Dierks Bentley Lands First No. 1

A newcomer scores his first No. 1 single, a country veteran bounces back with his first album at his new label home and a country icon’s death spurs a significant increase in sales.

All is reflected on this week’s Billboard music charts, where Dierks Bentley takes the top spot on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks list with his debut single, “What Was I Thinkin’.” After scoring numerous hits at Giant Records, Clay Walker’s first album for RCA, A Few Questions, debuts at No. 3 on the Top Country Albums chart. And with just three days of sales since his Sept. 12 death, Johnny Cash has no less than seven album titles on the country chart.

Bentley’s success knocked Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett from the top of the country singles chart. After seven weeks at No. 1, the Jackson-Buffett duet, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” staggers to the second position. Climbing one notch each are Tim McGraw’s “Real Good Man” and Buddy Jewell’s “Help Pour Out the Rain (Lacey’s Song),” respectively at third and fourth on the chart. Kenny Chesney’s “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” slides to No. 4, Martina McBride’s “This One’s for the Girls” stays at No. 6 and Gary Allan’s “Tough Little Boys” climbs one level to No. 7. Keith Urban rises two slots to No. 8 with “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me,” with the title track from Walker’s album holding steady at No. 9. Rascal Flatts’ “I Melt” rounds out the Top 10 after climbing from No. 12.

Trace Adkins’ “Hot Mama” is the week’s highest-debuting country single. Other new chart additions include Joe Nichols’ “Cool to Be a Fool” (No. 55), Billy Dean’s “I’m in Love With You” (No. 57) and newcomer Brad Wolf’s “Strictly Business” (No. 58).

Jackson’s Greatest Hits Volume II and Some Other Stuff spends another week at No. 1 on the country albums chart, but Cash’s American IV: The Man Comes Around jumps 14 spaces to land at No. 2. Between Cash’s return and Walker’s new album debuting at No. 3, two-slot decreases were noted for Shania Twain’s Up! ,
Toby Keith’s Unleashed and Chesney’s No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems, which move to the fourth through sixth positions respectively. Rascal Flatts’ Melt slips one rung to No. 7. Remembering Patsy Cline, the all-star tribute album, arrives at No. 8. Moving down two notches each to wrap up the Top 10 are Lonestar’s From There to Here: Greatest Hits and Bentley’s self-titled debut album.

Also making a strong debut this week is another all-star project, the Chieftains’ Further Down the Old Plank Road, entering the chart at No. 28. Other debuts include Rick Trevino’s In My Dreams (No. 58) and Roger Creager’s Long Way to Mexico (No. 63).

June Carter Cash’s final album of new material, Wildwood Flower, debuts at No. 34, but her late husband dominates the country albums chart. In addition to American IV: The Man Comes Around, The Essential Johnny Cash moves to No. 20 from No. 59. Johnny Cash at Madison Square Garden re-enters the chart at No. 39, while another compilation — The Heart of a Legend debuts at No. 49. A collection of Cash’s recordings for Mercury Records, The Best of Johnny Cash: 20th Century Masters, The Millennium Collection debuts at No. 54. Two others entering the chart are The Legend of Johnny Cash: First Original Hits (No. 66) and Johnny Cash Sings His Best: 40 Original Hits (No. 71).

Look for Cash’s chart activity to be even stronger next week when the Billboard chart covers the first full week of sales following his death on Sept. 12.

Calvin Gilbert has served as CMT.com’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.