Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists: Faith Hill

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November 1, 2011

Friday, May 5, 2006 – The Palace of Auburn Hills, Michigan.  For Faith Hill, it was just another stop on her Soul2Soul II tour with her superstar husband Tim McGraw.  For young 14-year-old Ben Foster, it was my very first live concert experience (or at least the first that did not entail bringing a picnic blanket), and it was one that I never forgot.  I still have the ticket stub.

I became a Faith Hill fan at a young age, and I became an even bigger fan as I grew older.  As I set about acquiring all six of her Warner Bros. studio albums, my admiration for this talented artist only grew.  To one who knows Faith Hill only for crossover pop hits like “Breathe,” “This Kiss,” and “The Way You Love Me,” it might come as a bit of a surprise what a strong album artist she was.  Besides that, she possessed genuine country sensibilities in addition to the pop diva persona that she became so well known for.

As I continue to eagerly await Faith Hill’s return with her seventh studio album, I’m thrilled to share my 25 personal favorites out of her eclectic catalog of tunes.  Many of these songs were substantial hits, but I’ve also left off a few well-known singles in favor of some lesser-known hidden treasures.  As always, please feel free to share your own favorites in the comments section.

#25

“The Way You Love Me”

Breathe, 1999

Now, don’t give me that look.  We’re all entitled to a little guilty pleasure time, aren’t we?  Look, I still don’t know what “If I could grant you one wish, I wish you could see the way you kiss” is supposed to mean, and I’m guessing you don’t either.  But what I do know is that Faith Hill somehow managed to craft a ridiculously catchy piece of pop-country nonsense that had me hopelessly hooked ever since I first heard it over a decade ago.  I couldn’t not love it if I tried.

#24

“Wild One”

Take Me As I Am, 1993

Faith’s 1993 debut single is an enjoyable and fitting introduction to a major talent.  The lyrics portray a free-spirited teenage girl who, in addition to having a rebellious streak a mile wide, is a proactive go-getter who takes life as it comes.  “Life is hard,” but she says “That’s all right.”  It’s an effortlessly charming record, and yet at the same time, it almost seems like an hors d’oeuvre in comparison to the deep and insightful material Faith would tackle in the future.

#23

“Sleeping with the Telephone” (with Reba McEntire)

Reba McEntire – Reba Duets, 2007

With this fantastic collaboration from Reba’s 2007 duets project, Faith and Reba play the parts of two neighbors, each of whom is married to a man who risks his life on a daily basis.  Their circumstances are different, with one husband being a soldier and the other being a police officer, but each wife copes with the same troubling feelings of deep worry and anxiety.  But honestly, this track is a shoo-in just for the pure pleasure of hearing Hill and McEntire, two of country’s most dynamic vocal powerhouses, paired together – trading verses and blending their voices in harmony on the soaring chorus.

#22

“Let Me Let Go”

Faith, 1998

A brokenhearted woman tries to move on in the wake of a break-up, but is unable due to the unshakable feeling that they really were meant to be together. (“If this is for the best, why are you still in my heart, are you still in my soul?”)

#21

“Someone Else’s Dream”

It Matters to Me, 1995

The story of a young woman gradually discovering her own distinct identity, and discovering that her parents’ hopes and dreams will never be hers.  When the song reaches its final bridge, the young woman has firmly made her decision:  “She’s got twenty-seven candles on her cake, and she means to make her life her own before there’s twenty-eight.”

#20

“Love Ain’t Like That”

Faith, 1998

In a clever composition with some classic Matraca Berg lines, Faith debunks a series of mistaken ideas about what love is really about, while also underscoring the importance of commitment in a lasting relationship.  Favorite lines:  “You can’t buy it at the store, try it on for size, bring it back if it don’t feel right.… You can’t trade it in like an automobile that’s got too many miles and rust on the wheels.”

#19

 “Let’s Go to Vegas”

It Matters to Me, 1995

The unshakable joyfulness of “Suds In the Bucket” meets the wide-eyed charm and innocence of “She’s In Love with the Boy.”  From the light airy arrangement to Faith’s enthusiastic performance, “Let’s Go to Vegas” embodies all of the youthful romantic excitement found in that one little moment of “Hey, I just had a crazy thought…”

#18                 

“Lost”

The Hits, 2007

This one might have come across as an attempt to re-visit the power ballad euphoria of “Breathe,” which it might have been, but it carries an extra air of mystery that gives it a distinct identity separate from its predecessor, while the melody and performance make the song captivating on its own merits alone.

#17

“What’s In It for Me”

Breathe, 1999

On the kickoff track of Faith’s runaway success of an album, her performance sounds like the release of an eternity’s worth of pent-up fury.  The aggressive country-rock production, combining awesome guitar work with some mighty fierce fiddling, added up to a record that sounded truly ferocious.

#16

“The Secret of Life”

Faith, 1998

In this philosophical number written by the ever-excellent Gretchen Peters, several men drinking in a bar ponder over the fabled “Secret of Life,” eventually concluding that “The Secret of Life is nothing at all.”  Faith’s half-sung, half-spoken performance brought the conversational tone to life, taking a song that was hardly radio-friendly, and turning it into a Top 5 hit.

#15

“Cry”

Cry, 2002

A full-on pop power ballad in which Faith strikes the delicate balance of exercising her powerful pipes in a fiery delivery, while still retaining the emotional connectivity of a great country record.  Her formidable vocal prowess is on full display, but even the biggest power notes are still colored with a deep emotional quiver.

#14

 “Breathe”

Breathe, 1999

Faith Hill took the pop-country power ballad to new heights with this cross-genre career-defining hit.
Regardless of how overexposed the song might have been, it’s a memorable record for the way it combines physical attraction with the warmth and comfort found in true love, while also displaying the increased power and fullness that Faith’s voice had acquired over the years.

#13

“I Can’t Do That Anymore”

It Matters to Me, 1995

This Alan Jackson-penned ballad puts into song the frustration, exhaustion, and hurt of a sunken housewife worn down from constantly striving to please her unappreciative husband

#12

“I Need You” (with Tim McGraw)

Tim McGraw – Let It Go, 2007

Of all Faith’s collaborations with her famous husband, this is one of the best.  This was only their second full-fledged duet single (with their first being “Let’s Make Love”).  The restrained arrangement lends a deeply intimate romantic feel to the record, while both vocalists give killer performances.  Tim McGraw digs deep into his lower register, while Faith’s soaring performance elevates the record to greatness.  Never before or since had their chemistry been captured as effectively as it is here.

#11

“Dearly Beloved”

Fireflies, 2005

This track served as one of the lighter moments on the mature and compelling collection of songs found on Faith’s Fireflies album.  The plucked-out, nearly-hillbillyish country-bluegrass arrangement sounds worlds removed from polished crossover number like “Breathe.”  In a song ripe with clever and silly lines, Faith steps into the minister’s shoes at a backwoods white trash wedding.  The flirt of a bride is three months late, and the groom is “checkin’ out the bridesmaids, thinkin’ that he might take the maid of honor’s honor.”  Fittingly, Faith ices the cake with a closing line of “Y’all come back now, ya hear?”

#10

 “A Man’s Home Is His Castle”

It Matters to Me, 1995

Listening to this song is like peeking in the windows of a home torn apart by domestic violence.  “Castle” takes on an added level of realism in that it gives a voice to the battered woman, and even gives the couple names (Linda and Jim).  The victimized woman is hurt, angry, and desperate, and every tortured emotion is conveyed in the lyrics, which make no attempt to tamper the song’s impact with a manufactured happy ending.

#9

“Take Me As I Am”

Take Me As I Am, 1993

Could it be?  A love song that brings maturity and self-realization to the table without sacrificing the joy and
giddiness of newfound romance?  Faith delivers exactly that with the title track to her debut album, which includes standout lines like “I’d trade a million pretty words for one touch that is real,” as well as romantic lines like “Baby, don’t turn out the light… I wanna see you look at me.”

#8

“Like We Never Loved At All”

Fireflies, 2005

A delicate piano intro with strains of steel set the tone for a beautiful ballad of a woman who struggles to move on after a breakup, while her pain in increased by the realization of how easily her former flame seems to have moved on.  The song is bolstered by Tim McGraw’s harmony vocal, while memorable visual images (“There… walking with your friend, laughing at the moon… I swear you looked right through me”) bring the narrator’s pain down to a strikingly relatable level.

#7

“It Matters to Me”

It Matters to Me, 1995

An expression of hurt feelings that is all the more effective for its simplicity and straightforwardness:  “When we don’t talk, when we don’t touch, when it doesn’t feel like we’re even in love… It matters to me.”  How much more direct can you get?

#6

“When the Lights Go Down”

Cry, 2002

Faith’s 2002 set Cry was criticized by some for going in a straight-up adult pop direction.  But the detractors often missed the fact that Cry is a fantastic pop album, which includes some of the best songs Faith Hill has ever recorded.  Exhibit A is “When the Lights Go Down” – a stunning musical testament to the clarity and inescapability of ultimate truth, elevated by Faith’s showstopping vocal performance.  The song takes on a tone of positivity as it highlights the fact that life’s most turbulent experiences afford us the opporunity to discover our own inner strength.  Easily one of the finest tracks on the Cry album, it’s a shame it wasn’t fully embraced by radio.

#5

“You’re Still Here”

Cry, 2002

It’s hard to go wrong with a Matraca Berg/ Aimee Mayo song.  In a similar vein to Trisha Yearwood’s “On a Bus to St. Cloud,” “You’re Still Here” is a tale of the love that’s long gone, most likely in death, but whom the narrator still sees in her dreams, in her baby’s eyes, and everywhere else.  At one point she even says “I heard you in a stranger’s laugh, and I hung around to hear him laugh again, just once again.”  It’s an achingly beautiful lyric, delivered in one of Faith’s finest and most emotionally-resonant performances on record, while the soft touches of oboe in the arrangement add layer of mystery to the track.

 

#4

“Wish for You”

Fireflies, 2005

A mother’s expression of all that she wishes for her child.  It’s made even more touching by the fact that she never once makes the wish that everything in life will go perfectly for her child.  Instead, she simply wishes that, when things do go wrong, her child will pick herself back up, move on, and be a better person because of it.  That keeps the song from coming across as cheesy, instead deepening its emotional impact, and keeping it firmly grounded in real life.

#3

“If My Heart Had Wings”

Breathe, 1999

Sometimes it irritates me when certain female artists constantly feel the need to belt out their songs at the top of their lungs.  In the case of “If My Heart Had Wings,” however, I can’t imagine the song being sung any other way.  Begging to be blared at high volume in one’s car with the windows rolled, “If My Heart Had Wings” is three and a half minutes of pure pop-country euphoria.

#2

“This Kiss”

Faith, 1998

Does this song even need a caption?  Probably not, but here it goes anyway.  “This Kiss” is a perfect sonic encapsulation of all the joy and romantic giddiness of a newfound love (and yet it came out when Taylor Swift was still in grade school).  There are few pop-country tunes that are able to achieve such high levels of catchiness, or to give the replay button a workout like this song does.

#1

“Stealing Kisses”

Fireflies, 2005

Mature, intelligent, and insightful – exactly the kind of material country radio is perpetually in need of, and yet all too often shies away from.  “Stealing Kisses” plays like a sequel to the innocent youthful “Love Story”-esque material of artists such as Taylor Swift.  As a young woman, the narrator is “stealing kisses from a boy” only to find herself a housewife “begging affection from a man” with the passage of time.

Lori McKenna writes a beautiful song, and Faith Hill beautifully sings it.  The song was released as the fifth and final single from Fireflies, and though it only scraped the bottom of the Top 40, it offered one of those rare and special moments when the voice of the adult woman was heard on country radio.  Faith Hill and her label are to be commended for having the guts to send it to radio in the first place.  A definite career highlight, “Stealing Kisses” aptly demonstrates that, at her best, Faith Hill is just as capable of delivering deep, substantial material as she is capable of serving up a tasty morsel of ear candy.

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  1. SamBNo Gravatar says:

    Cool! I shall make a playlist of these and listen along :)

  2. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar says:

    It is hard for me to come up with twenty-five Faith Hill songs that I like. Moreover, I saw her and Tim McGraw perform live at the AMWAY Arena in Orlando some years ago and was really disappointed with their live performance. While their opening act, the Warren Brothers, put on a great show, I felt that Tim and Faith “mailed it in”

    Anyway, my favorites

    1) “Breathe”
    2) “Piece of My Heart” – Faith’s version was much maligned by those who liked Janis Joplin’s raspy caterwauling but I hate Joplin’s version of the song – also never forgave Joplin for messing up “Me and Bobbie McGee”.

    3) “Dearly Beloved”
    4) “Take Me As I Am”
    5) “It Matters To Me”

  3. Michael ANo Gravatar says:

    Nice list, Ben. I would have switched a few of yours for some others to include “Stronger”, “You Can’t Lose Me”, etc., but interestingly enough, my choice for #1 is the same as yours.

  4. Michael ANo Gravatar says:

    Also, you did a FSbFA for Sara Evans, didn’t you? Just curious, where did McKenna’s “Bible Song” place on that list?

  5. stephanieNo Gravatar says:

    Stronger, wild frontier, if I should fall behind, fireflies all should be on this list. Can’t wait for new music. Hopefully the emphasis for the press and others with the new cd will be on the music and not her beauty/marriage/crossover etc. No doubt like the other records it will be of high quality.

  6. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    Michael,
    I believe “Bible Song” clocked in at #13 on my Sara Evans list, if I remember correctly.

    It is interesting that “Stealing Kisses” tops both of our lists, especially since it’s a slightly more obscure choice than, say, “Breathe.” Definitely a fantastic song either way though.

    Paul,
    I do enjoy “Piece of My Heart,” though I can also understand why many consider Faith’s interpretation to be ‘too chipper.’ As for Joplin, I don’t really have enough familiarity with her work to love or hate her either way.

  7. Bob LoblawNo Gravatar says:

    Faith has always been one of my favorite artists. There are several switches I would have made to the list, though. I would definitely include:
    “Fireflies”
    “There Will Come a Day”
    “My Wild Frontier”
    “Keep Walking On” with Shelby Lynn

    I’m in total agreement about WTLGD and the Cry album in general. If a country artist is going to “go pop” at least make a good record, and that she did.

  8. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar says:

    So glad you did this. I’ve had a list for her narrowed down to 25 for a good year, but never could quite rank them.

    We’d have the same #1, though. A full nine of my 25 are from Fireflies.

  9. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    Great list. I’m definitely on the casual side of Faith Hill fandom, but all the songs of hers I like, I love.

    I’ve found a new resonance in “The Secret of Life” lately for some reason, so that’d probably be my #1. Then it’d be like:

    2. Take Me As I Am
    3. Stealing Kisses
    4. This Kiss
    5. Cry (though everyone should check out the Angie Aparo original – Kevin turned me onto it)
    6. When the Lights Go Down

  10. bobNo Gravatar says:

    Interesting list. My favorite Faith Hill songs are “The Secret of Life” and “Let Me Let Go”.

    I may have to take another look at the “Fireflies” album. The lead single, “Mississippi Girl”, didn’t appeal to me at all so I kind of dismissed the album except for buying “Dearly Beloved” on i-tunes. This past Saturday night I heard Georgia Middleman sing “Dearly Beloved” which she wrote with Fred Wilhelm. Georgia said that she was initially told that the song was being pitched to Lee Ann Womack.

  11. KentNo Gravatar says:

    I’d have to put “Lost” as my favourite. There’s just something about the melody that is beautiful and mysterious, and she pours some beautiful emotion into it.

    I also like “Like We Never Loved At All”.

  12. “Stealing Kisses” was my favorite country song of the year for 2006. I love songs about disintegrating relationships and this one is a story for the ages. I also loved the music video, especially the scenes in the grocery store. I don’t think I would think to put that one at the top of my personal list, but can’t argue against its placement there. Lori McKenna is one heck of a songwriter and this song proves why.

    For me, Faith Hill is just one of those artists I’ve been following for as long as I’ve been a country fan. She was the first female country singer I truly obsessed about and as a country fan from the 90s, I remember all her album releases, her wedding to Tim McGraw, and the births of all three of her daughters. And I was fully on the bandwagon when Hill saturated the media in 2000 by appearing on every magazine cover and television show.

    When “Breathe” hit in the fall of 1999 I’d never heard another single like it before. I love the sound of the record and Hill’s vocal. Plus the video took the whole thing to another level. The way she made the seamless transition from girl next door to pop diva with such ease and grace was astounding. Even funnier to me was I didn’t even see the change at the time. She just seemed like the same old country girl I’d always loved. But it didn’t matter because she was that same girl only now she was fully embracing not only her talent but also her beauty. “Breathe” was a moment when everything came together and is the epitome of a career record.

    I was just thinking about this the other day, but I remember a Christmas special Hill did with a very young LeAnn Rimes and Eddy Arnold which I believe was on TNN circa 1996/1997 or it could’ve been CMT. I remember taping and loving it when I was a kid. Too bad VCR tapes have gone out of style, that one’s long gone now.

    Like Ben I also cannot wait for Hill’s next album. Every time I see her on Sunday Night Football I always think we’ll that’s great, but I’d love new music. I was glad she took a few years off, but I’m more than ready for her return. I read on The Boot this week that she’s infused soul into this album in a way she’s never had before. She says she grew up with the gospel music of her church as her first love and she’s embracing that on this new record. Don’t know exactly what that means, but we’ll all know when we finally hear “Come Home” on the CMA Awards next week. I always expect a lot from Hill and hope she doesn’t disappoint.

    As for my rankings I would place “Someone Else’s Dream,” “You Can’t Loose Me” and “I Can’t Do That Anymore” high on my list of personal favorites. “Take Me As I Am” would rank high as well. There really isn’t any song of Hill’s I dislike.

    I’ll have to check out “Wish For You” and “A Man’s Home Is His Castle.” While I’ve owned all her albums since they came out, I rarely dig deep enough on the album cuts. This is the first I’ve seen “Wish For You” mentioned on a list so I’ll have to really give that some attention.

    Another hidden gem that Ben left off was “Paris” a tune that closes the Fireflies album. I’ve always been drawn to the allure of that track. It’s so different from anything Hill has recorded, and it certainly was a departure from the sound of that album, but that’s what made it stand out to me. It has a cultured feel to it that I really dig. I always love it when an artist experiments on their albums with unique and special tracks that would never work as singles. It shows off another side of their personality.

    I’m glad to hear I’m not alone in my admiration of Faith Hill. I always thought she was looked down upon for her need to spread her wings and go pop for a couple of albums. She’s had some fantastic and delightful singles. Plus I’ve always looked forward to her videos. With the release of a new singles has almost always come a fabulous video. I was glued to CMT when they aired a video commentary special on her in 1999. I loved hearing her talk about the behind the scenes tales of all her videos – how she was four months pregnant with Maggie when she filmed “This Kiss,” the oddities of the director during the filming of “Let Me Let Go” and how one of her oldest two daughters was on her lap during the close up scenes in the “Just To Hear You Say That You Love Me” video.

  13. I always thought that Faith was really underrated when people talk about her talent level. She always delivered strong albums and her singles while sometimes being a bit on the poppy side were always strong. I never got a lot of the critisism thrown her way.

    My Favorites are

    01) I Can’t Do That Anymore
    02) Stealing Kisses
    03) The Secret Of Life
    04) I Ain’t Gonna Take It Anymore
    05) This Kiss
    06) Take Me As I Am
    07) It Matters To Me
    08) Like We Never Loved At All
    09) Let Me Let Go
    10) We’ve Got Nothing But Love To Prove
    11) Fireflies
    12) Cry
    13) When The Lights Go Down
    14) You’re Still Here
    15) Just To Hear You Say That You Love Me

  14. Susan K.No Gravatar says:

    For me, “Stronger” would have been my top pick. Otherwise, I agree with most of these, including “Let Me Let Go”.

  15. Erik NorthNo Gravatar says:

    I must commend you, Ben, for drawing up this list of favorites from Faith. I’m not nearly the fan of hers that I suspect many others are (yes, chalk it up to what she did with “Piece Of My Heart” right out of the starting gate), but you’ve certainly made the greatest case imaginable for why you[/i> are, and that’s what matters. More importantly, you make a tremendous case for the album tracks as well as the hit singles.

  16. DanNo Gravatar says:

    Other favorites of mine that didn’t make your list:

    “The Lucky One”
    “Sunshine and Summertime”
    “You Give Me Love”

  17. Bob LoblawNo Gravatar says:

    Yes! “You Give Me Love”! I always wondered why that was never a single.

  18. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar says:

    Great read, Ben!

  19. Joseph BrownellNo Gravatar says:

    Great list Ben! While I am eagerly awaiting Faith Hill’s new single “Come Home” I was kinda sad to find out we’ve already heard the song- It was a OneRepublic/Sara Bareilles Duet in 2010.

    I would have included Stronger ( I love whenever an Idol contestant “attempts” that track), If I’m Not in Love (breathe album), My Wild Frontier (Faith) and I’ve Got This Friend (Take me as I Am)

    Speaking of that track– does anyone else notice a strange resemblance of that track to the current I’ve Got This Friend on The Civil Wars album? Am I the only one?

  20. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks, Erik, Tara, and Joseph! Much appreciated.

    I would love to see your list sometime, Kevin. There were quite a few tracks from Fireflies contending for spots on my list as well. Looking back, I’m slightly surprised that only four made the final cut, but Fireflies remains my favorite Hill album by a wide margin.

  21. Good list. Faith Hill is always my My favorite artist and i like songs are “The Secret of Life” and “Let Me Let Go”.

  22. MelodyNo Gravatar says:

    My favorite is “There Will Come A Day” It’s a go to church kind of song for me.

  23. Bob LoblawNo Gravatar says:

    I couldn’t NOT share this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nrLwwQMa7c

  24. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    ^ So cool.

  25. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    Loved it! Thanks for sharing, Bob!

  26. Erik NorthNo Gravatar says:

    I’d put “Breathe” (though it has been overplayed [IMHO]) and “Love Ain’t Like That” (the latter because it is rootsier than a lot of the material she’s done) as being my favorite songs of Faith’s.

  27. ClaudiaNo Gravatar says:

    “My Wild Frontier”. I think it’s one of her finest performances, ever.

  28. JakeNo Gravatar says:

    This is kinda off-topic but after reading this article and listening to a couple of my local country radio stations I have noticed even more that they still play very few women country songs in their playlist. I have yet to hear two women artist’s songs play back to back. If they do play women artists they usually stick with new artists and new singles and just play those constantly without playing older songs by women, meanwhile I’ve heard so many older Toby Keith songs recently it’s not even funny! Just thought this would make a good article on your site seeing as sexism in country music still seems like a big issue.

  29. J.T. BrockNo Gravatar says:

    I agree with most of your list. I always thought Faith Hill was underrated as a singer. Her album “Cry” made me a major fan of hers and “Fireflies” solidified that fact. Fireflies is one of the greatest country albums of the last decade. Every year I choose my own “album of the year”. In 2003 it was “Cry” and in 2005 it was “Fireflies”.

  30. AmandaNo Gravatar says:

    I absolutely faith hill; too bad she hadn’t been made any music recently. Another thing I admire about her, is that she hadn’t aged for over a decade. (what is her secret?!)

  31. JasonNo Gravatar says:

    Love the choice at #1. Nice.

    I wish “Stronger” was in there somewhere just because it might be her finest vocal (with some of her live performances topping the recorded version).

    I also love her reading if “If I Should Fall Behind,” and “My Wild Frontier” from Faith is great.

  32. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    I believe I did have “Stronger” on an earlier version of this list, but it ended up getting squeezed out. It’s definitely a showstopper of a performance, of which there were plenty to choose from for this list.

  33. JasonNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve been listening to “Stealing Kisses” a lot lately because I had a conversation with a friend, and the song is basically her story. So good.

    I think it’s interesting people here seem to love Fireflies because I remember when it was released it was pretty much panned. Was it just not what people expected?

  34. Nick OthenNo Gravatar says:

    Great website, great article and a fantastic artist!

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