How Do I Live (Without You)? . . .

It was eighteen years ago - this time of year - that I returned to college for my senior year with plans to make two songs my new unofficial anthems . . . "It's All About the Benjamins (Baby)" by Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs featuring the Notorious B.I.G., the Lox, and Lil' Kim (specifically the far superior "rock remix" (start the video at 2:28, you won't regret it) and the ballad "How Do I Live?" by the one and only LeAnn Rimes. Or so I thought.

It turns out that at the same time I was hoping to woo the ladies through the warble of Ms. Rimes, SLF was in the heartland trying to woo the fellas under the effort of Trisha Yearwood . . . while she sang the same song. 

So here is a sorta answer the age-old questions that we never knew needed to be answered (but has become an oft-revisited source or debate (not "argument" - "debate" in our house) until now - which came first, and who did it better? The history of "How Do I Live?"

First . . . the facts.

Release Date: Tuesday, May 27, 1997
Copies Sold: +3,000,000 hard copies (+4,000,000 more in the "digital age")
Billboard Positioning Success: Entered the charts on June 14, 1997. Peaked at #2 (behind Elton John's tribute to Princess Diana) but spent 32 weeks in the Top 10 and a total of 69 (giggle) weeks on the Billboard "Hot 100" (a fete bested only once since). The song remains the fourth-best selling single ever and is the most successful song in the history of the Billboard charts by a female artist (take THAT, Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You"). 
Awards and Accolades: The song is still the most commercially successful country song in the history of the genre. Her version was nominated for a GRAMMY for "Best Female Vocal Country Performance" 
Official Video:

Release Date: Tuesday, May 27, 1997
Copies Sold: 300,000 hard copies (Almost 2,000,000 more have sold in the "digital age")
Billboard Positioning Success: Entered the charts on June 14, 1997. Peaked at #23 on the charts and left the charts within 10 weeks
Awards and Accolades: Nominated for and WON "Best Female Vocal Country Performance", Won a Country Music Award ("Female Vocalist of the Year") and was nominated for an Academy Award/Oscar (it lost to a little, barely-heard ballad from a small, independent film called "My Heart Will Go On" from the film Titanic") and won her an Academy of Country Music award for "Female Vocal"
Official Video:

So how did all this  happen? Two versions of the same song, written and produced by the same people and label coming out on the same day and one being hugely successful to some and the other being superior to others? How did one do so well on the charts and the other so well with awards? As different as Nicolas Cage and John Cusack? As various in placements as Con Air and Days of Our Lives? Simple. 


The song was written by Diane Warren (to that point one of the most prolific and successful songwriters ever) FOR LeAnn Rimes to sing and the song was to be featured on the Con Air soundtrack in 1997. Rimes sang it and proverbially killed it. Then the film producers found out that Rimes was only FOURTEEN when she recorded it. They freaked and worried about the commercial viability about a love so strong the loss of it would crush a lover coming from a barely teenaged songstress. So they hired Trisha Yearwood (32 at the time) to do it over. The song was featured in the movie and her video for the song features footage from the film. 

LeAnn Rimes' manager (and father) was livid. He exercised their rights on the song and pushed it immediately to the pop charts to prove to the film company that they had made a mistake. 

Fun fact: NEITHER version of the song appears on the Con Air soundtrack (it is only the score to the movie) but the parent company that owned the musical rights to both versions was so worried about the success of both versions of the song eating in to the success of either version of the song decided almost immediately to stop releasing/selling singles of the Yearwood version. Since her version could no longer be bought (they printed just 300,000 copies) it could not climb the charts. So Rimes was even more successful and the staying power of the song was even longer. Poor Trisha Yearwood.

To this day, neither woman has had a hit anywhere nearly as successful.