Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Ronnie Milsap, “She Keeps the Home Fires Burning”

“She Keeps the Home Fires Burning”

Ronnie Milsap

Written by Dennis Morgan, Don Pfrimmer, and Mike Reid

Radio & Records

#1 (3 weeks)

May 17 – May 31, 1985


#1 (1 week)

June 29, 1985

Ronnie Milsap launched his second greatest hits collection with a new song that recalled another one of his greatest hits.

“She Keeps the Home Fires Burning” is reminiscent of the seventies classic “Daydreams About Night Things,” which we will cover when we go through the number one hits of that decade somewhere down the road.

While that song had the primal urgency of a young newlywed running out the clock so he can get back home, “She Keeps the Home Fires Burning” feels more like an anthem for an older man who appreciates everything that his wife does at home while he’s grinding out another day.  Work is more of a grind this time around, making the warmth waiting at home for him all the more important.

When I come home and hit that doorI remember what these aching arms are forShe’s my one light when the world goes dark
Tomorrow it’s the same old grindBut she’ll be burning in my mind
I’m sure there will be time for what goes bump in the night, but that’s secondary to his emotional needs being met.  The world that gives him nothing but grief can be endured because he has unconditional love and support to go home to.  
It’s a beautiful record that stands proudly among the previous hits collected for Greatest Hits Vol. 2.
“She Keeps the Home Fires Burning” gets an A

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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Next: Sawyer Brown, “Step That Step”

(Editor’s Note: This song is not available on Spotify, so it doesn’t appear on the playlist below.  Please use the YouTube clip to hear the song.)

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  1. Great song and he has so many.

    Regarding your comment about eventually doing the 70’s. I hope you will do! To me it’s the best era for songs and the songs were often better than the singers. Songwriting at its’s very best!

  2. Love this song. It and ”Houston Solution” are my favorite Ronnie Milsap songs to this day.

    On another note, so to speak, I think this song was where I discovered that artists releasing new songs on greatest-hits albums was not a 1990s phenomenon. But this album was worth it.

  3. Blows my mind this song is not on Apple Music, Spotify or any other outlet. It was a huge hit. I’m certain it only being avaliable on that Greatest Hits II package is the reasoning. All of his albums are avaliable. Likely, RCA has just overlooked it.

  4. I was more of a fan of Milsap’s 70s music than his 80s songs, but this was definitely one of my favorites. I usually loved any of his songs that were about a man singing about how much he loved his wife.

    One of his best IMO. Loved this one.

  5. Wow the production on this really aged well. I’d be surprised if this wasn’t a recurrent on 90’s radio. Sounds like a song from the 90’s. Great song. I just got married so I resonate very much with this song right now.

  6. Perhaps a contrary viewpoint; I’ve never enjoyed that the husband in this song speaks about what his wife does for him, but he does not speak about her as a whole person. I’ve always imagined the wife in this song to be the protagonist in “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her.”

  7. Contrary viewpoints make for good comments section, much less linking signature hit singles across eras and generations. I love it, Liz.

    I remember hammering it home earlier in the feature, but Milsap perhaps ate more crap than any ’80s star come the New Traditionalist movement, despite a striking run of quality hit singles.

    He was so consistently good, a great singer in service to the songs he recorded.

    This song was in his wheelhouse, and he knocks it out of the park.

    It’s becoming clear many of the older established artists were more than capable of transitioning to the nascent tendency toward traditionalism and the new production values being promoted by Nashville.

    The table was being slowly set.

    Maybe Randy Travis and “Storms of Life” didn’t just fall from the sky.

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