Patty Loveless helped define the 1980s and ‘90s country music with her smooth, strong voice that sounds like it was born and bred in a Kentucky holler. Loveless is one of the many female artists who’s helped shape country music, scoring hit after hit for more than a decade.
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Loveless has carved a unique lane in the genre and is now a country legend. Below, we look at 10 of Loveless’ best songs.
1. “Blame It on Your Heart”
This is one of Loveless’ biggest hits for a reason. Between the twangy melody and Loveless’ trademark vocals, “Blame It on Your Heart” is quintessential country. Loveless lets a cheating lover have it when she croons the famous last words of the chorus, so blame it on your lying, cheating / Cold, dead beating / Two-timing, double-dealing / Mean, mistreatin’, lovin’ heart. The song took its rightful place at the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1993, quickly becoming one of her signature songs.
2. “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive”
Though Loveless is known as a hit country singer, she also has a passion for bluegrass music. The Kentucky native allowed that to shine through with her 2001 cover of fellow Kentuckian Darrell Scott’s “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive,” who originally wrote and recorded the song as a tribute to the coal miners in their home state.
Loveless’ powerful take on the song is made even more meaningful by the fact that she comes from a family of coal miners, including her father, who died in 1979 from medical complications from working in the mines. Her voice was made for the song and her heart was made to deliver its devastating message.
3. “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye”
It’s nearly impossible not to have tears in your eyes listening to “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye.” The song opens with a young Loveless saying goodbye to her best friend as her family moves away, followed by a second verse where she watches her husband pack his bags and walk out on their marriage.
The chorus is where she provides comfort through the wise words of her mother singing, and she said how can I help you to say goodbye / It’s okay to hurt and it’s okay to cry / Come let me hold you and I will try how can I help you to say goodbye. The song ends on a somber note as she shares one final goodbye with her mother as she passes on, driving the tear-jerking, yet heartfelt message home even further.
4. “Lonely Too Long”
“Lonely Too Long” is simple, but sweet. Here, Loveless is a confident woman who had a one-night stand. But there’s no shame in it as she proclaims we ain’t done nothing wrong / We’ve just been lonely too long. The song ends on a hopeful note, with Loveless ready with arms wide open should her lover ever be open to falling in love. “Lonely Too Long” adds to her collection of No. 1 songs.
5. “If My Heart Had Windows”
“If My Heart Had Windows” was originally recorded by George Jones in 1967 and Loveless scored her first hit with a cover of the classic. Loveless offered her take on the romantic ballad and released it as a single in 1988. With a waning steel guitar paired with Loveless’ soaring vocals it’s no wonder it became her first top 10 hit and lent itself as the title track of her 1987 album. Loveless accomplished the challenging feat of taking a song by a country legend and making it her own, proving that it stands the test of time.
6. “Once In a Lifetime”
The closing track on her 1988 album, If My Heart Had Windows, is certainly worthy of a listen. Loveless’ convincing voice conveys the lovelorn lyrics that make it clear there’s no one she’d rather spend her life with than the person who left her. And just once in a lifetime / Someone like me can find / Someone to love like you / And nobody else will do, she sings with soaring vocals. It’s the kind of deep cut that deserved to be a single, as it shows off what Loveless does best.
7. “Don’t Toss Us Away”
Loveless doesn’t need any tricks to convey this heartbreaking song. Here, she pleads with a lover who has one foot out the door not to leave their love behind. Loveless’ voice has never sounded better, capturing all of the deep sorrow and emotion that comes with such lyrics as don’t toss us away / So thoughtlessly / It just ain’t right / Oh can’t you see?/ I still love you / I want you to stay / Darlin please don’t toss us away. If you’re looking for a song where Loveless’ voice reaches through the speakers and grabs you, this is it.
“Chains” is another hit that’s synonymous with Loveless’ name. Like “Lonely Too Long,” Loveless is in a confident state of mind, resisting a man who doesn’t know what he wants, one minute breaking up with her and the next he wants her back. But Loveless isn’t having it, longing to be free once and for all as she sings no matter what it takes someday I’m gonna break these / Chains, chains, shackles, and chains / These love taking, heartbreaking / Cold, hard, lonely making chains.
9. “Hurt Me Bad (In a Real Good Way)”
After you get through the sorrow of some of Loveless’ sadder songs, let “Hurt Me Bad” help soothe the pain. Co-written by fellow country star Deborah Allen with Rafe Van Hoy, “Hurt Me Bad” puts a positive spin on a breakup. Despite its title, the song finds Loveless on the other side of a breakup, feeling grateful for the heartbreak as opposed to bitter, as it led her to the person she’s truly meant to be with. It’s a song of happiness and true love, as told through Loveless’ harrowing voice.
10. “Here I Am”
Loveless takes a contemplative tone with “Here I Am.” The song allows her deep, soulful vocals to soar as she promises a lost lover that she still carries a flame for him that will never burn out. Should he ever decide to come back into her life after a strong drink or two, she is ready and waiting. In the bourbon and the water / That burn you just like a brand / Here I am, she sings with earnestly.
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