Every #1 Single of the Nineties: John Michael Montgomery, “I Love the Way You Love Me”

“I Love the Way You Love Me”

John Michael Montgomery

Written by Chuck Cannon and Victoria Shaw

Billboard

#1 (3 weeks)

May 15 – May 29, 1993

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

May 14, 1993

The first post-Garth superstar arrives.

The Road to No. 1

A native of Kentucky, John Michael Montgomery was another breakthrough country star of this era that got his start in a musical family.  His parents had a popular family band that included his older brother Eddie, who would later become part of the superstar country duo Montgomery Gentry.   John Michael was the last to join that band, and after his parents divorced, he began performing on his own.

Atlantic Records spotted him at a live show and quickly signed him to their new Nashville division.  His debut album, Life’s a Dance was launched with the top five title track.  The label then released the first of his many smash love ballads.

The No. 1

The influence of Garth Brooks is all over this record.  Indeed, John Michael Montgomery was the first big country star to break through by clearly following Garth’s successful formula.

“I Love the Way You Love Me” is co-written by a Garth alum – Victoria Shaw – who had her breakthrough by co-writing “The River.”  Montgomery’s phrasing and delivery sound eerily similar to Garth’s earliest hit ballads, but he doesn’t have the same level of interpretive skill as a vocalist.

So we end up with something that is going to become very common in the next three years: a guy in a hat singing like Garth and looking like Garth, but coming off as a bland imitation of him.

To Montgomery’s credit, he’d carve out a bit more of an individual niche for himself with his later records, and he isn’t anywhere near the worst of the hat act wave.  If anything, he was one of the best.

But the era of distinctive traditional vocalists breaking through with their own unique styles was coming to an end, as country music became a bigger business that looked to preserve its market share by giving audiences more of what they already had.

The Road From No. 1

“Beer and Bones,” a hilarious honky tonk number that had more personality than Montgomery’s first two singles combined, peaked outside the top twenty when it was released as the follow-up single to “I Love the Way You Love Me.”  So Atlantic readied a sophomore set that would feature four different love songs as its singles.  The first and biggest of these will be covered in early 1994.

“I Love the Way You Love Me” gets a B.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: Dwight Yoakam, “Ain’t That Lonely Yet”

4 Comments

  1. Aunt Jemima in heaven…..hold the word “love” for 3 bars and call it emotional impact.
    I’ll give this an F-

  2. I’ve enjoyed this song ever since my step dad got me John Michael Montgomery’s debut album for me in late 1992, and today, it’s still one of my favorites of all his love ballads. I’ve always found it to be a very lovely sounding song, overall, and I really like the production and how he sings it. I actually find myself liking this one more than his later bigger crossover ballads as of late, because it still has more of an early 90’s neo-traditional feel in the production, and it just doesn’t feel quite as “poppy” to me as those two big smashes (you know the ones). Like Leeann, I myself never heard as much of a Garth Brooks influence in JMM or this song, and to me he always reminded me more of George Strait or Ricky Van Shelton on this particular cut (There are also some shades of Keith Whitley on a few other songs on his first album). In the video, he sure reminds me of Garth, though, especially his hat. However, you’re right on the money about JMM being one of the first male artists of the 90’s to be successful most likely as a result of Garth (and maybe George Strait to a lesser extent) than Haggard or Jones.

    As already mentioned, my step dad bought me JMM’s Life’s A Dance album on cd in late 1992, because the title cut was one of my newest favorite songs at the time. When we got home later that night, I put it in the stereo right away and started recording it onto a blank cassette tape. That was also the first time I ever heard this song, and I remember liking it then, too. My step dad also happened to be shooting a home video of us that night (dated November 27, 1992), and parts of that video tape actually feature seven year old me recording that cd on to cassette tape (he had labeled me as “our audio engineer for the evening”, lol) and then later me playing that newly recorded tape with this song being heard in some parts of the video. It’s been so cool watching that video recently, because I still remember that night very vividly. That album is one of my most favorites that he ever got for me as a little kid in the early 90’s, and both this song and that album never fail to bring back great memories of some of the earliest times we spent in our current house. :)

    I remember hearing it as an actual single on the radio in the Spring of ’93, as well, not long before I started listening more to the oldies station. It also remained a popular recurrent for us throughout the rest of the decade and into the early 00’s, and I would always really enjoy it every time it came on.

    The video was always another one of my favorites on GAC Classic throughout the early 00’s, as well. I actually miss simple videos like this that feature the artist performing a beautiful ballad in a big empty auditorium (similar to Vince’s “I Still Believe In You”).

    Btw, I totally agree with you on “Beer And Bones.” It’s a shame that one wasn’t a bigger hit! It still makes me laugh today, and I’ve liked it ever since I heard it as the first song on that album.

  3. I have always found Montgomery to be one of the era’s thinnest, weakest vocalists. I disliked the vast majority of his output.

    This song deserved a more capable voice to serve the sweet, tender lyrics.

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