Song Review: James Ingram – “I Don’t Have the Heart”

“I Don’t Have the Heart” was released as the fourth single from James Ingram’s 1989 album, It’s Real. The single was released on August 25, 1990, and it peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

I was 15 years old and just about to start the 10th grade when this single was released. My main knowledge of James Ingram prior to this song was his duet with Linda Ronstadt (“Somewhere Out There”), from the film, An American Tail. I liked “Somewhere Out There,” but didn’t consider myself a fan of James Ingram from that song. But I ended up falling in love with “I Don’t Have the Heart” the very first time I heard it. It’s a beautiful ballad with bittersweet lyrics that listeners can relate to. I also think that James’ vocal performance perfectly conveys the mood of the song; in fact, whenever I hear the song, I believe that he genuinely understands the emotions and feelings behind the words that he’s singing. The combination of the lyrics, music, and vocal performance make this song stand out and withstand the test of time. It doesn’t sound dated at all, and the song holds up just as well now as it did 25 years ago. I still love this song now as much as I did when I was a teenager.

I never saw the music video for “I Don’t Have the Heart” during the time that the song was on the charts. I watched it for the first time on YouTube right before writing this blog post, and I can see why MTV didn’t play it. MTV didn’t avoid because it was a bad video; they avoided it because it didn’t fit in with the look and feel the channel was going for in 1990. The video for “I Don’t Have the Heart” is very simple, and it’s basically James Ingram and the musicians rehearsing the song inside a building. It’s a simple video that works for this song, but it just didn’t look “flashy” enough for MTV.

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