Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Charley Pride, “Never Been So Loved (in All My Life)”

“Never Been So Loved (in All My Life)”

Charley Pride

Written by Wayland Holyfield and Norro Wilson

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

October 16, 1981


#1 (2 weeks)

October 24 – October 31, 1981

Charley Pride followed his hit Hank Williams tribute album with Roll On Mississippi, which featured the top five hit “You Almost Slipped My Mind” and the top ten title track.  

Pride returned to No. 1 with “Never Been So Loved (in All My Life),” the token new track on his 1981 Greatest Hits set, which was actually his fourth standard hits collection for RCA, following The Best of Charley Pride, Vol. 3.  If the single is any indication, they were looking to give Pride a fresh start for the new decade.  

This is the first of many hit singles that paired Pride with producer Norro Wilson, and it is a very eighties record, with a backing track that could’ve been lifted directly from John Conlee’s Friday Night Blues album.  Pride sounds reinvigorated in the new musical setting, drawing on R&B influences as he sings in a lower register that suits him quite well.  

It’s a song sung by a man with some experience, so when he’s making the declaration that this is the best love he’s ever had, he’s got quite a few past love affairs to choose from.  His vocal performance communicates that he’s traveled enough miles to be weary, but he’s pretty sure he’s reached his final destination and he’s damn thankful for it.

The arrangement amplifies the emotional intensity of the record, with effective use of strings for dramatic effect.  The change in producer was just the jolt that Pride’s sound needed, and it kicked off a final string of big singles for the veteran hitmaker.

“Never Been So Loved (in All My Life)” gets an A. 

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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1 Comment

  1. Charley Pride’s third greatest hits collection was foundational to my country music education. I remember repeatedly checking out the vinyl album from the Rockford Road location of the Hennepin County library system in Minneapolis. I was addicted to that album. At some point I was gifted the album on cassette. It is fair to hazard that the flipside of that collection is my most listened to side-two of any album I have ever owned.

    I was, and still am, hypnotized by: “Roll on Mississippi,” “Whole Lotta Things to Sing About,” She’s Just an Old Love Turn Memory,” Burger and Fries,” and “Where Do I Put Her Memory.”

    My first listening experience with his music was this more mature, lower register. I didn’t actually ever hear his earlier, hard-country material until I was much older. These five songs were more than enough for me to fall in love with.

    I wrote a biography of him for Mr. Carlson in my grade seven English class. We were tasked with choosing a living subject because Mr. Carlson mailed our biographies to them. He assured us some of the celebrities would write back. Mine did.

    I am looking at the later dated December 10, 1986 right now. It reads:

    “Dear Peter, Thank you for sending me your report. I really enjoyed reading it and would like to CONGRATULATE you on doing such a good job. Keep up the good work!

    Best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and New Year.

    Charley Pride”

    This letter meant so much to me. I love Charley Pride and his music.

    This song is the model of eighties production. It is dense; there isn’t much room to breathe in the instrumentation. It is bright and bouncy. Pride’s resonant and rich vocals are featured front and centre. He exquisitely plays both ends of the country-pop spectrum, arriving at beautiful middle ground he would successfully parlay into the next stage of his career, a truly gorgeous second act for him.

    Have I mentioned I love Charley Pride?

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