Music

'I Swear': The Story Behind John Michael Montgomery's Crossover Hit

Portrait of John Michael Montgomery at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, December 1, 1993. (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

"I Swear" was a massive hit for country singer John Michael Montgomery when he released it as the lead single on his 1993 studio album Kickin' It Up. The song landed at No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and stayed there for four weeks. Later, it crossed over to pop radio and peaked at No. 42 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

That wasn't the last time "I Swear" would find itself on the pop charts. In 1994, the R&B band All-4-One released the song shortly after Montgomery under the production of David Foster. All-4-One's version hit No. 1 on several charts, including the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, where it stayed for 11 consecutive weeks. The group went on to win the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

But, where did the song come from?

Frank Myers and Gary Baker penned the pop ballad. In an interview with Bert Herbison, executive director of Nashville Songwriters Association, Myers told how the pair wrote the smash hit.

"I live about three hours from Gary, and one morning he called me when I was getting ready to go down (to Muscle Shoals, Ala.) to write. He says, "I've got an idea for you to think about on the drive down. It's called 'I Swear' ... and it's like, 'I'll love you forever.' I just think it's a good title." I said, "Let me think about it on the drive down." So I did, and I actually wrote the chorus, music, and words, driving down to his house."

According to Myers, everyone in the town (Nashville) passed on the song. It was too pop for the country music coming out in the early '90s. The song was pitched to Montgomery a handful of times until he finally agreed to cut it. Thankfully he did; Montgomery went on to win the ACM award for Song of the Year.

Don't forget to add "I Swear" to your country love song playlist!

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'I Swear': The Story Behind John Michael Montgomery's Crossover Hit