January 15, 2009
The following is a guest contribution from Country Universe reader Cory DeStein.
Throughout my life I have attempted to share my taste in music with those around me. More often than not friends and family will show a interest then kindly move onto the next subject. Only one person in my life has shown me that genuine interest in everything I have ever done. I will never know if we really had that much in common, or if she was just that good at making me happy. That’s a secret I never want to know. Though we shared many interests in music, food, television and in life, there was one topic we both we both enjoyed: the music of Trisha Yearwood.
Throughout the years, I had chances to meet Trisha backstage and at a book signing. Each time she kindly agreed to personalize a photo for my grandmother. During a 2006 meet and greet, I told Trisha what a fan my grandmother was of “XXX’s and OOO’s.” Just less than 2 years later, Trisha personalized a cookbook “To Thelma, XXXs and OOOs Love, Trisha Yearwood.” I didn’t think she’d remember that. The woman’s personality is as impressive as her voice.
This past August, my healthy grandmother began to go downhill after complications from minor surgery. I mentioned on Yearwood’s fan site that my absence may be related to that. Sadly my grandmother passed away shortly after that message. It was a sudden and shocking loss that affected me in ways I will never be able to explain. I felt as if I was robbed of any future memories to be made with her, similar to the ones of the past I cherished so much.
A few weeks after her passing, I received a card in the mail. It was a “get well” card from Trisha Yearwood. She had signed “Thelma, Get Well Soon. Best Wishes, Trisha Yearwood” Just when I thought the doors had closed on us, Trisha gave me one last memory to share with my grandma. Country Universe has given me the chance to write my 25 favorite Trisha Yearwood songs, and I would like to dedicate it to all the years we both shared together enjoying the wonderful entertainer and amazing person’s music.
In 2005, after a 4 year hiatus, Yearwood returned with her version of “Strawberry Wine”….in a truck. She sets the scene perfectly for us. Dark storm clouds looming over the Georgia sky. An old truck parked down on a red dirt road. With lightning illuminating the rusted hood, rain drops begin to penetrate the dried clay. Inside two young lovers embrace in their loss of innocence.
I am a city boy; I was raised right outside of Pittsburgh, PA. I can’t exactly understand farming life because I never experienced it. Yearwood narrates this Matraca Berg ballad in a way that places me right on those farmlands, watching modern America taking over the land that families had survived on for generations. Any of us can relate to a song like this, watching the places where we have grown up begin to vanish.
Linda Ronstadt once sang, “Love Has No Pride.” Yearwood proves her idol right as she contemplates the possibility of her beau ever leaving her. She declares to him, “No one matters more in my life. Oh, makes me feel like you make me feel inside. And I’ve come far enough to know love’s worth never letting go of, and love is not a matter of pride.”
How many times have you heard “I don’t like country music but I like Trisha Yearwood”? This is the perfect example where she can record a song that a pop listener will find enjoyable without invoking the ire of the captious country listener.
In this song the woman is the jerk. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. It is possible! Coming off the success of the more adult contemporary style of “Thinkin About You”, Yearwood chose to use a similar style on this track and it fit perfectly with this tune that was co-written by Kim Richey.
I love songs with a twist, and this is the perfect example of such a song. We listen in on what we believe to be Yearwood giving advice to a close friend, but in the closing of the song we learn it is Yearwood scolding herself. “When I look into your eyes/I can really feel the pain/ Starin’ in the mirror at a victim of the game.”
In a day and age where Taylor Swift is singing about the heartbreaks and tragedies of life as a teenager with an adult’s self-awareness, Trisha Yearwood’s classic can help take us back to a time when a seventeen year-old girl’s innocence ran deep.
Trisha is sick and tired. She’s had a break up, and she’s trying to get through it. Friends, family and even her preacher all have the perfect advice. But she doesn’t need a shrink, not even a drink. Her problem can be solved with some chocolate and a Cosmo, yet everybody still seems to have their own solution that they insist on sharing.
This is the perfect example of a strong vocal off of a weak album. Trisha Yearwood and Tony Brown don’t quite go together as well as, say, Reba McEntire and Tony Brown. This song is one that shines through the clutter found on her 1998 collection. Many people seem to think they have heard this song before, but Yearwood was the first and only to belt out the notes of this #2 hit.
In this day and age may it be hard to relate to exchanging rings outside the Tastee-Freez, but anyone who was ever a teenager can clue in on the final verse where Mama stands up to the dad in her child’s defense.
Trisha arrived home one night in Nashville to find a demo tape in her mailbox. She listened to the song and immediately called the writer, Bobbie Cryner. She didn’t know when or how she would use this song, but she had to have it. The final result is what many call the anthem for woman of all shapes and sizes.
I personally love the woman that the song describes. I can guarantee you any man with the slightest fantasy of a home and a family dreams of building their future with the “Real Live Woman” that Yearwood brings to life.
Yearwood has a keen ear for finding the perfect song that listeners can relate to. I just love the climax of the song: “Me, the only who really knows you. Me, the one who’s heart you’ve broken. Me, the one who was still hoping you might be missing me.” The final strand of hope that there may be something left in the ruins of their failed relationship.
The ladies of country’s best guest vocalist, Vince Gill, makes an appearance on this track. The two artists come together as they examine this possible second chance at love. In the final chorus Gill echoes Yearwood’s sentiment in what appears to be a challenge of vocal power from two of the genre’s finest vocalists.
Matraca Berg is a writer who has some of Nashville’s finest songs under her belt. This song was the title track of her debut album and one of her personal favorites. But when Yearwood put this song on her “Song Remembers When” album, Berg vowed she would never sing it live again, because she felt that she could not give justice to the song after Yearwood performed it. A victim of love lost, she is unwilling to accept the facts. She lies to the starry sky, the wind, the night, and even the moon. In her despair, she never realizes she is lying to herself.
Many singers, especially female vocalists attempt to leave their audience in awe with hitting that one note that roof raising blast. They show off their sheer power and volume to knock the listener off their feet. Yearwood manages to do the same with a soft and haunting tone in this string-drenched ballad of a lover lost all too soon.
Vocal supremacy. Go and listen to the last minute of this song, and then go find me a singer who could have come close to that. I will be waiting.
When I first decided to write this, I had to go back and listen to this song over a half dozen times. How could I say something that hasn’t been said before? The song is a story of fury and disappointment with a past love that didn’t just leave her, he let her down. “You used to soothe me, you used to swear with heart-crossed conviction that you’d be there. Where are you now?”
A piano, viola and Don Henley’s vocal are Yearwood’s only companions through this stunning journey of missed opportunities. “One more day my heart’s in armor, though I meant to let you in. In an effort not to harm it, I have missed my chance again.” Writer Jude Johnstone described the song as “Everything you ever wanted to do and never quite managed. It’s about regret.”
On the day Heaven, Heartache, and the Power of Love was released, I rushed to Wal-Mart at 6 a.m. Soon, I found myself stalled at track #4. It was very difficult to move on to further songs when I had this marvelous story song ringing out through my speakers. The magnificent horn section in the song helps place you right in Memphis. A woman and her new love travel the streets of Elvis’s town as flashbacks of a past relationship haunt her. We have all been in that situation before, where we hide the truth to protect the ones we care about. “I know that it would hurt him if he could see my past. He thinks he’s the only one to touch me like that.”
“As proud as you are of me right now, I am prouder to be your daughter.”-Trisha Yearwood’s 1997 CMA Female Vocalist acceptance speech.
Jack Yearwood passed away on September 20th, 2005 in Monticello, Georgia. As a tribute, the banker’s daughter did something rare. She recorded a song in which she was the subject, rather than the storyteller. In one take, she finished the song. Every human attribute to emotion can be felt in each and every word of the song; you can hear her tears flood over the melody, and her heart break in the chorus. “A miracle of page and pen, you’d hear it and be here again, and always and forever there would be, a song that I could sing you back to me.”
Fun and catchy. This song just has it going on. It was somewhat of a throwback to the audience that fell head over heels for “She’s In Love With the Boy” and maybe that’s who Fundis and Yearwood were aiming for. The end result was a #1 hit and a country recurrent that is still played today. Many may not rate this song as high as I did, but it has always just had a special meaning to me, not so much for the content but for whom it was shared with.
“The Song Remembers When”
The Song Remembers When, 1993
A song for songs, this poetic ballad penned by Hugh Prestwood could have turned into a scream fest if it had fallen into the hands of, say, Martina McBride. Luckily for us Yearwood and Fundis came together in the studio for a perfect delivery of the perfect song. Kris Kristofferson has said Yearwood is the finest interpreter of song, and never before has it been clearer than in her delivery of this song. No matter how you convince yourself that you’ve forgotten and you’ve moved on with your life, one lyric can catapult you right back into that moment.
“It was like a lighted match had been tossed into my soul, it was like a dam had broken in my heart”. Though you may have burned your bridges to never go onto what might have been the song can always take you back for that one moment in time. “For even if the whole world has forgotten, the song remembers when.”
Linda Ronstadt, Yearwood’s biggest influence, co-wrote this song with Andrew Gold and included it on her 1976 album Hasten Down the Wind. Yearwood’s faithful cover starts off with a touch of innocence in her voice. “Well, I drove past your house last night and I looked in your window. Lately I aint been feeling right, and I don’t know the cure, no.” It’s a feeling that a union ended too early, and you just can’t accept the reasons why, leaving you stunned and lost. The innocence in Yearwood’s voice shifts to desperation as she rips into the final chorus of the song, begging her former love to “Try Me Again.”
When you lose someone to death, it’s a permanent loss that you will never get back. The pain and the sorrow leave a bottomless gap in your soul that never quite heals, yet you would not trade one moment of time with that person for a second of peace. Even if you did know the way things would end, and the pain you would have went through, you would have done it exactly the same.
She enters a dark room to visit an old friend and there in the darkness he waits. “I see you waiting in the shadows, wondering where I’ve been. Dusty old piano it’s you and me again, my old friend.” She brings to life this instrument in a sorrowful lament in the loss of love and the methods of healing.
The cheerful melodies of the past don’t seem to flow as well, now that he’s gone. Examples of “Faded Love” and “Born To Lose” are mentioned as if to emphasize her point. She feels her story, her experiences are so sad and so heartbreaking that the only way she can release these feelings is through the power of music, the only constant relationship she has had thus far.
If you are interested in writing a guest post for Country Universe, send an e-mail to email@example.com