How Blind Can He Be

Bee Halton at The Bee Writes Love Is In Da Blog 2019 ~ A Music Festival has buzzed us to write about our favorite song from the country that you love the most.  I chose ‘To Know Him Is To Love Him’ from the super group that included Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris off their first album Trio which was released in 1987.  ‘To Know Him Is To Love Him’ was written by Phil Spector and in the Trio version, Emmylou Harris sings lead vocal.  This song hit Number One on May 16th, 1987, and the album peaked at #1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums and it got to #6 on the U.S. Billboard 200.  Trio earned the threesome a Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, the LP was nominated for Album of the Year, it produced four top ten hits and it sold over 4 million copies worldwide.

This song launched Phil Spector’s career in 1958.  He was a 17-year-old high school senior when he recorded this, and he quickly became a top producer after working with prominent songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.  By the time he was 23, he was already a millionaire having produced hits like ‘Be My Baby’ which he co-wrote with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich for the Ronettes and ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ which was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil for The Righteous Brothers.  In the early 1960s a group of musicians, now known as the Wrecking Crew became the house band for Phil Spector and they helped realize his Wall of Sound production style.  He produced the Beatles album Let It Be and worked on solo albums for George Harrison and John Lennon, and after the 1970s, Spector mostly retired from public life. From 2007 to 2009, he was the subject of two trials, the second of which ended in him being convicted of second-degree murder of Lana Clarkson, a struggling 40-year-old actress.  He is serving a prison sentence of 19 years to life and he will be 88 years old before he becomes eligible for parole.  Spector continues to claim his innocence in the murder of Clarkson, saying that she committed suicide.

Phil Spector was inspired to write this in early 1958 by a photograph of his father Ben’s tombstone that said “To have known him was to have loved him.”  Phil changed the tense of the epitaph on the tombstone and matched it to the music of ‘When the Red, Red Robin Goes Bob-Bob-Bobbin’ Along’, which was written in 1926 by Harry Woods.  Phil’s father, Benjamin Spector was a steelworker who killed himself 9 years earlier, when Phil was 9 years old.  After he died, Phil’s mother moved the family from New York to Los Angeles.

Along with some high school friends, Phil put together a group The Teddy Bears which was named after the Elvis Presley song ‘(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear’, and wrote this so their new vocalist, Annette Kleinbard, would have something new to sing at a recording session.  A radio station in Fargo, North Dakota, began playing ‘To Know Him Is To Love Him’ regularly, and orders began coming in for the record.  ‘To Know Him Is to Love Him’ went on to become the No. 1 pop song in the nation, topping the Billboard singles chart for three weeks beginning December 1st, 1958.  It sold more than a million copies before Christmas that year and it ended up selling more than two million copies.  Less than a year later, the group disbanded.

The three superstars Parton, Harris and Ronstadt began performing and collaborating together during the 70’s, occasionally appearing on each other’s albums.  Perhaps the best-known of these tracks was their cover of the Pop classic ‘Mr. Sandman’.  Due to scheduling conflicts, and record company politics, it took another decade for a proper album to be recorded and released.  The three iconic women couldn’t really explore each other’s talents to the extent that they wanted to.  However, with Dolly’s recording contract with RCA coming to an end in 1986, the time was certainly right for a collaborative effort.

Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt have all received individual distinctions aplenty over the years, with both Dolly and Emmylou being members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and Ronstadt a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Dolly Parton has been bestowed a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  In 2019, the Trio will be part of the  Hollywood Walk of Fame getting their own star.  Linda Ronstadt retired in 2011, and it was revealed in 2012 that she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  The Trio video features the legendary David Lindley on mandolin.  He founded the band El Rayo-X, and has worked with Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon and Curtis Mayfield.

To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
Just to see him smile, makes my life worthwhile
To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
And I do (and I do, and I)

I’ll be good to him, I’ll bring love to him
Everyone says there’ll come a day when I’ll walk alongside of him
Yes, just to know him is to love, love, love him
And I do

Why can’t he see, how blind can he be
Someday he’ll see that he was meant for me, oh yes

To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
Just to see him smile, makes my life worthwhile
To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
And I do (and I do, and I) yes I do (and I do, and I) yes I do

Written for Love Is In Da Blog “favorite country song”.

18 thoughts on “How Blind Can He Be

  1. This is such a pretty song being sung by these three superstars. They blend in their voices so well! Interesting write up about it all, too. And, I liked the video. I wonder if it was ever said who they were singing about, if anyone in particular?

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    1. Phil Spector wrote this about a message that was written on his father Ben’s tombstone that said “To have known him was to have loved him”, so I guess they are singing about Ben Spector.

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  2. The song is lovely by the 3 superstars. I really wish either Linda or Dolly had sung lead though, as either of their voices are better solo than Emmylou’s. My personal opinion, of course.

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      1. It was on the live Hamburg…and it is on their Decca demo tape. It’s not widely known…I lived, breathed, and ate Beatles and baseball while growing up.
        Here is a version on the BBC album

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