Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Patty Loveless, “You Don’t Even Know Who I Am”

“You Don’t Even Know Who I Am

Patty Loveless

Written by Gretchen Peters

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

June 9, 1995

Gretchen Peters pens a Patty Loveless classic.

The Road to No. 1

Patty Loveless went to No. 1 with the second single from When Fallen Angels Fly, “Here I Am,” and repeated the feat with the album’s third single.

The No. 1

There isn’t nearly enough Gretchen Peters in this feature.  She penned only one other No. 1 single in the nineties – George Strait’s “The Chill of an Early Fall,” – which we covered way back in 1991.

But she was one of the most important songwriters of the decade, and alongside Matraca Berg and Kim Richey, she was part of the holy trinity of female writers that paired so well with the female artists of this time.  Some of the songs that didn’t make it to No. 1 but would’ve scored an “A” if they had include hits from Pam Tillis (“Let That Pony Run”), Trisha Yearwood (“On a Bus to St. Cloud”), and Martina McBride (“Independence Day” and “My Baby Loves Me.”)

The song that did make it to No. 1 is every bit the peer of those classic hits.  “You Don’t Even Know Who I Am” is one of the finest divorce ballads in country music history, and Patty Loveless gives it a flawless reading. (Loveless, Tillis, and Yearwood form their own holy trinity of female artists from this decade.)

Peters knows that after the first verse, the audience is team wife, which makes the second verse from the husband’s perspective all the more devastating: “He called her to say he was sorry, but he couldn’t remember what for.”  That he comes to the very same conclusion that she did – “You don’t even know who I am, so what do I care if you go?” – puts a harsh spotlight on the tragedy of a divorce, made all the more tragic through the involvement of children in the marriage.

There are no winners because there is no scoreboard.  Everyone loses when a family falls apart, even if it’s the only remaining option because a life of misery together won’t be any better.

The Road From No. 1

Patty Loveless followed this single with the top ten hit “Halfway Down,” which she performed at the 1995 CMA Awards. When Fallen Angels Fly won Album of the Year at that ceremony, making Loveless just the second woman in history to win that award for a studio album.

Speaking of awards, Peters won the Song of the Year trophy that night for “Independence Day,” and went on to receive Grammy and ACM Song of the Year nominations in 1996 for “You Don’t Even Know Who I Am.”

Loveless would be back at No. 1 in 1996 with the lead single from her next set, The Trouble With the Truth, co-written by another songwriter trinity member.

“You Don’t Even Know Who I Am” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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10 Comments

  1. I absolutely love this song. The way it launches Into the chorus is epic. I also really love the steel guitar at the beginning.

    3
  2. One of my favorite songs of the 90s.

    I love how the song shows the view of the relationship from both sides. She felt neglected one way and he the other.

    Loveless sings this with such emotion, very similar to how her cousin Crystal Gayle would’ve sung it.

    An incredibly written and performed song.

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  3. The steel in this song may be my favorite steel work in any country song. I get excited everytime I hear it which is funny since it’s a sad song. Sad songs make me happy I’m backwards that way. Lol. The vocals are spot on and no doubt set up her finally winning female vocalist the following year at both the ACM and CMA awards.

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  4. This was the first new Patty Loveless song I heard when I first got back into country in the late Spring and early Summer of 1995. I specifically remember one day after my dad picked me up in his car and we just pulled out of the driveway and was leaving the house, he asked me if I had heard this new song by Patty Loveless he really liked called “You Don’t Even Know Who I Am.” I had just recently gotten back to listening to country radio by then, and not heard it yet so I said no. He then told me that it was an unusual name for a country song, but it was really good. Well, a little after that, on another day my dad and I were in his car, the song came on, and I finally heard it for the first time. He then turned the volume up and was singing along to every word right from the start. While I didn’t quite get the emotional impact of the song just yet (I was ten), I really liked how it sounded overall and the sad vibes of it (I was another one of those weird kids who always liked sad songs for some reason). And of course, I always enjoyed just about everything Patty Loveless sang ever since I was smaller. Little did I know though how soon my fandom for Patty would grow even more after that thanks to the amazing string of high quality singles she’d release from that point on. Luckily, this song stayed on the radio as a recurrent up to the very early 00’s, allowing me to enjoy it many times more.

    This is easily still one of my favorites from Patty’s Epic era in the 90’s, and that acoustic guitar and steel guitar in the beginning always takes me back to 1995 immediately. Loveless’ performance perfectly nails the sadness, the anger, and the feeling of having been neglected and abandoned by your partner. You can feel the pain of both characters in the song, which doesn’t happen too often. I still remember the surprised feeling I felt when I first realized that the main character’s husband actually felt the same way all along, and it certainly provided quite the twist to the story. And of course, it’s even sadder knowing kids are involved, as well. It’s also perfectly produced (Patty and Emory Gordy, Jr. were a killer team during her Epic years), and I especially love how quiet the verses are until the chorus jumps out at you and hits you like a ton of bricks. I also love how the tension builds up in the second verse leading to the husband’s surprise reveal.

    This song remained as one of my dad’s favorites, as well, and around 2008 or 2009 when he heard it on one of my mix cd’s of 1995 country songs, he told me it also brought back some good memories for him, and he still remembered the time and place when he first heard it. For me, it’s another one that always brings back great memories of when I fell in love with country music for the second time in 1995. Besides the content, it’s one I can also simply enjoy because of the nostalgia. :)

    I also remember really loving “Halfway Down” when it came out, and my love for Patty growing even more. I especially always loved the steel guitar on that one, too. It’s actually one of my favorite uptempo songs she’s done.

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  5. This and “All These Years” are 1A and 1B in songs of the 90s that treat both sides of the heartbreak with respect and without judgment. And a fantastic vocal performance from Patty.

    They don’t make breakup songs like these anymore.

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  6. I have nothing to contribute beyond agreeing this is an A+ masterpiece, an all-time great, and a classic. Stunningly excellent.

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