Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Ricky Skaggs, “Crying My Heart Out Over You”

“Crying My Heart Out Over You”

Ricky Skaggs

Written by Carl Butler, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and Earl Sherry


#1 (1 week)

April 24, 1982

Ricky Skaggs would have been an unlikely superstar in any era, but during the Urban Cowboy days, it was an especially impressive feat.

We’ve covered a lot of artists who have gotten early starts as musicians, but Skaggs was a flat out prodigy.  He picked up the mandolin at age five, and by age seven, he was already performing with Flatt & Scruggs on television.  He gravitated toward other great talents as he got older, performing in Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys alongside Keith Whitley, and becoming bandmates with Vince Gill and Jerry Douglas in the bluegrass group Boone Creek.

He then joined Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band, so if the arrangement of “Crying My Heart Out Over You” sounds familiar, it’s because he had heavily influenced the sound of her landmark bluegrass album Roses in the Snow.  While he had released two solo independent albums and some collaborative ones, it was this exposure that really put him on the map. 

His 1981 album Waitin’ On the Sun to Shine was his first for Epic Records.  His first single for the label, “Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’,” went top twenty, and was followed by his first top ten hit, “You May See Me Walkin’.”  The final two singles from the collection became his first two No. 1 hits.

It’s appropriate that his first chart topper was a Lester & Scruggs cover, which he delivers faithfully.  The musicianship is outstanding, with a flawless arrangement that Skaggs produced very effectively.  It sounds sharper and cleaner than most of the country records of the day, a reminder that part of what made Harris so successful was her records sounding so much better than those of her contemporaries. 

What’s not quite there yet is Skaggs’ vocal phrasing and confidence at the mic, both of which would develop pretty rapidly after this.  “Crying My Heart Out Over You” is a respectful cover that is a bit too derivative and safe to make it stand out among Skaggs’ best work, even though I’m sure it was a breath of fresh air when it was on the radio at that time.

Still, it’s a great start for an artist who helped launch the new traditionalist movement in the early eighties. 

“Crying My Heart Out Over You” gets a B+.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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1 Comment

  1. I think this song still stands out for its unassuming innocence and clarity. It rings so clean and pure to my ears. There is no pretense or pretending. It is sincere and sweet. I think the extent to which he wears his traditional musical influences on his sleeve is special, few artists were this confidently c-o-u-n-t-r-y.

    This single would sound great topping the charts in any number of decades.

    I love it.

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