I Know Him So Well

Album: Chess (1985)
Charted: 1
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • Although they each had hits as solo artists, this was the only UK #1 for Paige and Dickson. Paige had previously starred in Evita and Dickson was a former folk singer.
  • The song is from the musical Chess. It was written by Tim Rice with Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus from Abba. It gave Benny and Bjorn their 10th #1 as writers.
  • Chess took two years to write. Bjorn said, "We were very pleased as we had something longer to work on, both the bigger format and the concept of drama and music together. I can see now that there is quite a lot of that in the later Abba songs, so we were working towards that. "One Night In Bangkok" and "I Know Him So Well" could well have been Abba songs. We had Elaine Paige in mind from the start. She was with Tim at the time and she was the best theater singer in the world. When we heard Barbara Dickson, we realized that she was wonderful too. She retained that folksy quality even when she did Chess and that really attracted me."
  • Barbara Dickson recalls, "It sounded to the average person in the street like a fantastic new Abba record and they loved the chance of buying an Abba record again. It was a sophisticated song- two women singing different things about the same man. We didn't record it together. Elaine had been to Stockholm and done the recording and I was brought in much later. When the record came out, we promoted it together of course." (Both the above quotes are taken from 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh.
  • This is the all time best selling song for a female duo in the UK.
  • The song has reached the UK Top 20 on two further occasions. In 2001 it featured on the double A-side of the last ever Steps single, reaching #5 as the flip to "Words Are Not Enough." Ten years later, a cover by Susan Boyle and comedian Peter Kay recorded for Comic Relief peaked at #11.

Comments: 4

  • Robin Brown from Hadleigh.essex UkI have enjoyed this song for many years
  • Sara from Silver Spring, MdIn the musical this is sung by a Hungarian woman who is in love with a Russian (Soviet) chess master and the chess master's wife.
  • Sara from Silver Spring, MdSadly the song did not do to well in the US
    as it did in the US. Chess opened on Broadway
    with miscast actors and a terrible book and lasted only two months. The song was recorded by Barbra Streisand as well as Whitney and Cissy Houston. A recent concert version of the show starred Josh Groban and Julia Murney.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesOh blimey, I remember this was at number 1 for ages in the UK, seemingly 4eva...
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Jon Oliva of Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Jon Oliva of Trans-Siberian OrchestraSongwriter Interviews

Writing great prog metal isn't easy, especially when it's for 60 musicians.

Arrested For Your Art - The Story Of 2 Live Crew's "Obscene" Album

Arrested For Your Art - The Story Of 2 Live Crew's "Obscene" AlbumSong Writing

In the summer of 1990, you could get arrested for selling a 2 Live Crew album or performing their songs in Southern Florida. And that's exactly what happened.

Edwin McCain

Edwin McCainSongwriter Interviews

"I'll Be" was what Edwin called his "Hail Mary" song. He says it proves "intention of the songwriter is 180 degrees from potential interpretation by an audience."

80s Video Director Jay Dubin

80s Video Director Jay DubinSong Writing

Billy Joel and Hall & Oates hated making videos, so they chose a director with similar contempt for the medium. That was Jay Dubin, and he has a lot to say on the subject.

La La Brooks of The Crystals

La La Brooks of The CrystalsSong Writing

The lead singer on "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Then He Kissed Me," La La explains how and why Phil Spector replaced The Crystals with Darlene Love on "He's A Rebel."

Five Rockers Who Rolled With The Devil

Five Rockers Who Rolled With The DevilSong Writing

Just how much did these monsters of rock dabble in the occult?