Previous Entry: Day 16: “Mine All Mine” to “A Night to Remember”
Day 17 features tracks from Dolly Parton, Iris DeMent, Radney Foster, Kim Richey, and Lari White.
“9 to 5”
Written by Dolly Parton
I think that Dolly Parton is the finest singer-songwriter of the 20th century, and probably the 21st, too. “9 to 5” is a catchy pop hit movie theme, bubbling over with her sunshine personality. But it’s also a dark indictment of corporate culture and the exploitation of workers, looking to find hope in each other as they wait for their ship to come in. It’s a tribute to her talent as a writer and a performer that she can deliver such a message in such a way.
Other Favorites: “Coat of Many Colors,” “Shattered Image,” “Down From Dover”
“No Time to Cry”
Written by Iris DeMent
Iris DeMent is raw. There’s no other word to describe her as a singer and a writer. “No Time to Cry” is sometimes painful for me to listen to because it captures an essential truth about how we use work and responsibilities and a busy schedule to cope with grief. It’s not about healing. It’s about survival.
Other Favorites: “The Way I Should,” “Wasteland of the Free,” “Easy’s Getting Harder Every Day”
Written by Radney Foster and Kim Richey
Radney Foster got some harmony help from Mary Chapin Carpenter on this intelligent hit, but the real MVP was co-writer Kim Richey, who burst on to the country music scene with her co-write here. Foster’s no slouch himself, as he’s known to write studies of the human character that choose insight over sentimentality. This is great talent in top form.
Other Favorites: “Not in My House,” “Godspeed (Sweet Dreams),” “Everyday Angel”
“Not a Love Like This”
Written by Joan Osborne and Kim Richey
Fast forward more than a decade later, and Kim Richey already had several albums full of self-written songs that were chock full of gems. For whatever reason, the artists who love to cover her material have largely ignored Chinese Boxes. There’s a hit waiting for them if they check it out. “Not a Love Like This” has a build-up of intensity that approaches that of those great sixties Wall of Sound hits. Richey’s songwriting is acclaimed, but she’s a hell of a singer, too.
Other Favorites: “I Know,” “Come Around,” “Those Words We Said”
“Now I Know”
Written by Don Cook, Cindy Greene, and Chick Rains
The nineties were about building a bridge between the country heartbreak queens of yesterday and the self-realized independent women of the new millennium. Shania Twain rightly gets credit for completing the transition, but hits like this Lari White one laid the foundation for Twain’s point of view being embraced in country music. Here, she just assumed all along that she’d be lost without her man if he ever left her. He does, and she wakes up and realizes she’s just fine on her own. It doesn’t have the sonic boom of “Any Man of Mine,” but it’s an empowerment anthem just the same.
Other Favorites: “Lead Me Not,” “Tired,” “That’s How You Know (When You’re in Love)”
Up Next: Day 18: “Past the Point of Rescue” to “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way”