Bobby's One Hit Wonders: Volume 18: James House - This Is Me Missing You

In this week's article, Bobby takes a look at James House's one Top 10 hit "This Is Me Missing You." The song was from Days Gone By in 1995 but the singer has had a remarkable career before and after the single, including writing "A Broken Wing" for Martina McBride. Read on to learn about his career!

House's first major gig was the House Band, which played on the West Coast and ultimately signed to Warner/Curb Records under the name Prisoner. They released one single, a cover of "Try a Little Tenderness" b/w "I Wanna Be the One," which went nowhere. After a hiatus, he cut a rock album for Atlantic Records, produced by Steely Dan producer Gary Katz. Although "Steal Your Love Away" was sent out as a promo single, the Atlantic disc was never released. However, he co-wrote the title track to Rita Coolidge's 1983 album Never Let You Go. 

For the next few years, movie soundtracks were House's calling. He sang "Flesh on Fire" in Teen Wolf (1985), "In It for Love" for Fire with Fire (1986), and "Bad Mistake" for The Wraith (1986), in addition to writing "You Better Wait" (performed by Fee Waybill) for the 1989 movie Dream a Little Dream. He was also Dustin Hoffman's vocal coach on the notorious 1987 film Ishtar. By 1989, he'd made the move to Music City, where he signed with MCA and put out another self-titled album. It brought him his first chart action with "Don't Quit Me Now," a quietly intense plea not to give up on love: "It's been three days going on four / That you haven't been at home / Is that you callin' on the phone, lettin' me know? / Baby, don't quit me now, we still got a long way to go." Although it made the mid-20s, the followup fell way short, and House looked destined to be one of the many footnotes of the late 80s. 

A year later, MCA issued Hard Times for an Honest Man, which failed to produce a Top 40 hit. House wasn't heard from again until 1992, when he penned two hits only a few months apart: Diamond Rio's "In a Week or Two" and Dwight Yoakam's "Ain't That Lonely Yet." He also sang backing vocals on The Mavericks' mid-1994 single "O What a Thrill," which House himself previously cut on his first MCA album.

Epic Records picked up House in late 1994. The title track to his third released album, Days Gone By, had already appeared on the soundtrack to The Cowboy Way. Although lead-off single "A Real Good Way to Wind Up Lonesome" flopped, "Little by Little" made #25, and "This Is Me Missing You" became his only Top 10 hit, at #6. The song found House posessing the same slow-burn passion he had shown as early as "Don't Quit Me Now," turning simple lines like "If you hear teardrops / Falling like rain on the rooftops / You don't know what you're listening to / This is me missing you" into a passionate account of heartbreak. His strong tenor and tight lyricism recalled a cross between Hal Ketchum and The Mavericks frontman Raul Malo.

Another common thread between the Mavericks and James House was that both were at total odds with mid-90s country radio's trends. The shift to a blander, more pop direction was evident the week House was at #6. The final wave of "hat acts" was getting its own 15 minutes of fame: Jeff Carson, Rhett Akins, Ty England, Wade Hayes, and Rick Trevino — to Trevino's credit, his 2003 album In My Dreams, produced by the aforementioned Malo, was superb — and the earlier waves, such as Tracy Byrd and Mark Chesnutt, was starting to die off. The likes of Bryan White, Ty Herndon, and John Berry offered great voices but interchangeable songs. Not that everything was painted beige just yet: Tim McGraw had just hit top 40 with his infectious smash "I Like It, I Love It," and Blackhawk was finishing up a Top 10 run with the smart life-lesson tune "That's Just About Right." So it was perhaps unsurprising that House fizzled out so quickly, getting to #49 with "Anything for Love" and missing the charts entirely with "Until You Set Me Free."

Although House never followed up Days Gone By, he appeared on The Beach Boys' re-recording of "Little Deuce Coupe" from their 1996 trainwreck of a duets album Stars and Stripes, Vol. 1. One more movie soundtrack cut ("Every Minute, Every Hour, Every Day" for the 1996 film Tin Cup) and some scattered co-writer's credits kept him afloat through the 90s and early 2000s. But the only one of those cuts that saw any air time was Martina McBride's potent "A Broken Wing," about an abused woman who either escapes or kills himself — the fact that the song is open-ended about her fate shows House's subtlety in full force again.

House has continued to make sporadic contributions, including many on previous Bobby's One Hit Wonders entrant Steve Azar's 2008 album Slide On Over Here. He also released "I Love You Man" in 2009, which never appeared on an album, followed by an EP titled Home, Vol. 1. In addition, he penned the Mavericks' fabulous reunion single "Born to Be Blue" in 2012, and released an album with Americana singer John Brannen. Although House's output of late is sporadic, the fact that he's still doing anything at all is reassuring.

Watch the music video for "This Is Me Missing You" here!