Top 40 Smash Taps: “Lessons Learned”

These posts are about the songs that can accurately claim to crossed the key line of chart success, becoming Top 40 hits on Billboard, but just barely. Every song featured in this series peaked at number 40.

In some respects, it’s not all that surprising that country singer Tracy Lawrence’s sole experience with the Billboard Top 40 came with a single he released at the tail end of 1999. The title cut to the then forthcoming album Lessons Learned, his sixth studio release, came out at the peak of pop radio’s embrace of country-western music, fueled by major hits from the likes of Shania Twain and Faith Hill. In fact, Hill’s “Breathe” was more than a successful crossover; it was a massive hit, topping Billboard‘s collective year-end chart for 2000. I don’t know it’s right to say that there was a hunger for country music on Top 40 radio, but there was certainty an openness to it. It did help immeasurably if the artist tailored their tracks to sleekness of the most commercial of the commercial radio stations. Twain and Hill surely did. Lawrence’s song, on the other hand, is twangy as hell. That may help explain why it couldn’t get any higher than #40.

Lawrence had seven songs make it all the way to #1 on the country charts (including four in a row in 1993-1994) but had only got the barest whiff of the pop charts previously. Born in Texas and raised in Arkansas, Lawrence had the bona fides to make it in Nashville, which is just where he went after attending college at Southern Arkansas University. He hit it big early, topping the country charts with his very first single, “Sticks and Stones,” in 1991. He’s had four different albums go platinum, and I can’t testify with assurance that I’ve heard a single note of his music, at least until putting together this post. As noted above, “Lessons Learned” sure is a country song, right down to its appreciation of wisdom gleaned from “granddaddy.”

“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure.
“I’m in Love” by Evelyn King
“Buy Me a Rose” by Kenny Rogers
“Who’s Your Baby” by The Archies
“Me and Bobby McGee” by Jerry Lee Lewis
“Angel in Blue” by J. Geils Band
“Crazy Downtown” by Allan Sherman
“I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Rhythm of Love” by Yes
“Naturally Stoned” by the Avant-Garde
“Come See” by Major Lance
“Your Old Standby” by Mary Wells
“See the Lights” by Simple Minds
“Watch Out For Lucy” by Eric Clapton
“The Alvin Twist” by Alvin and the Chipmunks
“Love Me Tender” by Percy Sledge
“Jennifer Eccles” by the Hollies
“Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Olympics
“The Bounce” by the Olympics
“Your One and Only Love” by Jackie Wilson
“Tell Her She’s Lovely” by El Chicano
“The Last Time I Made Love” by Joyce Kennedy and Jeffrey Osborne
“Limbo Rock” by The Champs
“Crazy Eyes For You” by Bobby Hamilton
“Violet Hill” and “Lost+” by Coldplay
“Freight Train” by the Chas. McDevitt Skiffle Group
“Sweet William” by Little Millie Small
“Live My Life” by Boy George

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