Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: John Michael Montgomery, “I Miss You a Little”

“I Miss You a Little

John Michael Montgomery

Written by Mike Anthony, Richard Fagan, and John Michael Montgomery

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

May 16, 1997

John Michael Montgomery co-writes his very best No. 1 hit.

The Road to No. 1

What I Do the Best produced three consecutive No. 1 hits.  This one follows “Friends” to the top.

The No. 1

Montgomery didn’t do a lot of songwriting during his heyday, so it’s especially impressive that one of the few songs he did co-write is one of his very best songs.

“I Miss You a Little” was written in memory of his father, and he strikes that rare balance here that I talk about often: specificity of detail coupled with universality of emotion.  This song is expressly about his father, but the feelings he expresses hit home with anyone who has experiences the same kind of loss.

That second verse is still so devastating, capturing the feeling of being in your family home after the patriarch is gone.  He’s not there but he’s everywhere.

A better writer than me could add something profound here about how our masculine culture taught us to hold in our feelings, and how Montgomery’s performance is all about trying to hold in something that is too big to contain.

I just know my heart breaks all over again every time I hear this record, and now I miss my dad and need to go hug my son and grandson.

The Road From No. 1

John Michael Montgomery’s final No. 1 single of the decade is up next .

“I Miss You a Little” gets an A.

 

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

Previous: Alabama, “Sad Lookin’ Moon” |

Next: Bryan White, “Sittin’ On Go”

3 Comments

  1. This song is expressly about his father, but the feelings he expresses hit home with anyone who has experiences the same kind of loss.

    Yuuuuuup. I lost my maternal grandfather a couple of years before that song came out, and it really, really spoke to me.

    I still miss him just like that, more than 27 years later.

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  2. Unfortunately, this is a song I can relate to very well these days after having lost both my dad and step dad a little over three years ago. As some of you may already know from reading any of my previous posts on this site, I had a very close relationship with both of them, and I pretty much considered them to be two of the best friends I ever had. I still really miss them today just like Montgomery is missing his father in this song. The second verse does especially hit home for me, because my mom and I still live in the same house that we lived in as a family with my step dad from 1992 up to now. Sometimes, my step dad still feels close enough to touch, and yes, sometimes I still pretend he’s right there behind me sitting in his favorite chair watching TV as I’m on the computer. As for my dad, he is actually still alive, but he also has heart issues, and due to messy and complicated stuff involving some of his relatives, we haven’t been able to see each other in three years, so in a big way, it feels like he’s been gone, too. Like Kevin, my heart just breaks all over again whenever I hear this song, and especially when Montgomery sings in the chorus: “I guess you could say a little too much, a little too often, a little more every day,” I can’t help but burst into tears, because that’s exactly how I still feel about both of my dads today.

    While it’s not an easy song for me to get through these days, I fully agree that it’s one of Montgomery’s very best ones, and understandably, one of his most heartfelt and genuine performances, as well. Despite him likely doing his best to hold it together during the performance, I can still hear his pain throughout much of the record. I also agree that it’s impressive that one of the few songs he’s written happens to be one of his best. I like how relatable it is for anyone who’s suffered a painful loss, despite it being specifically written for his father. In a way, it lets you know you’re not alone in the world in feeling such pain of missing someone who was so special and close to you. It’s just simply a beautiful song all around, and another reason why What I Do The Best is one of my favorite albums of his.

    Back when it was on the radio in 1997, though, I didn’t know about the song’s backstory, and I just heard it as another breakup song and thought the narrator was missing a woman. This is the first song in this feature so far that reminds me of when my mom, step dad, and I were in Maine in the summer of that year. One night while around the Portland area when we were on the way back to the hotel, this song was playing on the radio as we passed by an old bowling alley we always noticed. We were all just really enjoying it. Even my mom was humming along, while my step dad was just quietly listening and seemed to really like it, too. Looking back, I can’t help but wonder if he had connected with the song, as well, since both of his parents had been gone by then.

    I’m also really looking forward to the next JMM entry, as it’s another one of my personal favorites of his that also takes me back to that 1997 Maine trip.

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  3. I was so anti John Michael Montgomery at the time, I somehow I missed the poignancy of both the lyrics and Montgomery’s performance of this song. Listening to it again here makes clear what an emotionally honest and beautiful song it is.

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