Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Earl Thomas Conley, “Love Don’t Care (Whose Heart it Breaks)”

“Love Don’t Care (Whose Heart it Breaks)”

Earl Thomas Conley

Written by Earl Thomas Conley and Randy Scruggs


#1 (1 week)

July 27, 1985

 I’m getting way too aggravated over production choices that were made 38 years ago.

But come on, people.

“Love Don’t Care (Whose Heart it Breaks)” is a fantastic country song, chock full of the sharp songwriting and robust singing that have characterized all of Conley’s best work so far. 

We were headed straight for an A until those background vocalists came in for the chorus, running rough shod over Conley and messing up the song’s rhythm, lyrical flow, and quite frankly, its good taste.

My most charitable reading is that the New Traditionalist sound was so unadorned compared to what came before it that producers were nervous about removing too many sweeteners.  The arrangement itself is mercifully free of Urban Cowboy elements, with the glaring exception of those background singers. 

To be fair, those had been around long before Urban Cowboy and were likely a hard habit to break.  But their superfluousness is painfully obvious to someone who grew up with late eighties and early nineties country, even if that sound was largely synonymous with Nashville up until that point.

But come on, people.  Emmylou Harris had been on the radio for a decade already and Conley was pushing up against the latest hits from Ricky Skaggs and Reba McEntire.  Y’all should’ve done better by him on this one.

Still getting high marks for the quality of the song and the performance, but damn those pesky background singers.

“Love Don’t Care (Whose Heart it Breaks)” gets a B+


Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. Ronnie Milsap’s background singers always bothered me but for some reason, I’ve never even noticed them on this song.

    This is one of my favorite ETC songs. I remember when it came out and loved it immediately. Of course, he was hitting every song out of the park for me.

    Conley and Crystal Gayle were my favorite country acts of the 80s and both were giving us some of their best music on the radio.

  2. I just don’t hear the backing vocalists so common to ’80s productions as a liability or superfluous. Their inclusion is such a defining element of so many hits from the decade, from early in the ’80s to where we are now.

    Hearing them is such a quick and easy way to date unfamiliar songs

    I am too much of a sentamentalist to get worked up by them.

    They are country music family to my ears; I may not have chosen them but they are mine.

    Production aside, Conley shines as vocalist here.

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