Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Don Williams, “Heartbeat in the Darkness”

“Heartbeat in the Darkness”

Don Williams

Written by Dave Loggins and Russell Smith

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

July 25, 1986


#1 (1 week)

August 30, 1986

Don Williams pushes beyond his normal boundaries on “Heartbeat in the Darkness.”

The track has his signature groove and his reserved delivery, but they liven things up a bit with some smooth jazz elements, especially toward the end of the song.  It’s cool to hear Williams surrounded by brass instrumentation.

The song’s verses are stronger than its chorus, with the melody forcing Williams to stretch some notes for too long.  The insightful observations about what matters in life more than compensate for the record’s sole shortcoming.

“Heartbeat in the Darkness” gets a B+.


Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. There are a number of things worth talking about with this one. As the final number hit of the Gentle Giant’s career, it would make sense to reflect on the outrageous consistency of his ’80s output. Or the influence of Merle Haggard’s bandmate Don Markham on horn usage in country music. We could even talk about Dave Loggins logging another chart-topper as a songwriter.

    Instead, all I can think about is who is in the on deck circle of this feature.

    Things are about to change.

  2. Peter I’m the same way! Once I saw who was next I was like what can Kevin even write about that song that hasn’t been said already (still can’t wait to find out though!) 85-95 ok my opinion is one of the most creative and great periods in all of country music. Not sure about # 1 singles wise but artists that came about. Although this feature I will be so grateful for because it completely changed my opinion on the early 80’s in country music! I wanted to ask as I know the 2000’s is when this started but maybe reassess the 2000’s before the 70’s as it’s been 14 to 24 years since those songs came out and I would love for you to revisit them now!

  3. Kevin, I always thought this was his final #1 hit. As much as I want to find out which single was his last to top Radio & Records, I will wait to be surprised through this feature!

    Making the old things new again!

  4. I see in my own comment on his final 1990 #1 hit that I struggled to remember “Back in my Younger Days” then even!

    Given all that happened between the events of 1986 and 1989, I am having a fun little time trying to even bring to mind what his biggest songs were at this point of the decade and his radio career, much less what will be his final ’80s chart topper.

    These moments of wonder and confusion are thrilling for a fifty year old.

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