Today’s Daily Top Five asks you to pick the five albums you would use to make a case for country music to the unconverted listener.
Here are the five albums I would lend/rip/share in a .zip to someone willing to give country music a chance:
- Dixie Chicks, Home
- Tim McGraw, Live Like You Were Dying
- Reba McEntire, For My Broken Heart
- Alan Jackson, A Lot About Livin’ (and a Little ‘Bout Love)
- Shania Twain, The Woman in Me
What are your Top Five Country Convert Albums?
Written by Chris Stapleton
With all of the lamenting that many of us do regarding mainstream country music, those of us who are practical are aware of the conflict of knowing that the songs that we would choose to be played on radio must at least maintain a balance of quality songwriting and sounding country while still being accessible to a mainstream audience, which is what much of nineties country music did so well.
Again, we play catch up with a daily double top five, and this one focuses on cover songs.
So many great songs have been re-recorded over time. Sometimes the new versions are so good that you discover something new about the original. Other times, the new takes are so bad that you just wish they’d left well enough alone.
So today we ask: What do you think are the best and the worst cover songs?
For my five best, I’m picking versions that I enjoyed so much more than the originals that I rarely listen to the first versions anymore. But you don’t have to do that!
Original artists are in parentheses after each pick.
Five Best Cover Songs
- Emmylou Harris, “The Boxer” (Simon & Garfunkel)
- Johnny Cash, “Why Me Lord” (Kris Kristofferson)
- Reba McEntire, “Sweet Music Man” (Kenny Rogers)
- Alison Krauss, “Ghost in This House” (Shenandoah)
- Dwight Yoakam, “Wichita Lineman” (Glen Campbell)
Five Worst Cover Songs
- David Kersh, “Wonderful Tonight” (Eric Clapton)
- Brooks & Dunn, “Missing You” (John Waite)
- Rascal Flatts, “Revolution” (The Beatles)
- Gretchen Peters, “Sunday Morning Coming Down” (Johnny Cash)
- Willie Nelson, “Time After Time” (Cyndi Lauper)
“Loving You Easy”
Zac Brown Band
Written by Al Anderson, Zac Brown, and Niko Moon
Zac Brown Band’s groove was in danger of becoming a rut, and their new album, Jekyll + Hyde, is their game attempt to expand their sound. You know, mix it up a bit.
I almost feel guilty for faulting them for “Loving You Easy.” They’re really trying to do something new.
Once again, technical difficulties derailed yesterday’s Daily Top Five. So we’re doubling down today.
Ever notice how the Vocal Event categories at country award shows honor harmony vocals as much as they do real, full-fledged duets? The spiritual godfather of all of this is “You and I”, the not quite duet by Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle, “You and I.” But the modern trend goes back to the award-sweeping “It’s Your Love”, the not quite duet by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.
So for today’s Daily Double Top Fives, we’re asking you to make the distinction that the award shows don’t. What are your favorite five duets, which feature two artists actually trading off lines, and what are your favorite five “all-star” harmony vocals?
Here are mine:
Top Five Duets
- Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, “The Last Thing on My Mind”
- Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty, “After the Fire is Gone”
- Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton, “You Can’t Make Old Friends”
- Suzy Bogguss & Billy Dean, “Something Up My Sleeve”
- Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss, “Whiskey Lullaby”
Top Five Harmony Vocals
- Linda Ronstadt with Emmylou Harris, “I Can’t Help it (If I’m Still in Love with You)”
- Tim McGraw with Faith Hill, “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s”
- Patty Loveless with George Jones, “You Don’t Seem to Miss Me”
- Vince Gill with Patty Loveless, “When I Call Your Name”
- Trisha Yearwood with Emmylou Harris, “Woman Walk the Line”
“It’s all Going to Pot”
Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard
Written by Buddy Cannon, Jamey Johnson, and Larry Shell
Let’s answer all of the burning questions right away.
1. Do these two legends still sound great? Yes.
2. Is it a real duet where they alternate verses and play off of each other? Yes.
This is the strongest album Reba McEntire has released in more than twenty years.
Listening to Love Somebody is hearing a legend of the genre rediscover her own voice. She’s always been an excellent singer, but after making her name as both a heartbreak queen and the common folk’s Everywoman, she had tremendous difficulty navigating the post-Shania Twain landscape of female empowerment anthems.
As we’re prepping our 1993 lists, there have been many debut albums in consideration. That year brought the first studio sets from big stars like Tracy Byrd, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Shania Twain, and Clay Walker. Also, sentimental favorites of attentive listeners, like Brother Phelps. Shawn Camp, Bobbie Cryner, Lisa Stewart, and Lari White also released their first discs.
Debut albums aren’t always great. Sometimes the artistic voice just isn’t there yet. But some new artists knock it out of the park the first time out.
Today we ask: What are your Top Five Debut Albums?
Here’s my list:
- Kim Richey, Kim Richey
- Clint Black, Killin’ Time
- Randy Travis, Storms of Life
- Bobbie Cryner, Bobbie Cryner
- Emmylou Harris, Pieces of the Sky
If we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t like every single music choice that even our very favorite artists make, which is what inspired us to share our least favorite albums from our favorite artists. In that same spirit, there are also times when we catch ourselves enjoying a stray song or two from artists by whom we’re typically not impressed.
So, what are five songs that you like from artists that you normally don’t enjoy?
Here are mine. I should note that I actually enjoy more than one song from most of these artists, but will only list one for the purpose of this exercise.
- Jason Aldean, “Two Night Town”
- Rascal Flatts, “What Hurts the Most”
- Taylor Swift (feat. The Civil Wars), “Safe and Sound”
- Scotty McCreery, ” Carolina Moon”
- Thomas Rhett, “Beer with Jesus”
We’ve been way too upbeat lately with our Daily Fives! Today, we’re asking a different question about your favorite artists.
What are the five albums from artists you usually love that really disappointed you? The ones that are lucky to have a handful of tracks that are still on your iPod, or made you think twice before you bought the album that followed?
Here’s My Top Five:
- Mary Chapin Carpenter, A Place in the World
- Sugarland, The Incredible Machine
- Trisha Yearwood, Where Your Road Leads
- Todd Snider, Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables
- Lori McKenna, Numbered Doors
What’s your top five?