Play Something Country

kathy-matteaLater this month, I’ll be seeing Kathy Mattea in concert. I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen her live more often than anybody else – at least six times, going back to the Summer of 1994.

One of the things that I like about her is that she mixes up the set list. There is a very small group of songs that she always plays: “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses”, “Where’ve You Been”, “Love at the Five & Dime”, and “Come From the Heart.” Nearly every show includes “Mary, Did You Know” and “Walking Away a Winner” as well.

But the rest of the concert is a balanced mix of the best cuts from her current album, other hits from the past, and an unorthodox cover or two. I keep going back because she keeps it fresh.

Still, if I had my way, I’d get to hear “Love Travels” and “God Ain’t No Stained Glass Window” every time out. But no matter how good the performer is, and how much they mix it up, you never get to hear all of the songs that you want to hear.

Which leads to tonight’s discussion topic:

If you could choose the set list for one of your favorite artists, what would it look like?

You can make the list as short or as long as you like, so long as the artist wouldn’t pass out from exhaustion halfway through!

Since Pam Tillis hasn’t played my neck of the woods in many years, I’ll go with her. This is the concert that I would love to see:

  1. Band in the Window
  2. Deep Down
  3. Shake the Sugar Tree
  4. It’s Lonely Out There
  5. Someone Somewhere Tonight
  6. In Between Dances
  7. When You Walk in the Room
  8. Sunset Red and Pale Moonlight
  9. Melancholy Child
  10. Homeward Looking Angel
  11. Rough and Tumble Heart
  12. Colors of the Wind
  13. Morning Has Broken
  14. The River and the Highway
  15. Easy From Now On (Emmylou Harris cover)
  16. Down by the Water
  17. I Said a Prayer
  18. Unmitigated Gall
  19. All the Good Ones are Gone
  20. Maybe it Was Memphis
  21. Go Your Own Way


  1. Merle Haggard
    01 Working Man Blues
    02 The Bottle Let Me Down
    03 Too Many BridgesTo Cross Over
    04 The Fugitive
    05 Strangers
    06 I Threw Away The Rose
    07 Legend of Bonnie & Clyde
    08 California Blues
    09 Waiting For A Train
    10 Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet Willliam Now)
    11 Sam Hill
    12 Ramblin’ Fever
    13 I Think I’ll Just Stay Here And Drink
    14 If You’ve Got The Money, I’ve Got The Time
    15 Right Or Wrong
    16 San Antonio Rose
    17 Bring It Down To My House Honey
    18 impersonations – Marty Robbins, Buck Owens, Hank Snow
    19 Silver Wings
    20 Today I Started Loving You Again
    21 Sidewalks of Chicago
    22 I Can’t Be Myself
    23 The 501 Blues
    24 Mama Tried
    25 Okie From Muskogee
    26 Fighting Side of Me

  2. Trisha Yearwood
    Heaven, Heartache & the Power of Love
    Perfect Love
    Nearest Distant Shore
    The Song Remembers When
    Try Me Again
    Real Live Woman
    Wouldn’t Any Woman
    Georgia Rain
    Bus To St Cloud
    Don’t Paint me into Corners
    I Would’ve Loved you Anyway
    Thinking About You
    Like We Never Had a Broken Heart
    Midnight Train to Georgia
    Drown Me
    Down on My Knees
    You Don’t Have to Move that Mountain
    Wrong Side of Memphis
    Nothing bout Memphis
    This is Me You’re Talking To
    I Wanna Go to Far
    The Woman Before Me
    Second Chance
    Come Back When it Ain’t Raining

    I think she would have collapsed by now…really I would like to hear almost every cut from every album and then several covers. I am not greedy at all.

  3. I saw Patty Loveless in concert for the first time this past October, and for many reasons it was the best concert I have ever seen by any artist…, and I have seen a significant number in my 52 years on this planet. She did 20 songs, so I’ll list 20 as well for my ideal Patty Loveless concert. There would be some overlap between what she performed on that day and my wish list here… :

    1. Keep Your Distance
    2. Nothing But the Wheel
    3.You Don’t Seem to Miss Me
    4.That Kind of Girl
    5. Why Baby Why
    6. Sleepless Nights
    7. Crazy Arms
    8.Nothing Like the Lonely
    9.The Grandpa That I Know
    10.Pretty Polly
    11.Close By
    12 Pretty Little Miss
    13.Big Chance
    14.Sorrowful Angels
    15.Sounds of Loneliness
    17.Hurt Me Bad (In a Real Good Way)
    18.Mr. Man in the Moon
    19.Lonely Side of Love
    and for her encore,
    20. You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive

    For me, Patty’s ideal concert would be a mix of her Classic Country Covers from Sleepless Nights, a Mountain Soul /Bluegrass set, and some of her classic hit songs as well as some more obscure album cuts. This is off the top of my head, but I’m sure some substitues here and there will occur to me after I post this list. ;)

  4. Denise, I saw Trisha last Spring, and she did quite a few songs on your list, including “Drown Me” She really rocked the house! ONE of the best concerts I’ve ever seen…

    What impresses me about both Trisha and Patty is how they really are all about the music…no bells and whistles or smoke and mirrors…both have an easy going, laid back style, their warm and humorous personalites come out in their natural interactions with their bands as well as their audiiences, and they both have a confident, but unassuming stage presence, as befits seasoned pros…Really, VERY similar performing styles on stage. I cannot say enough good things about both these artists…they both put the “art” in the term “performing artist” !

    And Kevin, thanks for another excellent and fun topic!

  5. Faith Hill
    On her own , no double billing. (except maybe a special guest for just a song or two)

    when the lights go down
    it matters to me
    wild one
    wild frontier
    let me let go
    this kiss
    the secret of life
    if I should fall behind
    there will come a day
    there you’ll be
    stealing kisses
    I need you
    I want you
    you stay with me
    tell me the story of your day
    who I am
    A baby changes everything

  6. I was doing some serious Mattea listening last weekend (after finally acquiring all of her albums a month or so ago) and I’m gonna have to go on record as saying that I really dig her covers of “Gimme Shelter” and “Down on the Corner.” Funky stuff. I sooo wish I was going to that concert. I think I finally got familiar enough with her entire catalog to put together my own Favorite Songs by Favorite Artist feature on her. Not that I’m going to do it though…

  7. George Strait list

    Baby’s gotten good at Goodbye
    Baby blue
    You’ll be There
    I just wanna Dance with You
    The Fireman
    The Chair
    It Aint Cool…
    I saw God Today
    Fool Hearted Memory
    I Cross my Heart
    Check yes Or No
    Give It Away

  8. I saw Charley Pride a couple of years ago and was SO disappointed. Too many covers! My God, he’s a Hall of Fame legend who’s recorded some of the genre’s best music. This is what I would have loved to have heard (the * indicates songs he actually performed) :

    1. Never Been So Loved (In All My Life)
    2. Night Games
    3. Wonder Could I Live There Anymore
    4. Mississippi Cotton Pickin’ Delta Town
    5. Burgers and Fries
    6. Kiss an Angel Good Morning *
    7. Crystal Chandeliers *
    8. I Don’t Think She’s In Love Anymore
    9. Ev’ry Heart Should Have One *
    10. White Houses
    11. Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone *
    12. You’re So Good When You’re Bad
    13. Louisiana Man *
    14. Missin’ You
    15. When I Stop Leavin’ (I’ll Be Gone)
    16. I’m Gonna Love Her On the Radio
    17. Roll On Mississippi

  9. I’ve been to 6 Reba shows now – and have never been disappointed. ‘The Singers Diary’ show in 1999 was the best show I’ve ever seen. She did a set of songs telling her life story (complete with long wigs and clothes from the 1980s) – and then about 20 minutes later, came back out in stage clothes and performed another complete set of hits. All together, she was onstage for about 2 hours. But I still didn’t get to hear every song I would have liked to hear. Here’s what I would choose for a Reba setlist – and in this order.

    1. The Fear of Being Alone
    2. One Promise Too Late
    3. Is There Life Out There
    4. Whoever’s In New England
    5. It’s Your Call
    6. Wrong Night
    7. Last One To Know
    8. For My Broken Heart
    9. The Greatest Man I Never Knew
    10. The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia
    11. Sweet Music Man
    12. You Lie
    13. How Was I To Know
    14. Lonely Alone
    15. Somebody Should Leave
    16. How Blue
    17. Here You Come Again (Dolly Parton cover)
    18. Only In My Mind
    19. And Still
    20. Because of You
    21. The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter
    22. Cathy’s Clown
    23. Fancy

    Cool topic too!

  10. This is a tough one, since I’m obviously brainstorming how Linda Ronstadt would do a set consisting either of her overtly country or country-influenced material (in truth, most of what she does these days is either a mix of jazz/pop standards and some of her own hits, or [as of late] all-Mariachi). But here are the fifteen songs I would like to see her do that (I would hope) fit in here:


  11. Here’s my Charlie Pride Show – actually got to see him one time and # indicates songs he sang when I saw him perform

    1. I Know One #
    2. The Snakes Crawl At Night #
    3. Let The Chips Fall #
    4. Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone #
    5. All I Have To Offer You Is Me #
    6 I’m So Afraid of Losing You Again #
    7. Wonder Could I Live There Anymore
    8. Mississippi Cotton Pickin’ Delta Town
    9. Someone Loves You Honey #
    10. I Can’t Believe That You’ve Stopped Loving Me #
    11. I’d Rather Love You
    12. Kaw-Liga #
    13. Mountain of Love
    14. Crystal Chandeliers #
    15. A Shoulder To Cry On #
    16. Louisiana Man #
    16. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
    17. I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You) #
    18. Come On Home And Sing The Blues To Daddy #
    19. It’s Gonna Take A Little Bit Longer #
    20. Kiss an Angel Good Morning #

  12. When artists are no longer charting records they tend to alter their live shows to include the covers that fans of the genre, rather than artist-specific fans would expect to hear. In recent years I’ve seen Tommy Cash, Jack Greene, Johnny Lee, Johnny Carver, Helen Cornelius, Darrell McCall, Johnny Bush, Jean Shepard and countless others do shows in which they featured their three or four biggest hits and then versions of other huge hits by other artists. Of the old-timers I’ve seen in the last five years only Gene Watson, Hank Thompson, Bobby Bare and Connie Smith stuck to a show of (mostly) their own hits and keyalbum cuts

  13. I really enjoyed my first Sara Evans concert, but was dissappointed she did THREE covers of songs by non-Country artists instead of three additional Sara Evans songs or at least three more Country songs. She chose instead…”On The Radio” “Heaven is a Place On Earth” and “Dock of the Bay”…those pecuiilar choices (Except for the Otis Redding song) still have me scratching my head years later. But this is what my ideal Sara Evans concert would look like:

    1.Suds in the Bucket
    2. The Great Unknown
    3. Three Chords and the Truth
    4.No Place that Far
    5.Brooklyn and Austin
    6.Imagine That
    8.Almost New
    9. Mary of the Wild Moor
    10.In The Pines
    11.Love Don’t Be a Stranger
    12.Here Comes that Old Heartache
    13.I Don’t Wanna See the Light
    14.New Hometown
    16.Bible Song
    17.These Days
    18. Time Won’t Tell
    and for her encore, Sara’s awesome signature song
    20.Born to Fly

    This would be a REAL Country concert, something Sara could do quite easily if she chooses to, but alas, less than half of these songs have actually ever found their way into a Sara Evans concert.

  14. Paul, I agree with you as I’ve noticed that, too. What’s disappointing to me is that I’m at an age/point in my life where I have the ability to go see these artists whose music I adore, but are no longer on the charts and would love to see them sing songs from their own catalogue with a cover or two of a hero who influenced them and the token gospel song (although I could live without the gospel song). I just wasn’t able to see shows back in their hey-day. I also agree about Gene Watson. He puts on a hell of a show and I highly recommend seeing him perfrom live.

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