Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists: Sara Evans

I was in my early teens when I first discovered Sara Evans… and I thought she was the greatest thing since sliced bread.  The rich, throaty texture of her distinct voice reeled me in, and her entertaining mixture of traditional and contemporary influences had me thoroughly hooked.  Now that I’ve also become familiar with the likes of Patty Loveless, Pam Tillis, Trisha Yearwood, and Emmylou Harris, my view of Sara is a little more in-perspective these days, but I do still consider myself a big fan, and she holds a special distinction as one of the first female country artists I really got into.

Radio passed on her when she first emerged as a neotraditionalist in the late nineties, but with future efforts, Sara went on to become a star, thanks to her ability to adapt to changing times while still staying true to herself.  She was one of the dominant female country voices on the radio dial in the early years of the twenty-first century, and after enduring a bit of a dry spell for a few years, she has recently experienced a commercial resurgence.

Though she maintained a fairly consistent quality standard for the better part of her career, recent years have seen that standard slipping thanks to subpar pop-country cuts in the vein of “Feels Just Like a Love Song.”  Nonetheless, Sara still deserves credit for having a solid body of work behind her that’s well worth remembering.  If we’re fortunate, perhaps we may one day see Sara make a return to form, or even delve back into her traditional country and bluegrass roots.

The following list includes many of the songs that best exemplify the qualities that drew me to the music of Sara Evans in the first place.  It’s not meant to be a strict listing of the songs that unquestionably rank as Sara’s “best;” (which would be pretty subjective anyway) It’s merely a list of my own personal favorites.  Let it be an enjoyable look back on some of Sara’s finest moments.  If you would like to share any of your own favorites in the comments section, please feel free to do so.

#25

“A Little Bit Stronger”

Stronger, 2011

Somehow, Sara’s comeback hit finds a way to hit my sweet spot for power ballads. (Yes, I actually do have a sweet spot for power ballads, though few have been able to hit it) What was it about this song that won me over?  Maybe it was the subtle strains of mandolin and steel.  Maybe it’s the build-up nature of the song – the way the progressive nature of the narrator’s healing is mirrored by the production and by Sara’s vocal delivery.  At any rate, the ingredients come together to form a record greater than the sum of its parts.

#24

“New Hometown”

Real Fine Place, 2005

It’s not just a song about how cool small-town life is.  Stylistically, the song even ranks as one of Sara’s most pop-friendly album tracks.  As Sara’s character expresses her desire to escape the hustle-and-bustle of city life, the song becomes a plea for a return to the simple things in life.  Though not all of us intend to make a big old move to a small town, no doubt many among us harbor a similar deep-down yearning just to “find a little earth to stand on.”

#23

“Perfect”

Restless, 2003

The catchy guitar hook is an instant attention-getter, but this number-two hit from Sara’s Restless album has a heart and a simple message at its core:  “Real love and real life doesn’t have to be perfect.”  Add in a few quirky and clever lines such as “If in every wedding picture my daddy looks annoyed, it’s all right,” as well as the fitting conclusion that “All the fairy tales tell a lie,” and you’ve got a real beauty.

#22

“Momma’s Night Out” 

Real Fine Place, 2005

I love this song mainly because it’s a side of Sara that we haven’t seen very often.  She’s rarely been one to record party songs.  But on this track, Sara takes on the role of an overworked mother who throws in the towel, leaves the kids with daddy, and hits the town with the girls.  Sara’s sassy vocal finds her as loose as she’s ever been, while the funky horn-infused production makes it an unforgettable track

#21

“Cupid”

No Place That Far, 1999

The distinct voice of George Jones, even when coming in the form of background vocals, has the ability to make a great song even greater (see Patty Loveless, “You Don’t Seem to Miss Me”).  In this shamelessly twangy steel-infused country rave-up from No Place That Far, the Possum joins Sara in delivering the unshakable hook of “Tell Cupid not to point that thing at me!”

#20

“Restless”

Restless, 2003

I have a bit of a weakness for country music that borrows from Irish and Celtic influences as this track does.  The gorgeous Celtic-harp-laced arrangement makes “Restless” a highlight of one of Sara’s most stylistically-diverse albums.  The lyrics are every bit as beautiful, poetically telling of a restless soul learning to make peace with the fact that she will be a wanderer until the day she dies.

#19

“Low”

Billy: The Early Years (soundtrack), 2008

Sara’s contribution to the Billy soundtrack is nothing short of a pure joy, replete with the sounds of pure country and bluegrass instrumentation.  Though the lyrics invoke religious elements, they don’t sound preachy at all.  It’s not a “You should live your life this way” kind of song;  It’s an “I’m going to live my life this way” kind of song.  It’s a proactive anthem of strength, resolve, and determination – more uplifting than a million Martina McBride power ballads combined.

#18

“I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail”

Three Chords and the Truth, 1997

Fact:  Sara sounds best when singing traditional country music.  Going back and listening to Sara’s shamelessly neotraditional debut album is a joy for any fan of stone cold country.  Here she pays tribute to the vintage Bakersfield sound with a cover of a Buck Owens hit co-written by Harlan Howard.  Besides being a highlight of the Three Chords and the Truth album, this song was instrumental in helping Sara get the chance to snag a record deal and become a star.  It was when the legendary songwriter Harlan Howard himself heard Sara’s performance of his classic song that he threw all his efforts into helping the young talent get discovered.

#17

“Fool, I’m a Woman”

No Place That Far, 1999

This deliciously snarky tune has Matraca Berg’s fingerprints all over it.  In a composition by one of country’s finest songwriters, Sara plays off the age-old stereotype of a woman’s continual habit of changing her mind.  She scoffs at old romantic clichés as she pointedly tells off her soon-to-be-ex-lover – “You used to tell me so many nights/ You don’t deserve me/ Well maybe you were right.”  Ouch!

#16

“A Real Fine Place to Start”

Real Fine Place, 2005

I have a major affinity for songs that can effectively channel the excitement of a newfound romance, and this Radney Foster-penned number-one hit from 2005 squarely hits that target.  Thanks in large part to Sara’s soaring vocal performance, “A Real Fine Place to Start” is a fun, breezy record that bubbles over with energy and exuberance, and begs to be blasted out one’s car windows.  A shining example of pop-country done well.

#15

“Why Should I Care”

Born to Fly, 2000

A sparse pop-country ballad in which a woman struggles to make sense of the feelings of guilt and jealousy that suddenly surface when she finds out that her former lover has found someone new.

#14

“Imagine That”

Three Chords and the Truth, 1997

Sara’s take on this Patsy Cline torch ballad ranks as arguably one of the finest displays of Sara’s vocal talents that can be found on any of her studio albums.

#13

“Bible Song”

Real Fine Place, 2005

This melancholy Lori McKenna song was one of the best tracks on Real Fine Place.  While so many country stars have gleefully sang the praises of small-town living, “Bible Song” echoes the message that life in such idealistic small towns is not always what it’s cracked up to be.  The pace of life may be slower, but this tragic story of a young man’s drug-induced death shows that even small town residents at times fall prey to their own inner demons.

#12

“Rockin’ Horse”

Restless, 2003

A genuine nugget of wisdom is wrapped up in this blazing fiddle-shredder.  The narrator recounts a frightening childhood experience in which a tree falls near her family’s house after being struck by lightning.  Then her father carves the tree’s wood into a rocking horse that becomes one of her most treasured toys.   By showing how this experience shapes the narrator’s outlook on life, “Rockin’ Horse” becomes a colorful testament to the power of positive thinking, with its message summed up in the memorable hook “When it’s pouring down on me/ In my life I see the rockin’ horse inside the tree.”

#11

“As If”

Greatest Hits, 2007

Four new tracks were included on Sara’s 2007 Greatest Hits package, and this almost-Top 10 hit was by far the best.  With cheeky, humorous lyrics, Sara satirically poked fun at the human tendency toward infatuation that blinds one to all a person’s shortcomings.  The catchy melody and energetic performance made for an earworm of a record that was truly unforgettable.

#10

“What That Drink Cost Me”

Stronger, 2011

The new album could have benefited greatly from more songs like this.  This restrained steel guitar weeper is the stuff of a country classic – a heart-wrenching tale of the destructive power of alcohol.  Though the Stronger album as a whole found Sara saddled with an excess of disposable material, the fact that it also included one of the best songs she had written in years is an encouraging sign.  Besides that, “What That Drink Cost Me” is yet another example of one of the qualities that I’ve always appreciated about Sara’s music:  Even after she went in a more pop-flavored musical direction, her traditional country influences were never fully snuffed out.

#9

“If You Ever Want My Lovin’”

Three Chords and the Truth, 1997

This loose, flirty, upbeat little ditty was co-written by Sara along with Billy Yates and Melba Montgomery.  Though the cheeky lyrics can put an instant smile on one’s face, the record’s most endearing trait is Sara’s raw, expressive vocal delivery.  Though Sara’s Missouri twang is toned back on some of her more pop-oriented material, this record allows that twang to stand front and center.

#8

“Unopened”

Three Chords and the Truth, 1997

This was the only original song on Sara’s debut album on which she did not share writing credits, originating from the pen of Leslie Satcher.  As the song’s narrator discovers evidence of a secret love from her man’s past, she views his willingness to leave it behind as evidence of his genuine love for her.  She resolves to return that love by trusting in her man, and allowing his secret to remain a secret.

#7

“No Place That Far”

No Place That Far, 1999

Vince Gill is one of country music’s favorite harmony vocalists (besides being an A-list legend in his own right), and he adds something particularly special to the hauntingly beautiful love song that was Sara’s breakthrough chart-topper.  The song reaches a crescendo in the final chorus as Sara sings “If I had to run, if I had to crawl…” and is answered each time by that distinctive tenor.  It’s as if we’re listening to two lovers singing to one another from afar off, pledging their unwavering determination to be reunited.  Though it’s a great lyric in its own right, the chemistry of the two performers gives the story an extra layer that can’t be seen just by looking at the lyrics on paper.

#6

“I Learned That from You”

Born to Fly, 2000

Though found on one of Sara’s most pop-oriented albums, “I Learned from You” was one of the finest and most country tracks on Sara’s breakthrough album Born to Fly.  A heavy-hearted reflection on the difficult leassons learned from a first love that didn’t last, while also an appreciative recollection of all the happy memories that were made at the time.

#5

“Coalmine”

Real Fine Place, 2005

The timing was unfortunate for the release of this underplayed gem that offered a glimpse of Sara’s mountain bluegrass influences.  A flirty, playful lyric and performance added up to a song that was loads of fun as Sara fawned over her man “walking out of that coalmine, covered with dust, T-shirt tight, all muscled up.”  This is one Sara Evans single that is definitely deserving of a re-release.

#4

“Three Chords and the Truth”

Three Chords and the Truth, 1997

The title track of Sara’s debut is a testament to the power of country music in dredging up deeply held emotions in a listener – emotions that we might have ignored in the past.  It’s the kind of song that always reminds me why I love country music so much.  Sara’s character hears a country song on the radio for the first time, and it not only brings back the emotions, but it moves her to action.  It motivates her to turn the car around and reconcile with the lover she had intended to leave far behind.  “Three Chords” is a beautifully constructed story that effectively pays tribute to country music at its best, demonstrating that there’s so much more to this unique and special genre than what the ugly stereotypes would lead some to believe.

#3

“Suds In the Bucket”

Restless, 2003

Besides being an excellent singalong driving jam, this fiddle-and-steel-laden hit is a humorous glimpse at tongue-wagging small-town culture, sans the chest-pounding backwoods clichés that are common on country radio today.  Fun, playful, and full of personality, this country rave-up was the song that first got me into Sara Evans, and it’s remained a personal favorite of mine ever since.  It never fails to make me feel happy.

#2

“Cheatin’”

Real Fine Place, 2005

This Top Ten hit takes a classic country music theme – infidelity – and puts a distinct and memorable spin on it.  After having parted ways with an unfaithful spouse, Sara’s character gloats over the unpleasant living situation her ex has since found himself in.  But as the lyric progresses, she reveals that she has been genuinely hurt by his actions, and she unashamedly drops the bomb of “Yes, I’ll be glad to take you back just as soon as I stop breathing.”  Amusingly spiteful and achingly emotional at the same time, “Cheatin’” exemplifies the layered organic storytelling that makes for a killer country song, while the traditional-styled arrangement acts as the perfect sonic backdrop to Sara’s bitterly nuanced performance.

#1

“Born to Fly”

Born to Fly, 2000

Sara’s career record remains one of her most enduring and effortlessly charming hits, and with it’s distinctive drumbeat intro and bluegrass-tinged instrumentation, it’s definitely one of her most recognizeable.  “Born to Fly” is an endearing coming-of-age tale of a young woman exploring her potential in life, and seeking to find her place in the world.  It manages to perfect the magic formula of possessing a unique identity of its own, while still being universal such that a wide array of individuals can relate to the feelings it expresses.  Who among us has never gone through this period of life as a young person?  We’ve all been at that crossroads point in life, and felt what it’s like to be “starin’ down the road, just lookin’ for my one chance to run.”

In a way, the song could also be seen as symbolic of the point Sara was at in her career when she recorded it.  Would her third album improve on the moderate success of No Place That Far, or would it be ignored like the commercially-underappreciated Three Chords and the Truth?  It was with this album and single that Sara struck platinum with a style that was just slick enough to be commercially friendly without sacrificing the heart of her earlier work.  The result?  Her career ‘soared away like a blackbird.’

In a career that has included many memorable singles, “Born to Fly” is one of the very finest.

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41 Comments

Filed under Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists

41 Responses to Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists: Sara Evans

  1. Great article!

    I especially enjoy that you included “Cupid.” My favorite Evans songs are, in no particular order: “Cupid”, “Suds in the Bucket”, “Born to Fly”, “Coal Mine”, “Cheatin’”, “Bible Song,”.

  2. Thanks, Leeann. You have good taste ;)

  3. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    I haven’t spent much time with Evans’ albums except for Restless, but she really has been a strong singles artist. These would be my top five picks:

    1. “Rockin’ Horse”
    2. “A Real Fine Place to Start”
    3. “Born to Fly”
    4. “No Place That Far”
    5. “Backseat of a Greyhound Bus”

    And I’ll have to check out some of the others here!

  4. I think my Number One would be “Suds in the Bucket.” There’s just an unshakable joyfulness about it.

  5. With “Suds In The Bucket” being you’re favorite song Ben, I would’ve thought you’d placed that at #1. But you cannot go wrong with “Born To Fly.”

    Like Dan I love “Backseat of a Greyhound Bus.” Another favorite of mine is “Why Should I Care” from the Born to Fly album. Also glad to see the shout out for “I Learned That From You.” I love that song.

    Judging by this list, I’ll have to give her No Place That Far album another spin.

  6. “Suds” actually was number one on an earlier version of this list, and it’s still one of my favorites. But I eventually decided to put “Born to Fly” at the top because it’s a song that’s taken on a special meaning for me in recent years, especially since it mirrors where I am in my own life in some ways. I thought it would be a nice way to close out the list.

    Still, I’ll never grow tired of “Suds In the Bucket” :)

  7. JaneNo Gravatar

    Great list! I love that you put ‘Unopened” and “New Hometown” (Still think that should have been a single instead of You’ll always be my baby) on the list. I have to say my favourite is “Tonight” – I just think it’s a beautiful song, but I agree – Born to Fly is one of the best songs, if not the best, Sara’s done.

  8. Jonathan KeefeNo Gravatar

    Now that I’ve also become familiar with the likes of Patty Loveless, Pam Tillis, Trisha Yearwood, and Emmylou Harris, my view of Sara is a little more in-perspective these days, but I do still consider myself a big fan, and she holds a special distinction as one of the first female country artists I really got into.

    Heh.

    Terrific stuff here, Ben!

    Like Dan, I haven’t spent too much time with Evans’ albums, but I’ve found her to be a pretty reliable singles artist. “Suds in the Bucket,” “Born to Fly,” “No Place That Far,” and “Coalmine” are easily my favorites and were among the very best singles of their respective years, and I hope “What That Drink Cost Me” ends up as a proper single from her latest album.

  9. Michael A.No Gravatar

    Nice list Ben.

    Sara is one of my favorites as well. A pleasant surprise to see “Bible Song” on your list. My personal list might have switched out a couple of yours for “Saints and Angels”, “Cryin’ Game” and her cover of “Crackers” from the Barbara Mandrell tribute album.

    Thanks for the enjoyable read.

  10. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar

    Awesome list!

    My favorites from her are:

    1. Rocking Horse
    2. I Thought I’d See Your Face Again
    3. Low
    4. Perfect
    5. A Real Fine Place to Start
    6. No Place That Far
    7. Backseat of a Greyhound Bus
    8. Suds in the Bucket
    9. Shame About That
    10. Time Won’t Tell

    Order subject to change, of course, based on general mood!

  11. bobNo Gravatar

    Have to agree with the consensus – great list. “Fool I’m a Woman” is my favorite here. A couple of album tracks I like not mentioned are “Otis Redding” from the “Restless” cd and “Four-Thirty” from “Born to Fly”.

  12. I just looked in my iTunes and realized that I’ve forgotten a bunch of songs. The No Place That Far album has a bunch of good ones:
    “Crying Game”
    “The Knot Comes Untied”
    “Cupid”
    “Fool, I’m A Woman”
    “Love, Don’t Be A Stranger”
    “No Place that Far”
    “There’s Only One”
    “These Days”

    She’s got some good cuts on Various Artist albums too: As mentioned above, “Crackers” is great, along with “The Distance Between You and Me” from the Dwight Yoakam tribute album and “One’s on the Way” from the Desperate Housewives Soundtrack.

  13. Needless to say, I had quite a few favorites that almost made this list, but that got ‘squeezed out.’ “Backseat of a Greyhound Bus,” “Saints & Angels,” and “Shame About That,” were all among them, as well as many more from the No Place That Far album, but I see they’ve been accounted for in the comments section ;)

  14. I still lament my first FSFBA because I actually unintentionally omitted one of my very favorite Vince Gill songs from the list, “Worlds Apart.” The terrible and strange thing about the brain cramp caused oversight is that it might have been my #1. This is to say that these lists are fun but hard to make and nearly impossible not to second guess afterward.

  15. It was definitely hard, but yes, fun. I’m more or less at peace with the fact that I’ll do plenty of second-guessing, and if I make another Top 25 list next year, it will probably be very different. I do think I caught all the potential number one choices, but there were a lot that I kind of wished I ranked higher (if only I could do so without bumping another one down lower).

  16. Interesting read, Ben. You pin-pointed a lot of my favs. Sara Evans was the first female artist to draw me into the world of country music and she remains one of the country artists on country radio today that I can tolerate listening to. My personal favorites, in no order:

    “Cheatin’,” “Low,” “Backseat Of A Greyhound Bus,” “Three Chords & The Truth,” “Perfect,” “Born To Fly,” “Real Fine Place To Start”

  17. I shouldn’t have left Real Fine Place to Start off my list. That’s a great one.

  18. I wondered where “Cheatin’,” perhaps my personal favorite, would land on this list. I was pleasantly surprised to see it so high.

    I don’t know if I’d call it bitterly nuanced, though, so much as exquisitely naked gloating. Heh. “So what became of what’s-her-name, after she spent all your money?”

    If you haven’t heard Radney Foster’s version of “Real Fine Place To Start,” I’d recommend it as well. It’s on his 2002 album Another Way To Go. Good stuff.

  19. KarlNo Gravatar

    Yay I’m glad to see my favorite Sara tracks high up on this list Ben.

    My favorite Sara tracks are (in no particular order) Restless, Low, and Stronger, Bible Song, I Learned That From You, sUDS Cheatin’ and Chords.

    Others that I love but didn’t make this list are Tell Me, Tonight/Secrets That We Keep, Some Things Never Change and The Week that the River Raged :)

  20. Yes, Radney Foster’s version is very good.

  21. SweetcheeksNo Gravatar

    My name is Sweetcheeks and this is what I have to say: Sara Evans became a lot more tolerable when she ditched the “new traditionalist” stuff and became more pop. I liked “Fool, I’m a Woman” and “Suds In The Bucket” but her first album is way too country to be on country radio today. Give it to the Loretta Lynn fans I guess but keep it off the airwaves of the 1990s and 2000s and 2010s! I know a lot of people think Sara sold out but she just got with the times. If she hadn’t changed her ways she’d be in obscurity and we never would have heard the awesomeness that is Suds in The Bucket.

  22. Interestingly, I’d pinpoint Sara’s debut album as one of her best, if not the best album of her career. I’d definitely not recommend the album for fans of today’s country music. However, it is essential listening for anyone who wants to hear Sara Evans at one of her best points of her career.

    However, Born To Fly, Restless, and Real Fine Place harbor my most favorite tracks of her career. (I forgot “Bible Song” as one of my favorites of Evans’)

    That said, Sara Evans has shown to do pop-country very, very well (and better than most) when getting all of the elements right.

  23. GatorNo Gravatar

    See the thing with Sara is even if she singing a pure pop song she still sounds country, and I think that will make her a star of decent influence to future generations as well as what will/has kept radio interested in her.

    Anyway, My favorites are “Suds”, “Born to Fly”, “Fool, I’m a Woman”, “Chords”, and for reasons I have yet to figure out “Missing Missouri”.

  24. It’s great that you put “I Learned That From You” so high up. Oddly, none of my all-time favorites from Sara Evans were big hits, and most weren’t even singles. A quick list of my favorites:

    1. I Learned That From You
    2. I Thought I’d See Your Face Again
    3. Three Chords and the Truth
    4. Tonight
    5. Cheatin’

    … and I really enjoyed the summaries for each song. Great read.

  25. KarlyNo Gravatar

    I’ve never been a huge Sara Evans fan, although I love a few of her songs.

    That said, I saw her open for Rascal Flatts this past Thursday, and I was very, very impressed. Her voice is great & much stronger than I expected.

    After seeing her live, I realized how underrated she is.

    My favorites from her:

    1. No Place That Far
    2. Born To Fly
    3. Coalmine
    4. Backseat of a Greyhound Bus
    5. A Little Bit Stronger
    6. Saints and Angels

  26. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar

    Great post, Ben! Really enjoyed it.

  27. Another great Sara Evans cover has been overlooked – she went to twang heaven with “I Don’t Wanna Play House” on the Tammy Wynette tribute album in 1998. I love the classic country feel to her interpretation of the song, and Ben’s correct – she’s at her best when singing traditional country music. It’s a cover well worth checking out if you’ve never heard it.

  28. I don’t think I’ve heard that one. I will check it out.

  29. I haven’t heard it either, but I’ll see if I can find it.

  30. It seems that used copies of the album are available on Amazon. I remember hearing about it at one point, but I never picked it up, though it does look interesting.

  31. I have the song on CD, I just have to find the album and I can send it to you. When I mentioned it, I didn’t know it was going to be so hard to find

  32. Steve from BostonNo Gravatar

    Great article Ben, great list with interesting and insightful song encapsulations. I especially applaud your inclusions of New Hometown, Bible Song, Unopened, Restless and Momma’s Night Out.

    As your article and the subsequent comments demostrate, Sara really does have a solid body of work that shows her to be an artist of real depth and enduring merit, and this has made me a fan for life. I think her greatest hit singles are indeed great, but they are only the tip of the iceberg of her quality material. Some of my favorites are No Place that Far, Born to Fly and Three Chords and the Truth.

    But I think she really shines as an album artist, a lot of her album cuts are even better than her hit singles. Songs such as I Dont Wanna See the Light, Unopened, Time Wont Tell and Love Dont be a Stranger are incredible. And her Early Years album is fantastic, especially Here Comes that Old Heartache, an original song by Sara which sounds really classic and old timey.

    But best of all to my way of thinking are many of her contributions to various compilations and projects.:
    -Mary of the Wild Moor..from the Songcatcher album
    -Almost New from Girls Night Out
    -New Again, (with Brad Paisley) from the Passion of the Christ companion album
    -Are You Tired of Me Darling, a duet from Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Sweethearts album
    -There is a City, which earned Sara and Bethany Olds a Dove award
    -Brooklyn and Austin, from Sara’s Hallmark album Always There
    -Never Alone, from a Jim Brickman album.
    -Just A Closer Walk with Thee, from the Opry Gospel album
    And as Leeann mentioned,
    -The Distance between You and Me, from the “Will Sing for Food” tribute to Dwight Yoakam, and Sara’s cover of One’s On the Way is fantastic.

    Taken together these “loose ends” songs could almost constitute an album unto itself, perhaps one of Sara’s best!

  33. GatorNo Gravatar

    I personally would like to see her do a classics cover album with songs like “Stand By Your Man” “In The Pines” “Jolene” and “When You Say Nothing at All” (songs she has performed live and can be found on You Tube)

  34. Thanks, Steve. Glad you enjoyed it. Enjoyed hearing your favorites as well.

  35. Steve from BostonNo Gravatar

    I forgot about Sara’s Real Fine Place bonus tracks, from the Target special edition of Real Fine Place. “Caged” and “You” are both first rate and really showcase the suppleness of Sara’s vocals.

    Gator, I agree completely, a classic country covers album and a bluegrass album from Sara would be incredible. Sara also did a knockout version of the Lenoa Williams song “You Take Me for Granted” with Merle Haggard and his band back in ’97 I think. Unfortunately it has dissapeared from YouTube, but Sara really should record this and the songs you mentioned!

  36. GatorNo Gravatar

    Steve, I’m happy to hear I’m not the only one who thinks this because she genuinely does sound amazing on every classic country song I have ever heard her sing, and I can’t imagine an album could be anything less than stellar. Personally, I see this performances as proof that when Sara is given consistently great country material she can reach the heights of any female country legend to live.

  37. JayJayNo Gravatar

    As usual, a great article. Ben- you’re becoming my favorite columnist on this site..although I must confess that it’s generally because I agree with you. haha.

    Born To Fly isn’t just my favorite Sara Evans song, I’d place it in my top ten favorite songs of all time. I can be in the foulest of moods and play this track and BOOM, instant happy.

    I adore Sara Evans and much like JoDee Messina, I forget how much I love her until I hear her music playing. It’s a little embarrassing, but I love her poppier stuff quite a bit.

    “Need To Be Next To You” & “I Could Not Ask For More”- both pop covers that I think benefit from her soulful, twangy tone as well as “Feels Just Like A Love Song”, which I assume was just a one-off single that really didn’t do anything rate among my favorite tracks by her. Her label does a great job picking her singles, because she rarely has one I don’t love.

  38. Thank you, JayJay. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and I appreciate the compliments.

    Though I do have a special fondness for Sara’s traditional-leaning material, I don’t mind saying that I do enjoy her pop-country material also. In general, I think she’s succeeded at pop-country more often than she’s failed. I’m definitely with you on “Born to Fly” – That song just never gets old.

  39. RonNo Gravatar

    Sara is my wife’s and mine favorite artist of all genres. You put together a fantastic list/analysis! We’d have to add our all time favorite: Niagara from the Restless album. Plus, in no particular order, because there is only one song on her whole discography that I don’t think is fanastic (Supernatural from Real Fine Place), Saints and Angels, Backseat of a Greyhound Bus, Four-thirty, Otis Redding, Ticket to Ride, Life without Losing, Walking out Backwards. And her cover of Hornsby’s Every Little Kiss. And we’ve heard her do some killer covers live at her concerts: Dancing on the Ceiling, Jolene, In the Pines, Runnin Down a Dream, Suspicious Minds, Heaven is a Place on Earth. I wish What that Drink Cost Me would have been the second single off the Stronger album. Thanks!

  40. Thanks for chiming in the discussion, Ron. Those are some great selections. I’m with you on “Supernatural.” I think the arrangement kind of makes it a fun song to listen to, but since the lyrics use some weird metaphors, I would have to agree that it is ‘not fantastic.’ Love “Niagara” too.

  41. RowdyRedNo Gravatar

    Thanks to Steve From Boston for adding “New Again” with Brad Paisley (music inspired by The Passion of The Christ film) to the discussion. It’s one of the most moving songs I know.

    Starting with a beautifully understated guitar lead-in from Brad, he sings the first verse in the persona of the crucified Jesus. Sara is in the role of his mother, Mary.

    Brad’s opening verse is incredibly still and soft, reassuring his mother; the second verse is Sara’s and from the first line, she is full-voiced and clearly a woman in anguish. This duet captures the souls of the two characters — and their relationship — vividly and heartbreakingly.

    It was included on an Easter compilation CD a couple of years back, as well as on the original CD referencing the movie. It’s one of the most successful performances, from both artists, I’ve ever heard, and the result is almost visual in its intensity. If you have not heard it, you owe it to yourself to seek it out.

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