LeAnn Rimes Says Releasing ‘How Do I Live’ at the Same Time as Trisha Yearwood ‘Didn’t Feel Good’

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·3 min read
LeAnn Rimes Says Releasing ‘How Do I Live’ at the Same Time as Trisha Yearwood ‘Didn’t Feel Good’
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  • LeAnn Rimes reflected on releasing “How Do I Live” at the same time as Trisha Yearwood.

  • It didn’t feel good, that’s for sure,Rimes admitted.

  • The pair were unintentionally pitted against each other when they were both recruited to record the song for the 1997 film Con Air.

1997 was an awkward year for LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood. If you don’t recall, they were pitted against each other when songwriter Diane Warren commissioned both of them to sing the iconic track “How Do I Live” for the film Con Air.

As the story goes, Warren initially had Rimes’ voice in mind for the song, but eventually determined she was too young (she was 14 at the time) for her voice to fit in such a mature movie. That’s why Yearwood ended up with the gig, but by that time, it was too late—they both had already recorded the song and released it to radio.

“It didn’t feel good, that’s for sure,” Rimes recently told Kelleigh Bannen on an Essential Album special on Apple Music Country, reflecting on that time. “I remember thinking that my version of the song would never be heard and I’m glad I was really wrong about that.”

While Yearwood released her version to country radio, Rimes took hers to pop, and it still managed to soar in popularity. She said she recalled being asked about mixing genres and didn’t mind doing it at all.

“That was kind of my breaking out of that one box of, ‘Oh, she’s just this, she’s the little girl who sings country music,’” she noted. “That was kind of the first… I was crossing over when people didn’t cross over and got my hand slapped big time for that, but it was also one of the most, I mean, it’s the most successful song by a woman ever still to this date.”

Rimes’ version remained on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 69 weeks and later became Billboard’s No. 1 song of the 1990s, selling more than three million units in a matter of months, per Rolling Stone.

With that being said, Yearwood’s rendition saw its own success, having made it into Con Air, selling over 2 million copies, and taking over country music charts. Yearwood’s version also won the Grammy for Best Country Female Vocal Performance after being nominated up against Rimes. It was the first time in music history that two artists were nominated for the same song.

The women did their best not to make the situation a personal rivalry and refused to talk about each other to the press, but it was nevertheless a frustrating experience for them both.

“I would not have chosen to go up against LeAnn Rimes,” Yearwood told The Chicago Tribune in 1997. For her, it was all a genuine miscommunication. “The Nashville rule is, if somebody has a song on hold, you don’t record it,” she said. “There’s this kind of gentlemen’s agreement that if somebody has it, you don’t mess with it. But in this case, I didn’t think she had any kind of permission to do that, so I wasn’t worried about it. Then I’m in Europe and I start to hear that [the Rimes version] has been released to radio. Then our version comes out, and it’s like it becomes this big battle between record labels.”

In retrospect, Rimes said she has a lot of respect for her younger self, who held her own during such a daunting time. “I was 14 and that was my first taste of the industry, I guess, in a way,” she recalled. “I really respect myself as a kid.”

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