Written by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, and Tom Snow, "Don't Know Much" first appeared on Mann's 1980 Casablanca album Barry Mann. Bill Medley's cover version issued as a Liberty single charted number 88 pop and number 29 adult contemporary in the spring of 1981. Bette Midler's take on the tune issued as the Atlantic single "All I Need to Know" made it to number 77 pop and number 39 adult contemporary in the fall of 1983. Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville first met at the 1984 World's Fair where she was appearing with Nelson Riddle and he with the Neville Brothers. Finding that their voices blended together exceptionally well and that they were fans of each others' talents, they promised to work together in the future.
Producer Steve Tyrell brought the duo a demo of "Don't Know Much," which they immediately liked. Produced by Peter Asher and issued as an Elektra single under the moniker Linda Ronstadt featuring Aaron Neville, "Don't Know Much" went gold, going to number two pop for two weeks and number one adult contemporary for five weeks in the fall of 1989. It won a Grammy for Best Vocal Performance by a Pop Group or Duo and was nominated for Song of the Year. Ronstadt's album Cry Like a Rainstorm -- Howl Like the Wind went platinum, peaking at number seven pop, and included another Ronstadt/Neville duet, "All My Life," which went to number 11 pop and topped the adult contemporary charts. Ronstadt also had a million-selling number two duet hit with James Ingram on "Somewhere Out There," a track from the movie soundtrack for An American Tail. Mann redid "Don't Know Much" for his Soul & Inspiration album issued by Atlantic on January 18, 2000.