Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: T.G. Sheppard and Karen Brooks, “Faking Love”

“Faking Love”

T.G. Sheppard and Karen Brooks

Written by Matraca Berg and Bobby Braddock

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

February 11, 1983


#1 (1 week)

February 19, 1983

“Faking Love” is most significant for it being the formal introduction to one of the most significant figures in country music history.

Matraca Berg turned nineteen the same month that this song went to No. 1, which she cowrote with her early mentor and fellow Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Braddock.  Her storytelling ability is clear out of the gate.  There may not be anything particularly earth-shattering about turning making love into “faking love,” but there’s a line in the chorus that foreshadows the clever turns of phrase that would dominate her essential compositions in the nineties and beyond: “Only temporary lovers as we lie there to each other.”

A lesser songwriter would’ve made that line, “we lie there with each other.”  It’s only a difference of one word, but it changes everything.  We can see what they’re doing and what they’re thinking at the same time.  

“Faking Love” is  also the introduction to Karen Brooks, but this ended up being her only major country hit. She has a beautiful voice and she’s certainly the highlight of the record.  It’s a shame that the stars didn’t align for her, as she missed the emergence of women as the dominant creative and commercial force in country music by about a decade, as well as the chance to have hits with more accomplished duet partners.  

I’m not covering new ground here regarding T.G. Sheppard.  Indeed, I’m running out of new ways to say the same thing, so I’ll just be blunt.  His performance is terrible.  He’s completely incapable of communicating the nuance of this lyric.  Perhaps because there are actual emotions involved, as well as a sentient woman in the mix, so he can’t rely on his insidiously loathsome sexual conquistador persona.  So he just sings “Faking LOVE” really loudly in the chorus, while doing his best to stumble through the verses that put a complicated love affair in its proper context.

And I’m not letting Buddy Killen off the hook, either.  Part of the reason T.G. Sheppard sounds like a seedy lounge singer barely delivering lyrics while he eyes that evening’s one night stand at the hotel bar is because Killen produces all of his records to sound like he’s a seedy lounge singer trying to take a new woman home after each set.  

A’s across the board for Berg, Braddock, and Brooks, but Sheppard and Killen get failing marks, so…

“Faking Love” gets a C. 

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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1 Comment

  1. I think the appropriate term here is “piling on”. We’ve already established that (1) T.G. Sheppard is no Conway Twitty or Dean Martin, and (2) you don’t like T.G. Sheppard; however, his performance on this song is completely satisfactory.

    Interestingly enough, T. G. originally recorded the song as a solo effort but felt that the song would work better as duet. Karen Brooks had just released “New Way Out” as her Warner Brothers debut single – T.G. felt that she would be perfect for the song and so it was recorded as a duet. Under different circumstances, this song might have propelled on her way to a big time career.

    Changing topics slightly, I ‘ve notice that during the 70s and 80s, pairing a well-known male artist with a rising female artist, might produce a hit record or two, (Moe Bandy/ Judy Bailey; Moe Bandy / Becky Hobbs; Jim Ed Brown / Helen Cornelius; T.G. Sheppard / Karen Brooks; Mel Tillis / Sherry Bryce, etc.), but usually failed to launch the female artist toward true stardom

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