Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Lorrie Morgan, “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength”

“I Didn’t Know My Own Strength

Lorrie Morgan

Written by Rick Bowles and Robert Byrne

Billboard

#1 (2 weeks)

August 12, 1995

Lorrie Morgan rebounds at radio with her final No. 1 hit to date.

The Road to No. 1

After “What Part of No” topped the charts, Watch Me produced the top twenty hit “I Guess You Had to Be There” and the top ten hit “Half Enough.” After three platinum albums, Morgan released the gold-selling War Paint, which was ignored by country radio despite its strong sales. Two of it singles – “My Night to Howl” and “Heart Over Mind” – went top forty.  Morgan then released her Greatest Hits collection, led off by her final No. 1 single to date.

The No. 1

“I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” is a bright and sprightly pop-country number, merging Morgan’s Nashville Sound vocals with flavors of sixties pop. It serves as an effective bridge to where women were in the genre by the mid-nineties, moving away from the heartbreak queen framework of her earlier hits and asserting her independence and resilience.

“Then the times got tough,” she proclaims, “and I knew what I was made of.”

Because it taps into those classic sounds, the record has a timeless feel while embracing a contemporary point of view.  It’s one of her most effective and enduring hits.

The Road From No. 1

Greatest Hits eventually became her top-selling album, reaching double platinum by the end of the decade.  Radio ran hot and cold with her during those years, but her next two albums each went gold:  Greater Need produced the top ten hit “Good as I Was to You,” and Shakin’ Things Up produced her final top five single, “Go Away.”  She went top twenty with “One of Those Nights Tonight” from the latter set, and had her final top twenty hit with “Maybe Not Tonight,” a duet with Sammy Kershaw.

Morgan has remained prolific in the studio since leaving the major label world, releasing several solo sets and two duet albums with her frequent tour mate Pam Tillis.

“I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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5 Comments

  1. Just a feel good song! Always puts me in a happy place! My favorite song off Greatest hits though was her cover of Standing Tall. I never understood why that one didn’t do better….

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    • ‘Standing Tall” is one of my favorite Lorrie Morgan recordings. It’s a shame they stripped it from the hits album in 1996, even though I also love what replaced it (“Don’t Worry Baby.”)

  2. This Greatest Hits album completely shaped my childhood. It was basically my introduction to country music. Holds a special place in my heart and so does Lorrie.

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    • Lorrie’s Greatest Hits is the first album of hers I’ve ever owned, and it’s special for me, as well. :) It was one of the hits packages that my dad got me for my birthday in 1998, along with Vince Gill’s Souvenirs, George Strait’s Greatest Hits Volume 2, and Suzy Bogguss’ Greatest Hits.

      I’d loved Lorrie’s music since I was little in the early 90’s, but it was in 1998 after getting that album that I became an even bigger fan of hers. Well, between that and listening to “Out Of Your Shoes” over and over on one of my mixed tapes from 1991. :)

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  3. I’m definitely with Truth here! This song always takes me to my happy place, as well, and always puts me in a better mood! Yet another one of my favorites ever since it first came out. :)

    I just love the cheerfulness in Lorrie’s vocals here, especially during the chorus. It really makes you root for the narrator and makes you glad that things turned out okay for her after all. I also love how in the verses she’s recalling the dark times she’s been though, even sounding a bit emotional at times, until she suddenly sounds happy and victorious as tells us right before the bright and cheerful chorus that she’s made it through to the other side after all. Besides that, I just love how happy the song sounds, as well, especially the opening with the fiddle and guitar. Even the steel guitar throughout always puts a smile on my face, especially when it kicks in on the second verse. Not to mention, I’ve always found the song’s melody to not only be catchy, but also quite beautiful. Definitely another one of my personal favorites from 1995!

    The first time I heard this one and the song’s title, I remember recalling one night when my dad and I were watching an I Love Lucy re-run on Nick At Nite in which Lucy was accidently breaking all kinds of things with her hands, and Dad laughing and saying “She didn’t know her own strength!” One of the fondest memories it brings back for me, though, is when my parents and I flew to California to see my mom’s relatives for the holidays in late 1995. On the airplane’s country channel in their music selection, the Lorrie Morgan song was the first one I heard, and I remember thinking it was so cool to be able to listen to country on the plane, as well. The same songs would eventually repeat, but I’d keep listening and enjoying it anyway. Other songs I remember being on the plane’s country program were: “Your Tattoo” by Sammy Kershaw, “I Wanna Go Too Far,” by Trisha Yearwood,” “I Let Her Lie,” by Daryle Singletary, “Let’s Go To Vegas” by Faith Hill, “Down In Tennessee” by Mark Chesnutt, “Safe In The Arms Of Love” by Martina McBride, “Walking To Jerusalem” by Tracy Byrd, and “Big Ol’ Truck” by Toby Keith.

    It had been too long since we’ve seen Lorrie in this feature, and I’m bummed that this is her last number one, as I love just about every other single she released after this too. I also love “Back in Your Arms Again” from the Greatest Hits, which is another that brings back so much mid 90’s nostalgia for me. “Good As I Was To You,” “Go Away,” “One Of Those Nights Tonight,” and “Maybe Not Tonight” are big favorites of mine, too. And even though they weren’t big hits, I do remember hearing both “I’m Not That Easy To Forget” and “You Think He’d Know Me Better” on the radio when they came out in 1998. Truth, I’m also with you on “Standing Tall.” Love that one, too!

    Kevin, I agree that this song has aged incredibly well, and I think the same could be said for many other contemporary leaning hits from 1995 recently covered here (“What Mattered Most,” “Standing On The Edge,” “Texas Tornado,” “Any Man of Mine,” “Tell Me I Was Dreaming,” “And Still,” etc.) I think ’95 is when country started finding a nice balance between contemporary and traditional styles, while slowly shedding some of the silly dance friendly/novelty numbers that were a big part of the previous year in 1994. This is a trend that would continue and become more apparent as we get into the late 90’s, especially 1997 and 1998, imo, and personally, I’m all for it!

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