Women in Music 2019

Rewinding the Country Charts: In 1994, Mary Chapin Carpenter Smacked a 'Kiss' Atop Hot Country Songs

Margaret Norton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images
Mary Chapin Carpenter performs on Nov. 10, 1994.

The track marked her first leader after five years of hits.

"In a distinct departure from her last effort, a mostly co-written, radio-driven affair, Mary Chapin Carpenter delivers a stunning collection of fully realized, self-penned gems," Billboard wrote of the singer-songwriter's Stones in the Road album in a review published in the Oct. 15, 1994 issue.

"While songs like her current single, the swaggering 'Shut Up and Kiss Me,' will nicely fill the unique place she's carved for herself on country radio, Carpenter steps up as a world-class storyteller."  

Stones in the Road followed 1992's Come On Come On, which became Carpenter's first top 10 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart. It also produced a whopping seven top 20 hits on the Hot Country Songs (after the label that released it, Columbia, originally didn't hear a single, as a bemused Carpenter recalled to Billboard last year).

Two songs from Come On Come On, "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" and "I Take My Chances" (the set's sixth and seventh singles, respectively, which Carpenter co-penned with longtime hitmaker Don Schlitz), rose to No. 2 on Hot Country Songs, tying her career-best first set with "Down at the Twist and Shout" in 1991.

By the time that Stones in the Road (whose title cut was written, and first released a year earlier, by Joan Baez), arrived, Carpenter had become a country radio fixture, as she hit the Hot Country Songs top 20 with each of her first 15 chart entries, dating to her 1989 debut, a sum that included seven top 10s.

Still, a No. 1 single eluded her until the playful "Shut Up and Kiss Me" climbed from No. 3 to No. 1 on the chart dated Nov. 19, 1994. The same week, the largely plaintive Stones in the Road spent its fifth week at the Top Country Albums summit, encompassing its entire run on the ranking to that point.

The set spun off another Hot Country Songs top 10, "Tender When I Want to Be," in 1995.

Carpenter continues to regularly scale Top Country Albums, with her most recent LP of all-original material, The Things That We Are Made Of, having become her ninth top 10 on the tally in 2016.

Carpenter is currently touring with longtime friend and fellow chart vet Shawn Colvin. "It's just hard to wrap my brain around," Carpenter said least year of her first three decades as a recording artist. "What goes along with that is tremendous appreciation and gratitude that I'm still able to be out here in the world playing music, touring and writing songs."


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