“She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful”
Written by Paul Harrison and Bob McDill
#1 (1 week)
April 24, 1993
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
April 16, 1993
An underrated nineties star tops the chart for the first time.
The Road to No. 1
Sammy Kershaw was born into a musical family, third cousin to cajun music legends Rusty and Doug Kershaw. But he paid his dues from an early age, playing roadhouses from age 12 and opening for his idol, George Jones, at age 14. Substance abuse issues temporarily derailed his rise to fame, but by the late eighties, he was living clean, and a demo of his work got the attention of Mercury Records.
His 1991 debut album, Don’t Go Near the Water, sold platinum and produced four top twenty hits, including “Cadillac Style” and “Yard Sale.” His second album, Haunted Heart, produced his first chart-topper with its first single.
The No. 1
Everything about this record works. Kershaw keeps the sentimentality in check, delivering a vocal that deftly communicates just how baffled the narrator is that his partner is unaware of her stunning beauty.
It’s in the tradition of great Conway Twitty songs like “I’d Love to Lay You Down,” with Kershaw seeing the beauty in every moment: “Morning comes and her hair’s all a mess, that’s when she thinks she looks the worst. It’s times like this she don’t know why I can’t keep my eyes off her.”
It’s solid enough an idea that One Direction borrowed it decades later for a massive pop hit, but for me, nothing replaces the charm of this traditional-sounding record that somehow still sounds fresh today.
The Road From No. 1
Haunted Heart repeated the platinum sales of its predecessor, and after two more top ten hits – the title track and “Queen of My Double Wide Trailer” – the fourth single returned Kershaw to the top. We’ll cover it in 1994.
“She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful” gets an A.
Next: Tracy Lawrence, “Alibis”