I Know Him So Well

"I Know Him So Well" is a duet from the concept album and subsequent musical Chess by Tim Rice, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. It was originally sung by Elaine Paige (as Florence) and Barbara Dickson (as Svetlana). In this duet, two women – Svetlana, the Russian chess champion's estranged wife, and Florence, his mistress – express their bittersweet feelings for him and at seeing their relationships fall apart.

"I Know Him So Well"
I Know Him So Well.jpg
Single by Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson
from the album Chess, Gold and Love Hurts
B-side"Chess" (London Symphony Orchestra)
ReleasedDecember 1984[1]
Recorded1984
GenrePop
Length4:15
LabelRCA
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Björn Ulvaeus
  • Benny Andersson
  • Tim Rice

The chorus of the song is based on the chorus of "I Am an A", a song performed live during Andersson and Ulvaeus' group ABBA's 1977 tour.[2] Although "I Am an A" was never released officially, it circulated on various bootlegs and is readily available on YouTube.

Original version

The duet was first released worldwide on the Chess double LP, often referred to as a concept album or album musical, in the autumn of 1984. Later it was released as a single by Paige and Dickson, the duet reaching number one in the UK Singles Chart for four weeks in 1985.[3] They laid down their vocals separately and never met during the recording of the song, only for the video and subsequent performances on Top of the Pops and the European tours.[1][4] This recording remains in the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest selling UK chart single ever by a female duo. Paige also appeared in the original London West End stage production of Chess. The song peaked at number 21 in Australia.[5]

In the United Kingdom on 18 September 2004, the BBC's All-Time Greatest Love Songs (hosted by Lionel Richie) saw the duet performed live by Paige and Dickson, together for the first time in 20 years, to a rapturous reception. Paige played her solo demo recording of the song on her BBC Radio 2 show, Elaine Paige on Sunday.

In January 2011, the Official Charts Company released a list of the top 10 All Time Best Selling Duets in which "I Know Him So Well" was placed seventh in the chart.[6]

Paige and Dickson also recorded Spanish-language lyrics for release as "Lo Creo Conocer". The single was never released though.[7]

Charts

Chart (1985) Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[8] 21
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ) 9
United Kingdom (Official Charts) 1

Original recording credits

  • Benny Andersson – keyboards, synthesizers
  • Barbara Dickson – vocals
  • Anders Eljas – keyboards, synthesizers
  • Rutger Gunnarsson – bass
  • Per Lindvall – drums, percussion
  • Elaine Paige – vocals
  • Lasse Wellander – guitars
  • Writers and producers – Benny Andersson, Tim Rice, Björn Ulvaeus
  • Arrangement – Benny Andersson, Anders Eljas
  • Engineer and mixer – Michael B. Tretow

Cissy Houston and Whitney Houston version

"I Know Him So Well"
 
Single by Cissy Houston and Whitney Houston
from the album Whitney
B-side"Just The Lonely Talking Again" "You're Still My Man"
Released30 November 1988
Recorded1986–1987
Genre
Length4:30
LabelArista
Songwriter(s)Tim Rice, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson
Producer(s)Narada Michael Walden
Whitney Houston singles chronology
"One Moment in Time"
(1988)
"I Know Him So Well"
(1988)
"It Isn't, It Wasn't, It Ain't Never Gonna Be"
(1989)

In 1987, a studio version of "I Know Him So Well" was recorded as a duet by Cissy Houston and her daughter Whitney Houston for Whitney's second album, Whitney. It was released as a final and 6th single from Whitney on 30 November 1988 in Australia, Germany, Netherlands, and Spain. There was no official music video produced for the Houston duet of song, however there are live performance video-recordings. The song version was included in the Whitney Houston North American leg of the Moment of Truth World Tour. The single was not promoted as heavily as previous singles from Whitney.

Critical reception

Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times praised the duet thus: "The album ends on a graceful, intimate note as Houston is joined by her mother, singer Cissy Houston, on "I Know Him So Well," a ballad from the musical Chess.[9] Rolling Stone's Vince Alleti criticized the song and production: "Walden covers all these bases, out-schlocking Masser with "I Know Him So Well" — a genuine if frankly derivative show tune (from Tim Rice's Chess) treated here with deadly reverence..."[10] St. Petersburg Times called the duet lifting and praised the mother's role: "Mom adds a brief, welcome moment of grainy soulfulness to the album."[11]

Chart performance

This single peaked at number 46 in Germany[12] and in the Netherlands it peaked at number 14.[13] The single did not appear in the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart, unlike the 4 previous singles which all reached the Top 10.

Track listings and formats

  • CD single (Germany)
  1. "I Know Him So Well" – 4:26
  2. "Just The Lonely Talking Again" – 5:30
  3. "You're Still My Man" – 4:15
  • 7" Single (Germany)
    • A "I Know Him So Well" – 4:26
    • B "Just The Lonely Talking Again" – 5:30
  • 12" Single (Germany)
    • A1 "I Know Him So Well" – 4:26
    • B1 "Just The Lonely Talking Again" – 5:30
    • B2 "You're Still My Man" – 4:15

Chart positions

Chart (1988) Peak
position
Germany (Official German Charts)[14] 46
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[15] 14

Steps version

"Words Are Not Enough" / "I Know Him So Well"
Single by Steps
from the album The Last Dance
Released3 December 2001
Recorded
  • 1999
  • 2001
GenrePop
Length3:23
Label
Songwriter(s)
  • A Carlsson & P Nylén
  • Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson & Tim Rice
  • Lisa Scott-Lee & Johnny Shentall
Producer(s)
  • Romdhame & Larossi
  • Topham & Twigg
Steps singles chronology
"Chain Reaction"
(2001)
"Words Are Not Enough" / "I Know Him So Well"
(2001)
"Light Up the World"
(2012)

British musical group Steps originally recorded "I Know Him So Well" for the 1999 Abbamania compilation, and the song later appeared Steps' own The Last Dance collection. It was released as a single together with "Words Are Not Enough" in 2001 as the group's fifteenth single release, and the group's last single to be released before their Boxing Day split later the same month.

Chart performance

The single entered the charts at number five in the United Kingdom but quickly fell out of the top ten to number 14 the following week. It spent eleven weeks in total in the top 75 despite much lower sales than the group's previous singles. It also peaked at number 21 in Ireland.

Track listings

UK cassette single[16]

  1. "Words Are Not Enough" – 3:24
  2. "I Know Him So Well" – 4:14
  3. "Bittersweet" – 3:58

European enhanced CD single[17]

  1. "Words Are Not Enough" – 3:24
  2. "I Know Him So Well" – 4:14
  3. "Bittersweet" – 3:58
  4. "Words Are Not Enough" (video) – 3:24

Personnel

Charts

Chart (2001–2002) Peak
position
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[18] 27
Ireland (IRMA)[19] 21
Romania (Romanian Top 100)[20] 85
Scotland (OCC)[21] 4
UK Singles (OCC)[22] 5
UK Indie (OCC)[23] 3

Geraldine McQueen and Susan Boyle version

"I Know Him So Well"
 
Single by Geraldine McQueen (Peter Kay) and Susan Boyle
Released21 March 2011
Recorded2011
GenrePop
Songwriter(s)Tim Rice, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson
Peter Kay singles chronology
"The Official BBC Children in Need Medley"
(2009)
"I Know Him So Well"
(2011)
Susan Boyle singles chronology
"Perfect Day"
(2010)
"I Know Him So Well"
(2011)
"You Have to Be There"
(2011)

"I Know Him So Well" was recorded by Peter Kay and Susan Boyle for Comic Relief 2011,[24] with Kay appearing as his alter ego Geraldine McQueen. Their version reached number 11 on the UK Singles Chart. A spoof music video was also created.

Melanie C version

"I Know Him So Well"
 
Single by Melanie C featuring Emma Bunton
from the album Stages
B-side"You'll Never Walk Alone"
Released11 November 2012 (2012-11-11)
RecordedSpring 2012
Genre
Length4:24 (album version)
3:27 (radio edit)
LabelRed Girl
Songwriter(s)Benny Andersson, Tim Rice, Björn Ulvaeus
Producer(s)Peter-John Vettese
Melanie C singles chronology
"Let There Be Love"
(2011)
"I Know Him So Well"
(2012)
"Loving You"
(2013)
Emma Bunton singles chronology
"All I Need to Know"
(2007)
"I Know Him So Well"
(2012)
"Baby Please Don't Stop"
(2019)
Music video
"I Know Him So Well" on YouTube

"I Know Him So Well" was also covered by English recording artist Melanie C. The song was the first single[25] to be taken from Melanie C's musical theatre-inspired and sixth studio album Stages. The song is a duet with Chisholm's fellow Spice Girls group member Emma Bunton. The song was released as a single on 11 November 2012.[25] The b-side of the single is a cover of "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the musical Carousel.[26] The music video for the song premiered on YouTube on 12 November 2012.

Formats and track listings

These are the formats and track listings of major single releases of "I Know Him So Well".

  • Digital download
  1. "I Know Him So Well"
  2. "You'll Never Walk Alone"
  • Limited CD single[27]
  1. "I Know Him So Well"
  2. "You'll Never Walk Alone"
  • Digital download
  1. "I Know Him So Well" (radio edit)

Live performances

Melanie C and Bunton performed the song on

Charts

Chart (2012) Peak
position
UK Singles Charts[28] 153
UK Indie Chart 14

Release history

Country Date Format
Worldwide 11 November 2012 Digital download, CD single

References

  1. ^ a b Elaine Paige And Barbara Dickson - I Know Him So Well OfficialCharts
  2. ^ "Bright Lights Dark Shadows: The Real Story of ABBA", Carl Magnus Palm, p. 471
  3. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 445–6. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  4. ^ Discography - I KNOW HIM SO WELL Barbara Dickson
  5. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 90. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  6. ^ ALL TIME BEST SELLING DUETS Archived 20 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Elaine Paige, 5 January 2011
  7. ^ "Archived copy". YouTube. Archived from the original on 7 January 2016. Retrieved 4 January 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 228. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  9. ^ Robert Hilburn (June 1, 1987). "Album Review : Houston: Commercial Sparkle, Artistic Fizz". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 2014-03-29.
  10. ^ "Whitney | Album Reviews". Rolling Stone. 1987-08-13. Retrieved 2014-03-29.
  11. ^ ERIC SNIDER; ANNELISE WAMSLEY (14 June 1987). "Whitney pulls out another bag of hits Series: RECORDS". Tampa Bay Times. Archived from the original on 13 November 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2014 – via Pqasb.pqarchiver.com.
  12. ^ "charts.de". charts.de. Retrieved 29 March 2014.[dead link]
  13. ^ [1][dead link]
  14. ^ "Houston, Whitney; Houston, Cissy – I Know Him So Well" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  15. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Whitney Houston, Cissy Houston" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  16. ^ Words Are Not Enough / I Know Him So Well (UK cassette single sleeve). Steps. Jive Records, EBUL. 2001. 9201454.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  17. ^ Words Are Not Enough / I Know Him So Well (European enhanced CD liner notes). Steps. Jive Records, EBUL. 2001. 9201452, (7) 9201453.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  18. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 19 no. 52. 22 December 2002. p. 23. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  19. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Words Are Not Enough". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  20. ^ "Arhiva romanian top 100 – Editia 3, saptamina 21.01–27.01, 2002" (in Romanian). Romanian Top 100. Archived from the original on 13 February 2005. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  21. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  22. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  23. ^ "Official Independent Singles Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  24. ^ According to reports Susan Boyle and Peter Kay are set to do a duet STV, 28 February 2011
  25. ^ a b Melanie C (15 October 2012). "Melanie C featuring Emma Bunton - 'I Know Him So Well' - Out November 11". MelanieC.net. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  26. ^ "You'll Never Walk Alone". MelanieC.net. 19 October 2012. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  27. ^ "Melanie C - Discography". Melaniec.net. Archived from the original on 30 March 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  28. ^ "The Official UK Singles Chart for the week ending October 22, 2012". UKChartsPlus. Milton Keynes: IQ Ware Ltd (475).

External links