“For My Broken Heart”
Written by Liz Hengber and Keith Palmer
#1 (2 weeks)
December 7 – December 14, 1991
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
November 29, 1991
An unfathomable tragedy inspires Reba McEntire’s masterwork.
The Road to No. 1
Since topping the charts with “Rumor Has It” in early 1991, Reba McEntire had been experiencing the biggest commercial success of her career. Rumor Has It achieved platinum status faster than any album of hers to date, powered by the additional top ten hits “Fancy” and “Fallin’ Out of Love.”
She’d already identified a heartbreak ballad to record as a duet with young superstar Clint Black, but preparations for her next studio album took a dramatic detour after an unspeakable tragedy. A plane carrying eight members of her band and crew crashed near San Diego, on the way back from a private concert, killing all on board.
McEntire channeled her grief into her new album, now titled after that heartbreak ballad which she recorded by herself instead, previewing the project with a gut-wrenching performance of it on the 1991 CMA Awards.
The No. 1
I’m sure it would’ve been fine as a duet, but it’s hard to imagine “For My Broken Heart” being as achingly beautiful as it is with Reba singing it alone.
It’s a song about grieving over a broken relationship, but the details of the lyric capture just how mundane the grieving process is, no matter what you’re mourning.
“Lord, the sun is blinding me as it wakes me from the dark. I guess the world didn’t stop for my broken heart.”
How can life be going on outside like nothing happened, while I’m in here falling apart? But I’m going to “stumble to the coffee pot,” even if “it takes all the strength I’ve got.”
She’s going to survive, but it’s going to hurt like hell.
The Road From No. 1
This doesn’t happen often, especially in a career as lengthy and successful as McEntire’s, but For My Broken Heart hits the trifecta: it’s her best album, it’s her biggest album, and it is her first to produce three No. 1 hits. We’ll see McEntire twice in 1992 with classic singles from this album.
“For My Broken Heart” gets an A.