Author Archives: Leeann Ward

Retro Single Review: Alan Jackson, “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow”

1990 | Peak: #2

Alan Jackson’s fourth single picks up the tempo in all the best ways. The tune is very memorable, thanks to an exuberant melody and decidedly country production, but the lyrics are anything but lightweight.

The song starts with his father’s lofty dream of hearing his baby boy on the radio someday and progresses to the point when the beginning of the dream is finally realized. The autobiographical single, sung with a humble innocence, exudes boundless gratefulness and optimism for a budding career. At the time of its recording and subsequent release, Jackson could not have known just how successful he would be at chasing the all elusive dream, but he correctly projects that he will.

Written by Alan Jackson and Jim McBride

Grade: A

Listen: Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow


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The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 28

Today’s category is…

A Song From Your Favorite Songwriter.

Here are the staff picks:

Leeann Ward: “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” – Darrell Scott

A modern masterpiece.

Dan Milliken: “Restless” – Robert Lee Castleman  (performed by Alison Krauss & Union Station)

No one writes individualist cud-chew better than Castleman, and no one sings it better than Krauss. Each new pairing of theirs is a gift to all over-thinkers with secret over-feeling streaks, those who revel in connection but resent constraint, who ask only for honesty because that’s all they themselves can promise sometimes.

Tara Seetharam: “Cowboy Take Me Away” – Marcus Hummon and Martie Seidel (performed by Dixie Chicks)

I don’t really have a favorite songwriter, but I guess Marcus Hummon is the closest thing. I won’t even try to speak more poignantly about this song than Dan did back when we counted down the greatest singles of the 90s; he nails its transcendental sparkle that makes it more than just another love song.

Kevin Coyne: “Don’t Let it Trouble Your Mind” – Dolly Parton

Writing great songs for more than forty years.  What’s amazing  isn’t so much how great she still is, but how great she’s been all along, as this early track demonstrates.

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The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 24

Today’s category is…

A Great Song You Just Discovered.

Here are the staff picks:

Leeann Ward: “The Last Bus” – Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers

One of my favorite moments is when I put my iPod on shuffle and discover a song that I’ve never heard before and fall in love with it. Such an occasion occurred a few weeks ago. I’ve had this Zoe Muth album for quite some time, but as often happens, I bought the album and hadn’t gotten around to listening to it yet.

The song has my favorite kind of gentle instrumentation and Muth’s performance exudes the kind of melancholy that is easy to get wrapped up in, which is a testament to a well interpreted and well crafted song.

P.S. The whole album is highly worth checking out.

Dan Milliken: “Lost Horizons” – Gin Blossoms

I knew them as the band behind two of my favorite 90’s singles, “Found Out About You” and “Follow You Down,” but I’d never listened through one of their albums until I happened upon a used copy of New Miserable Experience a few weeks ago. “Lost Horizons” is the opening track, and it’s a killer marriage of depressive angst and jaunty power-pop: “I’ll drink enough of anything to make this world look new again / I’m drunk, drunk, drunk in the gardens and the graves.”

Tara Seetharam: “One and Only” – Adele

Love this album, love this song. The lyrics are simple and its sentiment isn’t groundbreaking, but its vocal nuances and gorgeous throwback arrangement make it an instant favorite for me. I can’t get enough of the fierce tenacity in Adele’s performance and how sweetly it contrasts with the song’s soothing vibe.

Kevin Coyne: “Racing the Angels” – Matraca Berg

From her exquisite new album The Dreaming Fields, this is the highlight among highlights.  A real heartbreaker, Berg is mourning her husband’s death alongside the death of the woman that she used to be.  Enjoy it by the songwriter now, and by a nineties artist with great taste on some future album.  My money’s on Yearwood.

 

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The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 20

Today’s category is…

A Song You Used to Hate But Now You Don’t.

Here are the staff picks:

Leeann Ward: “What Was I Thinkin’” – Dierks Bentley

When this song was making its chart run, I didn’t like it at all. Apparently, my ears were clogged then. About three years ago, I suddenly realized that I loved it. How couldn’t I love it, especially with Randy Kohrs’ riveting slide guitar action?

Dan Milliken: Bass Down Low” – DEV featuring the Cataracs

When I first heard this recent hit, I thought it was the filler-iest of Top 40 filler. It may still actually be. But like Napoleon Dynamite gained comic value from the quoting craze it inspired, “Bass Down Low” has gained guilty-pleasure value for me from the way the hook sneaks into my head at times when I’m standing around doing nothing. Repetition works wonders.

Tara Seetharam: “Umbrella” – Rihanna featuring Jay-Z

I found it completely inane the first two or three times I heard it…and then, just like that, I couldn’t get enough. I still love the song to this day; there’s something strangely majestic about it.

Kevin Coyne: “Sloop John B” – The Beach Boys

My dad played this song on the jukebox incessantly, driving me crazy every time I heard it. Now it’s a song that I treasure, understanding how him being in the navy helped make it more relevant to him. Plus it’s catchy as all get out.

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The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 17

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.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Don-Williams-Lord-I-Hope-This-Day-is-Good-150×150.jpg” alt=”” width=”150″ height=”150″ />Today’s category is…

A Song That Describes You.

Here are the staff picks:

Leeann Ward: “Lord, I Hope This Day is Good” – Don Williams

There might be a song that technically describes me better than this one, but this is the song that perfectly describes how I feel each morning before I start my day. I don’t know why, but I relate to it on a guttural level.

Dan Milliken: “Get Me Through December” – Natalie MacMaster with Alison Krauss

Her heart has grown cold, her love stored away. But she hungers to feel that love again, and wanders the world in search of things to rekindle it, even as she knows that some types of peace can only come from within. Now she’s anticipating another season of dragging herself through the doldrums, her feelings ever unsettled; but she still holds onto some kind of faith, some hope for tomorrow. All she wants is a good reboot, another chance to set her course a little righter. “Just get me through December,” she pleads, “so I can start again.”

Tara Seetharam: “If You Ever Have Forever in Mind” – Vince Gill

As most of you know by now, I connect with music via melody and vocal performance more so than via lyric. Though I’ve yet to identify with the story of this song, the first time I heard it, I remember thinking it immediately felt like “home” – like I had found an extension of myself in the song. it just…fits me.

Kevin Coyne: “Rocking Horse” – Sara Evans

That’s how I live my life. I’m not wired to do it any other way.

 

 

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