Diamond Rio Starter Kit

by

August 13, 2009

diamond-rioWith four CMA and two ACM Awards and five Gold and two Platinum albums, Diamond Rio was the premier country group of the nineties. They were one of the few groups in country music to serve as the exclusive vocalists and instrumentalists on their studio albums while most other groups in country music utilized professional studio musicians and even singers to fill out their records.

Their sound was a mix of multiple influences, but Diamond Rio’s music was not mistaken as anything other than country, which was particularly a result of the six vital member’s distinct and tight harmonies and organic productions that all gelled together to form a tight vocal group in every sense.

Ten Essential Tracks

“Meet in the Middle”
from the 1991 album Diamond Rio

“Meet in the Middle” is famous for being the first debut single to reach the top of the country charts by a band. This song of commitment and compromise is both singable and relationally instructive. It also appropriately introduces Diamond Rio as a group with a unique sound that will soon be instantly recognizable on nineties country radio.

“Norma Jean Riley”
from the 1991 album Diamond Rio

While he knows that Norma Jean Riley may be out of his league, he’s not going to let that stop him from subtly winning her over. Everyone tells him he’s a fool for trying, but he knows that not only will she notice him, she’ll eventually marry him. Here’s hoping. Most notable is Dan Truman’s lively keyboard that energizes an already infectious song.

“Nowhere Bound”
from the 1991 album Diamond Rio

This guy has trouble staying in one place for long and needs to be warned that his running is simply “nowhere bound.” Diamond Rio does just that in the hook of this melodically memorable song.

“In A Week or Two”
from the 1992 album Close to the Edge

Oops! He had planned to do all the things that would have shown her that he loved her, but it wasn’t on the schedule just yet. Isn’t it Too bad she couldn’t have waited for just a mere week or two?

“This Romeo Ain’t Got Julie Yet”
from the 1992 album Close to the Edge

The title of this fun song may play off of a certain Shakespeare play, but it’s even less literary than Taylor Swift’s “Love Story.”

“Finish What We Started”
from the 1994 album Love A Little Stronger

This is simply a gorgeous, unpretentious love song of commitment.

“Walkin’ Away”
from the 1996 album IV

And here is the practical application of commitment.

“How Your Love Makes Me Feel”
from the 1997 album Greatest Hits

How the protagonist of this song describes the feelings that accompany his budding romance, perfectly captures the frenzied period of the beginning of a fresh relationship.

“You’re Gone”
from the 1998 album Unbelievable

Dan Truman’s signature keyboard is the musical foundation for this haunting ode to a woman who had a brief but deep impact. Marty Roe sings, “The good news is I’m better for the time we spent together and the bad news is you’re gone.” We’re never really given much insight into what happened to their relationship, but we can be certain that her tactics were likely unconventional, but effective for a man with obvious emotional baggage.

“Beautiful Mess”
from the 2002 album Completely

Thanks to her, this man is a mess, but he couldn’t be happier about it.

Two Hidden Treasures

“You Ain’t in It”
From the 1991 album Love A Little Stronger

Tired of her memory crowding his every thought, he proudly progresses to a place where he can finally experience a minute here and there when she “ain’t in it.”

“How Can We Thank Him for What He Has Done”
From Ralph Stanley’s 1998 album Clinch Mountain Country

This is a beautiful gem that can be found on Ralph Stanley’s wonderful collaborative project with various country artists. Diamond Rio’s signature harmony are ever present, along with Stanley’s humbly, sincere spoken word of scripture.


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Category: Back to the Nineties, Starter Kits
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  1. MichaelNo Gravatar says:

    Diamond Rio is my absolute favorite country band from the 90s. Well, after Ricochet that is. Kidding. I like the shoutouts for “Nowhere Bound”, “Finish What We Started”, “In a Week or Two” and “You’re Gone.” Although not two of my favorites, I’m surprised “One More Day” and “I Believe” didn’t make the list. However, in my opinion the most glaring omissions are “Mama Don’t Forget to Pray For Me”, “Love a Little Stronger”, “Sweet Summer” and “It’s All In Your Head.” Those last two are just personal favorites of mine and I would have been surprised to see them make the cut. The others, however, are far superior to “This Romeo Ain’t Got Julie Yet.” Eek! :) Thanks!

  2. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    I can’t tell you how much I don’t like “Love A Little Stronger” and “I Believe.” I would have included “Mama Don’t Forget to Pray for Me”, but it was my least favorite of the singles from the first album and the first album already takes up 30 percent of this list. Really, I could almost put the entire first album on a list of best DR songs if I had that luxury. Personally, I like “Sawmill Road” the most from their second album, but it was not a solid hit for them. “It’s All in Your Head” is pretty cool, I have to admit, but I’m very lukewarm to “One More Day.”

  3. James S.No Gravatar says:

    Diamond Rio was definitely one of the most interesting groups of the 90′s. It’s pretty neat how they were able to maintain their unique sound for over a decade. “Walkin’ Away” is one of my old favorites and brings back great memories. “Meet In The Middle,” “Nowhere Bound,” “In A Week Or Two,” “Finish What We Started,” and “Beautiful Mess” are other highlights for me. Another song worth mentioning is the beautiful “I Know How The River Feels.” That one deserved to do much better at radio. “Holdin’” is also one of my “feel good” songs.

    Two of my favorite album cuts:
    “They Don’t Make Hearts Like They Used To” from their debut

    “Old Weakness (Coming On Strong)” from Close To The Edge

    My favorite album, overall, would be Love A Little Stronger.

  4. MichaelNo Gravatar says:

    Haha! Wow, LeAnn, you really do not like “Love a Little Stronger” and “I Believe”, do ya? I’m with you on “I Believe” and on “One More Day”. A little too sappy for my taste. I don’t mind “Love a Little Stronger” but I stand by my love of “Mama Don’t Forget To Pray For Me”. I think it’s a personal thing. I remember really hearing it, almost like it was the first time, when I had moved away from home to a big city. Oh, jeez. Now who’s being sappy? Anyway, I had forgotten about “Sawmill Road” so I’ll have to download that one. I remember liking it too during its brief chart run.

  5. JakeNo Gravatar says:

    For me, my all-time favorite Diamond Rio songs are “Meet In The Middle”, “You’re Gone”, and “One More Day”. “One More Day” IMO is a masterpiece, it conveys what everyone wants back after someone’s passing.

  6. Matt. BNo Gravatar says:

    I’m shocked “Kentucky Mine” isn’t on this list. That’s probably my most favorite song of theirs and they have a great mixture of tunes.

  7. ”Your Gone” is such a beautiful song. Words cant describe the profound effect this song has had on me. What an incredible tune. I love that piano intro…and the guitar solo. Incredible.

    I’m also a huge fan of “In A Week or Two”. If you haven’t, everyone should check out Gary Burr’s album “Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One..”. It has a really great version of “In A Week or Two” as well as every other “I was so close to having her forever, but ruined it” song that he’s so great at writing.

    I must say, my favorite Diamond Rio song, though, is “Demons and Angels”. Very powerful.

  8. I loved Diamond Rio too.

  9. Paul DennisNo Gravatar says:

    I never was that into Diamond Rio – I would rate them a distrant second behind Shenandoah as far as 90s groups go. THis list is okay although I always liked “Mama, Don’t Forget To Pray For Me” and “Mirror Mirror”

  10. [...] Country Universe listed ten essential Diamond Rio songs and two hidden gems. [...]

  11. JonNo Gravatar says:

    Hey, Leeann, I was about to join the chorus of those busting your chops for not including “Mama Don’t Forget…” (though truth be told, I think Cordle, Jackson & Salley usually do a better job with it), but you totally redeemed yourself with the “How Can We Thank Him…” call ;-).

  12. J.R. JourneyNo Gravatar says:

    These guys had an entire run of hits that I just loved. I’m not sure they released a single I didn’t like. A few personal favorites not on this particular list are ‘Mama Don’t Forget To Pray For Me’, ‘It’s All In Your Head’, and ‘We All Fall Down’ as a hidden gem since it stalled outside the top 40. It was nice to see ‘Nowhere Bound’ make the cut too – great song.

  13. Razor XNo Gravatar says:

    My favorite Diamond Rio song is “One More Day”, which took on a whole new meaning in the aftermath of 9/11.

  14. James S.No Gravatar says:

    I forgot about “We All Fall Down.” It’s a great song to listen to when you’re feeling down. It should’ve done much better.

  15. Joseph BNo Gravatar says:

    I truely loved the Diamond Rio/Chely Wright duet I’m Tryin’ before martina Mcbride cut it on her new album. A Chely Wright list would be great! A wonderful gem in country music who has never been fully appreciated.

  16. Mike KNo Gravatar says:

    What, no one is yet to comment on the wonder that is “Bubba Hyde.” ;) After all, he makes his rounds in the bookmobile. Great job on the list Leeann. I would add “She Misses Him on Sunday the Most.” from the IV album and I always liked the imagery of “Night is Fallin’ (In My Heart).” Was happy to see “You Ain’t in it” on the list. You gotta love Martin Sheen as the Daddy/Preacher in the “All in Your Head” video.

  17. Great brand! We love Diamond Rio!

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