Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: The Judds, “I Know Where I’m Going”

“I Know Where I’m Going”

The Judds

Written by Craig Bickhardt, Brent Maher, and Don Schlitz

Radio & Records

#1 (2 weeks)

June 19 – June 26, 1987


#1 (1 week)

July 18, 1987

This is where the Judds as a duo started to slowly transition into a showcase for Wynonna, who sounds like a lead singer here.

“I Know Where I’m Going” launched their third studio album, Heart Land, and brought with it a sonic shift.  The arrangement is more rock and blues influenced than their previous work.

I’m sure it sounded boundary pushing at the time, and this might be a situation where being primarily a fan of Wynonna’s solo work is tempering my appreciation for this track, which is restrained in comparison to Wy’s groundbreaking albums in the nineties.

It’s still really good, but it takes a little too long to get where it’s going. The track comes alive in the chorus, and it sounds more like a Judds record when they get there. But it’s a noticeable step down from the dizzying heights of their debut EP and first two studio albums, and they’ll rarely fly that high again.

“I Know Where I’m Going” gets a B.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. I always appreciated how this song could be left up for interpretation as either a song about spirituality and salvation or something more literal. I think Turn It Loose is the best single from the Heartland Album in terms of representing the sonic shift towards a bluesier style.

    In a way, Wynonna’s career has showcased 2 different sounds/styles of blues. Her stuff with the Judds is more stripped down and organic while her solo work is more electrified, almost like the evolution of blues music over time. So I personally like the more restrained bluesy sound.

  2. Good observation that this song represented the beginning of a shift to a Wynonna-centric version of the Judds. That was hit or miss for me, as was the case with Wynonna’s official solo career. I liked their sound a fair amount better as a duo with a more traditional country sound, understandable as it is that they wanted to expand their horizon and showcase Wynonna’s vocal strength and range. Whether with the Judds or in her solo years, there were instances where Wynonna’s sound worked perfectly for me and instances where it just wasn’t all that sonically pleasing. This song definitely represents the latter for me, and nothing about the lyrical delivery salvaged it either.

    Grade: C-

  3. How couldn’t there be slight-step down in terms of impact and quality? No artist could sustain the torrid pace The Judds had established.

    I am just not sure that step-down happens here.

    I love the sustained groove of this hit and its playful, teasing lyrics. The slow, inviting build to the punchy chorus is a blast. A song about surrender and faith while striving for an assured but unknowable final destination.

    Still, sometimes really good is still great when considered in historical context beyond just the creative arc of an individual career.

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