Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Faith Hill, “Piece of My Heart”

“Piece of My Heart”

Faith Hill

Written by Bert Berns and Jerry Ragovoy


#1 (1 week)

April 30, 1994

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

April 22, 1994

Faith Hill takes a rock and R&B classic to the top of the country chart.

The Road to No. 1

After topping the Billboard singles chart with her debut hit, “Wild One,” Faith Hill went one better and topped both singles charts with her cover of a sixties classic.

The No. 1

“Piece of My Heart” was a hit twice over in the sixties, first as an R&B hit for Erma Franklin, and then immortalized as a rock classic by Big Brother and the Holding Company, featuring Janis Joplin on lead vocals.

Co-writer Bert Berns had been pitching it as a country song in the early nineties, and that’s the version that Faith Hill heard and recorded.   Much hullaballoo was made at the time that she’d never heard the Joplin version, but it’s worth noting that her sunny country cover of the hit isn’t too far off from the original Franklin arrangement.

I have no problem going to bat for this record.  She sings it with gusto, and leans into the heartache of the lyric rather than leaning into its defiance. It works as a country hit, and pairs nicely with the youthful innocence that dominates Hill’s consistently good debut album.

I don’t think it’s quite as good as the other No. 1 hits from her first two albums, but I still enjoy it.

The Road From No. 1

After two No. 1 hits, Hill faltered at radio with the touching ballad, “But I Will,” which may have been a bit too slow-paced for country radio in 1994. After it missed the top thirty, Hill rebounded with a final No. 1 hit from Take Me As I Am, which we’ll cover soon.

“Piece of My Heart” gets a B.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: Clint Black, “A Good Run of Bad Luck”




  1. I was – and still am – such a one-trick musical pony that I had not heard either of the other versions of this song before hearing Hill’s take on it in the mid nineties.

    Hill’s vocals are so crisp and clean; barely hinting at the power (and volume) she would sing with in later years. I like the conviction and strength she projects in this performance as well, all the while sounding so contemporarily country. I love this song.

    Revisiting her debut has reminded me of just what a fresh force she was at a time when women were confidently taking over the artistic and creative reins of a still run-away genre.

  2. Peter – You’re not the only one-trick musical pony! Other than my brief detours into Oldies, old Jazz, and Soft Rock around 1993-1994, country was pretty much my main genre in the 90’s, and it was certainly the one I was the most passionate about (Heck, it still is, even though I strongly dislike most of the modern mainstream stuff). I wouldn’t start exploring other types of music again (mostly 80’s rock and pop) until around 2003-2004 when I felt that mainstream country was going downhill. But even now, it’s mainly older country that I listen to, along with just a handful of newer stuff I happen to like.

    For the longest time, I also never even knew that Faith Hill’s “Piece Of My Heart” was a cover. It was just one of my new favorite songs that I would always enjoy hearing on the radio as I got back into listening to country radio in the mid 90’s. This is actually one of the songs that brings back the most fond memories of those times for me, especially around late 1996-early 1997. I absolutely love Faith’s vocals on it, along with the fiddle and steel heavy neo-traditional arrangement. I especially always thought the steel and electric guitar sounded pretty neat when they blended together near the end of the instrumental break. Even after finally hearing the Janis Joplin version at TGI Friday’s somewhere in the early-mid 00’s, this has still always been my favorite version of the song, personally. I actually kind of think of them as two different songs, as they are so unlike one another.

    Hearing Faith’s debut album and comparing it to her later more pop oriented music, it’s almost hard to believe it’s the same artist, since her style (both in the production and vocally) changed pretty drastically.

  3. BTW, I absolutely love Faith’s look on that single cover, especially her hair and outfit. So delightfully early-mid 90’s! She’s also completely adorable whenever I see older interviews of her on YouTube at the beginning of her career.

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