Wednesday, February 22, 2023

"Don't Know Much" by Linda Ronstadt featuring Aaron Neville

Top 10 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  4057
Date:  09/30/1989
Debut:  72
Peak:  2
Weeks:  26
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Save for a one-off movie theme duet with James Ingram, '86's "Somewhere Out There" (#4), hadn't had a major solo Pop hit since 1980's "Hurt So Bad" (#8). As her pop music fortunes declined at the beginning of the 80s, Ronstadt then turned to other styles including three albums of standards, one of Mexican traditional songs, and a country trio effort with Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton. Grammys and good reviews followed, but as the decade was coming to a close Ronstadt thought it was time to return to the pop mainstream. Most of the songs on her sixteenth studio album Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind would be cover tunes. She would perform four songs from famed writer Jimmy Webb along with others from Karla Bonoff, Paul Carrack and Issac Hayes. Ronstadt would also bring in singer Aaron Neville to guest on four songs including this first single. The AC-leaning ballad would become a surprise hit making it to #2 on the Pop chart. It would do even better at AC getting to #1. The single would sell well enough to go gold. In turn, the hit would help send the album to #7. By the end of the year it would go platinum. This song would earn Ronstadt and Neville the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Duo or Group. A second single, "All My Life," would get to #11 Pop/#1 AC in 1990. Do to it being released in the next Grammy cycle, the song would earn Ronstadt and Neville a second Grammy in the same category. Cry Like a Rainstorm would eventually sell over three million copies becoming one of Ronstadt's biggest albums.

ReduxReview:  I remember when this came out that it confused me. I didn't recognize the title, but I knew the song. It took me a bit to remember that I knew the song as "All I Need to Know" from Bette Midler's '83 album No Frills. While I did like her version, I do have to admit that the pairing of Ronstadt and Neville on this song did take it to a different level. I've never been a fan of Neville's high, vibrato-laden voice, but it does meld well with Ronstadt's impeccable instrument. The track was nicely arranged and it made for a lovely listen. It was easy to peg this as an instant #1 at AC, but I was quite surprised that it nearly topped the Pop chart. It provided a nice boost to the careers of both Ronstadt and Neville.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song composed by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, and Tom Snow, and originally recorded by Mann. It first appeared on his 1980 self-titled album. It was not released as a single. The following year it was picked up by singer Bill Medley. His single version became a minor chart entry at Pop (#88) and AC (#29).  Then Bette Midler gave the song a go in '83. Her version, which was titled "All I Need to Know," also stiffed only getting to #77 Pop/#39 AC. The song finally got its long awaited due when Ronstadt and Neville turned it into a duet.  2) Ronstadt's successful return to pop would be short-lived. She would go back to Mexican traditional music for two albums before putting out Winter Light in '93. It didn't generate much attention and stalled at a low #93. She would release four more solo albums and a collaboration effort with Ann Savoy before retiring from music in 2011 due to her battle with Parkinson's disease. Ronstadt would receive 12 Grammys in her career including the Lifetime Achievement Award. Her final Grammy came in 2021 when a documentary about her life and career, Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, won for Best Music Film.


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