Vince Gill was on the verge of country superstardom. And he was doing it with one of the saddest, most melancholy songs he’s ever recorded.
Remember “When I Call Your Name?”
It was Gill’s breakout hit 31 years ago. He introduced it to mainstream country audiences on Ralph Emery’s popular show, “Nashville Now.” As he strummed his guitar, Gill sang of heartbreak and loss. His love had left him. How could he heal his shattered heart?
A sampling of the lyrics:
“A note on the table that told me goodbye. It said you’d grown weary of living a lie. Your love has ended but mine still remains. But nobody answers when I call your name.”
Song Was Vintage Vince Gill
The song was the third single released from the album “When I Call Your Name.” Vince Gill wrote it with Tim DuBois.
The album was Gill’s third as a solo artist. But it was his first with MCA records. Emmylou Harris and Patty Loveless sang backup on the album. It also featured a duet with Gill’s fellow Oklahoman, Reba McEntire. That song was appropriately titled “Oklahoma Swing.”
Mark Andrews, the program director of country station KEBC, in Oklahoma City, hyped the Vince Gill-Reba McEntire collaboration.
He told Billboard: “This one is going to burn the house down. We played it at a disco dance club here and you could hear the buzz of the crowd as they reacted to it. You cannot possibly keep your toe from tappin’. If this one don’t turn you on, you don’t got no switches.”
But the single “When I Call Your Name” was Gill’s calling card. Call it Vintage Vince Gill. It reached No. 2 on the country charts. He won the his first-ever Grammy, winning the trophy for Best Performance for a Male Country Vocalist.
Gill certainly paid his dues before the album. He was the frontman for the group Pure Prairie League. He also was part of the Cherry Bombs with Rodney Crowell. By the time of his third solo album, Gill was 32.
Vince Gill told Cashbox that his fans aged with him.
“I think what we have now is a whole new age bracket of listeners that have really tried to find a place to go on the radio dial,” Gill said. “That’s kind of a natural progression in that kids that were 20 years old when I was 20 are now 35 or so and settled down a little bit and looking for the kind of music they liked back then.”
For more Outsider coverage of Vince Gill, click it here.