Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists

Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists: Todd Snider

August 29, 2008 // 12 Comments

908 miles. That’s the total distance, door-to-door, from my home in New York to the college I attended in Nashville, Tennessee. If you leave at a decent hour of the day, it’s going to take you 16 or 17 hours. If you do it overnight, you can cut that down to 13. It was always easy to get a friend to drive up with me to New York, as the allure of the Big Apple was worth the drive. It was on one of those overnight drives, as we sped down I-81 in Virginia, that I was told, “You have to listen to this CD. You’re gonna love this guy.” This guy was Todd Snider, and the album was Songs for the Daily Planet. My friend was right. I was instantly hooked. Soon, I was buying his entire catalog. But it was once I was done with college, and East Read More

Favorite Songs By Favorite Artists: Kathy Mattea

August 13, 2008 // 21 Comments

All of my favorite artists make music that I enjoy.   Kathy Mattea makes music that challenges me to become a better person. The philosophy major in me finds wisdom in her work. The teacher in me, lessons to impart. The Catholic in me, reminders of a higher power and my obligations to my fellow man. There's a humanity in Kathy Mattea's work that infuses it with passion and purpose. While she had a strong run at the top of the hit parade, winning major industry awards and selling gold and platinum, her most significant work has been produced since she turned her sights away from the charts and looked inward for inspiration. What follows are the 25 performances that I value the most. Sometimes, while these records play, it's possible to believe in both a better world and my own power to shape it. #25 “Ready For the Storm” Time Passes By, 1991 Read More

Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists: Patty Loveless

August 10, 2008 // 38 Comments

Patty Loveless has built a Hall of Fame-worthy career, one that has perfectly blended country music’s past and present into a trademark musical style that she can truly call her own, all the while selling gold and platinum and succeeding at country radio. Her mix of commercial and critical success is almost unsurpassed in modern-day country music. Along with Tony Brown, and later with her producer husband Emory Gordy Jr., Loveless made a true effort to sing songs that were significant to her, wringing every last drop of emotion into each lyric. The listener felt every hopeful or hurtful moment, and I have selected my 25 favorites in a career filled with classics. The emphasis is on her Epic recordings, although she had plenty of fine moments during her MCA days. #25 “Hurt Me Bad (In a Real Good Way)” Up Against My Heart, 1991 One of Patty’s earlier successes, Read More

Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists: Pam Tillis

August 3, 2008 // 20 Comments

Pam Tillis was the artist that made me a fan of country music. There were songs and artists I had liked before, but hearing “Maybe it Was Memphis” was an epiphany, a sudden realization that the music of my parents could also be my own. By the time she'd released Sweetheart's Dance in 1994, I was listening almost exclusively to country music, and she became my favorite artist with that record. Over the course of the past two decades, she has made some incredible music. The completist in me has hunted down everything from her early pop releases for Elektra and Warner Bros., to obscure guest appearances on albums by Jason Sellers and the Fairfield Four. Needless to say, picking my favorite 25 tracks wasn't easy. I could make a list twice as long and still not cover all of the songs by hers that I love. But this is Read More

Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists: Randy Travis

July 26, 2008 // 29 Comments

Randy Travis has one of the most distinctive voices in country music.  Moreover, his unbridled twang is credited for helping to pull country music out of the doldrums of the Urban Cowboy phase that plagued the eighties. With his unmistakable rich baritone, Randy Travis was able to hook me from the first time I heard his voice sing “Before You Kill Us All” in 1994.  Since then, of course, I have been pleased to be able to go back and discover his music that began in 1986 with Storms of Life and continues to this day with his recent release of his July 2008 offering, Around the Bend. While his deep catalog of music, which consists of 17 studio albums, has made it somewhat difficult to choose just 25 of my favorite Travis songs, I have enjoyed the excuse to immerse myself in his music for the past week in Read More

Favorite Songs By Favorite Artists: Garth Brooks

March 22, 2008 // 35 Comments

Garth Brooks lowest-selling studio album (Scarecrow at 5 million) is more albums than the most successful country music artist, with the exception of a few, can sell in today’s struggling CD market. Love him, hate him or indifferent to him, it cannot be disputed that Garth Brooks has had a profound influence on country music and music in general. This Oklahoma boy, who truly appreciates his hordes of fans, has enjoyed more success than even he thought possible… and we all know that Garth isn’t lacking in the confidence area. Many things can and have been said about Garth Brooks, but the fact that he and his producer, Allen Reynolds, had a vision for his music that has quite obviously been successful is what makes this countdown relevant today. #25 “Beer Run (B-double E-double Are You In?)” – Duet with George Jones Scarecrow (2001) This song with his worthy idol, Read More

Favorite Songs By Favorite Artists: Alan Jackson

February 23, 2008 // 11 Comments

In CMT’s recent Nashville Skyline column, Chet Flippo said it best when he wrote: “In some ways, Jackson has become the Ernest Hemingway of country music. In writing, that is. Not necessarily in lifestyle. At Hemingway’s best, he told stories very simply, getting directly to the point. He knew his subject inside out, whether it was bullfighting or deep-sea fishing and could brilliantly tell a vivid story about it in as few words as needed. Similarly, Jackson, has staked out his turf and can write and sing about it in a simple and direct style.” In great anticipation of Alan Jackson’s forthcoming album called Good Time”, set for a March 4 release, I will be counting down 25 of my favorite Jackson songs. With this list, I am sure that we will discover Flippo’s Hemingway analogy to be quite accurate. Hopefully, his new album will leave me wishing that I Read More

Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists: Emmylou Harris

February 20, 2008 // 11 Comments

With her long overdue induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame finally coming to pass, it seems the perfect time to take a look at my favorite Emmylou Harris songs.I’ll admit, I wasn’t an instant fan. Her voice is an acquired taste, but once I was hooked, it proved infectious. It doesn’t hurt that she has an exceptional gift for selecting good material, and in recent years, she’s proven herself capable of writing some great songs herself. When choosing the songs for this list, I had to whittle down the 356 songs of hers on my iPod to a mere 25. I don’t make the claim that these are Emmylou’s best songs by any objective standard. I’m not sure such a standard even exists. But these are my favorite songs, and since she’s one of my favorite artists, I’d call it a good fit for this feature, don’t you Read More

Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists: Vince Gill

February 11, 2008 // 21 Comments

I am excited to introduce a new feature to Country Universe. From time to time, we will be choosing an artist and counting down our favorite songs by that particular artist. The rules are very simple. Any song sung by the chosen singer is eligible for this countdown, including songs recorded for projects other than his/her solo studio albums. Since I make no secret of the fact that he is my favorite artist, I have decided to begin this feature by counting down my favorite songs by Vince Gill. Vince Gill has more than proven his musical prowess with his triple threat talent—respected songwriting, high quality musicianship and, of course, his distinctive tenor voice. Picking 25 of my favorite songs has proven to be an almost impossible task, because there are so many songs from which I can choose. In fact, if you don’t see your favorite Vince song on Read More

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