“The Fear of Being Alone“
Written by Walt Aldridge and Bruce Miller
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
December 6, 1996
Reba rebounds with her best single of the decade.
The Road to No. 1
After Read My Mind sold three million copies and produced three No. 1 hits, Reba McEntire celebrated her twentieth anniversary as a recording artist with Starting Over, a collection of cover songs that performed below her usual standards at country radio. Her cover of Lee Greenwood’s “Ring On Her Finger, Time On Her Hands” went top ten, while covers of Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald’s “On My Own” and Dolly Parton’s “Starting Over Again” barely made the top twenty. The most successful release was actually a remix of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” which went to No. 2 on the Dance/Club Play chart. The album was ultimately her first release of the decade to fall short of a multi-platinum certification.
In response, McEntire switched producers and hired her road band to back her in the studio for her next album, What if It’s You. This release would eventually go double platinum on the strength of three big hit singles, two of which went all the way to No. 1. The first release is her best single of the entire decade.
The No. 1
“The Fear of Being Alone” is crisply produced, effectively performed, and brilliantly written.
Telling the story of two wounded souls having another go at a relationship, McEntire is the voice of caution during the first two verses and choruses, as she sees the guy she’s with convincing himself that he’s already in love with her: “Don’t say that word,” she warns. “You may think you do, but you don’t. It’s just the fear of being alone.”
By the end of their first night together, she stops warning him and turns her attention inward, as her own heart is starting to flutter: “If this is real, time will tell, so let me bit by tongue and remind myself: Don’t stay that word…”
It’s the kind of song that requires maturity and years of lived experiences under one’s belt to sing it well, and McEntire draws on her deep reservoirs of talent to knock it completely out of the park.
It’s her best single of the entire decade, and one of the best by any artist, period.
The Road From No. 1
What if It’s You kept the hot streak going with another No. 1 single, which we will cover when we get to 1997.
“The Fear of Being Alone” gets an A.
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