A Country Music Conversation: Spotify Playlist (thanks to reader Justin Lai)
Previous Entry: Day 5: “Café on the Corner” to “Come On Back”
Day 6 features tracks from Highway 101, Old Crow Medicine Show, Pam Tillis, Lorrie Morgan (with The Beach Boys), and Jason Isbell.
“Cry, Cry, Cry”
Written by Don Devaney and John Scott Sherrill
Paulette Carlson had one of the most distinctive voices of the late eighties, bringing Highway 101 records to life. I’ve always been partial to this one, given its incredible opening line: “It’s just a little creek now, but when the rain comes down, it’s gonna be a ragin’ river.” I also love the extra beat between the second and third “cry” at the end of the chorus, as if they want to emphasize just how ridiculous the amount of crying is going to be.
Other Favorites: “‘The Bed You Made For Me,” “Whiskey, If You Were a Woman,” “(Do You Love Me) Just Say Yes”
“Dearly Departed Friend”
Old Crow Medicine Show
Written by Ketch Secor
“Wagon Wheel” may be their signature song, but they are so much more than that. I implore those unfamiliar with Old Crow Medicine Show to check out their Grammy-winning 2014 album, Remedy. “Dearly Departed Friend” tells of the funeral and repast of a young man who has died in war, and the attention to detail is stunning, as is the complete absence of sappiness or cheap appeals to emotion.
Other Favorites: “Mean Enough World,” “Firewater,” “Wagon Wheel”
Written by Walt Aldridge and John Jarrard
Pam Tillis quickly emerged as my favorite artist when I was falling in love with country music, and “Deep Down” captures what I love best about her unique set of talents: bringing a pop sensibility into harmony with traditional country music. I love the way the instruments talk back to her on this track, as if the electric guitar and the fiddle are doing a duet with her in the verses. And who could find a little bit of hope in her vocal while singing the line, “I’ve got the bleeding stopped, but there’s gonna be a scar” other than Ms. Tillis?
Other Favorites: “Maybe it Was Memphis,” “In Between Dances,” “Shake the Sugar Tree”
“Don’t Worry Baby” (with The Beach Boys)
Written by Roger Christian and Brian Wilson
“Don’t Worry Baby” works better as a female song, and Lorrie Morgan’s country bona fides are so deeply rooted in the Nashville Sound that she can sing a pop melody with the best of them. She performs this with such intense emotion that you can’t help but wonder if she can keep his car on the road by sheer willpower.
Other Favorites: “Last Night’s Make Up,” “I Just Might Be,” “Something in Red”
Written by Jason Isbell
In my opinion, there isn’t a better male singer-songwriter out there than Jason Isbell. “Elephant” was the song that brought this epiphany upon me. Sharply drawn characters that are enduring a tragic situation, “Elephant” captures Isbell’s talent for cutting truths that are difficult to hear: “There’s one thing that’s real clear to me. No one dies with dignity. We just try to ignore the elephant somehow.”
Other Favorites: “24 Frames,” “Songs That She Sang in the Shower,” “Speed Trap Town”