today; you can still sing along with all your favorite songs from 20 years ago. This is a fun, rocking country song. “Life Good as It Can Be” deals with the stressful monotony life can bring and changing perspective. Instead of moaning about a dead-end job, enjoy the pleasures the paycheck can bring you. The song calls for looking at the good life offers and focusing the lens on the light side. The song is accompanied by pleasant, mid-tempo production that aids in the uplifting message of the lyrics.

Pat Green sings of love in “No One Here But Us.” Green finally had his time with the girl he’s longed for. The couple took the opportunity to have their fun between the sheets, and he wants the relationship to continue. Perhaps the best part of the whole song is steel guitar in the mix of the acoustic guitars and violins. “No One Here But Us” features some excellent country instrumentation. Home picks back up with “I’ll Take This House.” This anthemic song is an ode to family and the life they’ve built. Green is more than happy with the children and work put into making the house a home. He has pride in the house and the family that lives inside.

On “I Go Back to You,” Green explores memories and the one he always turns to first. It’s the first love and the memories of that love forever stamped in his brain. To me, the song is just sort of there. It’s well-written and sung by Green, but it’s not exactly original to country music, and the instrumentation doesn’t offer anything different from what you’d expect in a song like this. However, on “Day One,” Green presents an excellent, well-written break up song. Green sings of getting over the relationship and how slowly but surely the pieces will be mended back together, but if, and only if, he can survive the first day of heartache. The song touches on the strength of getting over a tough break up while not ignoring the pain that comes from it.

The last song of the album is another collaboration, this time with Marc Broussard. “Good Night in New Orleans” is a song where the duo simply details a night out among Bourbon Street and many of New Orleans’ offerings. The song features a nice mix of country and Cajun music to fit the mood and title of the song. While it’s not the best song, it works well as an album closer. But really, I could do without it.

Overall, Home is a nice offering from Pat Green. There were a few songs that I could do without, but for the most part, the writing and the content make for enjoyable country music. Pat Green really strives in the ballad area on this album with songs like “Day One”, “While I Was Away” and “Right Now.” To me, if you drop this album down to 11 songs instead of 13, then it’s a better album. It seemed to me like there were a few filler songs on Home. But overall, Home is a good album and the kind of album you’d expect out of Texas country.

Grade 6.5/10