November 2005

400 Best Contemporary Country Singles: #25-#1

November 27, 2005 // 4 Comments

The 400 Best Contemporary Country Singles Part 16: #25-#1 #25 “Dancin’ Circles ‘Round The Sun (Epictetus Speaks)” Rodney Crowell 2005 Peak: did not chart I don’t want to begin quoting lyrics from this song, since every one of the lines is memorable. What can I say about Crowell drawing inspiration from an ancient Greek philosopher from the Stoic era? This song jump-started me out of my mid-summer lull, provoking me to find a fresh approach to the world around me. “Disregard what don’t concern you, don’t let disappointment turn you, avoid adopting other people’s view.” “In between the masks you wear, wash your face and comb your hair.” “Your reputation doesn’t matter, let idle gossip chirp and chatter, no one else can tell you how you feel.” “Bend the rules until it breaks, stand your ground until it shakes.” It’s everything I needed to hear to rediscover my inner fearlessness. Read More

My CMA Picks

November 14, 2005 // 0 Comments

I’m not even going to try to handicap this year’s CMA Awards. It’s been years since I’ve been able to intuitively call these races. But I will be happy to share my preference for each category. Check to see who takes home the trophies Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. on CBS. P.S. If you’re wondering how a New Yorker with a country music blog has managed to avoid talking about the show’s move to the Big Apple this year, and all the controversy and hoopla surrounding it, the answer is simple: I don’t care. Music Video of the Year “Alcohol” – Brad Paisley “As Good As I Once Was” – Toby Keith “Day Go By” – Keith Urban “I May Hate Myself In The Morning” – Lee Ann Womack “When I Think About Cheatin’” – Gretchen Wilson My Pick: “As Good As I Once Was” – Toby Keith These Read More

400 Best Contemporary Country Singles: #50-#26

November 9, 2005 // 0 Comments

The 400 Best Contemporary Country Singles Part 15: #50-#26 #50 “Meet In The Middle” Diamond Rio 1991 Peak: #1 Diamond Rio burst on to the country music scene with an ideal showcase of their talents: stunning musicianship, classic country harmony and a good ear for strong material. You can tell by the story revolving around an oak tree that this is a Chapin Hartford song; she loves that nature imagery. The need to compromise for a love to survive finds the perfect metaphor here. #49 “The Walk” Sawyer Brown 1991 Peak: #2 When it’s time to take the next step in your life, and the change is scaring you, it certainly helps to talk to someone who’s been there before. Beginning with the first day of school, continuing with leaving home as an adult and, finally, saying goodbye to your earthly life, a father takes his son by the hand Read More

400 Best Contemporary Country Singles: #75-#51

November 6, 2005 // 1 Comment

The 400 Best Contemporary Country Singles Part 14: #75-#51 #75 “Wrong Side of Memphis” Trisha Yearwood 1992 Peak: #4 Yearwood kicked it into a higher gear with this lead single from her second album, the critically-lauded Hearts In Armor. A classic tale of leaving home for the bright lights of Nashville, the vivid imagery of the lyrics (“I’ve had this dream from a tender age, calling my name from the Opry stage”) and her full-bodied delivery help make this one of the best singles of her career. #74 “Fancy” Reba McEntire 1991 Peak: #8 Let’s not beat around the bush. This is about a mother pushing her young daughter into prostitution as a way out of their poverty-stricken life. Leave it to Reba McEntire to make this sordid tale into a triumph of female empowerment. Her cover of this Bobbie Gentry hit was so powerful and memorable that it became Read More

400 Best Contemporary Country Singles: #100-#76

November 5, 2005 // 0 Comments

The 400 Best Contemporary Country Singles Part 13: #100-#76 #100 “Nobody Wins” Radney Foster 1992 Peak: #2 Pride can be crippling. Sometimes you win the fight but lose the one you love. In the end, you win nothing at all. Radney gets that, and makes a passionate appeal to his lover to stop the fighting and just remember that the love they have is more important than any argument between them. #99 “Quittin’ Time” Mary Chapin Carpenter 1990 Peak: #7 Sometimes, however, fights signify that things aren’t as good as they used to be, but you stick around because you remember how good it used to be. Here, Chapin appeals to her lover to give up the fight, since it’s clear that their love is a thing of the past. #98 “Cry” Faith Hill 2002 Peak: #12 It’s never fun being the one who gives more than they take. To Read More

400 Best Contemporary Country Singles: #125-#101

November 4, 2005 // 0 Comments

The 400 Best Contemporary Country Singles Part 12: #125-#101 #125 “Any Man of Mine” Shania Twain 1995 Peak: #1 There are a few records in country music history that serve as a clear turning point. “On The Other Hand” is one. “Any Man of Mine” is another. After a short five-second tease of twangy guitar, the arena-rock drums slam in, and the rules for what you can put on a country record and still call it one are permanently rewritten. This was the pivotal single from The Woman In Me that launched Shania Twain into the stratosphere, replacing Garth Brooks as the dominant creative force in country music. Ten years later, I still remember hearing it for the first time and thinking, “They can’t do that, can they?” #124 “You Can Sleep While I Drive” Trisha Yearwood 1995 Peak: #23 Shania was the earthquake that made everybody sit up and Read More

400 Best Contemporary Country Singles: #150-#126

November 3, 2005 // 0 Comments

The 400 Best Contemporary Country Singles Part 11: #150-#126 #150 “So Much Like My Dad” George Strait 1992 Peak: #3 A man surprises his mother with a visit, and begins recollecting on his childhood. He recalls how she always said he was just like his dad, and you’re wondering where he’s going with this. Then he reveals the motive for his visit: “She says she’s gonna leave mama, and nothing on God’s green earth can make her stay….but if I’m so much like my dad, there must have been times you felt her way. So tell me, word for word, what he said that always made you stay.” #149 “Real Live Woman” Trisha Yearwood 2000 Peak: #16 For those women who don’t fit into a size 2, Shania’s girl-power anthems rang a little hollow. They found their own declaration of confidence in this Bobbie Cryner-penned classic about what it means Read More

400 Best Contemporary Country Singles: #175-#151

November 1, 2005 // 0 Comments

The 400 Best Contemporary Country Singles Part 10: #175-#151 #175 “(This Thing Called) Wantin’ and Havin’ It All” Sawyer Brown 1995 Peak: #11 The opening piano sounds like a kick-off to an old-time tent revival; the storyline is worthy enough to be told from the altar. A rich man rewrites his will as he nears death, giving most of the money to his hard-working working-class neighbor instead of his ungrateful children. #174 “Alright Guy” Todd Snider 1994 Peak: did not chart Gary Allan had the good taste to cover this fantastic single from Snider’s debut album. Todd can’t figure out why his feminist friend, his old man and the cop that pulled him over don’t get that for all his faults, he’s an alright guy. Hilarious. #173 “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” Big & Rich 2004 Peak: #11 Brazen, ballsy and deliriously over the top, this was like an Read More

400 Best Contemporary Country Singles: #200-#176

November 1, 2005 // 0 Comments

The 400 Best Contemporary Country Singles Part 9: #200-#176 #200 “Do You Know Where Your Man Is” Pam Tillis 1993 Peak: #16 When Tillis began performing “Do You Know Where Your Man Is”, she would tell her audience, “If Tammy Wynette was just starting out, she’d kill for this song.” She’s right. This single sounded like something from another era, with Tillis whispering in the ear of her female friends that she better treat her man right, or he’ll find someone else: “Are you still in his heart when he’s out of your sight?” #199 “She Is Gone” Willie Nelson 1996 Peak: did not chart Willie Nelson’s genius is unquestioned these days, but it’s worth noting whenever the opportunity arises. Here, he crafts an entire song around only eight lines of lyrics, and he’s able to say everything he needs to say in those few lines. Concrete proof that sometimes, Read More