“Cracked Rearview Mirror” by Hootie and the Blowfish holds a unique place in 90s history by not only being one of the defining albums of the decade but also by being one of the most reviled.
“Cracked Rearview Mirror” was released on July 5, 1994, and spawned three massive hits; “Hold My Hand,” “Let Her Cry,” and “Only Wanna Be With You.” It was the number one album of 1995, selling 10 million copies that year and as of 2018 has sold a lifetime total of 21 million.
It was the first album for the band which formed at the Univetrsity of South Carolina and got its name from a combination of two members’ nicknames. They catapulted to success after an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.
After that the band seemed to be everywhere for about 18 months. They were mentioned on Friends and Saturday Night Live and even won two awards at the 1996 Grammys, including best new artist.
But the success was short lived. Hootie’s next two albums didn’t come close to the success of “Cracked Rearview Mirror” and the band was suddenly a punch line. They were seen then and now as uncool and bland. The epitome of a middle-of-the-road rock band.
But John Caramanica, pop critic for the New York Times wrote in 2019 that perhaps they weren’t given the credit they were due. He calls them a great American rock band and defends their middle-of-the-roadness.
“It splendidly blended the Southern college rock of the late 1980s (the dBs, R.E.M.) with shades of vintage soul, bluegrass, blues and more, rendering it all with omnivorous-bar-band acuity. In the gap between late grunge and the commercial rise of hip-hop and rap-rock, Hootie was a balm.”
In recent years, Hootie frontman Darius Rucker has found new success as a solo country singer. In February 2020, his remake of the song “Wagon Wheel” was certified eight times platinum, making it one of the top five country songs of all time.
In the summer of 2019, Hootie reunited to celebrate the 25th anniversaery of “Cracked Rearview Mirror” with a summer concert tour that included two sold out nights at Madison Square Garden. When asked about the success of the anniversary tour Rucker told Rolling Stone Magazine, “We were part of so many people’s high school and college experience. They don’t care if it’s not cool to like Hootie [anymore].”
In November 2019, Hootie released their first studio album in 14 years called “Imperfect Circle.” It received mixed reviews and modest commercial success selling 42,000 copies as of March 2020.
For more stories from the 1990s make sure to check out my podcast “History of the 90s” on ApplePodcasts, Spotify, Google Play and anywhere else you stream audio. You can also listen at Curiouscast.ca