Beaumont, Texas native Mark Chesnutt earned his place in country music history by bringing a modern perspective to traditional country music.
Born on Sept. 6, 1963, the talented singer-songwriter was ready to pursue music seriously at a young age. With encouragement from his father, who was also a singer and music enthusiast, Chesnutt worked hard to cultivate a career for himself. As a teen, he began performing shows across his home state and even booked recording sessions in Nashville. Through the 1980s, he independently released multiple singles which eventually caught the ear of accomplished records producer Tony Brown, who helped Chesnutt forge some essential connections with other industry heavyweights.
Chesnutt's career took off in 1990 with the release of Too Cold at Home, his first record after signing a deal with major label MCA. That debut LP produced 5 Top 10 hits on country radio, including his first No. 1 hit, "Brother Jukebox," which was also recorded by Keith Whitley prior to his death in 1989.
Through the 1990s, Chesnutt racked up hit after hit, including eight No. 1 singles on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart. Over the past three decades, he's released eighteen studio albums — five of which have been certified Platinum by the RIAA — and collaborated with George Jones, Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Tracy Byrd and many more. He still actively tours and even released a new live album, Live at Cutters Vol. 2, earlier this year.
In celebration of his 59th birthday, let's take a look back at 25 Mark Chesnutt songs that show off his incredible talents as a performer and songwriter.
"I'm a Saint"From: 'Savin' the Honky Tonk' (2004)
Released in 2004, Chesnutt gives listeners some insight into his country upbringing and the qualities that make him who he is today. The honky-tonk cut may feature a few dated references ("But I know Justin sings lead for *NSync, so my kids think I'm cool") but still spotlights Chesnutt's ever-present charisma.
"Fallin' Never Felt So Good"From: 'Lost in the Feeling' (2000)
Chesnutt put his own mark on this country tune, which was originally recorded and released by Shawn Camp all the way back in 1993. Fun fact: acclaimed record producer and early Chesnutt supporter Mark Wright actually served as producer on Camp's recording and Chesnutt's version, which came out seven years later.
"This Heartache Never Sleeps"From: 'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing' (1999)
Penned by Tim Johnson and Daryl Burgess, "This Heartache Never Sleeps" was released in 1999 and became a Top 20 hit for Chesnutt on the country charts.
"Wherever You Are"From: 'Thank God for Believers' (1997)
Does distance really make the heart go fonder? Chesnutt argues that there's truth in the age-old saying in this co-write with Steve Leslie and Roger Springer. This 1998 single only made it to No. 45 on the country airplay charts, but is among one of the most underrated cuts from Chesnutt's songbook.
"I'll Think of Something"From: 'Longnecks & Short Stories' (1992)
In 1992, Chesnutt took this gem from songwriters Bill Rice and Jerry Foster all the way to No. 1. This heart-aching country tune was previously recorded by both Hank Williams, Jr. and Loretta Lynn, but Chesnutt's version still stands as the most successful version.
"Rollin' with the Flow"From: 'Heard It in a Love Song' (2006)
This country classic was a hit for both T.G. Sheppard and Charlie Rich individually in the 1970s, but Chesnutt gave the reflective ode new life in 2008. It became a Top 25 hit for the country talent, reiterating his staying power.
"I Just Wanted You to Know"From: 'Almost Goodbye' (1993)
This upbeat dedication to a former love who still fills Chesnutt's mind topped the country charts in 1994. Written by Tim Mensy and Gary Harrison, "I Just Wanted You to Know" became the country hitmaker's third consecutive No. 1 hit from Almost Goodbye.
"Trouble"From: 'Wings' (1995)
Chesnutt's take on this Todd Snider tune helped continue his winning streak in the mid-1990s, peaking at No. 18 on the country airplay chart.
"Old Country"From: 'Longnecks & Short Stories' (1992)
This sweet story-song about a boy and girl from two different worlds made it to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1993.
"Lost in the Feeling"From: 'Lost in the Feeling' (2000)
Recorded as a personal tribute to the late Conway Twitty, Chesnutt's heartfelt version of "Lost in the Feeling" shows off his artistry and dedication to the greats who came before him.
"She Dreams"From: 'What a Way to Live' (1994)
In 1994, Chesnutt released "She Dreams" as the lead single from his fifth album What a Way to Live. The track taps into the feelings of a longing wife who feels disconnected from her husband.
"It Wouldn't Hurt to Have Wings"From: 'Wings' (1995)
Sometimes the pain of heartbreak can make you want to run away and leave the past behind. Chesnutt leans into that feeling in "It Wouldn't Hurt to Have Wings," which peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard charts at the tail end of 1995.
"Let It Rain"From: 'Greatest Hits' (1996)
Released in 1997, "Let It Rain" is a gentle, lovelorn tale penned by Chesnutt, Roger Springer and Steve Leslie. The song, which was only one of two new songs included on Chesnutt's Greatest Hits collection, made its way to No. 8 on the country airplay chart.
"She Was"From: 'Mark Chesnutt' (2002)
Penned by Neal Coty and Jimmy Melton, "She Was" introduces listeners to a mother and daughter discussing what made them sure that their own relationships were meant to last.
"Bubba Shot the Jukebox"From: 'Longnecks & Short Stories' (1992)
Dennis Linde's dramatic, humor-infused tale introduces country fans to Bubba, who lands in jail after a sad song leads him to make some regrettable decisions. This trademark tune peaked at No. 4 on the country charts in 1992, partially in part to organic airplay from DJs across the U.S.
"I Don't Want to Miss a Thing"From: 'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing' (1999)
Few artists would dare take on a hit from a rock band as well-known and distinct as Aerosmith. But Mark Chesnutt's countrified version of "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" — which Aerosmith recorded for the soundtrack of the 1998 film Armageddon — was a surprise smash, hitting the Top 20 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs and all-genre Hot 100 charts.
"Thank God for Believers"From: 'Thank God for Believers' (1997)
The title track and lead single from Chesnutt's 1997 record celebrates the unwavering faith of his significant other. The emotionally-charged vocal performance helped bring "Thank God for Believers" all the way to No. 2 on the country charts within just a few weeks.
"Your Love Is a Miracle"From: 'Too Cold at Home' (1990)
Bill Kenner and Mark Wright penned this sweet dedication to a woman who always stands by her partner's side. This single from Too Cold at Home became another radio success, hitting No. 3 on the U.S. country charts in 1991.
"Goin' Through the Big D"From: 'What a Way to Live' (1994)
Chesnutt dissects the aftermath of a messy separation in the twangy divorce tale "Goin' Through the Big D," which peaked at No. 2 on the country charts in 1994.
"Gonna Get a Life"From: 'What a Way to Live' (1994)
The infectious, declarative "Gonna Get a Life" was written by renowned singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale and Frank Dycus. Chesnutt recorded the zydaco-inspired cut, which hit No. 1 on the country charts, for his fifth studio album What a Way to Live.
"Almost Goodbye"From: 'Almost Goodbye' (1993)
Penned by Don Schlitz and Billy Livsey, "Almost Goodbye" is a moving country ballad that took country radio by storm in 1993. The title track to his acclaimed third album became a No. 1 hit for Chesnutt later that year.
"Too Cold at Home"From: 'Too Cold at Home' (1990)
In 1990, Chesnutt chose the title track of his first major-label record as his debut single for country radio. The mournful, traditional country-leaning tune peaked at No. 3 on the charts and served as a fitting introduction into the genre.
"It's a Little Too Late"From: 'Greatest Hits' (1996)
Released in 1996 as the lead single from Chesnutt's Greatest Hits LP, "It's a Little Too Late" is a cheeky, uptempo tune about regretting your bad behavior after a significant other finally gets fed up. Co-written by Chesnutt, Roger Springer and Slugger Morrissette, the track became the country star's seventh No. 1 hit of his career, topping Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart for two weeks in 1997.
"It Sure Is Monday"From: 'Almost Goodbye' (1993)
We all know the struggle of getting back into the grind after a fun-filled weekend. Chesnutt's 1993 single "It Sure Is Monday" voices that gloomy reality through an infectious, toe-tapping beat. This anthem for the weekday worker climbed to No. 1 on the country charts in both the U.S. and Canada.
"Brother Jukebox"From: 'Too Cold at Home' (1990)
Chesnutt's first No. 1 hit of his career also stands as one of his most popular and impactful singles to date. Penned by Paul Craft and originally recorded by Don Everly of The Everly Brothers, "Brother Jukebox" was also covered by Keith Whitley shortly before his death in 1989. Chesnutt's version, which came out just a few months after Whitley's passing, quickly climbed up the charts and kicked off the country star's incredibly mainstream music career.