30 Years Ago Today: Sammy Kershaw Lands His Only #1 Hit

When you think of Sammy Kershaw, you think of one of country music’s consummate 90s performers. Sure, maybe you don’t think of him at the same level as Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Clint Black, or Brooks & Dunn, a.k.a. the “Class of ’89” heavyweights. But songs like “Queen of My Double Wide Trailer” and “Cadillac Style” are so emblematic of 90s country, you might be surprised to learn that Sammy Kershaw only had one #1 hit in his entire career.

Don’t allow that to mislead you that Sammy Kershaw’s career wasn’t successful. He had three #2 songs (“Third Rate Romance,” “Love of My Life,” “National Working Woman’s Holiday), two #3 songs (“Cadillac Style” and “I Can’t Reach Her Anymore”), and eleven Top 10’s overall. But the competition was so cutthroat in the 90s, only one song officially went #1 in the Louisiana native’s illustrious career, and it happened 30 years ago today, April 24th, 1993.

“She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful” isn’t just the perfect specimen of a 90s country song, it might be a perfect specimen of a country song, period. Written by Bob McDill with Paul Harrison, songs like “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful” are the reason Bob McDill was just announced as the latest songwriter to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. It’s also due to “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful” that some predict Sammy Kershaw could be a potential Hall of Famer in the coming years himself, despite only minting one #1.

In the simple language that only the greatest country songs can, “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful” tells a story that so many people can relate to. But when the song was released on February 9th, 1993 as the first single from Kershaw’s album Haunted Heart, it was an entirely novel approach to a country song in a genre of clichés.

The American South is full of men trying to convince women they’re beautiful, and modest women who will have none of it. There are exceptions of course, but this song touches upon the gentlemanly customs of the South. We’ve all known that woman that no matter your sincere compliments, remains demure and perfectly unaware of their power over the opposite sex, which often renders them that much more endearing.

As insightfully simple and original as the lyrics are to “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful,” it’s the little fiddle melody in the song that really helps set it off. And of course, the reason the song went to #1 is because Sammy Kershaw was born to sing it, bringing the perfect timbre to the composition, which has allowed the song to withstand the test of time. The multi-layered chorus is hard to not sing along to.

Much of the greatest country music is delightfully simple, putting into words things we’ve thought or believed, but never knew how to say, or never said out loud. There may not be a better example of this than Sammy Kershaw’s “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful.”

© 2024 Saving Country Music