This was written by the pop songwriters Guy Roche and Shelly Peiken, the team that delivered Christina Aguilera's #1 hit "What a Girl Wants
" a year later.
In a Songfacts interview with Peiken
, she told the story behind the song. "That was 100 percent my life," she said. "There was a relationship I had - or didn't have - in college. It was a relationship that was more in my head than in his, and I always felt like we almost got there, he almost said I love you, he almost broke up with the girlfriend he had the whole time. He almost faced his feelings but he never quite got there - maybe that was all in my head too. Maybe he never had any of those feelings, maybe it was all my imagination.
That relationship was so powerful, and I feel that when you have one of those kinds of relationships, there's no end to the amount of songs you can write about it. You just look at it from a certain perspective and it can last you a lifetime. So, this was 20-25 years after that relationship when I got together with a go-to collaborator, Guy Roche, who I wrote with often, and I dug up that laundry list of all the 'almosts' I felt we had, and we put it into the song called 'Almost Doesn't Count.' We put that song on the back burner for a long time because it was in an A-A-B-A structure, which is very sort of country, so we weren't sure if it was country or if it felt kind of urban... we weren't sure what to do with it.
Then a few months later we came back to it and it was a lot clearer - not so much the genre, but that it was good enough that we couldn't leave it on the back burner - it was really good and we had to finish it. So we did."