Meaning Behind the Song: “I Believe In You” by Don Williams

The meaning behind “I Believe In You” is one of love. Love lives in every word and lingers on every note with confidence and certainty. In fact, no song confesses true love quite like the standard, made famous by country star Don Williams. The ballad pulls at the heart with swoon-worthy lyrics interpreted by Williams’ warm, rich baritone.

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The song is simple and to the point. Its straightforward verses and bare-bones arrangement leave little but the truth in a trail of twanging strings, a swaying bass line, and a steadily trotting drum beat.

The Origins

The 1980 ballad, “I Believe in You,” was written by songsmiths Roger Cook and Sam Hogin. Cook initially penned the song, completing a draft that he wasn’t necessarily happy with.

“I thought I had the song finished,” Cook said in an interview with The Tennessean. “Then one day I looked at it, and I suddenly got unhappy. A lot of the lyrical images were dumb. I won’t go into details, but they were dumb. We were never going to get it cut the way it was.”

Enter Hogin, who helped perfect the song, reworking it into the beloved tune it is today. Cook and Hogin had the lyrics just right at two in the morning, Cook explained. “I finally was really happy with the lyric,” he continued. “And went in and made a really good demo of it.”

A few days later, Garth Fundis, who was producing Williams at the time, came calling. “He said, ‘If you got anything for Don, we’re going in the studio. We could use a song or two,'” Cook recalled. “I said, ‘I’ve just written a song.’ I said, ‘I can hear Don singing it.’ He said, ‘I’ll come straight over.’ Nobody had heard it at that point.”

When Williams recorded “I Believe In You,” he didn’t change anything from the song’s original demo. “Don never changed one lick of my demo production,” the songwriter remarked. “They liked the whole demo, the guitar licks, everything. In fact, they got my demo guitarist, an Irishman called Phil Donnelly, to come in and play the guitar on the session, because they didn’t want to change one lick.”

In the interview, Cook went on to say that the simplest of songs are the toughest to write. “We’re trained through our careers to look for something really different,” he said. “And try to come up with an angle. Something just catchy and different. But now and again you do sit down, you write just a God honest song, and with simple lyrics.”

The Lyrics

When love is the only thing that seems to make sense, “I Believe In You” understands.

The tune opens with I don’t believe in superstars / Organic food and foreign cars / I don’t believe the price of gold / The certainty of growing old. The song continues to list off disbeliefs like, That right is right and left is wrong / That north and south can’t get along / That east is east and west is west / And bein’ first is always best.

However, the softly swaying chorus states with conviction, But I believe in love / I believe in babies / I believe in mom and dad / And I believe in you.

The next verse, again, counts the singer’s uncertainties as he croons, Well, I don’t believe that heaven waits / For only those who congregate. He then asserts I’d like to think of God as love / He’s down below / He’s up above / He’s watchin’ people everywhere / He knows who does and doesn’t care / And I’m an ordinary man / Sometimes I wonder who I am.

But I believe in love, he sings assuredly, I believe in music / I believe in magic / And I believe in you.

While he professes his many doubts, the singer knows for sure what he felt is love and that that love is true. I know with all my certainty, he sings, What’s goin’ on with you and me / Is a good thing / It’s true / I believe in you.

(Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)

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