Throwback Jam: Jo Dee Messina’s “Heads Carolina, Tails California”

By Aaron Wagner

Jo Dee Messina made her official country music debut in January of 1996 with her debut single “Heads Carolina, Tails California.”

Written by Tom Nichols and Mark D. Sanders, the two of them got inspired based on what they read in a book. Nichols was listening to a book on tape called “Border Music.” In the book the main character is living in Texas, struggling, and looking for a fresh start. He flips a coin between California and Mexico.

Nichols shared the concept with Sanders and Sanders said that he always wanted to start a song with “Carolina.” They ended up knocking out the song in about a day and pitched it around until Messina got her hands on it.

While Tim McGraw was a producer on the song, there was some thought of turning it into a duet between the two. But Messina fought hard and wanted the song for herself.

And thank goodness she did.

Her debut single went all the way to #2 where it sat for three weeks behind “My Maria.”