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!

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7 thoughts on “The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music [June 1991]

  1. Something that has crossed my mind… the other day somebody mentioned Bob Kingsley in a comment somewhere. OK, so here’s my question.. I wonder what Bob Kingsley, who has hosted the Country Countdown show (whatever the actual name is) for as long as I can remember, thinks of the current pop music dominating the charts. I mean, he has a first hand look at the chart every week, and has seen the gradual decline over the years. I mean, does he enjoy opening up the mic and having to say Luke Bryan has the number one song every other month? What runs through his mind as songs like H.O.L.Y. shoot up the chart? How many fistfuls of hair does he pull out as he announces Fix is at number 2? Or does he actually like this ‘evolution?’ I know he can’t speak out about it, or he’d be out of a job, but for someone like him who used to give the charts when they were actually country, what do you think goes through his mind?

    Great chart, by the way. Feed Jake is my personal best song on this particular chart.

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  2. ‘Feed Jake’ is such a great song and it would be my choice for the best on this chart.

    This time frame also was when a few of the pre ‘class of 1989’ acts were still hanging on as ‘Lucky Moon’ was the last of the Oak Ridge Boys’ 34 top ten hits and ‘Are You Lovin’ Me’ was the third to last of Ronnie Milsap’s 49 top ten hits.

    Also worth mentioning is Mark O’Connor who is one of the greatest fiddle players in country music history and this was his only solo top 40 hit and it won a Grammy and a CMA Award. He won the CMA Musician of the Year Award six straight year from 1991-1996.

    ‘Meet In The Middle’ was Diamond Rio’s debut single and the fact that it went #1 was a pretty rare thing back then. It used to be pretty rare for an act to hit #1 right away. Had to earn your stripes.

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    • Very timely that you mention Mark O’Connor, as his new album “Coming Home” with his family band debuts today. One of my good friends knew him way,way,way back in the day from the old-time fiddle contests.

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  3. 1991: i was 11 years old & i used all my money (+ my parents money) for country music.
    Diamond Rio was signed to Arista Nashville & Arista was the hottest label in town. Alan Jackson, Pam Tillis, Exile, Brooks & Dunn, Michelle Wright, Rob Crosby, The Tractors, Blackhawk, Steve Wariner, Lee Roy Parnell…the label scored hit after hit.

    Best songs: “Lucky Moon”, “Blame It On Texas”, “In A Different Light”, “Rockin’ Years”, “Time Passes By”, “If The Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)”, “If I Know Me” & “(If It Weren’t For Country Music) I’d Go Crazy”.

    Billy Dean: i still prefer his uptempo songs (“Young Man” & “I’m A Fool Too”). Exception to the rule is “Leaving Line” (feat. Linda Davis).

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  4. The late ’80s/early ’90s is easily one of the best eras of mainstream country music in my opinion. So much quality and substance, and there was a great balance between traditionalists and artists who moved the genre in new directions, but expanded country music tradition instead of chasing pop trends. It’s night and day compared to now.

    “I Am a Simple Man” used to be my jam. Haven’t heard in ages!

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    • I agree – and “I Am a Simple Man” was my favourite song for a while.

      This is such a great chart – this is around the time I started getting into country music (I was 12) so it brings back some good memories of discovering these songs. I’ll have to take a listen to some of these that I haven’t heard for a long time and the other ones that I’m not familiar with.

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