“Does He Love You”
Reba McEntire with Linda Davis
Written by Sandy Knox and Billy Stritch
#1 (1 week)
November 6, 1993
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
October 29, 1993
A powerhouse vocal duet brings Linda Davis her biggest chart hit to date.
The Road to No. 1
While Reba McEntire’s previous two singles had also gone No. 1, Linda Davis was without a recording contract at all when she recorded “Does He Love You.” McEntire was a big fan of Linda’s voice, and she had her on the road as a backup singer following Linda’s stint on Capitol/Liberty Records.
Davis had been hustling for a long time on Music Row. Her clear talent had created opportunities that hadn’t paid off. First, she was half of the duo Skip & Linda, and they charted a handful of minor hits in 1982. Then she had a singles deal with Epic that produced a handful of additional chart hits in the second half of the eighties. Davis then released two albums under the Capitol/Liberty imprints. 1989’s In a Different Light produced three singles, two of them reaching the lower end of the country chart. The third single failed to chart, as did all of the releases from her self-titled 1992 set. Her decision afterward to go out on the road supporting McEntire led to her appearance on one of the biggest country duet singles of all-time.
The No. 1
“Does He Love You” was a massive hit, thanks to a cinematic music video and two powerhouse vocal performances, with Linda Davis more than standing her own while going up against one of the all-time greats at her career peak.
The song itself felt anachronistic even in 1993. It was originally written in 1982 and pitched to Barbara Mandrell and to Liza Minnelli; the latter would eventually record it with Donna Summer in 1996. It’s the tale of a wife and a mistress desperately wondering who the man really loves, rather than just showing the cheating cad the door and leaving him on his own.
It all has the sheen of that early eighties country that kept one foot in seventies R&B, despite the presence of two pure country vocalists that do their best to inject a bit of twang. That Summer/Minnelli cover is worth a listen because it hints at what the song was truly intended to be, especially as the ladies ad-lib in the second verse, piercing each other’s delusions in a way that makes the song feel more like a real conversation between two women.
Oh, but they can’t match the fireworks and bombast of Reba at her syllable-stretching best, which is what really makes this record work far better than it should. Reba sings the hell out of her part, and somehow Linda Davis goes toe-to-toe with her. This was before diva-like belting became commonplace later in the decade, and it really was something special in 1993 when the genre was still centering men.
I don’t love it, but I respect it.
The Road From No. 1
Linda Davis was signed by Arista in the aftermath of this hit, which won both ladies a CMA and a Grammy the following year. Her time with Arista produced two albums and higher charting singles than her previous work, with “Some Things Were Meant to Be” making it into the top fifteen. Another stint on DreamWorks produced a top twenty hit with “I’m Yours.”
Davis is the mother of Hillary Scott, who found success in the band Lady A(ntebellum). Davis participated in a contemporary Christian project with Hillary called the Scott Family. The album Love Remains and the single, “Thy Will,” were major hits, winning Davis an additional two Grammys for her mantle.
As for McEntire, “Does He Love You” powered Greatest Hits Volume Two to five-times platinum status, her highest selling overall release to date. The second and final single, “They Asked About You,” went top ten. McEntire followed it with Read My Mind, another triple-platinum album that produced the top five hit “Why Haven’t I Heard From You” and the top fifteen hit “She Thinks His Name Was John.” 1994 became the first year since 1983 where McEntire didn’t have at least one No. 1 single, but she’d get caught back up in 1995 when the three other singles from Read My Mind all topped the chart.
“Does He Love You” gets a B.
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