Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Ricky Skaggs, “I Don’t Care”

“I Don’t Care”

Ricky Skaggs

Written by Webb Pierce and Cindy Walker

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

July 30, 1982


#1 (1 week)

July 31, 1982

Ricky Skaggs earned his second No. 1 hit with “I Don’t Care,” which had originally topped the charts for twelve weeks when it was recorded by its co-writer Webb Pierce.

Even more so than on his previous chart-topper, you can hear the stylistic influence of Emmylou Harris, where an old song is redone with a somber and serious tone.   That works against Skaggs here, because he sounds oddly disconnected from the plaintive promises of the lyric.

Covers can be tricky.  Play it too close to the original recording and you come off as derivative.  Make too many changes and you risk stripping the song of its original charm.  I think the slower arrangement of “I Don’t Care” is fine, but it was an error to deviate so far away from Webb Pierce’s irresistibly twangy vocal performance.  This needed the high lonesome bluegrass sound that Skaggs is more than capable of delivering.

He’ll get there, though.  Much more compelling records from Skaggs are on the way.

“I Don’t Care” gets a B.   

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. ..perhaps, it’s just me, but ricky skaggs has hardly ever been looking the part on early (official) photographs. maybe, he just did not care about that eiter. on these three pictures above, he could be anything but the guy, you would expect to have been rather instrumental in launching the neotraditional era in country music around 1982/83. on the other hand, sitting there on the front bumper of a bentley could be seen as an early indication of bigger things to come for him. lean times they definitely weren’t for him around that time… and waist.

    • The pic is from an independent album cover from 1979. I went back earlier because there’s so little artwork to work with from his Epic albums and they produced many No. 1 singles.

      Outside compiling the No. 1 list itself, the most time consuming part of this series is trying to find banner artwork!

  2. I think Skaggs was excellently establishing his country credentials with his first two number one hits.

    Really who, other than maybe an early-years Aaron Tippin or Marty Brown, even came close to approaching the piercing twang of Webb’s vocals?

    I guess we can thank both Ricky Skaggs and Sam Hunt for dragging Webb Pierce’s towering country legacy forward for new audiences and listeners.

    Skaggs is just laying down easy-to-burn kindling before adding his signature sound to what will soon explode into a raging bonfire of country traditionalism.

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