patty loveless

Throwback Jam: Patty Loveless’ “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye”

By Emily Wagner

Just as it is today with all the different avenues to receive music, fans in the 1990’s had a huge influence on what song from their favorite artist’s latest album would become the next single. Except instead of tweets and streaming numbers, fans picked up the phone and called their local radio stations.

That’s what happened with Patty Loveless’ 1994 hit song “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye.” The album, Only What I Feel had quickly sold over 650,000 and the executives at Sony/Epic were getting so many calls from radio stations, that eventually the song was released to the airwaves. 

The song peaked that summer at number 3, and was nominated for numerous awards, including two Grammys for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song, as well as ACM and CMA Video of the Year.

Interestingly, the hit song was written by Burton Collins, who at the time was pursuing his acting career and had never written a song before. His inspiration came from a conversation he had with his grandmother before her passing. With the help of singer-songwriter Karen Taylor-Good, Burton was able to put his inspiration into a song…in just 3 hours. 

The heartbreaking song of the goodbyes that are made throughout your life, to a friend as you move away, to a partner after a failed relationship, and a loved one as they leave the earth, transcends the decades. With Patty’s voice, made to carry a ballad and filled with emotion, this song is an unforgettable part of the fabric of 90’s country.