Every #1 Single of the Nineties: John Berry, “Your Love Amazes Me”

“Your Love Amazes Me”

John Berry

Written by Amanda Hunt-Taylor and Chuck Jones

Billboard

#1 (1 week)

May 21, 1994

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

May 13, 1994

A powerful singer earns his first No. 1 hit.

The Road to No. 1

John Berry is a South Carolina native who grew up with gospel influences from his mother and eclectic 70’s AM radio exposure from his father.  He was a guitar player at an early age, heavily influenced by Philly soul and the country-folk stylings of John Denver.  He was recording his own music as early as 1979, but had his career delayed by a serious motorcycle accident, although the singer credits the rehabilitation time as a benefit toward honing his musical skills.

He parlayed local success in Georgia to the release of six self-financed albums, which got the attention of Liberty Records in 1992.  They not only signed him to a deal, but also released many of those independent albums to a wider audience.  After minor success with the first two singles from his debut album, John Berry, the third release became his signature song and first No. 1 hit.

The No. 1

John Berry is as close as we ever got to a male Wynonna, in that he has that rare combination of soul and control.  “Your Love Amazes Me” showcases that talent, as he uses his power and range to deliver the redemptive message of the song without weighing it down with unnecessary vocal histrionics.

The simple production works wonders here.  This could’ve easily devolved into a late eighties power ballad from a B-list hair band, but instead, it’s evocative and powerful.  That extra bit of gravel in his voice doesn’t hurt a bit.  If anything, it probably keeps everything on the right side of saccharine.

The Road From No. 1

John Berry eventually went platinum and it produced two additional top five hits: “What’s in it For Me” and “You and Only You.”  Berry returned to the top with the lead single from his eighth studio album, and second for Liberty, Standing On the Edge.  We will cover it in 1995.

“Your Love Amazes Me” gets a B+.

 

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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6 Comments

  1. If John Berry can be considered in loose comparison, I suggest thinking of him as a 90’s version of Charlie Rich. He had this wonderful inspiration of influences to draw from while nominally attempting to record mainstream country. Even his album output prior to signing with a major label somewhat parallels the label-jumping Rich did prior to landing on Epic and his signature Nashville Sound production while working with Billy Sherrill. Both singers had wonderfully rich, powerful voices that were not easily categorized or pigeon-holed. Although definitely southern, neither voice is traditionally “country” sounding.

    This song works for all the reasons Kevin points out. It is a showcase for Berry’s soulful, vocal skills as an almost operatic tenor. If only Lonestar could have left the word “amazed” to be forever associated with this majestic ballad instead of their lame-as-only-Lonestar-could-be-lame smash hit from the end of the decade.

    I have gotten off topic.

    I remember realizing the full depth and richness of Berry’s voice on two separate listening occasions. The first was his stunning solo performance on the 1995 CMA award show stage when he performed, only with his acoustic guitar, “If I Had Any Pride Left at All.” It was a jaw-dropper, show-stopper of a moment. It was a stunning, stand-out-in-your-memory kind of moment.

    The second similar experience was from the same year when I purchased his “O Holy Night” Christmas album. His singing conveyed and unexpected reverence,awe, and warmth for the material. It is a spectacular Christmas album.

    Unfortunately, Berry never found his Billy Sherrill or his own sound in Nashville. His best album was probably “Faces.” He drifted into more adult-contemporary, inspirational music when radio moved on from him. I still bought the vast majority of albums hoping he would truly find how own sound and groove.

    I think he was recovering from surgery to remove a nearly fatal brain cyst when this song hit the top of the charts.

  2. Yep, we’ve officially reached the mid 90’s! Yeah, I know John Berry debuted in 1993, but my first exposure to him was when I started listening to country radio again in 1995. Therefore I associate him most with that period, along with the late 90’s.

    I liked most all songs I heard from him throughout the 90’s, but I got into him even more when I got his Greatest Hits album in 2001. I actually never heard this song until I got that album, so it actually takes me back to the early 00’s more than anything, and it always brings back good memories from when I’d listen to that album on my portable cd player in the back seat of the car whenever my parents and I went out around that time. As mentioned, despite Berry having the vocal power to pull it off, I’m glad it avoids turning into a power ballad and just remains a simple but very effective love song. The production also still sounds amazingly fresh today, and I can imagine it being a hit in the late 90’s and early 00’s, as well.

    Since it sadly wasn’t a big hit, I also wanted to give a mention to the excellent “If I Had Any Pride Left At All,” which I consider to be one of his very best singles and one of the finest showcases of his vocal range and talent. It’s also another song that brings back great memories of listening to John Berry’s Greatest Hits album in the car with my parents throughout the fall of 2001 and early 2002.

    Besides Vince Gill and Raul Malo, I consider Berry to be another one of the best tenor voices from the 90’s.

  3. Truly one of the greatest voices in country music. This song has always been fine to me, nothing super special but also not awful, and John Berry’s voice is what makes it as good as it is.

  4. I always loved John Berry’s music, and still enjoy his Christmas music every December. One thing I’ll always remember about this song was that the week it topped the charts, John Berry was undergoing/recovering from surgery on having a benign tumor removed from his brain. I guess it was affecting his mood/personality negatively for a long time, and there was also the fear of cancer. This song always came off as spiritual uplifting to me (and I think part of that is Berry’s passionate vocal), and I always think about him going through that every time I hear this song. I guess it just made me realize…no matter how famous/successful you are, we all go through trials and tribulations, and need something to help us get through tough times when we’re at our lowest. The jubilation of being able to get through the hard times, and find happiness/thank those who helped you get through them is what makes it all the more special.

    Here’s a link to a Billboard article where he speaks about both this, as well as a recent bout he had with tonsil cancer from a few years ago: https://www.billboard.com/music/country/country-singer-john-berry-cancer-8494288/. To my knowledge, he’s battled back from this and is still touring today.

  5. Thinking about John Berry lately reminded me of his excellent and heartbreaking interpretation of the Matraca Berg penned “When Love Dies” from his debut album.

    Another song that surfaced in my mind is “I Will, If You Will” from his 1996 album “Faces.” Patty Loveless provided background vocals.

  6. Peter – I absolutely LOVE “I Will, If You Will”! Again, it wasn’t too big of a hit, but it’s another one of my personal favorites from John. It’s simply a gorgeous classic country styled ballad, and Berry and Patty Loveless’ voices blended so well together. Not to mention, it brings back all sorts wonderful memories from the Fall of 1997 when I was just starting middle school and good times my parents and I had back then. :)

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