Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: Billy Dean, “If There Hadn’t Been You”

“If There Hadn’t Been You”

Billy Dean

Written by Ron Hellard and Tom Shapiro

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

November 13, 1992

Billy Dean’s final solo No. 1 hit is a sweet expression of gratitude.

The Road to No. 1

Billy Dean’s third and final solo No. 1 hit came on the heels of his second, “Billy the Kid,” which topped the chart earlier in 1992.  “If There Hadn’t Been You” was released as the fourth and final single from Billy Dean.

The No. 1

Billy Dean’s greatest asset here is his understated vocal style.  Because he doesn’t over-emote, a song like “If There Hadn’t Been You” is perfect for him.   He’s sweet and sentimental, but it doesn’t spill over to sappiness.

It’s just a heartfelt statement of thanks being given to a partner that has changed the course of his life for the better.

It’s beautiful.

The Road From No. 1

Billy Dean’s third album, Fire in the Dark, produced two top ten singles: “Tryin’ to Hide a Fire in the Dark” and “We Just Disagree.”  His fourth album underperformed at radio, but his fifth, It’s What I Do, produced two top five hits: “It’s What I Do” and “That Girl’s Been Spying On Me.”

Dean topped the charts again in 2000 as a guest vocalist on the Kenny Rogers hit, “Buy Me a Rose,” and scored an additional solo top ten with “Let Them Be Little.”  Dean remains a popular draw on the road, though his recording activity has slowed in recent years.

“If There Hadn’t Been You” gets a B+.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. Dean was such a restrained, understated vocalist. A quiet confidence sustains this song. He never got in the way of a lyric.

  2. This is also one of my favorite love songs the 90’s produced, and it’s one of my favorite Billy Dean songs of all time. The review pretty much sums up its appeal for me. Even though it was a bit more on the contemporary/AC side sonically, Dean’s understated and heartfelt performance made it fit right in along with everything else on the radio during the mostly traditional dominated early 90’s. I’ve always loved its melody, as well. I really miss being able to hear beautiful, understated love ballads like this on the radio today.

    I remember around early 1993, both this and “Tryin’ To Hide A Fire In The Dark” were two of my most favorite songs by Billy Dean at the time, and as I had already mentioned in the last two Billy Dean entries, my step dad surprised me one day when I found two cd’s in the backseat of the car when he got back home, with Billy’s self-titled album being one of them. I had not yet told him about my liking for Billy Dean, and I remember then wondering if he somehow could read my mind on what I liked, lol. I also had both of those songs recorded from the radio on different tapes around that time, but unfortunately the tape that had “If There Hadn’t Been You” ended up getting accidently recorded over somewhere along the way. I really wish there was a way to remove a re-recording you do on a tape, because I’d love to hear what other songs I originally put on there in early ’93!

    It’s too bad he didn’t get any more solo number ones after this. Besides the title track for his next album, I also really like “We Just Disagree” and “I Wanna Take Care Of You.” I also enjoy 1998’s “Real Man.”

    This song’s video has always been a favorite of mine, as well. Similar to Vince Gill’s “I Still Believe In You,” it’s simple, yet so beautifully shot. I love the beautiful looking theaters that both videos were shot in.

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