Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Faith Hill, “It Matters to Me”

“It Matters to Me

Faith Hill

Written by Ed Hill and Mark D. Sanders

Billboard

#1 (3 weeks)

January 13 – January 27, 1996

Radio & Records

#1 (2 weeks)

January 12 – January 19, 1996

Faith Hill arrives early with one of the best singles of 1996.

The Road to No. 1

After “Take Me As I Am” became the final No. 1 single from her debut album, Hill took some extra time off to recover from vocal surgery.  This allowed her to be more selective for the material on her second album, It Matters to Me, which would become her only studio album to produce five top ten singles.  She led the project off with “Let’s Go to Vegas,” which went top five, and followed with the title track.

The No. 1

At this point of the nineties, female artists were doing most of the creative heavy lifting.  Faith Hill was part of the second wave of major female artists to break through, and like her contemporaries Martina McBride and Shania Twain, she had to strive for the high bar being set by Mary Chapin Carpenter, Patty Loveless, Pam Tillis, Wynonna, and Trisha Yearwood.

Her growth as an artist was apparent on her second album, which only produced one No. 1 hit, but was consistently excellent from start to finish.  The title track is among its best moments.

“It Matters to Me” is one of those rare songs that comes along and puts into words a human experience that hadn’t been well captured in song before.  It addresses the emotional neglect embedded in the silent treatment, and how that way of fighting can be more debilitating and insidiously damaging than even the cruelest words spoken aloud.

“Baby tell me where’d you ever learn,” she wonders, “to fight without saying a word?”  The chorus has a gorgeous melody and the track has a gorgeous piano hook, but “It Matters to Me” is all about that insightful lyric and Hill’s stunning vocal performance.  She cracks with emotion at all the right places, while also communicating a resolve that she will not remain in a relationship that is not sustainable:  “Tell me…how you can love like this, ’cause I’m not sure I can.”

This one’s an absolute classic, and among the best performances from a legend among her generation of performers.

The Road From No. 1

It Matters to Me produced three more hits: the top five “Someone Else’s Dream,” and the top tens “You Can’t Lose Me” and “I Can’t Do That Anymore.”  Hill has several solo No. 1 hits still on deck, but we’ll see her next as a harmony singer on a massively successful love ballad recorded with her superstar husband.

“It Matters to Me” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: Shania Twain, “(If You’re Not in it For Love) I’m Outta Here!”

11 Comments

  1. Said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love this era in Faith Hill’s career! I love the twangier, tearful vocal style she had back then (especially on the ballads), along with the songs, and the mostly neo-traditional arrangements that Scott Hendricks provided her with. That said, I do like quite a few of her more contemporary songs from the late 90’s and early 00’s, as well.

    This song is a great example of what I love about earlier Faith Hill. It was an absolute perfect fit for her tearful vocal style (sort of like Tammy Wynette, except she sang songs for women in the 90’s), and I love how emotional her performance is. I also love the song’s beautiful, pure country melody, and the crying steel throughout. Even the mid 90’s electric guitar solo is very appealing and gives it a nice modern touch. Not to mention, as someone who’s always hated getting the silent treatment from anyone, it’s pretty relatable, as well.

    This is one of the songs that reminds me of the regular nights out at Olive Garden my parents and I had during late 1995 and early 1996. One night in early 1996, this song was playing on the radio when my dad and I were parked right in front of the restaurant after dinner as my Mom got in the car. I really liked the song, but my mom was making fun of the “don’t know what to say, don’t know what to do” part of the chorus, and I remember getting mad at her for that, lol. Other songs that I remember enjoying in the back seat of the car on the way back home after dinner at Olive Garden in 95-96: “I Let Her Lie” by Daryle Singletary, “Should’ve Asked Her Faster” by Ty England, and “Easy Come, Easy Go” by George Strait.

    Dang, it’s too bad none of the other singles from this album were number ones, ’cause I love them, too. I especially adore “Let’s Go To Vegas,” “Someone Else’s Dream,” and “You Can’t Lose Me.” And it still amazes me that “I Can’t Do That Anymore” was written by Alan Jackson. I also share your enthusiasm for the It Matters To Me album. My personal favorite non-single is “A Room In My Heart” followed closely by “Bed Of Roses.”

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    • Hi, Jamie. I went to a show in Toronto in 1995 that was Alan Jackson and Faith. It was AWESOME! My guess is, they bonded (no, I don’t mean it like that) while on tour.

      1
      • Alan Jackson wrote a song for her while they were on tour, and she rejected it. He came back the next day with “I Can’t Do That Anymore.”

        The story reminds me a bit of when Reba got a meeting with Harlan Howard and she passed on every song he played her. So then he played her “Somebody Should Leave,“ and she asked for the song. He told her he’d been testing her with the weaker material and saving that one for her if she passed on the others.

      • Michael, sorry for replying so late to this, but it’s so cool that you got to see both Alan and Faith way back then!

        And Kevin, that’s a neat little tidbit on the Alan and Faith story. I didn’t know she had turned down another one of his songs before he gave her “I Can’t Do That Anymore.”

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        • I can’t bet my life on it, but I’m really sure that I once heard that Faith didn’t like “It Matters to Me” at first, but Scott Hendricks convinced her to record it anyway.

          • You’re probably thinking of this quote, which is quite amazing to think of in retrospect, given her sharp turn toward pop-country after her work with Hendricks:
            “‘It Matters to Me’ was pitched to me by Scott. I didn’t think it was for me at first, that I was too country for that. But Scott convinced me. Now, it’s one of the biggest songs in my show, even bigger than the hits from the first album.” – Billboard, “Nashville Scene” column, July 1, 1995.

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  2. I’m on record as believing this is the finest moment of her career, and I still stand by that assessment. It’s a beautifully written song, and the imperfections in her vocal performance are fully in-service to that song in ways that deepen the emotional impact.

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    • I agree. I bought her first 3 albums, liked them all. But, I really didn’t care for the crossover after that.

  3. Great song.
    I like that you pointed out the lyrics regarding the silent treatment. My wife is not the silent type and we’ve been married over 45 years.

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  4. It’s just such a relatable song, so honest and sincere. So much of its appeal is how conversational and vulnerable the lyrics sound and how brilliantly Hill handles the emotional complexity of the delivery. It is a classic song and performance. If it’s measure of anything, I often find myself still quoting lyrics from this song

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