Patty Loveless was just starting to find mainstream success when “Don’t Toss Us Away” ascended the country chart in early 1989.
In the heartbreak ballad written by Bryan MacLean, Loveless is begging her husband to stick around, even though he’s told her he wants to split up. With that yearning in Loveless’ voice, you really feel for her when she asks, “How can all those years be tossed away in just one moment, in just one day?”
As the video opens, a man approaches Loveless, who is lingering in front of a hardware store. But a few seconds later, you can see that guy walking the other direction across a covered bridge, leaving Loveless, well, loveless. Does he come back? The ending is vague, but there’s nothing subtle about those awesome hairstyles of the 1980s.
The moody song is one of five hit singles from her breakthrough 1988 album, Honky Tonk Angel. After “Don’t Toss Us Away” peaked at No. 4, the gold-certified project delivered Loveless her first two No. 1 singles: “Timber, I’m Falling in Love” and “Chains.” After her career resurgence on Epic Records in the mid-1990s, sales for Honky Tonk Angel picked up, and she earned a platinum plaque in 1997, nine years after the album’s release.
MacLean wrote the song for his half-sister Maria McKee, lead singer of the pioneering alt-country band Lone Justice. As a member of the rock band Love, MacLean’s catalog also includes the enduring “Alone Again Or.”
As for Loveless, she married her producer Emory Gordy Jr., just as the divorce-themed “Don’t Toss Us Away” was enjoying Top 10 status. Happily, these particular lyrics didn’t come true for the couple. They celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary this year.
Check out Patty Loveless’ “Don’t Toss Us Away.”