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Eddy Arnold Took “I Really Don’t Want to Know” To Number One In Country

Eddy Arnold + I Really Don't Want To Know
by

In 1953, Howard Barnes, a popular English lyricist, wrote the song “I Really Don’t Want to Know” along with songwriter and pianist Don Robertson. Since it was published, it has been sung by a long list of big-name country artists like Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton & Willie Nelson, and Jerry Lee Lewis, to name a few. It was also covered across genres, including Tommy Edward’s, which became a pop Top 20 hit. But one of the earlier versions of the song was Eddy Arnold’s in 1954. 

Arnold’s was the first country version to chart, climbing to number one. This is just one of his 28 #1 singles. But it wasn’t just a fleeting success, as it went on to become one of Eddy Arnold’s signature songs, solidifying his status as a major country music star. 

Meaning Behind the Song

“I Really Don’t Want to Know” explores the themes of love and doubt, conveying a sense of reluctant resignation and emotional vulnerability. It has come to the point that the narrator just chooses not to know the answer to their questions. As far as they know, not knowing is better than the truth. 

The song opens with the line, “How many arms have held you / And hate it to let you go,” which sets the scene of how the narrator feels about their lover. There’s doubt and even a feeling of betrayal. They then go and press, “How many?” And then, they suddenly get this change of heart, saying that they really didn’t want to know. 

It’s all the same in the second verse. The narrator grapples with the reality that their partner cheated on them, but as an act of self-preservation and to keep their hearts from heartache, they decide to remain ignorant of the details. This sentiment is encapsulated by the line in the chorus: “So always make me wonder / Always make me guess.”

They then ask their darling not to confess and just let the answers remain a secret. They’d wonder, yes, but ultimately, they didn’t really want to know. Because the moment they decided so, they’d be faced with the possible pain and finality that their relationship may be irreparably damaged. 

Arnold masterfully delivered that yearning and sorrow with his warm and smooth vocals. The arrangement was gentle, with an understated orchestration that definitely complemented the introspective nature of the song’s lyrics. It also created that feeling that would keep it in your mind long after it had ended. 

The song has definitely made an impact in the industry, inspiring multiple artists to cover it and add a new layer of interpretation that continues to resonate with both old and new listeners. 

Watch Eddy Arnold’s “I Really Don’t Want to Know” in the video below and let him take you to heartfelt journey of love and heartache

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