A Country Music Conversation, Day 3: “Best Days of Your Life” to “Blood Red and Goin’ Down”

A Country Music Conversation: Introduction and Index.

Previous Entry: Day 2: “Another Lonely Song” to “Baby’s Gotten Good at Goodbye”

Day 3 features tracks from Kellie Pickler, Gary Allan, Ashley Monroe, Billie Jo Spears, and Tanya Tucker.

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“Best Days of Your Life”
Kellie Pickler

Written by Kellie Pickler and Taylor Swift

You know when I started truly enjoying listening to Taylor Swift? When I realized that she’s an unreliable narrator. She co-wrote this Kellie Pickler hit, and even at the time, I couldn’t help but marvel at Swift’s ability to craft a pop hook. But listening to it now, I love the ways that the narrator’s delusion reveals itself throughout the course of the song. This guy’s getting married and settling down, and he’s not giving her another thought. It’s all a fantasy in her head.

Other Favorites: “‘Someone Somewhere Tonight,” “Red High Heels”

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“Best I Ever Had”
Gary Allan

Written by Matt Scannell

Gary Allan is one of my favorite male singers ever, and usually I favor his self-written material. But this Vertical Horizon cover took on a whole new meaning when he used it on his Tough All Over album, released in the aftermath of his wife’s suicide. The lyrics are transformed from dealing with a broken heart to wondering what went wrong and if he could’ve done anything to change what happened in the end.

Other Favorites: “Smoke Rings in the Dark,” “I Just Got Back From Hell,” “Learning to Live With Me”

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“The Blade”
Ashley Monroe

Written by Marc Beeson, Jamie Floyd, and Allen Shamblin

Sometimes a song comes along that says something in a way that you just can’t believe it’s never been said before. As a relationship comes to an end, the departing heartbreaker notes his willingness to be a friend, oblivious to the damage that he’s doing by leaving:  “You caught it by the handle, baby, and I caught it by the blade.”

Other Favorites: “You Got Me,” “Two Weeks Late,” “Satisfied”

 

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“Blanket on the Ground”
Billie Jo Spears

Written by Roger Bowling

This was my parents’ “song.” I don’t like to think too deeply about why, for reasons the lyrics make obvious. But even with my dad gone nearly ten years, my mom will turn this one up every time it comes on. It’s more likely to make her cry than smile these days, but that says as much about how a song can change its impact over time as anything that I can think of.

Other Favorites: None

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“Blood Red and Goin’ Down”
Tanya Tucker

Written by Curly Putman

I’m pretty well versed in country gothic murder songs these days, but I still find “Blood Red and Goin’ Down” genuinely shocking.  That Tanya Tucker was only a couple of years older than the ten year old narrator of the song when she sang it adds to its eerie and haunting nature.  When LeAnn Rimes came along two decades later, there was a lot of discussion of whether she was old enough to understand what she was singing about. For teenage Tanya, there was never a question.

Other Favorites: “Delta Dawn,” “(Without You) What Do I Do With Me,” “Soon”

Up Next: Day 4: “Blown Away” to “Burn One Down”

12 Comments

  1. Tanya Tucker was indeed a pioneer for the brassy sorta trashy female country singer. I read where she was offered Happiest Girl In The Whole USA and turned it down. She wanted to sing edgier songs even as a teenager.

    But she evolved into a fine singer of many styles. My personal favorite is Two Sparrows In A Hurricane. And if there was ever a female singer who could be compared to a hurricane, it is definitely Tanya Tucker.

  2. Tanya Tucker had many fine songs. While Connie Smith and Loretta Loretta Lynn are/were my favorite female country singers, Tanya is a very close third, with an incredible array of strong singles. I can’t begin to pick out a favorite for her – it’s about a forty-way tie for my favorite

    Billie Jo Spears was a good artist with even stronger appeal to British and Irish audiences than in the US. “Blanket On The Ground” is my favorite of her songs

    “Smoke Rings In The Dark” is my favorite for Gary Allan. I think he should have been a bigger star than turned out to be the case for him

  3. Favorite Gary Allan songs are “Smoke Rings” and “Tough Little Boys”, the latter even though no one ever called me tough.

    From Ashley, I like “The Blade”, “Dixie”, “Weed Instead of Roses” and “You Ain’t Dolly”.

  4. “Best Days Of Your Life” might go down as the biggest guilty pleasure song. Although I do agree the narrator is rather delusional and I like how it’s her own fantasy and reality. The guy is moving on, and this song has that sort of parody aspect that adds to the charm of it.

  5. I came of age with country music in the early 70s. What a great crop of talent emerged from that time. Tanya Tucker was one of them. (I had 8 track tapes of her music!) I still hold Delta Dawn as my favorite from her sets. Yet, I enjoyed anything she sang. Now, Ashley Monroe. Her voice and music have taken me hook, line and sinker as they should you, too. The Blade is a tremendous album and the title track single surely will rank in the top echelon of country music for all-time. She should be the face of current country music.

  6. caj, I believe Tanya Tucker actually did record “The Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.” for her debut album.

    My most played Tucker track is “If It Don’t Come Easy” which is surprising considering I mostly prefer her ballads (Soon, (Without You) What Do I Do with Me, Would You Lay with Me (In a Field of Stone), etc)

  7. I feel Billie Jo Spears is one of the most over looked femal artist from the 70’s. She had a string of top 20 hits, but only a few top 10 and im sure this is why. But i for one have always loved her deep texas drawl. My all time favorite would be the top 15 hit Standing Tall from 1980. As a child of the 90’s i grew up on post 1986 Tanya Tucker and i loved ever single she put out from that era with Soon being my favorite.

  8. Michael, you are right. My mistake. Although I love Donna Fargo’s version, I definitely need to hear Tucker’s take on it. I came to love Tucker a little bit later with her Lovin’ And Learnin’ album a few years later. Thanks for the correction.

  9. The Blade was a revelation to me last year. I love Ashley’s voice and the lyrics was really nicely written. That whole album was great but that song was remarkable.

  10. I wasn’t at all a fan of Pickler’s until 100 Proof, which, by all rights, should have elevated her status considerably. As for Spears, I’ll admit that I only know “Blanket On The Ground” and her cover of “I Will Survive.” I like her voice well enough, but I don’t own any of her music. And I have always loved Tanya Tucker– she’s one of the artists I can first remember vividly.

    My iPod most played tracks for this group:
    – Kellie Picker: “Where’s Tammy Wynette When You Need Her”
    – Gary Allan: “Songs About Rain”
    – Ashley Monroe: “Can’t Let Go.” Hers is probably my favorite rendition of that frequently covered song. Beth Hart does a killer version, too.
    – Billie Jo Spears: N/A
    – Tanya Tucker: “(Don’t Believe My Heart Can Stand) Another You”… Which is a song I do love, but its play count looks weirdly inflated as compared to other songs by Tucker, so I’m wondering if I accidentally left it playing on a loop at some point, which I’ve done a few times!

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