Penned and originally recorded by Mac McAnally in 1992, the country music group later released their version as the second single from their album Cafe on the Corner. “All These Years” by Sawyer Brown then peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and was even a minor adult contemporary hit, peaking at No. 42 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.
The sad song tells the tale of a couple who have lost touch with each other after all these years. It opens with the story of a husband who caught his seemingly serially adulterous wife having an affair. Frustrated with her betrayal, the husband “says the one thing he can say all these years.” He lamented how much he had worked hard to provide for their family, so she should not “rub it in too hard that I’ve been wrong.”
But his wife told him that he is no longer the man he used to be – to which the husband clarified, “Neither is this guy” – as she also recounted what she has done for the family, which the husband refused to see. “She said the one thing she could say all these years.” She took care of their house and raised the family while he was working.
At the end of the song, the man and wife fully understand what they were about to lose, but they were both so confused about how to move ahead.
It is one of Sawyer Brown songs that received a favorable review from Billboard magazine, with Larry Flick calling it “a downer, but effectively presented for a dreary breakup number.” He went on positively saying how the listeners appreciate the seemingly “meeting of the minds.”
You can listen to Sawyer Brown‘s “They Don’t Understand” in the video below.