Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Gary Morris, “Leave Me Lonely”

“Leave Me Lonely”

Gary Morris

Written by Gary Morris

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

January 9, 1987


#1 (1 week)

February 7, 1987

Gary Morris tops the charts for the final time, and he does it his way.

This would be a feat even today, so how impressive that Morris wrote and produced this record and its parent album by himself.  I’m fascinated by how subtle he went once he took over the reins completely.  His voice is still powerful today, and it was a pure force of nature at his peak.

“Leave Me Lonely” shows just how strong his instincts are as a singer.  This is a man being confronted with the potential for infidelity and quietly dismissing it.  He doesn’t pretend the urges aren’t there, but he’d rather be lonely for one night and return to the woman he loves in the morning.

He makes a profoundly moral choice without covering himself in self-righteous glory. It wouldn’t have come off that way if he’d gone for a bigger performance here.  A record that could’ve been bombastic is instead deeply moving.

Unfortunately, Morris did not survive the onslaught of the new waves of talent hitting country radio, and he is one of many big stars of the day who had their runs cut artificially short by the growing tsunami of hot young talent.  He had two more top ten hits, and then faded from the country charts.

But that voice could not be denied, and he found success on the Broadway stage, playing vocally challenging roles to critical acclaim.  He focused largely on acting and songwriting after his run at radio ended, and he helped launch another future star when he hired Faith Hill to work at his publishing company.

He’s returned to recording sporadically, releasing some well-received gospel music along the way.   More recently, his commitment to conservation and love for the outdoors led him to open the Mountain Spirit Ranch in Colorado, where he often hosts recreational therapeutic sessions for soldiers who have returned from war with PTSD.

“Leave Me Lonely” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. This song is so beautiful. I remember listening to it over and over when it was out. Gary’s voice is perfect for the song.

    The music is phenomenal. Everything came together perfectly. So glad it received an A.

  2. Just hearing Jerry Douglas’ dobro so far out front of everything is reason enough to celebrate this single.

    That is, if it were not for the gorgeous vocals and insanely thoughtful lyrics of “Leave Me Lonely.”

    This is a quiet precursor to Dwight Yoakam’s 1990 song ” I Don’t Need It Done” from his album “If There Was a Way ”

    In fact, the entire “Plain Brown Wrapper” album by Gary Morris is a quiet revelation and declaration of his Texas country roots

    I recently shared that Michael Johnson’s “Wings” was one of the most unexpected joys from the late ’80s for me, but “Plain Brown Wrapper” takes the crown. From start to finish, it is stunningly beautiful and understated, reverentially restrained.

    All of this coming from an artist often disparaged as the soulless, big voiced king of mid ’80s country pop.

    Morris absolutely nails the spirit and soul of songwriters as varied as Hank Williams, Duke Ellington, and Merle Haggard. Co-writes with a young Kevin Welch are also album highlights. The Dave Loggins penned opening track, “Better Than the New” may just be the best of an amazing collection of songs and performances.

    It rivals Lyle. Lovett’s “Pontiac” and Matraca Berg’s “Back When We Were Beautiful” for the most tender and empathetic observations of the elderly.

    This wonderful single is a testament to jut how great the entire “Plain Brown Wrapper” album is.

  3. Looking through these lists, I’ve been immediately familiar with about 99% of the songs from the 1990s and about 80% of the songs from the 1980s, but I drew a blank with this one. I don’t recall ever hearing it until this morning, which is strange because the radio station from Austin, Minnesota, that I grew up with did an excellent job of mixing in hits big and small from the 80s in with the Hot New Country until about 2007, keeping them relatively fresh in my memory into adulthood. I liked a number of Gary Morris songs and had a real soft spot for his “Another World” duet with Crystal Gayle that went top-5 later this year.

    It’s probably not fair for me to pass judgment on “Leave Me Lonely” having only listened to it for the first time today. It was pleasant enough with a nice arrangement and a strong vocal performance, but at least on the initial listen the lyrics didn’t catch me. The theme struck me as markedly similar to the previous week’s #1 by Dan Seals. Anyway, I have to give this one an “incomplete” until I get an opportunity to listen to it more than once.

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