“Somewhere in My Broken Heart”
Written by Billy Dean and Richard Leigh
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
July 12, 1991
Another young nineties star tops the charts for the first time.
The Road to No. 1
Florida-born Billy Dean was involved in music since early childhood, playing in his father’s band at the age of eight. He demonstrated aptitude in sports, earning a college basketball scholarship, and booked commercials as a budding actor. But he kept returning to music, appearing on televised talent shows and honing his songwriting craft until he earned a recording contract with SBK/Liberty Records.
His first single, 1990’s “Lowdown Lonely,” failed to chart. But his next release, “Only Here For a Little While,” was a top five breakthrough hit. For his third single from his debut album, Young Man, the label chose a song that had Dean had co-written with Richard Leigh of “Don’t it Make My Brown Eyes Blue” fame and that had first been recorded by Randy Travis.
The No. 1
“Somewhere in My Broken Heart” is a gorgeous ballad that captures a man demonstrating unconditional love through letting go.
Once again, a new artist has completely identified their own style early on, with Dean’s vocal being perfectly matched to a simple, mostly acoustic arrangement. He’s not a pure country singer, so it’s important for arrangements to be organic to keep him firmly placed within the genre.
Still, this is more James Taylor than George Jones. But even the early nineties were a bigger tent than usually given credit for today. Suzy Bogguss and Mary Chapin Carpenter mined a similiar folk-inspired sound on their early records.
Of Dean’s three nineties chart-toppers, this one is easily the best.
The Road From No. 1
Dean was named ACM Top New Male Vocalist on the strength of this hit, winning over Mark Chesnutt and Joe Diffie. That same evening, he won the Song of the Year award for “Somewhere in My Broken Heart.” He followed his first No. 1 hit with “You Don’t Count the Cost” and “Only the Wind” from his sophomore self-titled album. They both went top five. After that, his next two singles went to No. 1. We’ll cover them both when we get to 1992.
“Somewhere in My Broken Heart” gets an A.