Every No. 1 Country Single of the Eighties: Anne Murray, “Could I Have This Dance”

“Could I Have This Dance”

Anne Murray

Written by Wayland Holyfield and Bob House

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

November 7, 1980


#1 (1 week)

November 15, 1980

Anne Murray followed her No. 1 single “Daydream Believer” with two singles from her 1980 album Somebody’s Waiting.  Murray had been on a hot streak for a couple of years, and it was a surprise when this album underperformed, falling short of gold sales and producing lower charting hits than was usual for her.  On the country front, “Lucky Me” just made the top ten, and “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You” fell just short of the top twenty.

She came back with one of the biggest hits of her career.  “Could I Have This Dance” was written for the film Urban Cowboy and it was featured on the soundtrack, and it also served as the single from Anne Murray’s Greatest Hits, which would eventually sell over four million copies in the United States.

It was written as a duet, and the hope was to get Kenny Rogers to record it with her.  Murray loved the song, so she did a demo where she sang the lead vocal as a male and provided the harmony vocal that she expected to contribute to the final track.   When negotiations with Rogers’ team fell through, Murray was surprised to find that they wanted to release the record as is, despite her singing in a lower register to mimic a male singer.

It shouldn’t have worked, but it did.  “Could I Have This Dance” is a gorgeous waltz that is far more country in arrangement than you might remember.  It’s absolutely drenched in steel guitar, and it gives the track a warmth that perfectly fits Murray’s smooth vocal.  She’s so elegant here that you could mistake “Could I Have This Dance” for a long lost record by Patti Page.

Murray’s like a swan on the water.  She’s a brilliant stylist that make it look effortless on the surface, but there is a tremendous amount of technique contributing to her flawless performance.  She’s one of those singers who makes it look easy until you try to replicate her efforts.

“Could I Have This Dance” became one of Murray’s most enduring hits, aided by how well it works as a wedding and an anniversary song.  Full disclosure: this was my parents’ “song,” and it fit their marriage to a tee.  But putting my own nostalgic connection to the record aside, I still think it’s objectively one of the most beautiful and moving records of this era.

Murray’s next album produced three No. 1 hits out of its four singles. and we’ll get to the first one in early 1981.

“Could I Have This Dance” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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Next: Kenny Rogers, “Lady”


  1. Even Michael Meyers loves this song! In Halloween Kills he puts it on the record player after he kills Big John! Another great song from the 80s most everyone knows even if they don’t know any other Anne songs!

  2. I have seen Urban Cowboy a long time ago and I remember liking it well enough, but I’m often surprised at some of the songs that were on the soundtrack. Like this one, I have come to them later and loved them. I adore Anne Murray – along with Olivia Newton-John, she is just one of my favourite singers, that wonderful smooth voice. This song is absolutely one of her best.

  3. I always thought this was an older, classic Anne Murray song. I didn’t know it was part of the “Urban Cowboy” soundtrack for years. This is all testament to her excellence and ability as a vocalist. She was confident and, in her own unique way, courageously country and cool.

    A beautiful lyric paired with an amazing singer I am such a nerd, that as a kid, this was the kind of special song you kept in your hip pocket for when you might actually have a girlfriend and fall in love.

    Another classic! I remember declaring the same thing about so many of the songs in the early nineties!

    Add my name to the list of people who haven’t actually seen the “Urban Cowboy” film!

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