“You’re the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had”
Written by Randy Hatch and Wayland Holyfield
#1 (1 week)
March 6, 1982
Ed Bruce may have had only one No. 1 single as an artist, but his legacy runs deep as a singer and a songwriter.
Bruce first made his mark in Memphis during the Sun Records era, where he sang and wrote his first release, “Rock Boppin’ Baby.” By the sixties, he was recording for RCA, though an early trend would continue throughout his career: other artists having bigger hits with his songs than he did. Tommy Roe scored with “See the Big Man Cry,” which Charlie Louvin later took to the top ten of the country chart.
Bruce wrote his most impactful song in the seventies. He took “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” to the top fifteen in 1975, but it was the Waylon & Willie cover that made it a country standard. Still, Bruce did well enough with it himself to launch a solid run at country radio, with him releasing many top ten singles throughout the seventies and eighties, culminating with his only No. 1 hit.
Bruce didn’t write “You’re the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had,” yet he still embodies the song’s lyric as well as if it had come from his own pen. His weathered vocal is a perfect fit for this song about finally finding true love after several misfires. His performance makes him sound like a weary man who has finally reached a destination that seemed out of reach for such a long time. There’s a palpable sense of relief that all the heartaches over the years weren’t suffered in vain.
I like the production too, which must have sounded old-fashioned at the time of release, but has held up well over time because it relies on acoustic instrumentation.
Bruce had a few more hits in the eighties, ending with his 1986 top five hit “Nights.” He also found some success as an actor, starring in a one season television show with James Garner and playing a supporting role in a Steven Segal action film.
Bruce passed away at the age of 81 in January 2021.
“You’re the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had” gets a B+.
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Purchasing Ed Bruce’s “Greatest Hits” cassette in 1985 was one of my greatest musical investments ever. He had a pretty sparkling run of top twenty radio hits in the eighties, even if “You’re the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had” was his only single to ever reach the top of the charts.
Somehow all the beautifully performed songs on that collection have slipped through country music’s collective memory. Ed Bruce is just not an artist who is played, or even referenced, much anymore these days
His voice is what does me in. It is wonderfully rich, warm, and comforting. It’s charismatic and believable as all hell. Anyone remember the Jack Palance narrated television commercials from the ’80s selling the Old West series of Time-LIfe books? I always remember him describing those books as having the look and feel of “hand tooled saddle leather.” Bruce’s voice sounds like hand tooled leather!
“My First Taste of Texas”, “(When You Fall in Love) Everything’s a Waltz,” and “If It was Easy” are highlights from that collection. Ed Bruce is at his interpretive best with “After All.” The vulnerable vibrato and depth of his sincerity on this performance ruins me at every listen. It’s a gorgeous song. This song peaked at #4 on the charts in 1983.
Bruce is no one-hit wonder. A look into his discography will turn up many other performances every bit the equal of “Your the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had.”
Anyone who isn’t familiar with songs beyond this, owes it to themselves to spend some more time with Ed Bruce.