Just because you don't reach the top of the charts doesn't mean that you don't have a memorable song on our hands. At least, that was the bottom line for me anyway from a story I read today at the Billboard web site, "11 Country No. 11s for '11."
The article was inspired by the unique date - it was 1/11/11 today, of course.
The piece pointed out that it's a lot harder to market a song as a hit if it didn't make the top 10. That may be true, but I can't tell you how often publicists refer to songs as "hits" when they don't even reach the top 20. Sometimes - including several songs in the list - songs take on a life of their own. They not be a big hit, but they sure seem to have a lot of staying power.
The Billboard list started in 1957 with Mean Woman Blues, courtesy of Elvis. This was one of 3 that reached 11. Sorry Elvis fans, but this one doesn't sound familiar. It's from his film "Loving You."
Four years later, the honor belonged to Johnny Cash with Tennessee Flat-Top Box, which actually became a well-known hit for his daughter, Rosanne Cash. In fact, she went to the top with it back in 1988.
The list was filled with stars. Dolly Parton hit only as high as 11 with Light of a Clear Blue Morning in 1977. This song was released before her huge uber-hit Here You Come Again. Can't say this one rings a bell either. Sorry.
Eddie Rabbitt reached 11 in 1990 with American Boy, his final song to reach the top 40. The song had a patriotic lyrical bent to it.
Maybe it's the passage of time, but the songs seem to have gotten a whole lot better known since then. Shania Twain hit the 11 spot with the catchy Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under? I must say that it was surprising that this song only reached the 11th spot given the amount of play that it received. The song also now seems ironic given what has happened in her personal life the past few years. Whose Bed... was the first single from her ultra-successful "The Woman In Me" disc.
Kenny Chesney had another song that makes you scratch your head that it only reached 11 - She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy. The song was and is hugely popular for Chesney.
Faith Hill had a quick rise with Diane Warren's There You'll Be, as it reached numero 11 in 5 weeks, stayed there one week and that was about it on the country chart. The track sure did a whole lot better on the Adult Contemporary chart - number 1 for 12 weeks!
Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy) from Big & Rich falls into the same category as the songs from Twain and Chesney. It's pretty much B&R's signature song, so you'd think it got higher. But never did in 2004.
Heidi Newfield of Trick Pony fame scored a number 11 hit with Johnny & June which did well for her in getting awards nominations, but of the recent songs mentioned in the Billboard piece, this one didn't seem all over the airwaves.
Lady Antebellum's "Lookin' for a Good Time from 2008 made the list. This was the trio's second hit single, coming on the heels of Love Don't Live Here. The song was catchy, so it's hard to figure why it didn't do better.
The final song was Strange from Reba McEntire in 2009. This was the first single with her new label, Valory Music, and did not necessarily bode so well. Ultimately, it seems like it worked out pretty well though considering she later garnered number ones with Consider Me Gone and Turn on the Radio and a top 10 with I Keep on Loving You.
The Billboard piece proved to be informative and puts some perspective on the idea of what makes a hit. Like with many things in life, don't get hung up on how high a song gets. Needless to say (so I'll say it anyway), you don't need to reach the top to be indelibly marked in people's brains.