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A Bountiful Harvest

August 25, 2010 // 30 Comments

This fall, there seems to be as many new albums from significant country artists as I can remember. Just look at Roughstock’s indispensable Fall 2010 Releases list.

New releases are on the way from no less than eight past CMA Entertainer of the Year nominees and winners, along with current top sellers Zac Brown Band, Billy Currington, Jamey Johnson, and Montgomery Gentry.

So head on over to see that list, then come back to answer this question:

What Fall 2010 CD Release are you most excited for?

Discussion: Worst Album Titles?

July 27, 2010 // 31 Comments

We don’t do as many discussions as we used to at CU, and it’s possible that we already did this one. But seeing the title of this week’s #1 country album, I couldn’t resist:

Jerrod Niemann, Judge Jerrod & The Hung Jury

I’d call it juvenile, but I don’t think I would’ve laughed as a kid, either. But I’m sure some people found it funny.

Here are a few others that make me wince:

Pam Tillis, Above and Beyond the Doll of Cutey

I. Don’t. Get. It. “(You Just Want to Be) Weird”, indeed.

iPod Check: Playing Favorites

May 9, 2010 // 18 Comments

It’s been a long time since we’ve done one of these!

I think that the strongest feature of the iPod is the ability to create playlists. I currently have over 16,000 songs, so playing it on pure shuffle is interesting but not likely to result in hearing a string of my favorite songs.

I have dozens of playlists, but the one that I visit the most is called “Repeat.” It’s an ever-shifting playlist of songs that I don’t tire of. Currently, there are 131 songs on the list.

I’m sharing the first ten that play on shuffle from the list. Share your favorite playlist and ten of its tracks in the comments!

The Saddest Country Songs

May 8, 2010 // 64 Comments

The Boot has published another list that’s got me thinking. This time, it’s Top 10 Sad Love Songs in Country Music. Again, the title is a bit strange, as the list includes the Suzy Bogguss hit “Letting Go”, which is about a mother watching her daughter go off to college, but there’s no rule that a love song has to be about romantic love, I guess.

Predictably and justifiably, the list is topped by “He Stopped Loving Her Today”, a George Jones classic that tops many a classic country list, including one of our own. There’s also a pretty high body count – four outright deaths and one by implication. Country songs sure do like to kill people off, don’t they?

So what are the saddest country songs ever? My first instinct was to mention “Where’ve You Been”, but that Kathy Mattea classic has a ray of hope. It’s really about a perfect relationship meeting its natural end.

For real, heartbreaking sadness, all hope must be vanquished, with only regret remaining. Bonus points if somebody dies. Here are two that I think are tragic, one with death and one without:

Words to Live By

March 16, 2010 // 13 Comments

Earlier this week, Tara Seetharam posted about songs that resonate for reasons beyond the lyrics. This got me thinking about something close to the opposite: What about songs that stand out because of a particular lyric, a line that takes on a life of its own beyond the song?

I first heard “Too Many Memories” on the Patty Loveless album Long Stretch of Lonesome. It was later recorded by Hal Ketchum. It’s a good song, no doubt, but the kicker that ends the second verse has grown into words to live by for me:

What makes you grow old is replacing hope with regret.

I’ve used that quote countless times, and as I get older, it gets ever more true.

Is this just me, or do any of you also have lines from songs that are words to live by?

Discussion: Music and Lyrics

March 9, 2010 // 10 Comments

During the Academy Awards show last Sunday, a montage of movie clips honoring the late John Hughes featured a great quote from The Breakfast Club: “When you grow up, your heart dies.” In one line, teenage angst collided beautifully with a universal fear.

Why Can’t I Buy This?

February 24, 2010 // 9 Comments

During the nineties boom, there was a mad rush to get the catalog of older country artists available on CD. For older country albums, this wasn’t always the best approach. Many of these discs had only ten tracks, so even with a handful of bonus songs, the entire running time could still be under 40 minutes. Some labels took the smart approach of pairing two albums to one disc, but for the most part, it was landmark albums or lengthy compilation discs.

The digital age has finally made it both practical and affordable to get those old albums. Vintage sets are now available from legends like Merle Haggard and Glen Campbell, and even not quite legends like Jeannie C. Riley. But there are still some glaring omissions that need to become more readily available.

Seriously?

February 20, 2010 // 6 Comments

As my first visit to Nashville in four years draws to a close, I’ve been immersing myself in the tackier elements of country music history. As we prepare for our visit to the wax museum (Game On!), I’m thinking about some of the most hilariously overwrought moments that classic country has to offer.

Is it Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton’s “I Get Lonesome By Myself”, with a plot line that should lead to child endangerment charges by the first verse?

Armchair A&R

January 24, 2010 // 20 Comments

Gilbert O’Sullivan spent six weeks at #1 in 1972 with “Alone Again (Naturally)”, a song that is so sad it should’ve been a country song a long time ago:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAFPbOxhpYo

There’s only one artist that could improve on this, and that’s Alison Krauss. She’d be a perfect fit for a song that starts with a man being stood up at his own wedding, ends with him mourning both of his parents, and finds him doubting God’s mercy, God’s very existence.

I’m sure we’ve discussed this before, but it’s been a while:

What classic pop song would you like to hear covered by a country artist?

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