Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: John Schneider, “What’s a Memory Like You (Doing in a Love Like This)”

“What’s a Memory Like You (Doing in a Love Like This)”

John Schneider

Written by John Jerrard and Charles Quillen

Radio & Records

#1 (2 weeks)

February 14 – February 21, 1986


#1 (1 week)

March 22, 1986

There’s nothing wrong with manufacturing a hit.  Or an artist, for that matter.

Some of the best records ever made have been by a sharp producer with a good ear for material and an artist willing to take direction in the studio.  Put them together with the right band, and you’ve got a hit.

Take “What’s a Memory Like You (Doing in a Love Like This),” the latest chart-topper from John Schneider.   It was recorded first by Conway Twitty, a visionary stylist with more great hit songs to his credit than most of his peers in the Hall of Fame.  It languished as an album cut, held back by one of Twitty’s weaker performances and a dreary, dated production.

Jimmy Bowen resurrected it for what would become John Schneider’s biggest album, and with Schneider as co-producer, they brought every element up to the standard being set on country radio at the time. This record can hang with the Judds and Ricky Skaggs and fit in just fine.

Schneider’s at the peak of his vocal prowess here, and he sounds great. He brings a lot of depth to the lyric through his interpretation, leaving room for uncertainty about his intentions.  Is he really upset that this memory has surfaced, interrupting his newfound love, or does it remind him that he’d rather have what he’s already lost?

The first half of the eighties have been unfairly maligned, as I think this feature has clearly demonstrated.  But let’s not forget that part of the reason for this is that we’re about to get an overwhelming wave of talent that most of the acts already on the radio simply couldn’t keep up with.

That was true in the end for John Schneider, too.  But it’s not true on this record, which is every bit as good as what the new traditionalists were cooking.

“What’s a Memory Like You (Doing in a Love Like This)” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. …since “christmas in dixie” (alabama, 1985) is one of my favourite seasonal tunes, i do have to like the sound of this one too, naturally. not only a good driver, john schneider. conway twitty obviously wasn’t only great in putting (wild) ideas in women’s heads.

  2. This is one of my absolute favourite singles from the ’80s.

    Schneider uses his vibrato to wonderful effect here; eat your heart out Lee Greenwood.

    The vocal dynamics, his voice control, are a beautiful companion to the rise and fall of the lovely melody.

    He sounds muscularly vulnerable and sincerely stunned by finding his ex’s memory in his current relationship.

    Schneider admits to being a theater brat so the man comes by his singing acumen honestly. The richness of his tone suggest more than a passing familiarity with Robert Goulet, Tom Jones, and Englebert Humperdinck.

    This album may be Jimmy Bowen’s greatest achievement in the studio. A great leader still has to have somebody equally as willing to be led and Schneider proved to be just that, a great collaborator. Along the way, Schneider has admitted to having had to learn how to sing country music effectively.

    He apparently was a finalist on the most recent season of “The Masked Singer.”

    I love this song.

    “Christmas in Dixie” be damned.

    • …no, he wasn’t the decade’s most influential artist. in that decade the country ship set sails in a new direction leaving the “countrypolitan” era slowly but surely behind on its new course. conway clearly was an icon of the old school at that point. nevertheless, show me a smoother and bolder operator in the country realm. next to him t.g. sheppard, for example, sounded like a clumsy apprentice most of the time. having said that, t.g.’s “one for the money” still is on my (vast) all-time favourites’s list.

  3. Allow me a detour from John Schneider’s wonderful single to make my case for what I tapped out after hearing “What’s a Memory Like You (doing in a Love Like This)” was lifted from Conway Twitty’s 1985 “Chasin’ Rainbows” album.

    I do believe Twitty was quietly as influential as any artist from the ’80s.

    It doesn’t discredit my claim that he was riding a wave of momentum that had been building for the past two decades.

    Longevity looms large in any consideration or evaluation of his influence and significance to country music.

    But, during the ’80s, Twitty’s albums were so intentionally assembled with thoughtful song selections that other artist’s routinely mined them for deep cuts strong enough to be released as their own singles. All while Twitty was still charting number one hits himself.

    Twitty once said, “I know that 99% of my career is built on songs…That’s why I go through 2,500-3,000 songs every time I get get ready to go in and record another album.”

    The Oak Ridge Boy’s, Statler Brothers, Steve Wariner, Lee Greenwood, John Conlee, and, most recently, John Schneider would all record hit singles of songs initially recorded by Twitty on his albums from the ’80s.

    Blake Shelton, Gary Allan, and Darly Singletary would record Twitty deep cuts for their own albums from he late ’80s and into the 90s.

    People were still listening and paying attention to Conway Twitty.

    Twitty shared, “A lot of artists come here (Twitty City) to see me and ask how I am able to ‘hang in.’ You’d be surprised to know who some of them are.”

    As a vocalist, you could hear Twitty’s influence on other ’80s’ singers from Randy Owen to Lee Greenwood to Earl Thomas Conley among others.

    In the May 1989 issue of “Tune In,” ( a monthly newspaper produced for radio station promotion) journalist Ron Dini said, “Over three-plus decades, he has subtly modified the charisma and sex appeal of a teen idol, until it fit comfortably with a more mature , countrified audience.”

    We have seen in this feature his singular ability to handle potentially lurid situations and subjects with maturity and respect for both the women and the men in the stories.

    His ability to balance pop sensibilities with traditional country music is the historical tug-of-war of the genre writ small in the person and insanely successful career of Conway Twitty.

    His ability to successfully cover and interpret pop hits captured the ecumenical creative spirit of the ’80s. He played both sides well and was willing to explore what was possible for both one artist and the entire genre, all while not alienating his fans.

    Perhaps more than anything else, it was Twitty’s awareness of the importance of his image, his stage show, and the connection between those two aspects of his career and and his fan base, that was stunningly ahead of its time.

    We now return to our regularly scheduled programming…

    • I think Twitty is great and influential, no doubt, but he’s competing for most influential from the eighties with George Strait, Ricky Skaggs, Reba McEntire, The Judds, Randy Travis, etc. I’m not sure I could label anyone the most influential out of that group, but I’d definitely agree with you that Twitty’s influence remained strong throughout the decade. I think his untimely death in the nineties was really unfortunate because he was still competing on radio before his death.

    • I’d have to agree with Kevin here, but to give Conway his due, he was still pumping out great singles in the ’80s. In fact, 1986’s ”Desperado Love” (which is gonna be one of that year’s No. 1s) is my absolute favorite of all of his singles.

  4. While all the new traditionalists would begin to name-drop Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and George Jones, I think they were just as likely to be listening and paying attention to what Conway Twitty was doing even though he would never become a consensual country touchpoint and dog-whistle for tradition.

    Instead, Twitty became a recurring gag on “Family Guy” because, beyond his fanbase, he was decidedly uncharismatic and uncool.

    • For what it’s worth, I’ve had friends discover Conway Twitty through Family Guy and ask me for recommendations of his best songs! I always thought the clips went on for too long to be just a joke at Twitty’s expense. My money’s on Seth McFarlane being a longtime fan. Maybe Twitty soundtracked some of his long car rides as a child, too.

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