Archive for the ‘Back to the Nineties’ Category

Wade Hayes Six Pack

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Wade HayesHe could’ve been – heck, still could be – one of the genre’s great traditional vocalists. The depth of his baritone was matched by its nuance, making Josh Turner sound like an amateur in comparison. Here’s hoping he’ll resurface sometime soon, since he could blow most of today’s young guys out of the water.

“Old Enough to Know Better”
from the 1995 album Old Enough to Know Better

A twenty-something anthem that exudes youthful energy.

“I’m Still Dancin’ With You”
from the 1995 album Old Enough to Know Better

It doesn’t have quite the elegance of “In Between Dances”, but his spin on dance floor loneliness is still effective.

“Don’t Stop”
from the 1995 album Old Enough to Know Better

This is the blueprint for all those country romance numbers that Dierks Bentley and Billy Currington are known for today.

“What I Meant To Say”
from the 1995 album Old Enough to Know Better

Hindsight’s 20/20 as Hayes looks back alone.

“The Room”
from the 1996 album On a Good Night

The single biggest mistake that Sony made with Hayes was releasing “Where Do I Go to Start All Over” instead of “The Room” as the second single off of his sophomore album.  This song practically completes the trilogy begun by George Jones with “The Grand Tour” and “The Door.”

“The Day That She Left Tulsa (In a Chevy)”
from the 1997 album When the Wrong One Loves You Right

Hayes’ last big hit was also his best, as he gropes with realizing that his lover has left him because she’s pregnant with someone else’s child. (“I guess she though the truth would end up driving me away. She was wrong, but I never got the chance to say.”


Rick Trevino Six Pack

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Rick TrevinoThe nineties brought some artists who never became full-fledged stars, but were a heck of a lot more than one-hit wonders, either. One of those was Rick Trevino, who showed great promise with a solid gold-selling debut album. Though he strayed too far down the radio fodder road with his next two projects, that approach still produced a #1 hit in “Running Out of Reasons to Run.”

As is often the case with the young stars of the nineties, his more recent work has been strikingly compelling, even though radio hasn’t played it. Here’s a good sampling of underrated artist Rick Trevino.

“Just Enough Rope (Bilingual Version)”
from the 1994 album Rick Trevino

Trevino’s debut single is best heard in both of his native tongues.

“She Can’t Say I Didn’t Cry”
from the 1994 album Rick Trevino

His breakthrough hit has him sounding wiser than his years.

“Doctor Time”
from the 1994 album Rick Trevino

A barroom anthem worthy of Chesnutt, if not Jones.

“Looking For the Light”
from the 1995 album Looking For the Light

The male version of “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye.”

“Bobbie Ann Mason”
from the 1995 album Looking For the Light

Trevino’s grades suffer due to too much female distraction.

“Separate Ways”
a 2007 single release

One of country music’s finest divorce songs, sung from the perspective of an adult child worried about repeating his parents’ fate.


Collin Raye Starter Kit

Monday, August 17th, 2009

collin_rayeWhen Collin Raye first surfaced, it seemed like he was a poor man’s Vince Gill. Nice, sweet vocals but not much depth. However, he’d reveal himself as having one of country music’s stronger song senses. At his peak, he enjoyed both commercial success and regular Male Vocalist nominations.

Most of this list comes from Raye’s first four albums, all of which were certified platinum. His music started to decline in quality toward the end of the decade, but he still put out some good radio singles. He’s been mostly quiet this decade, releasing albums on independent labels.

Ten Essential Tracks

“Love, Me”
from the 1991 album All I Can Be

One of country music’s finest tearjerkers. It put Raye on the map as a balladeer to be reckoned with.

“In This Life”
from the 1992 album In This Life

One of those rare ballads that works just as well at a wedding as it does at a funeral.

“That’s My Story”
from the 1994 album Extremes

A riotous attempt at creating a plausible alibi, co-written by Lee Roy Parnell.

“Little Rock”
from the 1994 album Extremes

Raye’s masterpiece is an emotional powerhouse, as he takes on the role of a recovering alcoholic trying to reconcile with his wife.

“If I Were You”
from the 1994 album Extremes

Raye encourages the woman he loves to follow her dreams, hoping that in the end, he’ll be one of those dreams.

“Not That Different”
from the 1995 album I Think About You

Another song that works on numerous levels, working as well as a call for a couple to unite as a call for all humanity to do so.

“I Think About You”
from the 1995 album I Think About You

If all men saw women the way that Raye does in this song, we might be able to leave gender-based crime and discrimination behind.

“What If Jesus Comes Back Like That”
from the 1995 album I Think About You

A powerful moral warning to see every person as a child of God.

“I Can Still Feel You”
from the 1998 album The Walls Came Down

Raye’s final #1 single is all nervy and paranoid, as he’s haunted by a memory he can’t shake.

“Someone You Used to Know”
from the 1998 album The Walls Came Down

A man struggles with being seen as just a memory by a woman he still love.

Two Hidden Treasures

“Dreaming My Dreams With You”
From the 1994 album Extremes

A quiet and understated delivery of the Waylon Jennings classic.

“Heart Full of Rain”
From the 1996 album I Think About You

It’s hard to keep a flame alive when the woman you love keeps dousing it with water.


Sawyer Brown Starter Kit

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Sawyer BrownMy favorite band of the early and mid-nineties was Sawyer Brown. Former Star Search winners, they had a decent run of hits in the eighties, though their early albums are legendarily awful. But they found their artistic voice when lead singer Mark Miller began writing with Mac McAnally. Many of their biggest and best hits were written by one or both of them.

The end result was that Sawyer Brown became one of the only country acts that broke out in the last few years of the eighties to actually become far more commercially successful in the nineties.

Ten Essential Tracks

“The Race is On”
from the 1989 album The Boys Are Back

So much of their eighties work was disposable, but there’s a surprising charm to this revved up take on the George Jones classic. Even the Possum himself was a vocal fan of it.

“The Walk”
from the 1991 album Buick

This powerful single kicked off a string of five excellent singles that established Sawyer Brown as one of the strongest voices in country music.

“The Dirt Road”
from the 1992 album The Dirt Road

After a single that explored the major milestones of a father-son relationship, they followed with one about the life lessons taught in between those milestones.

“Some Girls Do”
from the 1992 album The Dirt Road

Finally, they find a way to be upbeat and fun without being goofy.

“Café On the Corner”
from the 1992 album Café On the Corner

The band reaches their creative peak, bringing the different faces of the early nineties recession into vivid focus.

“All These Years”
from the 1992 album Café On the Corner

This sparse ballad documents what is perhaps the most awkward conversation ever between husband and wife.

“Thank God For You”
from the 1993 album Outskirts of Town

A tongue-in-cheek list of thank yous aimed toward those responsible for the good life the man is leading.

“Hard to Say”
from the 1994 album Outskirts of Town

Plenty of clever wordplay is neatly embedded into a catchy melody.

“This Time”
from the 1995 album Greatest Hits 1990-1995

The lead single from the band’s second and far stronger hits collection features one of their most rootsy arrangements.

“(This Thing Called) Wantin’ and Havin’ It All”
from the 1995 album This Thing Called Wantin’ and Havin’ it All

A tent revival morality tale that still sounds relevant today.

Two Hidden Treasures

“Outskirts of Town”
From the 1993 album Outskirts of Town

Put this slow and simple portrait of country life up against all of the overblown party anthems that have dominated the radio this decade, and it quickly becomes clear what a parody of itself country music can become.

“Another Side”
From the 1997 album Six Days on the Road

A tale of two brothers on opposing sides of the Civil War. It’s far more poignant than you’d imagine.


Diamond Rio Starter Kit

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

diamond-rioWith four CMA and two ACM Awards and five Gold and two Platinum albums, Diamond Rio was the premier country group of the nineties. They were one of the few groups in country music to serve as the exclusive vocalists and instrumentalists on their studio albums while most other groups in country music utilized professional studio musicians and even singers to fill out their records.

Their sound was a mix of multiple influences, but Diamond Rio’s music was not mistaken as anything other than country, which was particularly a result of the six vital member’s distinct and tight harmonies and organic productions that all gelled together to form a tight vocal group in every sense.

Ten Essential Tracks

“Meet in the Middle”
from the 1991 album Diamond Rio

“Meet in the Middle” is famous for being the first debut single to reach the top of the country charts by a band. This song of commitment and compromise is both singable and relationally instructive. It also appropriately introduces Diamond Rio as a group with a unique sound that will soon be instantly recognizable on nineties country radio.

“Norma Jean Riley”
from the 1991 album Diamond Rio

While he knows that Norma Jean Riley may be out of his league, he’s not going to let that stop him from subtly winning her over. Everyone tells him he’s a fool for trying, but he knows that not only will she notice him, she’ll eventually marry him. Here’s hoping. Most notable is Dan Truman’s lively keyboard that energizes an already infectious song.

“Nowhere Bound”
from the 1991 album Diamond Rio

This guy has trouble staying in one place for long and needs to be warned that his running is simply “nowhere bound.” Diamond Rio does just that in the hook of this melodically memorable song.

“In A Week or Two”
from the 1992 album Close to the Edge

Oops! He had planned to do all the things that would have shown her that he loved her, but it wasn’t on the schedule just yet. Isn’t it Too bad she couldn’t have waited for just a mere week or two?

“This Romeo Ain’t Got Julie Yet”
from the 1992 album Close to the Edge

The title of this fun song may play off of a certain Shakespeare play, but it’s even less literary than Taylor Swift’s “Love Story.”

“Finish What We Started”
from the 1994 album Love A Little Stronger

This is simply a gorgeous, unpretentious love song of commitment.

“Walkin’ Away”
from the 1996 album IV

And here is the practical application of commitment.

“How Your Love Makes Me Feel”
from the 1997 album Greatest Hits

How the protagonist of this song describes the feelings that accompany his budding romance, perfectly captures the frenzied period of the beginning of a fresh relationship.

“You’re Gone”
from the 1998 album Unbelievable

Dan Truman’s signature keyboard is the musical foundation for this haunting ode to a woman who had a brief but deep impact. Marty Roe sings, “The good news is I’m better for the time we spent together and the bad news is you’re gone.” We’re never really given much insight into what happened to their relationship, but we can be certain that her tactics were likely unconventional, but effective for a man with obvious emotional baggage.

“Beautiful Mess”
from the 2002 album Completely

Thanks to her, this man is a mess, but he couldn’t be happier about it.

Two Hidden Treasures

“You Ain’t in It”
From the 1991 album Love A Little Stronger

Tired of her memory crowding his every thought, he proudly progresses to a place where he can finally experience a minute here and there when she “ain’t in it.”

“How Can We Thank Him for What He Has Done”
From Ralph Stanley’s 1998 album Clinch Mountain Country

This is a beautiful gem that can be found on Ralph Stanley’s wonderful collaborative project with various country artists. Diamond Rio’s signature harmony are ever present, along with Stanley’s humbly, sincere spoken word of scripture.


Tracy Byrd Starter Kit

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

tracy-byrd1One of the side effects of the nineties boom was that every Nashville label started looking for young male acts that looked good in a Stetson and could sing with an accent.

The end result was that some solid talent was discovered a bit too early, before they’d fully refined themselves into artists. Tracy Byrd’s a great example of this. Only 25 years old when his first single went to radio, Byrd had been plucked from the Beaumont, Texas music scene that had groomed Mark Chesnutt.

Byrd’s hit material from the nineties was reflective of what the B-list hat acts recorded during that era, though his vocal charm helped him elevate middling songs from time to time. He also turned in a few gems, with his music getting far more consistent as he entered his thirties.

His last studio album, 2006′s Different Things, was excellent, but radio had already moved on to the new twentysomethings at that point, artists who will probably be making better music a decade from now and being overlooked for the new, new twentysomethings.

Ten Essential Tracks:

“Holdin’ Heaven”
from the 1993 album Tracy Byrd

When surprisingly strong sales greeted the release of Byrd’s debut album, radio jumped on board. This catchy tune briefly knocked Garth’s “Ain’t Goin Down” out of the top spot, though Brooks would return to #1 a week later.

“Watermelon Crawl”
from the 1994 album No Ordinary Man

The line dance craze taken to its absolutely goofiest extreme. This is as representative of the early nineties as it gets.

“The Keeper of the Stars”
from the 1994 album No Ordinary Man

This romantic ballad was the surprise winner of Song of the Year at the 1995 ACM awards.

“Walkin’ to Jerusalem”
from the 1995 album Love Lessons

One of the craziest choruses to hit country radio sounds like a Mideast geography lesson taking a detour through southern America.

“Don’t Take Her She’s All I Got”
from the 1996 album Big Love

There’s no question that Tracy Byrd knows his country music history, and he effectively revived this Johnny Paycheck classic for the nineties.

“I Wanna Feel That Way Again”
from the 1998 album I’m From the Country

You can hear that Byrd is beginning to mature and settle in to his voice. He wouldn’t have been able to deliver this as well on earlier albums.

“Put Your Hand in Mine”
from the 1999 album It’s About Time

Another mature record that deals with a father and son relationship being strained by the tensions between father and mother.

“Just Let Me Be in Love”
from the 2001 album Ten Rounds

A warm and romantic love song with a Spanish flavor. By this record, he’s almost an entirely different singer than the guy who once sang “Watermelon Crawl.”

“Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo”
from the 2001 album Ten Rounds

Two decades after Shelly West spiked sales of the titular drink, Byrd topped the charts with this entertaining track.

“Cheapest Motel”
from the 2006 album Different Things

A roving husband pays a far higher price in the end than the motel clerk charged him.

Two Hidden Treasures:

“Someone To Give My Love To”
from the 1993 album Tracy Byrd

Early evidence of Byrd’s affection for Johnny Paycheck surfaced with this cover featured on his first album. Despite only reaching #42, it helped stimulate sales of his debut set.

“Different Things”
from the 2006 album Different Things

It’s a shame that Byrd’s success and talent peaked in different decades. Nearly every track on his 2006 album, including the title cut, would make radio sound a whole lot better.


Brooks & Dunn Starter Kit

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Brooks & DunnWhen news broke of Brooks & Dunn’s impending breakup, we decided to move up our planned Starter Kit feature on this quintessential nineties act.

It’s hard to imagine a time when Brooks & Dunn winning an industry award was a breath of fresh air, but when they surfaced in 1991, they quickly ended the long reign of The Judds at the industry award shows.  Brooks & Dunn would then make The Judds dominance seem like child’s play. They’d go on to win 19 CMA awards, including 14 in the Vocal Duo category. This shattered the category dominance record held by The Statler Brothers, who won Vocal Group nine times.

They’ve been a core act at radio for eighteen years, and were the first duo or group in the history of country music to sell six million copies of a studio album, a feat they achieved with their debut album Brand New Man. Their cumulative sales are approaching 25 million.

Ten Essential Tracks:

“Brand New Man”
from the 1991 album Brand New Man

The sheer energy of their debut single made them an instant hit at radio. Truth is, this song could come out today and still sound fresh.

“Neon Moon”
from the 1991 album Brand New Man

Ronnie Dunn is one of the genre’s finest male vocalists, especially when he tears into a beer-sipping ballad.

“Boot Scootin’ Boogie”
from the 1991 album Brand New Man

They’d make many songs that honky-tonked more, but never one that did so in such an effortlessly charming way.

“She Used To Be Mine”
from the 1993 album Hard Workin’ Man

The title track of their second album earned them a Grammy, but the album’s real treasure was this killer ballad that showcased Dunn’s aching vocal.

“You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone”
from the 1994 album Waitin’ On Sundown

One of their best singles ever features Kix Brooks on lead, an unfortunate rarity among their radio hits.

“My Maria”
from the 1996 album Borderline

Leave it to Ronnie Dunn to make a seventies AM radio classic sound like little more than a demo for his definitive recording.

“How Long Gone”
from the 1998 album If You See Her

A simple, pleasing radio hit that’s heavy on hook and melody.

“The Long Goodbye”
from the 2001 album Steers & Stripes

A fully believable break-up song that’s all about drifting apart.

“Red Dirt Road”
from the 2003 album Red Dirt Road

A nostalgic trip down a very memorable lane.

“It’s Getting Better All the Time”
from the 2004 album The Greatest Hits Collection II

A “Backside of Thirty”-league portrait of a broken man.

Two Hidden Treasures:

“My Heart is Lost To You”
from the 2001 album Steers & Stripes

Despite riding a major comeback, this bilingual track got lost in the shuffle. It went top five but not recurrent, which is a shame, since it’s one of their most enchanting tracks.

“God Must Be Busy”
from the 2007 album Cowboy Town

“Believe” got all the love, but if you’re looking for a deeper exploration of faith and doubt, this is the way to go.


Lorrie Morgan Starter Kit

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

Lorrie MorganAmidst her generation of successful female country artists, Lorrie Morgan was the only one who was clearly from the tradition of heartbreak queen Tammy Wynette, with a healthy dose of Jeannie Seely in the mix.  With her contemporaries far more shaped by the work of Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, Morgan was instrumental in keeping the sound of female country from the sixties still relevant in the nineties.

While Morgan never earned the critical acclaim or industry accolades of peers like Patty Loveless and Pam Tillis, she was immensely popular with country fans, able to sell gold with albums that radio largely ignored. She was the first female country artist to have her first three studio albums go platinum, with three additional albums going gold and a hits collection selling double platinum.

Many of Morgan’s best recordings were never sent to radio, and those interested in discovering her in depth should seek out her finest studio albums, Greater Need and Show Me How.

But her singles were pretty good too, with these being the most essential.

Ten Essential Tracks:

“Dear Me”
from the 1989 album Leave the Light On

This song broke through just as news of the death of Keith Whitley, Morgan’s husband, became known. She was unfairly accused of capitalizing on his death with this release, as people both misinterpreted the song’s meaning and apparently ignored the fact that it had gone to radio weeks before his death.

“We Both Walk”
from the 1991 album Something in Red

One of her more cutting performances. She refuses to let her roving man come back home, because when he leaves, he walks away and she walks the floor.

“Something in Red”
from the 1991 album Something in Red

Her signature hit is the tale of a woman’s life through conversations while shopping for clothes. Amazingly poignant, especially given the conceit of the song.

“What Part of No”
from the 1992 album Watch Me

“Back off, buddy,” is the message of Morgan’s biggest chart hit, which topped the charts for three weeks.

“I Guess You Had to Be There”
from the 1992 album Watch Me

Buy on iTunes

In my opinion, Morgan’s finest performance from her platinum years. When this was on the radio at the same time as Pam Tillis’ “Do You Know Where Your Man Is”, it was the next best thing to having Tammy Wynette back in heavy rotation.

“If You Came Back From Heaven”
from the 1994 album War Paint

Buy on iTunes

Morgan finally addressed Whitley’s death in song with this self-penned ballad.

“I Didn’t Know My Own Strength”
from the 1995 album Greatest Hits

Buy on iTunes

Her third and final #1 hit was an empowering anthem that topped the charts just as women were becoming the dominant commercial force in country music.

“I Just Might Be”
from the 1996 album Greater Need

This breezy single is cutting with its casual indifference.

“Good As I Was to You”
from the 1996 album Greater Need

The best of her power ballads finds her confronting her cheating husband as he dines with his mistress.

“Do You Still Want to Buy Me That Drink (Frank)”
from the 2004 album Show Me How

This single mom finally gets a night out, but before she moves forward with the man who is looking to hook up with her, she makes clear she’s part of a package deal.

Two Hidden Treasures:

“Greater Need”
from the 1996 album Greater Need

The title track of her finest RCA album is painfully vulnerable, as she realizes that she’s always the one with the greater need in her relationships.

“Don’t Worry Baby”
from the 1996 Beach Boys album Stars and Stripes Vol. 1

Buy on iTunes

Morgan’s take on this Beach Boys classic completely changes the point of view of the song, giving it an added passion along with greater desperation.

Amazon Bonus Tracks:

Since the Amazon store doesn’t carry a handful of Morgan’s key hits, a few extra cuts are included to help round out the Starter Kit for those who don’t care for the iTunes store:

“Out of Your Shoes”
from the 1989 album Leave the Light On

A sad but sweet #2 hit which finds a woman looking on as he best friend goes home with the man that she wants for her own.

“Except For Monday”
from the 1991 album Something in Red

One of those catchy little numbers that can make any young kid a country fan in three minutes. Play Alan Jackson’s “Little Bitty” right after and they’ll be hooked for life.

“By My Side” (with Jon Randall)
from the 1996 album Greater Need

Her duet with then-husband was a top twenty hit. They sounded great together.

“I Can Count On You”
from the 2004 album Show Me How

The contrast between the pure tone of Pam’s voice makes Johnny’s spoken bridge sound all the more authoritative. It’s like a singing angel surrounding the voice of God.


Pam Tillis Starter Kit

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Pam TillisThe first week of Back to the Nineties will wind down with women who have something in common. Each one is the daughter of a legendary country star that struggled to break through during the late seventies and most of the eighties, then became commercially successful throughout the nineties.

Today, our Starter Kit is for Pam Tillis. Now, those of you who are longtime readers of this site are already familiar with much of Pam’s work. Perhaps you’ve read my interview with her, or her 100 Greatest Women entry, or that edition of Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists.

But for those less familiar with her, Pam Tillis was one of the most surprising country stars during the boom years. After a pop album and several country singles with Warner Bros., she resurfaced as the flagship female artist for Arista Records. Between the time of her first single for the label going to radio in 1990 and the end of the decade, she’d amass thirteen top ten hits, three platinum albums, two gold albums, a Grammy, and two CMA Awards, including the 1994 trophy for Female Vocalist of the Year.

Ten Essential Tracks:

“Don’t Tell Me What To Do”
from the 1991 album Put Yourself in My Place

Her breakthrough hit was one of two tracks from her first country album to be nominated for CMA Single of the Year. It’s also one of many Tillis hits that helped bridge the generational gap between the self-pity queens of earlier decades and the rah-rah independent women of the post-Shania age.

“Maybe It Was Memphis”
from the 1991 album Put Yourself in My Place

Nominated for both a CMA and a Grammy, this torrid record was an instant classic. She’s never sounded this raw on another record, before or since.

“Shake the Sugar Tree”
from the 1992 album Homeward Looking Angel

There’s a double meaning to this title. Once you realize it, It changes the whole experience of listening to the song. Let me just say that this woman isn’t being playfully nagging. She’s being slyly seductive.

“Cleopatra, Queen of Denial”
from the 1992 album Homeward Looking Angel

The first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem. The bitter edge to her vocal suggests that her days in denial are numbered, and she’s more frustrated with herself for allowing such mistreatment than she is with the man who’s been delivering it.

“Do You Know Where Your Man Is”
from the 1992 album Homeward Looking Angel

A modern and far less patronizing spin on Tammy Wynette’s “Woman to Woman.”

“Spilled Perfume”
from the 1994 album Sweetheart’s Dance

A woman consoles her friend for making a poor choice out of loneliness with a curious combination of “I’m here for you, but what on earth were you thinking?”

“When You Walk in the Room”
from the 1994 album Sweetheart’s Dance

It’s not pop-country. It’s country-pop. There’s a big difference.

“In Between Dances”
from the 1994 album Sweetheart’s Dance

A gorgeous waltz about those weary moments between having your heart broken and being ready to try love again.

“The River and the Highway”
from the 1995 album All of This Love

This is as close to pure poetry as country radio would ever get during the nineties.

“All the Good Ones are Gone”
from the 1997 album Greatest Hits

The track of choice for friends looking to depress their single friends on their birthday.

Two Hidden Treasures:

“Every Time”
from the 1998 album Every Time

One of those should’ve been hits. As Tillis sings of unrequited love, Eagle Timothy B. Schmit provides the harmony.

“Keep Your Eyes on Jesus” (featuring Johnny Cash)
from the 2001 album Livin’, Lovin’, Losin’: The Songs of the Louvin Brothers

The contrast between the pure tone of Pam’s voice makes Johnny’s spoken bridge sound all the more authoritative. It’s like a singing angel surrounding the voice of God.


Travis Tritt Starter Kit

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Travis TrittWhile Travis Tritt didn’t acquire quite as many number one hits as many of his fellow artists in the nineties, with only 3 to claim, he was still a solid hit maker and strong force throughout the decade. His soulful brand of “southern rockin’ country” is often what he associated himself with, as noted in “Put Some Drive in Your Country”, but he was just as vocally connected to ballads and other more standard country fare.

Even as an artist of the nineties who was not honored as much by the industry as some of his peers, likely as a result of his outlaw image, his album sales still managed to be impressive. They included albums that went gold (1), platinum (3), double platinum (3) and triple platinum (1).

As one of my favorite artists of the nineties and in general, it was difficult to point to only ten essential tracks of Travis Tritt’s to spotlight, especially since the majority of my favorite songs of his were either not hit songs or even released at all.

Ten Essential Tracks:

“Here’s A Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)”
From the 1991 album It’s All About to Change

In the nineties, Tritt was credited as having a strong personality, though people close to him, including various opening acts, have reported that he was always surprisingly friendly and accommodating. This satisfyingly and refreshingly retaliatory song, however, helped to perpetuate the feeling that Tritt is not someone to be crossed. It is a glimpse of how it would feel to actually respond with one of those quippy comebacks that we only dream of lobbing, after the fact, of course.

“The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’” (with Marty Stuart)
From the 1991 album It’s All About to Change

The second of several collaborations with his critically acclaimed buddy, Marty Stuart. While the whiskey may have worked for a time, they realize that a good woman is what they really need.

“Lord Have Mercy on the Working Man”
From the 1992 album T-R-O-U-B-L-E

A timely and timeless theme done perfectly. Tritt does an excellent job of conveying both practical resignation and natural frustration to which the average person can easily relate.

“Looking Out for Number One”
From the 1992 album T-R-O-U-B-L-E

He’s tired of trying to please everyone else at the expense of his own happiness, so starting now, he’s “looking out for number one.” Sounds selfish, but don’t we all feel that way at times?

“Worth Every Mile”
From the 1992 album T-R-O-U-B-L-E

For as many Tritt songs that had attitude, he had at least as many ballads. I’m not particularly fond of a lot of them anymore, but “Worth Every Mile” is one that still works for me. It’s a realistic celebration of a long lasting relationship that is a worthy candidate for an anniversary song.

“Take It Easy”
From the 1994 album Common Thread: Songs of the Eagles

It’s dangerous to say it, but this song, recorded for country music’s tribute to the Eagles, has always sounded stronger than the original version to me. The fact that it helped to get the Eagles back together “after hell {apparently} froze over” is just an added bonus for loyal Eagles fans out there.

“Foolish Pride”
From the 1994 album Ten Feet Tall And Bulletproof

This is a thoughtful case study of a couple who is too prideful to overcome their anger toward each other. “Ain’t it sad to see a good love fall to pieces?” asks Tritt. “Chalk another heartbreak up to foolish pride.”

“It’s A Great Day to Be Alive”
From the 2000 album Down the Road I Go

It’s nearly impossible not to feel positive after hearing this catchy and quirky Darrell Scott penned song.

“Modern Day Bonnie And Clyde”
From the 2000 album Down the Road I Go

Tritt enjoyed renewed success at the turn of the century with this Dobro laden thriller of a song, which actually tells an engaging story. Imagine that.

“I See Me”
From the 2004 album My Honky Tonk History

As a rabble rouser turned sentimental dad, Tritt sings this song with palpable sensitivity and sincerity. It wasn’t a hit, but it should have been.

Two Hidden Treasures:

“Start the Car”
From the 1998 album No More Looking Over My Shoulder

I’m a sucker for jaunty horns and this upbeat, bluesy song, delightfully, features them.

“What If Love Hangs On”
From the 2007 album The Storm

One of only a couple great tracks on an otherwise disappointing effort from Tritt. On this hopeful, but melancholy tinged love ballad of sorts, Tritt’s voice displays a hint of vulnerability and is uncharacteristically restrained, which is only positively accentuated by an equally restrained, but tasteful, production.


Writers

Latest Comments

Most Popular

Worth Reading

View Older Posts