The Story Behind The Song: ”Why Not Me”

Meanwhile, Howard remembered hearing a couple of previously issued tunes called “What About Me,” one by Don Gibson way back in 1961, and a more recent 1973 release by Anne Murray. Both of these singles had reached the Top 30, but by 1984 very few people remembered them, especially the Gibson cut. However, Harlan was still familiar with those recordings and used that title as the basis to come up with “Why Not Me,” but he still had doubts about it. He felt that “Why Not Me” wasn’t a great title, nor were “What About Me” or “How ‘Bout Me” for that matter. Howard explained it this way: “To get a really good record, you’ve got to write a truly exceptional song when you’re dealing with an average title. The only thing I know to do with songs like ‘Why Not Me’ and ‘Busted’ – which I never thought was a good title – is to put the title in there often so that people remember it. The weaker the title, the more you gotta hear it.” Harlan (who died in 2002) would be appalled by today’s barrage of low-caliber songs with weak titles and meaningless lyrics that are becoming huge hits in this modern world of sub-standard country music.

Howard created the lyrics to “Why Not Me” around the Judds’ personalities, rather than any real-life events. Maher and Throckmorton pieced together the musical elements and assembled a demo. At the session, Brent presented it to session player Don Potter, who immediately developed a “bent note” sound on his guitar that became the signature of the instrumental hook. Producer Maher also devised another unusual texture. He had an idea for “thumps” to be placed on the back beat during the song, and instructed keyboardist Bobby Ogdin to develop the particular sound he wanted with a guitar, not a drum. Ogden thus tied a rag around the strings of a six-string guitar (to keep them from ringing), and began experimenting in order to come up with the right-sounding “thumps.” He thumped with his thumb in various places on the front of the guitar – ending up on the upper side just above the sound hole – to get the perfect tone for the track. This additional component in the record’s sound also aided in the final results: The Judds’ second number one single in a row (reaching the summit December 22, 1984), their second consecutive Grammy award, and 1985’s “Single Of The Year” trophy from the Country Music Association. 

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