Elicit 1997 … with “You Don’t Seem to Miss Me” by Patty Loveless

By the time September of 1997 rolled around, country artist LeAnn Rimes was having more success with pop audiences with her single “How Do I Live” than she was with her core country audience. A few months earlier Bob Carlisle had a #1 hit at Adult Contemporary radio with his country hit “Butterfly Kisses,” and in November Shania Twain would release her huge crossover album Come On Over. In the middle of this country and AC fusion, Patty Loveless released the very traditionally country “You Don’t Seem To Miss Me” as the lead single from her album Long Stretch of Lonesome.

Famed Nashville writer Jim Lauderdale initially got the idea for the song when talking to fellow artist Victoria Williams. He has said the song came to him pretty quickly while walking in the desert, and in a songwriter’s meeting with Loveless he played the song for her because he liked it. He got a call the next day that Loveless did, too. The wonderful song structure Lauderdale used heightens the impact of his lyric.
On this mid-tempo ode to a love that’s fading, the fiddle and steel guitar interact like romantic partners. Its production is very archetypal for country music, but it wasn’t typical of what was going on in country music at the time it was released. Delivering an aching performance, Loveless uses a clear George Jones influence in her vocal phrasing. That made sense as George Jones provided the harmonic counterpoint on the song, and the two interact beautifully. Each is recognized as being among the greatest country singers to live and have the industry hardware to back those claims.
Loveless felt the classic country voice of Jones was the key to the track, but the traditional voice of a 66 year-old male combined with the use of traditional country instrumentation wasn’t something to which radio was very receptive. Loveless refused to remove Jones from the song to help its popularity, though, and the track ultimately stalled at #14. People in the industry still recognized the quality of the single, and it was subsequently nominated for the Country Music Awards Single of the Year and the Grammy for Country Collaboration with Vocals and won the Country Music Award for Vocal Event of the Year. Loveless’ rejection of a more modern sound would foreshadow her ultimate move into a stronger bluegrass sound with releases like the landmark Mountain Soul and its Grammy-winning sequel.

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