September 7, 2008
No, no. We’re not talking about your standard “love songs” here. Sure, country music is filled with some of the finest odes to romantic love this side of Solomon 8:6. But once in a good while, it gets more…specific. You know? A little less distant in focus, a little more…intimate.
Of course, the best songs (and Country Universe discussion posts) usually don’t come right out and say what they’re about. They let the lyrics paint a suggestive picture, and leave it to the listener to figure out what’s going on. In the best records, that picture is also conveyed through an equally expressive vocal performance.
The model example of this sort of song would have to be Charlie Rich’s 1973 classic “Behind Closed Doors.” Over a gently swaying melody that steadily climbs into a joyous celebration of activities unseen, Rich coos and croons with the sort of swagger that could make a Sunday School song sound vaguely dirty.
Of course, sometimes it’s prudent to just come right out and say what’s on your mind. To my way of thinking, that approach is nowhere better exemplified than in Alison Krauss & Union Station’s take on the Robert Lee Castleman tune, “Let Me Touch You For Awhile.” Even in that record, though, the bulk of the sensuality lies in the tense situation implied in the lyrics and in Krauss’ Siren-esque vocal, rather than in an explicit run-down of the business at hand (or, to the singer’s chagrin, not at hand).
And then sometimes, a song is just alluring because it’s sung in an alluring way, without a whole lot of mention of any particular activity. Trisha Yearwood’s silky-smooth touch on “Cowboys Are My Weakness” is one of my favorite recent examples of that phenomenon:
But of course, just as everyone likes their eggs a different way, everyone has their preferred “romantic” stylings. The question is, friends, which country songs do you find the most “romantic”?
(And keep it clean!)