Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Brooks & Dunn, “He’s Got You”

“He’s Got You”

Brooks & Dunn

Written by Ronnie Dunn and Terry McBride

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

January 16, 1998

Brooks & Dunn go to No. 1 with a new spin on a familiar idea.

The Road to No. 1

Following the No. 1 single “A Man This Lonely,” a fifth and final single from Borderline went top ten: “Why Would I Say Goodbye.”  Brooks & Dunn then pulled two singles from The Greatest Hits Collection: the top five “Honky Tonk Truth” and the No. 1 entry, “He’s Got You.”

The No. 1

You can’t copyright a title.  After Patsy Cline released the classic hit “She’s Got You,” the same idea tempted later songwriters.  Ronnie Milsap went to No. 1 in 1982 with “He Got You.”  Sixteen years later, Brooks & Dunn restored the ‘s and went to No. 1 with “He’s Got You.”

Ronnie Dunn is one of the few male vocalists who is credibly in the company of Cline as a singer, and “He’s Got You” inspires one of his strongest and most passionate performances.  He does heartache better than just about anybody, and the record reverberates with lonesome misery.

Lyrically, it’s not on the same level as “She’s Got You,” which makes its derivative nature more obvious than it would have been otherwise.  This one’s all about the delivery.

The Road From No. 1

Brooks & Dunn will close out their nineties run of No. 1 singles with three more chart-toppers, and we’ll cover all of them by the end of 1998.

“He’s Got You” gets a B+.


Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: Tim McGraw, “Just to See You Smile”


  1. The word “He’s” in the title is not possessive. The addition of an apostrophe doesn’t make it possessive. It is simply a contraction for he is, or in this case he has. (Same with the Patsy Cline title.)

    The possessive pronoun form of “he” is “his”. Adding an apostrophe doesn’t make the pronoun possessive in this case.

  2. I am struggling to find an claim that “He’s” was understood to be a possessive in the write-up about “He’s Got You.”

    I am likley dense and missing something obvious. I can agree, however, that “His Got You” wouldn’t work and even Dunn couldn’t make it work.

    What is obvious is the catch in Dunn’s vocals in “He’s Got You.”. He just keeps singing the tar out of whatever is put before him. Increasingly, Dunn is finding himself without peer as a singer in Nashville. He is that good.

  3. Yet another one of my most favorite B&D ballads! I’ve always considered this performance by Ronnie to be one of the finest examples on just how well he can sing about heartbreak and make you feel his pain. It’s also just a great, straightforward song about losing the love you thought would last forever and dealing with the loneliness and sorrow that follows.

    I just love Ronnie’s powerful, aching tenor in each chorus where he just lets out all of the heartache the narrator feels and ends them with the devastating lines: “What’s he got that I dont? The one thing I thought I’d never lose….He’s got you.” And man, I just love that extra high note he belts out in the final chorus! It still gives me chills today. I even love his more mellow delivery in the verses where he’s bewildered in the first verse saying “I thought we would always be together..” and admits hopelessness and defeat in the second verse (“Now my empty heart will be forever haunted”). I also always liked how he refers to himself as “Mr. Lonely” earlier in the song, which, at least to me, always felt like a nod to Bobby Vinton’s classic 60’s hit of the same name. Speaking of 60’s pop/rock, this song also, in a way, feels like a continuation of the Roy Orbison influence that was displayed in “A Man This Lonely.”

    I also absolutely love the song’s arrangement, with Don Cook’s production finally sounding more modern and fresh this time out. Unlike a lot of Cook’s work in the mid 90’s, this track still sounds great and timeless to my ears today. I particularly like how the drums sound a bit fuller and harder hitting than they usually did before. One of my favorite parts about the production, though, is the dramatic and intense piano and electric guitar that play the song’s main catchy melody. Not only does Ronnie’s powerful tenor perfectly convey the song’s sadness and devastation, but so do the instruments and the overall intensity of the entire arrangement. The mellow electric guitars in the first verse are also a very nice touch.

    I also really love the “He’s Got You” music video, and I think it does a great job of capturing the heartache and sadness of the song in a creative way. I love how heartbroken Ronnie is the one in control of the weather, with him creating the nasty storm that’s got everybody running for cover. I love how the storm represents all of Ronnie’s misery and pain and the “dark cloud she’s left him under.” Not to mention, seeing Ronnie high on the rooftop below the dark, menacing sky full of lightning is such a perfect fit for the song’s towering feel with the dramatic piano and guitar playing. Sometimes, I’ve also pictured Ronnie on top of a skyscraper in the city singing this, as well.

    “He’s Got You” has always been special for me among their 90’s singles as well, because it’s the song that was currently on the radio when my dad got me their Greatest Hits Collection for Christmas in 1997. :) Of course, it was one of the new cuts that was included on that collection, and I remember playing it on my portable CD player and really enjoying “He’s Got You,” especially, since it was more recent. I would even read the lyrics that were in the CD’s little booklet the same time I listened to the song. While I couldn’t relate to sad songs like this as a 6th grader at the time, they just somehow really appealed to me, and on this song I could still feel the sadness and heartache in Ronnie’s Dunn’s singing, and I could feel it even more as I read the lyrics. At the time, though, when he would sing “What’s he got that I don’t?” I thought it meant that he was wondering what she saw in the other guy that he didn’t have. Even my dad thought that’s what he was saying. Now, I hear that line as having a double meaning, in that the new man’s got his former partner AND he’s also wondering what that other guy had that he didn’t.

    After getting that CD, I would always get excited whenever my dad and I would hear “He’s Got You” come on the radio while in the car together, and I would always excitedly tell him, “That’s on the new CD you gave me!” :) It also ended up being the latest favorite B&D song for him, as well.

    When I first received that album on Christmas, I was also excited about it because it included my other recent favorite tune from them, which was “Honky Tonk Truth.” I still have a very fond memory of hearing that one on my brand new clock radio one afternoon after school during the Fall of 1997. :) It’s still one of my most favorites of their uptempo songs. I love how it has more of a Buck Owen and George Jones feel and it’s just plain fun! Oh, and the video featuring Dale Earnhardt as a Kix Brooks lookalike is also pretty neat and funny.

    Even though I have most of the other songs on their original albums, their first Greatest Hits Collection is still special to me, not only because of the three new songs, but also because of the nostalgia of getting it that Christmas and listening to it quite a bit during the rest of the holidays in late ’97 and much of my 6th grade year in early ’98. I also really loved 3rd new cut, the Kix Brooks led “Days Of Thunder,” and I was waiting to eventually start hearing that one on the radio, as well, but unfortunately, it never happened.

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