Signed to MCA in 1985, Patty Loveless enjoyed some modest success on the singles charts, which did not translate into album sales by the time her eponymous debut disc was released in 1987. Her second album, released in 1988, didn’t fare much better at retail, but it did provide a much needed breakthrough at radio. Like its predecessor, If My Heart Had Windows, produced by Emory Gordy, Jr. and Tony Brown, is an album strictly in the neotraditionalist vein.
The album starts out strong, opening with Karen Staley’s “So Good To Be In Love”, followed by the catchy “ Working Man’s Hands”. The third track, “You Saved Me”, written by Curtis Wright, was the album’s lead single. Though it is a decent song and Loveless’ performance is solid, it seems like an odd choice to launch a new album by an artist who had yet to have her commercial breakthrough, particularly considering that there were much stronger songs on the album to choose from. Not surprisingly, “You Saved Me” performed about as well as Loveless’ previous singles, reaching #43 on the Billboard country singles chart.
The title track is a cover of a 1968 George Jones hit, written by the legendary Dallas Frazier. Loveless’ emotional performance, as well as the song’s traditional arrangement and simple message, as expressed in the chorus – “if my heart had windows, you’d see a heart full of love just for you,” resonated with audiences. Released as the second single, it provided Loveless with her first big radio hit, peaking at #10. Loveless would perform this song later in the year at her Opry induction. Hot on the heels of this success, MCA released a cover of Steve Earle’s “A Little Bit In Love”, which was an even bigger hit, climbing all the way to #2. Strangely, this song is somewhat forgotten today, and was even overlooked when Patty’s first Greatest Hits package was compiled in 1992.
The next track on the album is an excellent cover of Hank Williams’ “I Can’t Get You Off Of My Mind”. The most uptempo song on the album, featuring a rollicking honky-tonk piano track and a superb vocal performance, it is both the highlight of the album and a missed opportunity. Why this track wasn’t released as a single is a mystery; by the late 1980s, the neotraditionalist movement had completely taken over country music and this is the type of song that would likely have done very well on the charts.
Unfortunately, from this point forward, the quality of songs on the album declines precipitously. None the remaining songs – “Baby’s Gone Blues” (later covered by Reba McEntire), “A Little On The Lonely Side”, “Fly Away”, and “Once In A Lifetime” – rises above the level of filler. Perhaps if the album were sequenced differently, with these tracks interspersed between the stronger ones, instead of tacked on to the end, the album’s pace wouldn’t come to such a screeching halt. I always get bored with this album once I’m past the sixth track.
If My Heart Had Windows was a transitional album for Patty Loveless. It established her as a hitmaker at radio, but the album only rose to #33 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. However, it did lay the groundwork for her breakthrough album, Honky Tonk Angel, which was released later in 1988.
If My Heart Had Windows is out of print; used copies are available but are expensive, ranging anywhere between $18 and $65 from third-party sellers on Amazon.