Alan sent me a note asking if I would showcase his favorite from his early 20's, David Ball. What a great memory for us to look back on. David Ball was exceptionally talented always, and very popular for a very short time. His gift to us was an unmistakable, original sound.
David Ball beat the odds for while, then didn't, then did again. He was a long time player in the Texas music scene from the late 1970's till he finally hit the country charts solo in 1994. His big album, Thinkin' Problem, with the title song as the first single was a big success. And what a song it was, although it didn't go number one, (it stalled at #2), it should have. It also cracked the Top 40 All Genre Chart (quite a feat). It was so catchy, so different, so refreshingly big time country, tons of fans fell in love with it. David Ball had arrived in the middle of the country boom, in the best decade ever in our format - at 41 years old. That was almost unheard of, and still is. Thinkin Problem is about as good of a pure country song as you will ever hear.
Talk About A Cut-Through Song And Sound - Thinkin' Problem
In the age or Garth, Alan, George, Tim, Shania, Toby, Kenny, Patty, Clint, Brooks And Dunn, Reba and countless others, David Ball's first big album found an audience, and it sold well over a million copies. Thinkin' Problem in my view, was one of the best albums of the decade. For me, the reason was simple - the pure originality of it. He sounded like nothing anything else we were playing on the radio. I remember my music director, Dave Wright at WPCV in Lakeland, Florida grabbed me and my partner Tom O'Brien after our morning show one day and said, "You gotta hear this song, we just got in!" He was right, Thinkin' Problem was great and very different. And in the 90's, with so many mega stars, it was genius. Two more successful singles came off that album going to the top ten, and it appeared David Ball had joined the 90's party for good.
This Single Was A Really Great Song - Great Versatility - Honest Stuff Top 10
But while the world was understandably paying attention to a thousand other country stars, David Ball somehow got lost in the shuffle, and I have always felt that was a real shame. Then came 2001, and his huge hit, Riding With Private Malone that he took to #2 again, when it should have been #1. Almost 20 years later, when we get requests for real older songs, that one is always there. Fans love and loved that song, which he delivers about as perfectly as you can. That song was no small feat either, coming back to the charts big after about 6 years off of them is a tough thing.
Another Great Single - Top 10
But let's clear a few things up about him to the positive. He had a sound that was all his, and he knows his way around a country song. Listening to David Ball, there is no crossover, no pop country, and there is no fat in the songs. He sings them, they are good, and we believe them, and to me that is the mark of a fine country artist. I loved playing his music on the radio then, as I felt listeners were getting something very different than the song before, and very different than the song that would follow it. For a time that was much too short, David Ball was every workin' dudes hero. They bought the album, blasted it in their trucks, they requested the songs, and they punched the jukeboxes while playing shooting pool and throwing darts.
Private Malone - Was A Song That Spoke To A Lot Of People (11 million views on YouTube)
Was he in the right place at the wrong time? Was he in the long run swallowed up by the enormity of our format? I always felt that someone dropped the ball with him as he seemed to be right on time. I don't know that answer, but I do know I am thankful for his incredible gift to us in the form of an album, that somehow found a breakthrough sound and big success in a time that was very tough to do. Thinkin' Problem is a fantastic album worth a listen - if you love your country - COUNTRY!
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