Keith Whitley – When You Say Nothing at All, is a country song written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz. It was a hit song for four different performers: Keith Whitley, who took it to the top of the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart on December 24, 1988; Alison Krauss, whose version was her first solo top-10 country hit in 1995; Irish singer Frances Black, whose 1996 version became her third Irish Top 10 single and brought the song to the attention of Irish pop singer Ronan Keating, whose 1999 version was his first solo single and a number-one hit in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and New Zealand.
RCA released “When You Say Nothing at All” as the follow-up single to the title song of Whitley’s Don’t Close Your Eyes album. The former song already had hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, his first chart-topper after three prior singles made the top 10. “When You Say Nothing at All” entered the Hot Country Singles chart on September 17, 1988, at No. 61, and gradually rose to the top, where it stayed for two weeks at the end of the year. It was the second of five consecutive chart-topping singles for Whitley, who did not live to see the last two, as he died on May 9, 1989, of alcohol poisoning. “Keith did a great job singin’ that song,” co-composer Schlitz told author Tom Roland. “He truly sang it from the heart.” In 2004, Whitley’s original was ranked 12th among CMT’s 100 Greatest Love Songs. It was sung by Sara Evans on the show. As of February 2015, the song has sold 599,000 digital copies in the US after it became available for download.
Keith Whitley – When You Say Nothing at All
From the album Don’t Close Your Eyes
B-side “Lucky Dog”
Songwriter(s) Paul Overstreet. Don Schlitz
Producer(s) Garth Fundis Keith Whitley