Where've You Been

Album: Willow In The Wind (1989)
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  • This poignant country ballad was written by Jon Vezner (Mattea's husband) and country singer/songwriter Don Henry. Vezner and Henry also teamed up to write her 1991 hit "Whole Lotta Holes" and later formed the country-folk duo The DonJuans.
  • The lyrics tell the story of Edwin and Claire, a couple who have been together for 60 years. Throughout their relationship, Claire asks Edwin the title question in different connotations. First, she lovingly wonders where he's been her whole life, then she frantically asks the question when comes home late, and finally - in the fog of dementia in her old age - she suddenly recognizes him and says, "Where've you been?"
  • The song is based on the story of Vezner's grandparents, who both landed in the hospital at the same time but managed to sneak a visit to see each other. "I was the guy that wheeled my grandfather in - my grandmother was in the hospital and she didn't really know anybody," he told The Tennessean. "They hadn't been apart, really, in 66 years and then my grandfather had a seizure. Turned out he had a brain tumor, so they put him in the hospital. I went down there and I said, 'Has anybody brought him up to see her?' and it hadn't occurred to anybody.

    So I wheeled him in and wheeled him around the bed. He picked up her hand and stroked her hair and kept saying, 'Look at them hair, nobody has hair like Grandma.' And she just looked at him. She's a little German lady, and finally she goes, 'Where you been? But it still got me, you know."
  • Vezner may have brought the story, but it was Henry who was inspired to write the song. Henry recalled in the same interview: "He told me that story just like he told it to you, and I laughed just like you did. I thought, 'That's funny,' and I said, 'Hey, how about this, I've had this riff.' After I played that, he went like this, he does that thing where he does his beard, and he goes, 'Play it again.' And I played, 'Where have you been?' and he filled in, 'I've looked for you forever and a day.' And I said 'Where have you been?' and he said,
    'I'm just not myself when you're away.' We looked at each other's arms. Goosebumps."
  • Vezner first played this for Mattea at the party to celebrate her single "Goin' Gone" hitting #1. Mattea remembered: "We went upstairs to the listening room, and when the first chorus went down, my head spun around. I knew the story, and I couldn't believe he wrote it in a song."

    It had been years since she first heard the story, she explained: "When Jon told me the story for the first time, it was before we had even gotten engaged, and he just cried and cried. When he played the song for me and the first chorus came around, I knew where he was going with the lyric, and I just couldn't believe he could be that vulnerable as a writer, to put that moment in a song."
  • Although she was touched by the song, Mattea was reluctant to record it because she thought listeners would find it too sad. Thankfully, she relented and it became a #10 hit.
  • This won the Grammy Award for Best Country Song at the 1991 ceremony, beating Garth Brooks' "The Dance" and "Friends In Low Places," among other nominees. Mattea also beat out Reba McEntire ("You Lie") when she won for Best Country Performance, Female.

    In 1989, it took the Song of the Year prize at the Academy of Country Music Awards, where Mattea was named Female Vocalist of the Year.


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