I Know Him So Well

Album: Chess (1985)
Charted: 1
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • 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.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 3

  • 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

Dr. JohnSongwriter Interviews

The good doctor shares some candid insights on recording with Phil Spector and The Black Keys.

Carol KayeSongwriter Interviews

A top session musician, Carol played on hundreds of hits by The Beach Boys, The Monkees, Frank Sinatra and many others.

Subversive Songs Used To SellSong Writing

Songs about drugs, revolution and greed that have been used in commercials for sneakers, jeans, fast food, cruises and cars.

Joan ArmatradingSongwriter Interviews

The revered singer-songwriter talks inspiration and explains why she put a mahout in "Drop the Pilot."

Phil Hurtt ("I'll Be Around")Songwriter Interviews

Phil was a songwriter, producer and voice behind many Philadelphia soul classics. When disco hit, he got an interesting project: The Village People.

David Paich of TotoSongwriter Interviews

Toto's keyboard player explains the true meaning of "Africa" and talks about working on the Thriller album.