Sharla asked about her favorite, and I couldn't wait to write this. When I put these together, I always look for intangibles that the artist bought us outside of just great music as I saw it. She brought us a very different image for women in country at the time, playing an electric guitar, her jeans, dusters, big belt buckles, boots, t-shirts, cowboy hat, and her very, very country sound. I loved Terri Clark. I thought she really had the right idea.
Her First Hit Song!
Her image was refreshing at the time, as it was bold yet authentic. Her music was slick, but simple and sung by a very powerful voice that commanded the airwaves. (There were those stories of her being hard to mic in the studio because of her vocal power) Clark, from Canada, found her way to Nashville after saving money working at a small restaurant. When she arrived in Music City, the roadblocks began. She was a "traditional" country act and there was little belief she could pull it off. She became a staple playing Tootsies on the Nashville strip. How would this young "country" woman fit in with the format? Finally, a great producer named Keith Stegall got her a record deal.
Her First Number One....
The 1990's was a GREAT time for women in country, as for a whole lot of it they really led the way. Shania, Pam Tillis, Lorrie Morgan, Faith, Jo Dee Messina, Martina, Patty Loveless, Holly Dunn, and Reba was still a factor. There was LeAnn Rimes, Suzy Bogguss, The Dixie Chicks, Trisha Yearwood, Lee Ann Womack, Sara Evans, and the huge but quick success of Deana Carter. Their music was great. These artists all had long runs of big songs, and were dominating our format. Terri Clark hit the charts in 1995, and she was unlike all the others, in her image, and certainly her sound. There were no women "Hat Acts," singing deep country, and she was, and did. I thought this really helped her cut through.
This Is An Incredible Country Song!
Better Things To Do hit the radio in 1995 (hard to think that was 25 years ago) and I knew the second I heard it, there was something very different here. It was a flat out "country" song, that spoke equally to women and men and was embraced by everyone with its traditional arrangement. And like most songs to follow from her it was non-alienating. - Great choice! Her first album, Terri Clark, was terrific and big songs on it. When Boy Meets Girl, If I Were You, and Suddenly Single all performed very well. We all were instantly a fan. Most of the women of her era were not as traditional as Clark. She was unquestionably traditional, but unlike say the traditional Holly Dunn before her, she brought a real thump and an attitude to it, in addition to a ton of energy.
Over the next number of years there were more albums, and the level of success fluctuated. But I thought she always put out great hits. Poor, Poor Pitiful Me, Emotional Girl, Now That I Found You, A Little Gasoline, and Easy On The Eyes, Girls Lie Too all great songs. She also charted I Just Wanna Be Mad - a fantastic number one song. All of these songs are easy enough to list and talk about, but my appreciation for her is the fact that her music was all together different than every other woman on the country charts at that time. She was real, rootsy country. There were some others that were similar to a degree, but Clark's music was distinct, and so was she.
Remade This Classic, Perfect Artist For It
Her run was great, albeit a bit too short, but Terri Clark proved many people wrong. She is a favorite of many still today, and I wish others would follow her lead. I feel that there is always room for a female "hat act". I feel if the right person came out today, there could be success there too. But she did it, and I always respect any artist - that goes somewhere - and does something - that is thought to be unattainable
Terri Clark, great songs, great singer, great career, and much respect!
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