When You Say Nothing at All

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"When You Say Nothing at All"
When You Say Nothing at All.PNG
Single by Keith Whitley
from the album Don't Close Your Eyes
B-side"Lucky Dog"
ReleasedAugust 1988
Recorded1988
GenreCountry
Length3:40
LabelRCA Nashville
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Keith Whitley singles chronology
"Don't Close Your Eyes"
(1988)
"When You Say Nothing at All"
(1988)
"I'm No Stranger to the Rain"
(1989)

"When You Say Nothing at All" is a country song written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz. It was a hit song for three different performers: Keith Whitley, who took it to the top of the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart on December 24, 1988; Alison Krauss, whose version was her first solo top-10 country hit in 1995; and Irish pop singer Ronan Keating, whose version was his first solo single and a chart-topper in the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand in 1999.

Origin[edit]

Overstreet and Schlitz came up with "When You Say Nothing at All" at the end of an otherwise unproductive day. Strumming a guitar, trying to write their next song, they were coming up empty. "As we tried to find another way to say nothing, we came up with the song", Overstreet later told author Ace Collins. They thought the song was OK, but nothing special.[1] When Keith Whitley heard it, he loved it, and was not going to let it get away.[1] Earlier, he had recorded another Overstreet-Schlitz composition that became a No. 1 hit for another artist - Randy Travis' "On the Other Hand." Whitley did not plan to let "When You Say Nothing at All" meet the same fate.[1][2]

Content[edit]

In the first verse the narrator describes how (presumably) their significant other communicates best non-verbally. The chorus echoes this idea, highlighting "the smile on your face", "the truth in your eye", and the "touch of your hand". The second verse describes being held by the other person as "drowning out the crowd" and that "what is being said between your heart and mine" could never be defined.

Keith Whitley[edit]

RCA released "When You Say Nothing at All" as the follow-up single to the title song of Whitley's Don't Close Your Eyes album. The former song already had hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, his first chart-topper after three prior singles made the top 10.[3] "When You Say Nothing at All" entered the Hot Country Singles chart on September 17, 1988, at No. 61, and gradually rose to the top, where it stayed for two weeks at the end of the year.[1][2] It was the second of five consecutive chart-topping singles for Whitley, who did not live to see the last two, as he died on May 9, 1989, of alcohol poisoning.[3] "Keith did a great job singin' that song," co-composer Schlitz told author Tom Roland. "He truly sang it from the heart."[2] In 2004, Whitley's original was ranked 12th among CMT's 100 Greatest Love Songs.[4] It was sung by Sara Evans on the show. As of February 2015, the song has sold 599,000 digital copies in the US after it became available for download.[5]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1988) Peak
position
Canadian RPM Country Tracks[6] 1
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[7] 1

Alison Krauss version[edit]

"When You Say Nothing at All"
AlisonKraussWYSNAA.jpg
Single by Alison Krauss & Union Station
from the album Keith Whitley: A Tribute Album and Now That I've Found You: A Collection
B-side"Charlotte's in North Carolina" (by Keith Whitley)
Released1995
GenreCountry
Length4:20
LabelBNA
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Randy Scruggs
Alison Krauss & Union Station singles chronology
"Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart"
(1995)
"When You Say Nothing at All"
(1995)
"Baby Now That I've Found You"
(1995)

In 1995, Alison Krauss covered the song with the group Union Station for a tribute album to Whitley titled Keith Whitley: A Tribute Album. After Krauss's cover began to receive unsolicited airplay, BNA Records, the label that had released the album, issued Krauss' version to radio in January 1995.[8] That version, also featured on Krauss' compilation Now That I've Found You: A Collection, peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart, and a commercial single reached No. 2 on the same magazine's Hot Country Singles Sales chart.[3]. The B-side of the single was Keith Whitley's "Charlotte's in North Carolina", which was another previously unreleased track featured on the Tribute album.

Its success, as well as that of the album, caught Krauss by surprise. "It's a freak thing," she told a Los Angeles Times reporter in March 1995. "It's kinda ticklin' us all. We haven't had anything really chart before. At all. Isn't it funny though? We don't know what's goin' on....The office said, 'Hey, it's charting,' and we're like, 'Huh?'"[9]

While Krauss' version was on the charts, Mike Cromwell, then the production director at WMIL-FM in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, concocted a duet merging elements of Krauss' version with Whitley's original hit version. The "duet" garnered national attention, and it spread from at least Philadelphia to Albuquerque,[10] and has been heard on radio stations in California as well. This "duet" was however never officially serviced to radio and has never been available commercially.

Krauss' recording won the 1995 CMA award for "Single of the Year". The song has been featured a couple of times in the soap opera The Young and the Restless. Krauss' version was also used in the 1999 motion picture "The Other Sister". The song has sold 468,000 digital downloads as of May 2017.[11]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "When You Say Nothing at All"
  2. "Charlotte's In North Carolina"

Charts[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1995) Peak
position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[12] 7
UK Singles (OCC)[13] 81
US Billboard Hot 100[14] 53
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[15] 3

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1995) Position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[16] 99

Ronan Keating version[edit]

"When You Say Nothing at All"
RonanKeatingWYSNaA.jpg
Single by Ronan Keating
from the album Ronan, Notting Hill and By Request
ReleasedJuly 26, 1999
Recorded1999
StudioMetropolis and the Aquarium (London, United Kingdom)
GenrePop
Length4:18
LabelPolydor
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Stephen Lipson
Ronan Keating singles chronology
"When You Say Nothing at All"
(1999)
"These Days"
(1999)
Paulina Rubio singles chronology
"Casanova"
(2002)
"When You Say Nothing at All (Cuando no Dices Nada)"
(2003)
"Te Quise Tanto"
(2004)

"When You Say Nothing at All" was released as the debut solo single by Irish singer-songwriter Ronan Keating. The song was recorded in 1999 for the soundtrack to the film Notting Hill and also appeared on Keating's debut solo album, Ronan. The song was released on July 26, 1999, in the United Kingdom. It peaked at number one in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand. In the UK, the single was certified gold.

In 2003, Keating re-recorded the song as a duet with Mexican singer Paulina Rubio in spanglish, which was released in Spain, Mexico and Latin America (excluding Brazil) to promote Keating's second studio album, Destination. The popular Spanish website Jenesaispop described the song as one of the most "squeaky" bilingual collaboration,[17] while Victor González of GQ Spain praised the collaboration as "great" in an article of unusual collaborations.[18] In Brazil, Ronan chose the Brazilian singer Deborah Blando to re-record the song in English and English/Portuguese for the 10 Years Of Hits album exclusive for that country. A music video was recorded for this version with Deborah.[19]

Track listing[edit]

  • UK CD single 1
  1. "When You Say Nothing at All" – 4:18
  2. "When You Say Nothing at All" (acoustic version) – 3:30
  3. "This Is Your Song" – 4:03
  4. "When You Say Nothing at All" (music video) – 4:25
  • UK CD single 2
  1. "When You Say Nothing At All" – 4:18
  2. "At The End Of A Perfect Day" – 4:37
  3. "I Will Miss You" – 3:05
  • UK cassette single
  1. "When You Say Nothing at All" – 4:18
  2. "This Is Your Song" – 4:03
  • Spain CD single
  1. "When You Say Nothing at All (Nada Más Que Hablar)" feat. Paulina Rubio – 4:17

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[52] Platinum 70,000^
Belgium (BEA)[53] Gold 25,000*
New Zealand (RMNZ)[54] Gold 5,000*
Norway (IFPI Norway)[55] Gold  
Sweden (GLF)[56] Platinum 30,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[57] Platinum 600,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Other covers[edit]

The Italian-Ukrainian-Brazilian singer Deborah Blando recorded "When You Say Nothing at All" in English and Portuguese for the Brazilian version of the song, which featured on the Brazilian version of Destination. The single reached the top 10 in the Latin charts.[citation needed] Burmese singer Zaw Paing also made a Burmese version cover. American country singer Dylan Scott released a cover on his 2019 album An Old Memory.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Collins, Ace (1996). The Stories Behind Country Music's All-Time Greatest 100 Songs. New York: Boulevard. p. 268. ISBN 1-57297-072-3.
  2. ^ a b c Roland, Tom (1991). The Billboard Book of Number One Country Hits. New York: Billboard. p. 539. ISBN 0-8230-7553-2.
  3. ^ a b c Whitburn, Joel (2005). Top Country Songs 1944–2005. Menomonee Falls, Wis.: Record Research. p. 416. ISBN 0-89820-165-9.
  4. ^ CMT. "100 Greatest Love Songs". Retrieved May 22, 2007.
  5. ^ Matt Bjorke (February 19, 2015). "Country Music's Top 30 Digital Singles: Week of February 19, 2015". Roughstock.
  6. ^ "RPM 100 Country Singles" (PDF). RPM. December 17, 1988.
  7. ^ "Keith Whitley Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  8. ^ Horak, Terri (January 21, 1995). "Rounder Goes All Out for Grammy-Nominated Krauss". Billboard. Accessed via ProQuest.
  9. ^ Cromelin, Richard (March 25, 1995). "A Hit from Country's Kinfolk / Bluegrass's most prominent figure makes her way into country music's Top 10. Even Alison Krauss can't explain it". Los Angeles Times. p. F1. Accessed via ProQuest.
  10. ^ Cave, Kathy (May 5, 1995). "Whitley, Krauss blend grabs national attention". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. B8. Accessed via ProQuest.
  11. ^ Bjorke, Matt (May 3, 2017). "Top 30 Digital Singles Sales Report: May 3, 2017". Roughstock.
  12. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 9199." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. June 19, 1995. Retrieved July 21, 2013.
  13. ^ "Alison Krauss: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 31, 2020.
  14. ^ "Alison Krauss Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  15. ^ "Alison Krauss Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
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  17. ^ "Amaia Montero a la caza de Italia". Jenesaispop. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
  18. ^ González, Victor. "Abraham Mateo feat. 50 Cent y otras colaboraciones musicales que te volarán la cabeza". revistagq.com. GQ. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  19. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8M-ICG2rxSU
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  31. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (26.8–2.9. 1999)". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). August 27, 1999. p. 8. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
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  34. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 40, 1999" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved July 2, 2018.
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  36. ^ "Charts.nz – Ronan Keating – When You Say Nothing at All". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  37. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Ronan Keating – When You Say Nothing at All". VG-lista. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  38. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
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  42. ^ "1999 ARIA Singles Chart". ARIA. Retrieved November 21, 2020.
  43. ^ "Jahreshitparade Singles 1999" (in German). Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  44. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1999" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
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  50. ^ "Årslista Singlar, 1999" (in Swedish). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
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  53. ^ "Ultratop − Goud en Platina – singles 1999". Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  54. ^ "New Zealand single certifications – Ronan Keating – When You Say Nothing at All". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  55. ^ "IFPI Norsk platebransje Trofeer 1993–2011" (in Norwegian). IFPI Norway. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  56. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1999" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
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External links[edit]