Meaning Behind Wynonna Judd’s Debut Solo Hit “She Is His Only Need”

“She Is His Only Need” marked a pivotal point in Wynonna Judd’s career.

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After nearly a decade as part of the duo The Judds alongside her mother Naomi Judd, one of the most successful duos in the history of country music, Wynonna had to strike out on her own in 1991 after her mother was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and had to retire from touring. This set the younger Judd on her path as a solo artist, beginning with the single, “She Is His Only Need.”

Written by Dave Loggins and produced by Tony Brown, the song tells the story of Billy, a small-town loner who lacked dreams or ambition until he met a woman named Bonnie who changed his perspective on life. The two fall in love and wed, with Billy going to the ends of the earth to give her everything she desires. Cause without her where would he be/See, it’s not for him/She is his only need, Judd sings in the penultimate line. Throughout the song, the couple has two children and grows old with time, and their love never fades.

It’s a classic 1990s country storytelling song, one that Judd recalls hearing for the first time and feeling a deep connection to. She remembers how Loggins performed the song for her face-to-face, snapping his fingers while singing the opening lines, Billy was a small town loner/Who never did dream/Of ever leaving southern Arizona.

“I was going, ‘Whoa, this is very sexy and sultry and there’s something going on with this song,'” Judd tells American Songwriter in the January 2023 Legends issue “He really loves her. I felt like he was telling me a story. I didn’t feel like it was an eight by 10, looking at a glossy photo. I felt like I was literally meeting somebody face to face and hearing a story. So that one thing really strikes me.”

Judd made the live debut of “She is His Only Need” at the 1992 American Music Awards. It became her first solo hit when it reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1992, along with the Top 25 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

“My barometer at the time, and I still use this, the hair on my neck would stand up,” Judd said about how she chooses which songs to record. “The ones that really struck me were things that I was going through personally.”

The song was featured on her self-titled debut album that included other hits “No One Else on Earth,” “I Saw the Light” and “My Strongest Weakness.” The album hit No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and No. 4 on the all-genre Billboard 200. It’s since been certified five times platinum by the RIAA for sales of more than five million copies.

Photo by Fernando Leon/Getty Images

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