Don’t Know Much” is a song written by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Tom Snow. The original version of this song was recorded by Barry Mann in 1980 and was made famous when it was covered as a duet by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville in 1989.
The song had a rich history prior to its success in 1989. It first appeared on Barry Mann’s self-titled 1980 album, released on Casablanca records. Bill Medley and Bette Midler (under the title “All I Need to Know”) then had minor chart success with it in 1981 and 1983, respectively.
In 1985, Audrey Landers recorded the song as “All I Need to Know” for her second album for the German market, Paradise Generation, by Glenn Jones on his 1987 self-titled album for Jive Records, and gospel singer Cynthia Clawson also has a version under this title on her 1990 album Words Will Never Do.
In 2000, Barry Mann re-recorded the song with Brenda Russell on his album Soul and Inspiration released on Atlantic records.
Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville version
The song was covered on Linda Ronstadt’s Triple Platinum 1989 album Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind. It was introduced to Ronstadt and Neville by Steve Tyrell. Co-produced by Tyrell and Peter Asher, it was released as a single in the U.S. in 1989, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December, 1989 (behind Phil Collins’ Another Day in Paradise) and #1 (where it held for 5 consecutive weeks) on both the adult contemporary chart and pop sales charts. The single was certified Gold and eventually sold over 900,000 copies in the US alone. In the UK, the song peaked at #2 on the British pop chart. The song also hit #1 in Canada, Ireland, Australia, and several other countries. The song proved to be Ronstadt’s tenth Billboard Top 10 Pop hit.
“Don’t Know Much” won Ronstadt and Neville the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and was nominated for Song of the Year.