“The Sweetest Thing (I’ve Ever Known)”
Written by Otha Young
#1 (1 week)
January 30, 1982
Juice Newton was an overnight success more than a decade in the making.
She hailed from New Jersey, and spent her teenage years in Virginia, before moving to California for college. While there, she started playing local folk coffee houses, hooking up with guitarist and songwriter Otha Young and forming the band Juice Newton & Silver Spur.
The band toured California in the early seventies, eventually signing with RCA, where they released two albums. The first included Young’s “The Sweetest Thing (I’ve Ever Known),” and while the album wasn’t particularly successful, Newton held on to the song. Soon she was a solo artist on Capitol Records, where she had her first taste of success with “It’s a Heartache,” which she had a hit with in some international markets while Bonnie Tyler had a smash with it stateside.
Hooking up with Richard Landis, the producer who would later find big success with Lorrie Morgan, Newton perfected her signature sound which fit right at home across the country, AC, and pop radio formats. Her breakthrough 1981 album Juice featured the million-selling singles “Angel of the Morning” and “Queen of Hearts,” which would bring her Pop and Country Grammy nominations in the same year. She followed those hits with a revival of “The Sweetest Thing (I’ve Ever Known),” which became her first No. 1 country hit and her only single to go top ten on the country, AC, and pop charts.
She’d finally win a Grammy the next year with her take on Brenda Lee’s “Break it to Me Gently,” but this is the better of her two big ballad hits from her peak era. Newton was nearing thirty when she recorded it again, and her growing maturity as a vocalist made a great fit for the lyric about two lovers finding each other after multiple failed relationships.
It’s not as immediately catchy and memorable as “Angel of the Morning” or “Queen of Hearts,” but it lingers in the memory in a way that those slices of ear candy do not, tasty as they may be.
Despite Newton winning a Country Grammy for “Break it to Me Gently,” she would explicitly court the pop and rock markets with her next few projects, before returning to country wholeheartedly in 1985. We’ll cover a pair of No. 1 hits when we get to that year.
“The Sweetest Thing (I’ve Ever Known)” gets a B+.
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