Every No. 1 Country Single of the Eighties: Don Williams, “I Believe in You”

“I Believe in You”

Don Wiliams

Written by Roger Cook and Sam Hogin

Radio & Records

#1 (3 weeks)

October 3 – October 17, 1980


#1 (2 weeks)

October 18 – October 25, 1980

The word underrated gets thrown around a lot, and perhaps it’s slightly contradictory to use it to describe one of the most successful country artists of his generation and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

But I’m going to use it anyway, because Don Williams released “Good Ole Boys Like Me” and “I Believe in You” back-to-back, and they’re both in competition for the best No. 1 country hit of 1980.

Williams once said that “I Believe in You” is the closest that any song of his came to fully articulating his worldview.  What’s fascinating about that is that “I Believe in You” is somehow both vague enough and specific enough for people of wildly divergent worldviews to claim as their own.  There are lines that don’t resonate much with me, but then there’s the second verse, which I wish I could have written myself:

I don’t believe that heaven waitsFor only those who congregateI like to think of God as loveHe’s down below, he’s up above

He’s watching people everywhereHe knows who does and doesn’t careAnd I’m an ordinary manSometimes I wonder who I am 

How perfect that the second version of the chorus also includes “I believe in music,” which may be my only constant, unwavering belief.  How can you not believe in music when it’s as powerful as this?

“I Believe in You” served as the title track for Williams’ 1980 album. It went platinum and won the CMA Award for Album of the Year.  His next release from the album was “Falling Again,” which went top ten.  Williams then released his Especially For You album, which produced a top five hit with its lead single, “Miracles.”  Williams’ next two singles went to No. 1, including one from that album, but first, we’ll see him paired up with another great singer with exquisite taste in material.

“I Believe in You” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. It’s a testament to his “Gentle Giant” persona, one that he more than lived up to, that Don Williams found a large amount of success for this single on the pop side of the fence, as I believe it peaked at a highly respectable #21 on the Hot 100. In many ways, the Hot 100 was much more diverse and wide open in those days than it is now, but the success of “I Believe In You” shows how a good song is a good song and can even be a great one, regardless of genre, if done right, as it definitely was here (IMHO).

  2. As much as hearing a song like Marty Robbin’s “El Paso” opened my world to the possibility of song as full-on narrative, hearing a song like “I Believe In You” opened my world to the possibility of song as philosophy, think-piece, or worldview as Kevin describes it. The wonder of this song is its quiet insistence the listener responds, one way or the other, to William’s listing what he believes in. It is a list song with both muscle and mindfulness.

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