First recorded by Keith Whitley (C&W #1 1988).
Other hit versions by Alison Krauss & Union Station (US #53/C&W #3/CAN #7 1995), Ronan Keating (UK #1/IRE #1/AUS #3/NZ #1/ 1999), Deborah Blando & Roan Keating (as “O Amor Fala por Nós”) (2002).
From the wiki: “‘When You Say Nothing at All’ was written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz (‘The Gambler‘), and is among the best-known hit songs for three different performers: Keith Whitley, who took it to the top of the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in 1988; Alison Krauss, whose version became her first solo Top 10 Country hit in 1995; and Irish pop singer Ronan Keating, whose version was his first solo single and a chart-topper in the United Kingdom in 1999.
“Overstreet and Schlitz came up with ‘When You Say Nothing at All’ at the end of an otherwise unproductive day. Strumming a guitar, trying to write their next song, they were coming up empty. ‘As we tried to find another way to say nothing, we came up with the song,’ Overstreet later told author Ace Collins. They thought the song was OK, but nothing special. When Keith Whitley heard it, he loved it.
“Alison Krauss, already a veteran bluegrass fiddler and vocalist at age 23, recorded ‘When You Say Nothing at All’ with her group, Union Station, in 1994 for a tribute album to Whitley titled Keith Whitley: A Tribute Album. After the song began to receive unsolicited airplay, BNA Records, the label that had released the album, issued Krauss’ version to radio in January 1995. That version, also featured on Krauss’ compilation Now That I’ve Found You: A Collection, peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.
“‘When You Say Nothing at All’ was released as the debut solo single by Irish singer-songwriter Ronan Keating. The song was recorded in 1999 for the soundtrack to the film Notting Hill and also appeared on Keating’s debut solo album, Ronan.
“The Italian-Ukrainian-Brazilian singer Deborah Blando recorded ‘When You Say Nothing at All’ in Portuguese (as ‘O Amor Fala por Nós’) for the Brazilian version of Destination in 2002. The single reached the top 10 in the Latin charts.”
Alison Krauss & Union Station, “When You Say Nothing At All” (1995):
Ronan Keating, “When You Say Nothing At All” (1999):
Deborah Blando & Roan Keating, “O Amor Fala Por Nós” (2002):