Reba McEntire No. 1 Hits: History of Her Chart-Topping Tracks

by Jacklyn Krol

Reba McEntire has had one of the most illustrious careers in country music. The hitmaker has spawned countless hits including more than a few No. 1 singles. Discover the stories behind her chart topping classics.

First No. 1 for Reba McEntire: “Can’t Even Get The Blues”

McEntire’s first No. 1 was written by Tom Damphier and Rick Carnes. She performed “Can’t Even Get The Blues” at the CMA Awards in 1982. McEntire sings about getting hurt so bad by her significant other that she can’t be surprised or sad at any of his acts anymore.

  • Album: Unlimited
  • Year: 1982
  • Standout lyric: “I toss and turn but then I fall asleep / I’m going under but it’s not too deep”

“You’re The First Time I’ve Thought About Leaving”

Dickey Lee and Kerry Chate co-wrote “You’re The First Time I’ve Thought About Leaving.” McEntire sings about considering leaving her husband for another man for the first time. She gave an outstanding performance of the song during her 1991 special, Reba In Concert.

  • Album: Unlimited
  • Year: 1983
  • Standout lyric: “I’ve seen you smile more than I thought you would / And I smiled back a little more than I should”

“How Blue”

John Moffat wrote “How Blue” which was recorded by McEntire at MCA Studio in Nashville. She explored a more traditional sound with sound with steel guitar and fiddle. According to Classic Country Music Stories, she essentially traded songs with George Strait. She took “How Blue” and turned down “Fort Worth” because it had beer in its lyrics. The song was originally written for him but producer Harold Shedd believed it could do well with McEntire.

  • Album: My Kind of Country
  • Year: 1984
  • Standout lyric: “Ain’t you got a heart left in your chest”
  • Awards: CMA Female Vocalist of the Year

“Somebody Should Leave”

Harlan Howard and Chick Rains wrote, “Somebody Should Leave.” The song explores the failing relationship of a couple where the wife realizes that they should get divorced but he needs the kids and they need her. The song was extremely personal for Howard as he was dealing with a struggling marriage at the time. “This was his cherished baby and he was very protective of it,” Reba McEntire recalled to Traditional Country.

  • Album: My Kind of Country
  • Year: 1985
  • Standout lyric: “I read a book you watch tv / As our love dies quietly”
  • Award: CMA Female Vocalist of the Year

“Whoever’s In New England”

Surprisingly, this song marked McEntire’s first music video. Kendal Franceschi and Quentin Powers co-write the song that was arguably her breakthrough song. The song and music video details a woman who suspects that her husband is with another woman during work trips.

  • Album: Whoever’s In New England
  • Year:1986
  • Standout lyric: “You know its not too late ’cause you’ll always have a place to go / When whoever’s in New England’s through with you”
  • Awards: Grammy Best Country Vocal Performance, ACM Video of the Year

“Little Rock”

Pat McManus, Bob DiPiero and Gerry House co-wrote “Little Rock.” McEntire sings about being excited to marry a rich man and live a luxurious lifestyle. However, she soon grows tired of her life and her husband not truly loving her. She finally hits the point of being ready to rid the toxic relationship.

  • Album: Whoever’s In New England
  • Year: 1986
  • Standout lyric: “I’ve got just one small problem here in Little Rock, / Without you, baby I’m not me”

“What Am I Gonna Do About You”

“What Am I Gonna Do About You” was written by Jim Allison, Doug Gilmore, and Bob Simon. Surprisingly, McEntire wasn’t the first artist to record this song. Before her release in 1986, Con Hunley first recorded the song months prior. His version reached No. 48 on the country charts and spent a total of fifteen weeks on it.

  • Album: What Am I Gonna Do About You
  • Year: 1986
  • Standout lyric: “And on my way home I thought I saw you walk by / If only I could get you out of my mind”
  • Awards: CMA nomination for Video of the Year

“One Promise Too Late”

 McEntire croons about meeting her dream man after she was already married. Although she can not be with him, at the end of the day she is still happy that she met him. Dave Loggins, Don Schlitz and Lisa Silver wrote the single. Ironically, in the same year, she divorced her first husband Charlie Battles.

  • Album: What Am I Gonna Do About You
  • Year: 1987
  • Standout lyric: “I would have waited forever / If I’d known that you’d be here”

“The Last One to Know”

“The Last One to Know” marked McEntire’s ninth No. 1 hit.  Matraca Berg and Jane Mariash co-wrote the song together that became the title track off of her thirteenth studio album. It quickly became an anthem and fan favorite.

  • Album: The Last One to Know
  • Year: 1987
  • Standout lyric: “I didn’t see the fire burn to ashes / I couldn’t feel the winds of change.”

“Love Will Find Its Way To You”

Dave Loggins and J.D. Martin co-wrote “Love Will Find Its Way To You.” Once again, this song was first recorded by two other artists. Lee Greenwood recorded the song that he released as a single and named his 1986 record the same name. Marie Osmond first recorded her rendition in 1985 for her album, There’s No Stopping Your Heart.

  • Album: The Last One to Know
  • Year: 1987
  • Standout lyric: “Another party, and all your friends are smiles / Oh you might meet someone new”

“I Know How He Feels”

Rick Bowles and Will Robinson co-wrote “I Know How It Feels.” The song was originally told from a male’s point of view as “I Know How She Feels,” according to Classic Country Music Stories. Terry Skinner and J. L. Wallace heard the song and asked for it to be from a female’s point of view. Reba McEntire loved the song but was nervous at the fan perception as she was recently divorced and the song speaks about regretting a breakup.

  • Album: Reba
  • Year: 1988
  • Standout lyric: “A ghost from my past / But he’s too caught up to notice me”

“New Fool at an Old Game”

The Steve Bogard, Rick Giles, and Sheila Stephen created song was first recorded by Canadian artist Michelle Wright in 1987 from her Do Right by Me record. Her version peaked at No. 11 in Canada. McEntire released her rendition a year later which marked her twelfth chart-topper.

  • Album: Reba
  • Year: 1988
  • Standout lyric: “You’ve got to keep in mind I’m a new fool at an old game”

“Cathy’s Clown”

The Everly Brothers wrote and recorded the song in 1960. The song speaks about a husband who was humiliated by his wife. Their version is so popular that the song was the best-selling release during their music career and it was even added to the National Record Registry of the Library of Congress. McEntire covered the song for her 1989 record and it quickly became another No. 1.

  • Album: Sweet Sixteen
  • Year: 1989
  • Standout lyric: “I gotta stand tall / You know a man can’t crawl”

“You Lie”

Bobby Fischer, Charlie Black and Austin Roberts co-wrote “You Lie.” The song’s story features a wife who realizes that her husband no longer loves her. She struggles with if she should let him go or just play along. Cee Cee Chapman originally recorded the song in 1988 for her record, Twist of Fate.

  • Album: Rumor Has It
  • Year: 1999
  • Standout lyric: “You lie you don’t want to hurt me / So you lie, buy a little time, and I go along”

“For My Broken Heart”

Keith Palmer and Liz Hengber co-wrote “For My Broken Heart.” The song was originally supposed to be a duet with Clint Black but he was unavailable at the time. The song is universal as it covers heartbreak and realizing that the world doesn’t stop because of your pain.

  • Album: For My Broken Heart
  • Year: 1991
  • Standout lyric: “I couldn’t face the night in that lonely bed / So I laid down on the couch instead”

“Is There Life Out There”

Susan Longacre and Rick Giles wrote “Is There Life Out There.” The single resonated with so many people that it remained in the No. 1 position for two weeks. Reba McEntire not only got success for the song itself, but also the visual.

The song also sparked a mini-movie in lieu of a music video. It was featured as CBS’ movie of the week. ‘It had moved so many women to finished their education, either high school or college, that we jumped on the offer to make it into a movie,” McEntire recalled. “I knew from the moment I heard the song, a lot of people would be able to relate to it, even myself. We shot this in Nashville.”

  • Album: For My Broken Heart
  • Year: 1992
  • Standout lyric: “She married when she was twenty, she thought she was ready / Now she’s not so sure, she thought she’d done some living”

“The Heart Won’t Lie” Featuring Vince Gill

Kim Carnes and Donna Terry Weiss co-wrote the Reba McEntire and Vince Gill duet. McEntire was originally planning to do a duet with Kenny Rogers instead but “could never get it to sound just right” due to their different ranges. “I remembered that song and called Kenny to see if he was recording it and if not, could I have it and he passed it along to me,” McEntire explained to Country Daily. “We asked Vince Gill to sing the background harmonies on the song. Tony Brown, who was co-producing the CD with me, suggested letting Vince do more than just sing harmony on the song, so he took a couple of verses, and we decided to turn it into a duet.”

  • Album: It’s Your Call
  • Year: 1993
  • Standout lyric: “But the words didn’t come easily / So many times through empty fears”
  • Awards:

“Does He Love You” Featuring Linda Davis

The ultimate country girl power anthem was “Does He Love You.” Billy Stritch and Sandy Knox wrote the song that was originally intended for Liza Minnelli and Barbara Mandrell. Once McEntire landed the song, she originally pitched Wynonna Judd to collaborate with her but Judd and recorded a demo for her. She never heard back so she asked Davis to duet with her.

  • Album: Greatest Hits Volume 2
  • Year: 1992
  • RIAA: Gold
  • Standout lyric: “I’ve known about you for a while now / When he leaves me, he wears a smile now”
  • Awards:  Grammy Best Country Vocal Collaboration, CMA Vocal Event of the Year

“The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”

“The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” was written by Mark D. Sanders, Kim Williams and Ed Hill. McEntire sings about being lonely but finding comfort in a one-night stand lover. The song is a fan favorite among fans although it received no award show recognition.

  • Album: Read My Mind
  • Year: 1994
  • RIAA: Gold
  • Standout lyric: “Oh the heart is a lonely hunter / When there’s no sign of a love in sight”

“How Was I to Know”

Stephony Smith, Cathy Majeski and Sonny Russ created “How Was I to Know”. In the tune, Reba McEntire leaves a significant other and thought she would be heartbroken and devastated. Once they breakup, she realizes that she is fine and was strong enough to leave all along.

  • Album: What If It’s You
  • Year: 1996
  • Standout lyric: “Every word was a promise I was hangin’ on”

“If You See Him/If You See Her”: Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn Collab

Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn’s “If You See Him/If You See Her” is nothing short of a crowd-pleaser.  Terry McBride, Jennifer Kimball and Tommy Lee James wrote the duet. The trio released two albums entitled If You See Him and If You See Her based around the duet that premiered during the ACM Awards.

  • Album: If You See Him
  • Year: 1998
  • Standout lyric: “Ask her if she ever wonders / Where we both went wrong”


Dave Berg, Sam Tate, and Annie Tate wrote “Somebody’ that was first recorded by Mark Wills for his 2001 record, Loving Every Minute. Two years later, McEntire released her rendition. The song tells the story of a man who decides to vent to a waitress about his lack of love life. She tells him to look in unlikely places. The song concludes with the two falling for each other.

  • Album: Room to Breathe
  • Year: 2004
  • Standout lyric: “He usually reads the paper / But today he reads a strangers face instead”

“Consider Me Gone”

Steve Diamond and Marv Green wrote McEntire’s four week No. 1 hit. McEntire sings about questioning her significant other before realizing that she can leave and he should consider her gone. “I came out with the first line, “Every time I turn the conversation to something deeper than the weather …” Diamond recalled to The Boot.

  • Album: Keep On Loving You
  • Year: 2009
  • RIAA: Gold
  • Standout lyric: “Every time I turn the conversation to somethin’ / Deeper than the weather / I can feel you all but shuttin’ down”

“Turn on The Radio”

“Turn on the Radio” was created by Mark Oakley, Cherie Oakley, and J. P. Twang. They created the song and in just days McEntire’s team discovered the track. Once McEntire secured the song, she recorded it in less than 24 hours.

“Reba actually called and asked me personally if she could cut the song,” Oakley recalled to The Boot. “She is such a brilliant artist, who has influenced me and so many others in so many ways. It truly was a surreal experience. When I said yes, she was so excited! She said, ‘You have made my day, Cherie.’ I was like, ‘No, YOU have made MY day!'”

  • Album: All The Women I Am
  • Year: 2010
  • RIAA: Gold
  • Standout lyric: “You wanna turn me on, turn on your stereo / You can sing along, while they’re playin’ my song”

“Forever Country”

Thirty iconic and CMA-winning country musicians came together for an epic music video. The stars covered: John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” and Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” The song benefited the CMA Foundation.

  • Album: None
  • Year: 2016
  • RIAA: Gold
  • Standout lyric: “Life is old there, older than the trees / Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze”
  • Awards: ACM Video of the Year, CMA video of the Year

Most Recent Reba McEntire No. 1: “Back to God”

Aside from country, Reba McEntire is known for her underlying Christian lyrics. She achieved a No. 1 hit on the Christian charts with “Back to God” and later recorded a second version with Christian sensation Lauren Daigle. The song was written by Randy Houser and Dallas Davidson and originally recorded by Houser in 2008 for his Anything Goes record.

“’Back to God’ was my favorite song on Randy Houser’s first album,” McEntire told ABC Radio. “When that song would come on, I would sit there and listen to it and I said, ‘I’d love to record that some day.’ But he did such a good job, I thought, ‘Ew, I don’t think I could beat him on that!’” However it was when she realized that she needed four more songs for her faith album that she rediscovered the song and her need to record it.

  • Album: Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope
  • Year: 2017
  • Standout lyric: “You gotta get down on your knees, believe / Fold your hands and beg and plead”