The Story Behind The Song: “I Believe In You”

Mel Tillis

Hailing from Lexington, Tennessee, Buddy Cannon moved to Nashville to make his living as a bass player. But after stints with Bob Luman and Mel Tillis, he found songwriting a more lucrative arena and went to work in Tillis’ publishing company. Cannon also sang back-up on a couple of George Strait hits, “Marina Del Rey” and “A Fire I Can’t Put Out,” as well as Reba McEntire’s album, “My Kind Of Country.” The first #1 song Buddy wrote turned out to be the most progressive of Mel Tillis’ career: “I Believe In You.”

Cannon composed this song with Gene Dunlap in 1976 and played it for Tillis. Mel liked “I Believe In You,” but he felt it needed some work. He asked the songwriters to try a couple of rewrites. Meanwhile, Mel pitched the original version to Glen Campbell, but he turned it down. As requested, Cannon and Dunlap came up with two other lyrical variations of the song, but in the end, those were discarded. Tillis kept “I Believe In You” in the back of his mind and 18 months after first hearing it, he recorded the song (containing its original lyrics) with producer Jimmy Bowen.

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