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"
Released1988
GenreCountry
Length3:40
LabelRCA
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 number-one hit 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]

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]

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)
ReleasedJanuary 1995
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.[9] 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?'"[10]

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,[11] 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.[12]

Track listing[edit]

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

Charts[edit]

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 (1999-07-26)
StudioMetropolis, the Aquarium (London, England)
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)
Music video
"When You Say Nothing at All" on YouTube

"When You Say Nothing at All" was released as the debut solo single by Irish singer-songwriter Ronan Keating. The song was recorded for the soundtrack to the film Notting Hill and also appeared on Keating's debut solo album, Ronan. This cover was released on July 26, 1999, in the United Kingdom.[18] It peaked at number one in the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand. The single is certified platinum in Australia, Sweden, and the UK.

In February 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.[19] 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 Blando.[20]

Critical reception[edit]

Daily Record wrote that Keating "sounds like Marti Pellow on this drippy ballad."[21] The popular Spanish website Jenesaispop described the Spanglish version as one of the most "squeaky" bilingual collaboration,[22] while Victor González of GQ Spain praised the collaboration as "great" in an article of unusual collaborations.[23]

Track listings[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits are taken from the UK CD1 liner notes.[24]

Studios

  • Recorded at Metropolis and the Aquarium (London, England)
  • Mixed at the Aquarium (London, England)
  • Mastered at 777 Productions

Personnel

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[60] Platinum 70,000^
Belgium (BEA)[61] Gold 25,000*
New Zealand (RMNZ)[62] Gold 5,000*
Italy (FIMI)[63] Gold 35,000double-dagger
Norway (IFPI Norway)[64] Gold  
Sweden (GLF)[65] Platinum 30,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[66] Platinum 600,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

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. ^ "Top 100 Country Singles of '88" (PDF). RPM. December 24, 1988. p. 15.
  9. ^ Horak, Terri (January 21, 1995). "Rounder Goes All Out for Grammy-Nominated Krauss". Billboard. Accessed via ProQuest.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Cave, Kathy (May 5, 1995). "Whitley, Krauss blend grabs national attention". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. B8. Accessed via ProQuest.
  12. ^ Bjorke, Matt (May 3, 2017). "Top 30 Digital Singles Sales Report: May 3, 2017". Roughstock.
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  25. ^ When You Say Nothing at All (UK CD2 liner notes). Ronan Keating. Polydor Records. 1999. 561291-2.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  26. ^ When You Say Nothing at All (UK cassette single sleeve). Ronan Keating. Polydor Records. 1999. 561253-4.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  27. ^ When You Say Nothing at All (Nada Más Que Hablar) (Spanish promo CD liner notes). Ronan Keating. Polydor Records. 2003. CDP 01236-2.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
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  63. ^ "Italian single certifications – Ronan Keating – When You Say Nothing At All" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved March 8, 2021. Select "2021" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "When You Say Nothing At All" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli" under "Sezione".
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