The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [December 1992]

vince_gill_-_dont_let_our_love_cd_single

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.

The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [June 1991]

220px-meet_in_the_middle_single

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 June 1st, 1991.

  1. Diamond Rio – “Meet In The Middle” +3
  2. Doug Stone – “In A Different Light” +3
  3. George Strait – “If I Know Me” +4
  4. Paul Overstreet – “Heroes” +3 (The production is a little much for me, otherwise this would be +4)
  5. Mark Chesnutt – “Blame It On Texas” +3
  6. Dwight Yoakam – “You’re The One” +4 (Holy mandolin!)
  7. Joe Diffie – “If The Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets) +3
  8. Garth Brooks – “The Thunder Rolls” +4
  9. The Oak Ridge Boys – “Lucky Moon” +3
  10. Clint Black – “One More Payment” +3 (Holy Western Swing!)
  11. Lorrie Morgan – “We Both Walk” +3
  12. Tanya Tucker – “Oh What It Did To Me” +4
  13. Ronnie Milsap – “Are You Lovin’ Me (Like I’m Lovin’ You)” +3
  14. Randy Travis – “Point Of Light” +3
  15. The Judds – “One Hundred and Two” +2
  16. Alan Jackson – “Don’t Rock The Jukebox” +3
  17. Pirates Of The Mississippi – “Feed Jake” +4
  18. Alabama – “Down Home” +3
  19. Dolly Parton & Ricky Van Shelton – “Rockin’ Years” +4
  20. Ricky Van Shelton – “I Am A Simple Man” +3
  21. Highway 101 – “Bing Bang Boom” +2
  22. Pam Tillis – “One Of Those Things” +2
  23. Mike Reid – “‘Till You Were Gone” +4
  24. Travis Tritt – “Drift Off To Dream” +3
  25. Kathy Mattea – “Time Passes By” +4
  26. Terry McBride – “Can I Count On You” +3
  27. Mark O’ Connor – “Restless” +2
  28. Clinton Gregory – “(If It Weren’t For Country Music) I’d Go Crazy” +4 [Best Song] (wouldn’t we all though?)
  29. Billy Dean – “Somewhere In My Broken Heart” +3
  30. Carlene Carter – “The Sweetest Thing” +2

The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music: +94

Wow! Quite the reversal from last week! Indeed, this is one of the best charts we’ve ever had. Sure, not every song on here is perfect, but the overall quality is simply stunning. I felt no need to award a “worst song” award this week since it wouldn’t have really made sense. The worst here is still good.

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!

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?

Album Review – Mary Sarah’s “Bridges”

 

Mary Sarah is truly an anomaly in today’s world of country music. It’s not everyday you see a 19-year-old female singing traditional country music with some of the biggest icons of the genre. Then again Sarah is not your normal teenager. She loves classic country music and her new album Bridges demonstrates this. Sarah covers classic songs with country music legends such as Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard throughout the album. And for some reason Big & Rich is also on the album (?). Anyway let’s take a look at what the up and comer does with some of the biggest names of the genre.

Best Songs on the Album

Bridges kicks off with a bang. Sarah duets with Dolly covering her hit song “Jolene.” It’s an excellent song choice because women of all ages can connect with this song. Dolly and Sarah’s voices go together perfectly too. Her duet with the late great Ray Price, “Heartaches By The Number” was the first single off of this album. I already named it one of the best songs of 2014 so far. Price sounds wonderful in one of the last songs he ever recorded. I’m surprised by how well Sarah and Price were together. Her duets with Willie on “Crazy” and Ronnie Milsap on “What A Difference You’ve Made In My Life” showcase how well Sarah can pull off ballads. Sarah can sing right beside a legend in Willie and not sound out-of-place at all. I love the inclusion of Milsap on the album because more people need to know how great of an artist he is.

The choice of covering “The Fightin’ Side of Me” with Merle is an interesting one. I thought it wouldn’t work before I listened to it, but I came away impressed after hearing it. She gets even bolder when choosing to cover Vince Gill’s biggest hit “Go Rest High On That Mountain.” If I had to make a list of songs that shouldn’t be attempted to be covered, this song would make the list. It’s such a difficult song that’s full of emotion. But Sarah does an admirable job. Her vocals are great on every song, but this is when her vocals really stood out to me. It obviously isn’t as good as the original, but it’s probably the best cover I have ever heard of it. And it’s always a pleasure to hear Vince Gill. Another song that stands out to me is her duet with Lynn Anderson on “Rose Garden.” This cover will get overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. Not only does this song fit Mary Sarah to a T, but her voice and Anderson’s mesh great together. I wouldn’t mind hearing another duet from these two.

Worst Songs on the Album

There are a few puzzling song choices to me on the album. Her duet with Neil Sedaka on “Where The Boys Are” and Freddy Powers on “All I Want to Do is Sing My Song” are a little dated I think for Sarah. Don’t get me wrong, the vocals are great on both. But a young artist like Sarah feels out-of-place covering these songs. The biggest question on the album is without a doubt the presence of Big & Rich. They stick out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of the lineup on Bridges. I also feel the song choice of “My Great Escape” is a mistake. It’s too boring and dry for a dynamic voice like Sarah’s. I think a better choice would’ve been “Lost In This Moment.” It’s a memorable song and would’ve once again showcased how great Sarah is with love ballads.

The Rest of the Album

The ultimate clash of styles happens when Sarah and Tanya Tucker cover “Texas (When I Die).” Tucker has a gritty, textured voice while Sarah’s is clean and high. While these clash of styles feel off at times, I feel like it works enough to make the cover sound good. I certainly appreciate both styles of their voices. Her duet with the Oak Ridge Boys on “Dream On” is solid all-around, but again feels like a clash of styles. But I can still enjoy it. The album closes out with Mary Sarah covering the Brenda Lee hit song “I’m Sorry.” It’s another dated song choice by Sarah, but I feel like she made it her own and it sounds believable enough coming from a 19-year-old artist.

Overall Thoughts

Bridges high points are pretty high and the low points are a little disappointing. Nevertheless, if you’ve never heard Mary Sarah sing before you can take at least one thing away from this album. Her voice is pretty damn great. She can sing pretty much anything you throw at her. Sarah’s voice is as dynamic as Carrie Underwood’s voice. Not too many people are blessed with this type of talent. I hope unlike Underwood that she sticks to making traditional country music because I fear if she went to a big label that she would be turned into a Taylor Swift-type singing pop country songs. That wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for Sarah, but her voice could be a harbinger of traditional country music to the younger generation. One of the reasons she made this album was for that very reason. She said the following to The Tennesseean in an interview:

“This project isn’t just about me. It’s about the legends and bringing this to a newer generation,” she said. “I didn’t wanna put my face on there. I didn’t wanna do anything cheesy.”

Sarah said she’s a big fan of country contemporaries like Underwood, Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert, as well as Katy Perry and other pop stars. She said she hopes people her age will discover some traditional country music by listening to her album.

“I had friends all the time in high school tell me, ‘Who is that? Who is Merle Haggard? Who is Willie Nelson?’” recalled Sarah, who graduated last year. “And I’m sitting there like, ‘Oh my gosh, these people are legends and you don’t even know who they are.’”

Her fighting spirit for traditional country music, this album and her amazing voice has made a fan in me. I think this is a good introduction for Sarah to the country music masses and I’m looking forward to hearing original songs from Mary Sarah in the future.

Grade: 8.5/10