There are many country music songs. But there is only one “Blame It On Your Heart.” One of the most unique country songs in history—and certainly one of the most unusual to hit #1—it made it to the top of the country charts 30 years ago this week. And even though three decades have passed, “Blame It On Your Heart” remains a favorite of country fans, cover bands, and karaoke singers due to it’s elongated, loquacious chorus that most any other song could never pull off, but this song somehow does with flying colors, and sticks the landing.
“Your lying, cheating, cold dead-beating, two-timing, double-dealing, mean-mistreating, loving heart,” is a chorus only Country Music Hall of Famer Patty Loveless could sing. And she did so to the tune of delivering what has since become a country music standard.
The song was written by one of the greatest to ever pen country songs, Harlan Howard, along with Kostas—a.k.a. Kostas Lazarides, who was born in Greece, lives in Billings, Montana, and would make regular trips down to Nashville to write some of the greatest country songs of the era. It was on one of these trips where Kostas came up for the idea for “Blame It On Your Heart.”
According to Kostas, he was down in Nashville from Montana and staying at the Shoney’s Hotel downtown, which incidentally had a carnival set up in the parking lot at the time. He was anticipating a songwriting session at 9 or 9:30 the next morning with Harlan Howard. Most songwriting sessions usually happen in the afternoon, but when the “Dean of Nashville Songwriters” says the session starts at 9, you don’t argue.
As it often goes with songwriters, that meant Kostas had two options: turn in early, or never go to bed at all. Kostas chose the latter, and spent the night before the Harlan Howard songwriting session out on the town. Perhaps the delirious nature of his state-of-mind resulted in the otherwise over-the-top, but ultimately iconic chorus line that takes an otherwise average country cheating song, and turns it into a composition that has withstood the test of time.
From the beginning, the song was targeted for Patty Loveless. The attitudinal nature of the song seemed to fit the Kentucky singer perfectly. But Patty and her team initially balked, calling it a “ditty.”
“This can’t be happening,” was the reaction from Kostas. “If this is a ‘ditty,’ then what is this town made of? Because ditties can still be great songs. I don’t know what a ditty is to begin with.”
But the fortunes of the song changed with it was slated to be used in the movie The Thing Called Love released in 1993. The movie is about a struggling songwriter trying to make it in Nashville played by Samantha Mathis. The movie also stars Sandra Bullock and River Phoenix in his final role, and also features Pam Tillis, Trisha Yearwood, Kevin Welch, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore playing themselves. Deborah Allen also appears, and sings what became a cover version of “Blame It On Your Heart.”
When Patty Loveless heard the song was going to be used in The Thing Called Love, she decided she wanted to sing the definitive version. The film flopped, but “Blame It On Your Heart” soared, reaching #1 on June 19th, 1993. It has since become one of Patty’s signature songs, and one of the reasons she was recently selected for the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The video for “Blame It On Your Heart” features a couple of important cameos, including actor David Keith as the “lying, cheating” ex-boyfriend, and “Cousin” Kenny Vaughn known these days as the guitar player for Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives.