On This Day: Both LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood’s Versions of ‘How Do I Live’ Debut on Charts in 1997

by Amy Myers
(Photo by Dominik Bindl/Getty Images)

What happens when two country stars release different versions of the popular song, “How Do I Live?” Trisha Yearwood and LeAnn Rimes unintentionally went head-to-head for a round of who-sung-it-better in 1997 when the song was released.

According to Wide Open Country, when Diane Warren promised her song “How Do I Live” to LeAnn Rimes, the young star was just 14-years-old. Rimes was already famous for her first hit, “Blue,” in which she astonished the country world with her polished, lilting vocals. However, after further consideration, executives decided that the song’s content was too mature for a young teenager.

Tune in to hear what Outsider‘s content producer Wes Blankenship and senior editor Jim Casey think caused the “perfect storm” to occur.

As a result, they replaced Rimes with established country singer Trisha Yearwood, who at the time was 33-years-old. Apparently, Yearwood had no idea that Warren previously promised “How Do I Live” to LeAnn, but the train was already in motion.

The question then was, who would make it higher on the charts?

The Results Were in For ‘How Do I Live’

When the two versions of “How Do I Live” reached radios, the country world became captivated with who the better artist was. Wide Open Country reported that Trisha Yearwood reached the No. 2 slot on the Billboard Hot Country Hits chart and No. 23 on the Billboard all-genre Hot 100 chart.

LeAnn Rimes mirrored Trisha’s performance, placing 43rd on the country chart and second on the all-genre chart. Although, her high place on the all-genre chart remained for 69 weeks, far beating Yearwood’s longevity.

The battle of “How Do I Live” didn’t end with there, though.

Both women would find, for the first time in music history, that their versions of the song received nominations for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 1998.

The winner? Trisha Yearwood.

However, even though Yearwood won the Grammy (and also took home the Female Vocalist of the Year trophy at the 1997 CMA Awards), Rimes earned something shiny of her own from the song. In March 1998, the RIAA certified her version of “How Do I Live” as 3X Platinum with 300 million units sold in the U.Sall before she was even old enough to drive.

So who was the better singer? That depends on who you ask.

“Everyone’s got their favorite version,” Outsider’s Jim Casey concluded. “Diane penned a great song…Win-win-win for everybody.”