Previous Entry: Day 19: “Quittin’ Time” to “Seven Year Ache”
Day 20 features tracks from John Conlee, Chely Wright, Alan Jackson, Ricky Van Shelton, and David Nail.
“She Can’t Say That Anymore”
Written by Sonny Throckmorton
John Conlee’s records from the early eighties are fascinating to listen to. He’s clearly a traditionalist, but required to perform against the backdrop of the Urban Cowboy sound. The resulting contrasts between his vocals and the production help his work stand out among his peers of that time, most of whom sang in a way to blend in with the pop production, leaving any connection to country music tenuous at best.
Other Favorites: “Friday Night Blues,” “Backside of Thirty,” “I Don’t Remember Loving You”
“Shut Up and Drive”
Written by Rivers Rutherford, Annie Tate, and Sam Tate
Chely Wright’s breakthrough hit remains her strongest recording to date. As always, I’m a fan of lines that seem so obviously true that you can’t believe you’ve never heard them used before: “He’s the one who will be missing you, and you’ll only miss the man that you wanted him to be.”
Other Favorites: “Scars,” “What if I Can’t Say No Again,” “The Love That We Lost” (1996 version)
“So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore”
Written by Jay Knowles and Adam Wright
This one’s been among my top ten most played tracks for years now, trailing only a trio of Trisha Yearwood songs among country recordings. It’s that verse before the instrumental breakdown that gets me every time: “When the wine you’re drinking leads you to thinking that you want what we had before/Girl, you can call me, I’ll let it ring and ring, so you don’t have to love me anymore.”
Other Favorites: “Monday Morning Church,” “Blue Ridge Mountain Song,” “Here in the Real World”
Ricky Van Shelton
Written by Joe Chambers and Larry Jenkins
When conversations are had about the best song sleuths and preservers of tradition in country music, Ricky Van Shelton’s name is too often left out of the conversation. His first few albums showcase curating skills that rival Emmylou Harris at her peak, and he always knew how to make an old-time country song sound fresh, and a fresh song, like “Somebody Lied,” sound like old-time country.
Other Favorites: “I’ll Leave This World Loving You,” “I Meant Every Word He Said,” “Keep it Between the Lines”
“The Sound of a Million Dreams”
Written by Scooter Carusoe and Phil Vassar
Another beautiful song about songs. In this case, how they motivate an artist to do the hard labor of creating them, in hope of changing someone else’s life the way his favorite songs have changed his.
Other Favorites: “That’s How I’ll Remember You,” “Red Light,” “Turning Home”