Every #1 Single of the Nineties: John Michael Montgomery, “If You’ve Got Love”

“If You’ve Got Love”

John Michael Montgomery

Written by Mark D. Sanders and Steve Seskin

Billboard

#1 (1 week)

December 10, 1994

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

November 25, 1994

John Michael Montgomery’s No. 1 hit streak continues.

The Road to No. 1

Montgomery’s previous No. 1 hit, “Be My Baby Tonight,” initiated a career-best string of four consecutive chart toppers.  This one serves as the final single from his biggest-selling album, Kickin’ it Up.

The No. 1

The dividing line between sincere and sappy is a narrow one.  John Michael Montgomery flies right past it here.

The sentiment is fine, but the songwriting is too vague to get its point across. It talks about all of these amazing things that can be done through the power of love, but doesn’t connect it to the how or the why.

“You can turn an ordinary picture into a priceless work of art. That’s what you can do if you’ve got love in your heart.”

Okay, then.  How does that work? Why could Frida Khalo pull it off so much better than Thomas Kinkade?

Because it takes more than love in your heart to make a great piece of art.  To turn an ordinary record into a classic country song, you need memorable songwriting, stellar musicianship, and a strong vocal performance to bring it all together.

“If You’ve Got Love” has none of that, regardless of how much love was in their hearts when they were putting it together.

The Road From No. 1

Another power ballad done better by All-4-One is up next.  We’ll get to it in early 1995.

“If You’ve Got Love” gets a C-. 

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: Vince Gill, “When Love Finds You”

5 Comments

  1. I wondered if there would be a number one from the nineties I didn’t remember by song title alone. Turns out this is it, and it comes as no surprise John Michael Montgomery is the artist behind this forgettable fluff.

    This kind of performance and song is evidence of Nashville hit-makers writing and producing to a theme and sound. This is the uninvited music row guest crashing a great party, a mainstream buzz-kill.

    As an aside, there is an academic study titled “Mere Exposure to Bad Art” that explores why people increasingly dislike Kinkade’s art the more they are actually exposed to it. One hysterical explanation the authors of the study provide for this retrograde response is related to “the low artistic value of the work.”

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  2. Ooh, sorry guys, but I actually quite like this one, and it’s one of my favorite singles from Kickin’ It Up along with “Rope The Moon.” Perhaps it’s not quite as strong as the Alan Jackson song covered recently with a similar theme (“Livin’ On Love”), but I still find this to be a nice, breezy song the hear, especially when cruising around on a beautiful day, and it makes me smile. I never really took the lyrics literally and always just saw it as one of those “Love can get you through hard times” kind of songs (Okay I’ll admit, as a kid, the chorus did put a funny image in my mind of some guy literally trying to push a mountain, lol). I also think Montgomery gives it a solid, earnest performance, and I especially love it near the end when the background vocalists sing “If you’ve got love…” and then Montgomery goes “You can move a mountain!” I love the signature fiddle riff and the electric guitar work throughout, as well. Finally, I always found the song’s overall melody to be very pretty, which is what attracted me to it the most as a kid.

    I heard this one on the radio a few times when I was getting back into country in 1995, and I particularly remember hearing it when my dad and I got back in the car after we had gone bowling and telling him that I really liked the song. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem get much more recurrent play after that. Fast forward to 2004, and I find a used copy of Kickin’ It Up at the mall in Fredericksburg, VA. It was the first time I ever wanted to try getting a used cd, so my dad and I were a bit leery at first, but I decided to give it a go because not only was it cheap, but I liked all the singles from it, and I hadn’t heard this song, in particular, for so long. That’s actually what started my hobby of getting used cd’s, and needless to say, it gave me a much less expensive way of acquiring some of the music I always wanted to have. While Kickin’ It up is not necessarily one of my most favorite JMM albums, it will always have a special place because it’s the first used cd I ever got, and I still have good memories of playing “If You’ve Got Love” and “Rope The Moon” over and over while listening to it. The album as a whole also reminds me of the times I spent in Fredericksburg, VA in 2004, and on that same year, I included “If You’ve Got Love” on a mix tape to play in the rental car when my dad and I visited my Grandpa at his farmhouse in Kentucky. To this day, it still brings back good memories from that trip, and I still consider it a great song to include on any playlist when driving across the country. :)

    Speaking of “Rope The Moon,” I’m bummed that it was the only non-number one single from the album. I always liked the song by itself, but the moment I first saw the video for it on GAC classic in the early 00’s, I grew to love it even more. It’s simply adorable, and I love the new meaning it gives the song.

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      • Lol, no worries. Other than some of the cool western jackets he began to sport in the Kickin’ It Up era, his look hadn’t changed that much from his debut up to this single.

        So far, you’ve done a great job, and I think the pictures you’ve chosen for these songs have been pretty accurate most of the time. :)

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