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"Achy Breaky Heart" is a song written in 1990 by Don Von Tress. Originally published in a recording by The Marcy Brothers under the title "Don't Tell My Heart" in 1991, it was later recorded by Billy Ray Cyrus and released on his debut album Some Gave All in 1992. The song is Cyrus' debut single and signature song. It became the first single ever to achieve triple Platinum status in Australia[1] and also 1992's best-selling single in the same country.[2][3] In the United States, it became a crossover hit on pop and country radio, peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and topping the Hot Country Songs chart, becoming the first country single to be certified Platinum since "Islands in the Stream" by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton in 1983.[4] The single topped in several countries, and after being featured on Top of the Pops in the United Kingdom, peaked at number three on the UK Singles Chart. It was Cyrus' biggest hit single in the U.S. until he was featured on "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X, which peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2019.[5]

"Achy Breaky Heart"
Achy Breaky Heart.jpg
Single by Billy Ray Cyrus
from the album Some Gave All
ReleasedMarch 23, 1992 (1992-03-23)
RecordedJanuary 1992
Songwriter(s)Don Von Tress
  • Joe Scaife
  • Jim Cotton
Billy Ray Cyrus singles chronology
"Achy Breaky Heart"
"Could've Been Me"
Music video
"Achy Breaky Heart" at

The music video for the song led to the explosion of the line dance into the mainstream, becoming a global craze.[6][7][8][9] The song is considered by some as one of the worst songs of all time, featuring at number two in VH1 and Blender's list of the "50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever."[10] However, it is recognized as part of a transitional period in country music where Cyrus brought renewed interest to a dying breed of music among younger listeners.[citation needed]


Achy Breaky Heart was written by amateur songwriter Don Von Tress from Cypress Inn, Tennessee in 1990, according to him "just fooling around on the guitar and a drum machine".[11]

The song was initially to be recorded by The Oak Ridge Boys in the early 1990s but the group decided against recording it after lead singer Duane Allen said that he did not like the words "achy breaky".[12] It was then recorded in 1991 under the title "Don't Tell My Heart" by The Marcy Brothers, although their version changed some lyrics.

Billy Ray Cyrus heard Von Tress's version of the song, and chose to include it on his debut album Some Gave All in 1992. It is written in the key of A major and has only two chords: A and E.

Critical receptionEdit

The song reached number 23 on CMT's 100 Greatest Videos in 2008, and number 2 on Blender magazine's 50 Worst Songs Ever.[10] In 2002, Shelly Fabian from ranked the song number 249 on the list of the Top 500 Country Music Songs.[13] In 2007, the song was ranked at number 87 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the '90s.[14] A review from Cash Box magazine was positive, stating that "The song is good, but it [sic] his performance that will keep you wired."[15]

Despite its initially critical reviews, the song has become a cult classic. For his most recent album Set the Record Straight, Cyrus recorded an updated version of the song.[16]

Music videoEdit

Two very similar versions of the video for the song exist. Directed by Marc Ball, it was filmed during a live performance at the Paramount Arts Center in Ashland, Kentucky. The version released to country stations begins with a shot of the theater and ends with an extended applause from the audience. The version released to MTV (which is the version found on Cyrus's YouTube account), begins with Cyrus exiting a limo, and the ending cheer from the audience is much shorter.


In the Hannah Montana episode "The Way We Almost Weren't", Billy Ray Cyrus's character Robby Stewart is seen in a dream sequence writing "Achy Breaky Heart" in a New Mexico cafe in 1987. He tries the words "itchy twitchy heart" and "herky jerky heart" but is unsatisfied. Jackson suggests he use the words "achy breaky", but Robby blows it off as "the dumbest thing I've ever heard".[17] The series makes several different references to the song, for example: When Robby got a back injury in the Season 2 episode "I Want You To Want Me To Go To Florida", as he got the injury, he exclaimed "My achy breaky back!". The two-part Season 2 episode "Achy Jakey Heart" also was named in reference to the song. Robby also mentions the song in the Season 1 Episode "Ooo, Ooo, Itchy Woman", when he chased a mouse into the piano and it started playing melodies, later asking the mouse: "Do you know Achy Breaky Heart?".

The song was parodied on an episode of Animaniacs during the Pinky and the Brain short "Bubba Bo Bub Brain", where it was parodied as "Empty Hollow Head", and was performed by a caricature of Billy Ray Cyrus named Billy Rae Cyprus. In 1994, Bill Nye the Science Guy parodied the song as "AC/DC Charge". In the Season 2 episode "Bones and Muscles", during the "Bonely is the Night" segment, the song was parodied as "Achy Breaky Arm" by Billy Ray Humerus (a parody of Billy Ray Cyrus).

"Weird Al" Yankovic parodied it as "Achy Breaky Song" about a man's disdain for the song. Al considered the song "mean-spirited" and donated its proceeds to charity.[18]

In 2014, a rapper called Buck 22 released a hip-hop version of the song with Cyrus called "Achy Breaky 2",[19] in which Cyrus reprised his role for the chorus. While Cyrus does not explicitly say the song is a parody, the lyrics and accompanying video clearly make several references to daughter Miley's bad-girl image at the time, with Billy Ray noting in a Rolling Stone article that he "[hopes] that she got to read the one critic who wrote that the video made her performance at the VMAs look like Sesame Street".[20]

English football supporters regularly sing versions to the tune of the song with West Ham United’s Dimitri Payet version the most famous example. Supporters of the England national team also sing a song entitled "don't take me home" to the tune of the song.[21]

Other cover versionsEdit

The song is widely sung by football (Soccer) fans, especially in Europe, with altered lyrics (

In popular cultureEdit

The song was featured in the 1993 Stephen King horror film Needful Things, where the character of Hugh Priest gets thrown out of "The Mellow Tiger" bar, after he kicks repeatedly against a jukebox, in which "Achy Breaky Heart" hangs. It was also used in the film Crank. The song was mentioned by Homer Simpson in The Simpsons fifth season episode "Homer's Barbershop Quartet".

Track listingsEdit


Billy Ray Cyrus versionEdit

Sales and certificationsEdit

Country Certifications Certifications sales
Australia 3× Platinum[1] 210,000
United Kingdom Silver[51] 200,000
United States Platinum[52] 1,000,000


  1. ^ a b "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles Chart – Week Ending 31 Jan 1993 and 7 Feb 1993 (1–60)". (original document published by ARIA). Retrieved August 30, 2017. N.B. The triangle symbol indicates platinum certification, with the number beside it indicating the level of platinum achieved. Both "Achy Breaky Heart" and Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" were certified triple platinum during the same week.
  2. ^ Hurst, Jack (1993-07-04). "Achy Breaky Start Bruised by the Critics, Billy Ray Cyrus is Coming Back For More". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-07-25.
  3. ^ "ARIA Charts — End Of Year Charts — Top 50 Singles 1992". ARIA. Archived from the original on 28 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-25.
  4. ^ Cyrus Goes Triple-Platinum; Brooks Breaks 8 million. Billboard. 1992-08-15. Retrieved 2010-08-05.
  5. ^ "Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 2019-08-16.
  6. ^ "Line dancing refuses to go out of style". Star-News. 1992-10-30. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
  7. ^ "Stepping to country fun". The Gazette (Cedar Rapids-Iowa City). 1993-04-17. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
  8. ^ "Cyrus sets off dance craze". The Daily Courier. 1994-07-25. Retrieved 2010-08-12.[dead link]
  9. ^ "This time around, the country craze proves to have some staying power". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 1995-06-13. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
  10. ^ a b "VH1 & Blender Magazine Present: 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs ... Ever". Archived at PR Newswire. VH1, Blender. 12 May 2004. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  11. ^ Shults, Lynn (May 30, 1992). "Country Corner". Billboard.
  12. ^ "The Ones That Got Away". Country Weekly. 2009-04-06. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ Fabian, Shelly (2002). "Top 500 Country Music Songs". Archived from the original on 12 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-14.
  14. ^ "100 Greatest Songs of the '90s". Music News — VH1 Music. Archived from the original on 14 February 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  15. ^ "Feature Picks" (PDF). Cash Box: 19. March 28, 1992.
  16. ^ "Nothing Will Prepare You for Billy Ray Cyrus' 'Achy Breaky Heart' Sequelwebsite=ABC News".
  17. ^ "The Way We Almost Weren't". Hannah Montana. Season 2. Episode 23. May 4, 2008.
  18. ^ Yankovic, Alfred M. (May 1999). ""Ask Al" Q&As for May, 1999". The Official "Weird Al" Yankovic Web Site. Archived from the original on 24 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-26.
  19. ^ EminemVEVO (27 November 2013). "Eminem - Rap God (Explicit) [Official Video]" – via YouTube.
  20. ^ Grow, Kory; Grow, Kory (14 February 2014). "Billy Ray Cyrus Explains 'Achy Breaky 2'".
  21. ^'ve[permanent dead link] found the origin of the song West Ham and Arsenal fans are arguing about| access date=11 January 2019
  22. ^ "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles Chart – Week Ending 14 Feb 1993 (61–100)". (original document published by ARIA). Retrieved August 30, 2017. N.B. The HP column displays the highest peak reached.
  23. ^ "Jag ska aldrig lämna dig — Svensk mediedatabas (SMDB)". Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  24. ^ "No Rompas Mi Corazon - Caballo Dorado - Song Info". AllMusic.
  25. ^ "Eduardo Gameros of pioneering Mexican country band Caballo Dorado". Digital Journal. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  26. ^ "Boxcar Willie – Achy Breaky Heart". Allmusic Retrieved 3 August 2019
  27. ^ " – Billy Ray Cyrus – Achy Breaky Heart". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  28. ^ " – Billy Ray Cyrus – Achy Breaky Heart" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  29. ^ " – Billy Ray Cyrus – Achy Breaky Heart" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved March 05, 2018.
  30. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 2004." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. July 25, 1992. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  31. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 2170." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. June 27, 1992. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  32. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 2022." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. July 25, 1992. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  33. ^ "Top 10 Denmark" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
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  35. ^ " – Billy Ray Cyrus – Achy Breaky Heart". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  36. ^ "Chart Track: Week 31, 1992". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  37. ^ " – Billy Ray Cyrus – Achy Breaky Heart". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  38. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Billy Ray Cyrus" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  39. ^ " – Billy Ray Cyrus – Achy Breaky Heart". Top 40 Singles.
  40. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  41. ^ "Billy Ray Cyrus Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  42. ^ "Billy Ray Cyrus Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  43. ^ "Billy Ray Cyrus Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  44. ^ 1992 Australian Singles Chart Archived July 28, 2010, at the Wayback Machine (Retrieved July 25, 2008)
  45. ^ "RPM Top 100 Adult Contemporary Tracks of 1992". RPM. December 19, 1992. Archived from the original on 2016-01-12. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  46. ^ "RPM Top 100 Country Tracks of 1992". RPM. December 19, 1992. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  47. ^ "The Official New Zealand Music Chart". THE OFFICIAL NZ MUSIC CHART.
  48. ^ "Billboard Year End listing for "Achy Breaky Heart"". Billboard. 1992-12-31. Archived from the original on 2009-07-20. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
  49. ^ "Best of 1992: Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 1992. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  50. ^ "The Chipmunks Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  51. ^ "BPI certification results". British Phonographic Industry. Archived from the original on 2013-01-11. Retrieved 2010-08-01.
  52. ^ "RIAA singles for "Achy Breaky Heart"". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2009-10-31.

External linksEdit