Recommend a Track

Keep on the Sunny Side

April 11, 2009 // 23 Comments

Today’s Recommend a Track focuses on those songs that remind us to “Keep on the Sunny Side.”

As I wrote in my review of the new Rodney Atkins album, I’m an optimistic guy. So while I do love me some dark and depressing country music, the songs that best match my personal philosophy are those that look at the brighter side of life.

Some of my favorites:

The Carter Family, “Keep on the Sunny Side”

The Grandmama of them all. This was released during The Great Depression, y’all.

Shania Twain, “Up!”

Rodney Atkins sounds about as optimistic as Dwight Yoakam when compared to Shania Twain. This remains one of my favorite songs she’s ever released. Bonus points awarded to this clip because it not only features Alison Krauss & Union Station behind her, but Krauss and Twain discuss deodorant and shaving during the winter seasons.

Recommend A Track: Shot to The Heart

March 28, 2009 // 15 Comments

Last Thursday, Bill and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. It’s been a wonderful run so far. Of all the positive things that I can say, my favorite thing about our marriage is that we are best friends. In fact, before we ever started dating, we were best friends. So, it’s nice that the same is still true today and it would be devistating if it should ever change. I’m certainly no marriage expert, but I think that being friends is central to a successful marriage. Not only does it make the days more bearable, it helps to insure that we will give to each other at least as much as we would to our friends. With that said, I am fully aware that being friends in a marriage isn’t always as easy as we would all hope it would be. Like any friendship, it’s something that must be worked Read More

The Return of Recommend a Track

March 23, 2009 // 20 Comments

It’s been a good long while since I’ve shamelessly plugged a favorite song, and far too long since all of you have made me break the bank to purchase your recommendations. We’ve taken some heat for being a little hard on mainstream country lately, so I’m recommending a track tonight from one of today’s brightest stars: Keith Urban. Now, many of Keith’s best songs have already been radio hits, but he dug deep earlier this decade on his first multi-platinum album Golden Road with the closing track, “You’re Not My God.” In the first verse, he confronts the addiction of money (“a little sure felt good, but a lot was not enough.”) In the second, he confronts his addiction and subsequent triumph over his cocaine addiction (“You almost had me six feet down, but I’m still breathing air.”) It’s an unconventional religious song, to be sure, but he’s rejecting the Read More

Shania Twain, “What a Way to Wanna Be!”

February 22, 2009 // 1 Comment

I was inspired to recommend Shania Twain’s “What a Way to Wanna Be!” after seeing this new Dove commercial: httpv:// The track comes from her excellent fourth album Up!, which was released in three different mixes. Entertainment Weekly writer Chris Willman wrote my favorite line to ever appear in an album review when he described the set as “Abba Gold without all the melancholy.” But that isn’t to say the album doesn’t deal with some substantive issues, despite Twain’s trademark optimism remaining dominant. She deconstructs the desire in women to be physically perfect and challenges them to reject the pressure that society places upon them to meet impossible standards of beauty. She sings, “We like to buy, we like to spend, to keep up with the latest trends. But we don’t get no satisfaction living like a slave to fashion. No more thinking for yourself. Just get it off a Read More

Three Singers With “No Time To Cry”

February 1, 2009 // 4 Comments

I’ve written before about my fondness for Iris Dement, and was planning to discuss her song, “No Time To Cry.” But rather than discuss my personal connection again, I thought it would be more interesting to explore how the song has shifted as it’s been covered by other artists. One would think that such a personal song would be difficult to cover. Dement’s original recording is nakedly confessional. But the death of a parent and the difficulties that follow are universal experiences, so much so that it is two male artists who have since made the song their own. Merle Haggard was an early champion of Iris Dement. Back in the mid-nineties, there was a major label tribute album to Merle called Mama’s Hungry Eyes, but when Hag was asked his favorite cut, he chose one off of a lesser-known independent label tribute album called Tulare Dust.   His pick was Read More

Recommend a Track: High Energy

January 24, 2009 // 17 Comments

One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2009 was to get back into shape.  I’ve been working non-stop the last couple of years and it was definitely time. Of course, I thought getting back into shape would entail joining the local gym and carving out a little bit of time in my week. But, no.  I allowed a friend to convince me to sign up to run the local 26.2 mile rock ‘n roll marathon in May. God help me. I’m now on a strict running schedule … and it’s killing me. I played varsity soccer in college and graduate school, but running for the sake of running is … let’s face it … deathly boring.  So, this week, if you wouldn’t mind, please recommend a high energy track that gets you moving!

Recommend a Track: Deana Carter, “Sunny Day”

January 11, 2009 // 7 Comments

On the drive home from a particularly trying workday last week, I was twisting the radio dial in search of one last song before I arrived at my house. It was a dark and stormy night, as Charles Schulz would say, and through the doom and gloom came Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine,” a CMA Song of the Year winner and a No. 1 single in 1996. Now, contrary to popular playlist belief, Carter recorded music after, say, 1998. In fact, she recorded a real gem in 2005 with The Story of My Life, a delightfully infectious, thought-provoking album that showcases Carter’s sensuous Southern drawl and nakedly honest observations. That terrific set includes “Sunny Day,” where she slowly glides from caustic to cautiously optimistic in the span of a few minutes.  “Sunny Day” is her resolution to throw off the chains of negativity and those that wield it with such carelessness. Read More

Discussion: Recommend a Track – Christmas Edition

December 19, 2008 // 19 Comments

I wrote last week about my affection for sad Christmas songs.   The only upbeat Christmas songs I usually like are the spiritual ones.   But good Lord, do I love this piece of fluff from Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton: httpv:// “With Bells On” is one of the only country Christmas songs that won’t make me change the radio station.   You can find it on Kenny & Dolly’s album Once Upon a Christmas. What Christmas track do you recommend tonight?

Discussion: Recommend a Track

December 12, 2008 // 16 Comments

I used to think that Dolly Parton’s early country tragedy songs were over the top.  Then I heard some of Porter Wagoner’s, and realized that she’d actually toned down some of his excesses.    Nothing is more entertaining from Wagoner than “The Rubber Room”, tonight’s recommended track.  It simply needs to be heard to be believed.  You can watch a stripped down version here, but seek out the studio original.  The production theatrics and his manic ad-libbing toward the end are priceless. Anybody have a guilty pleasure worth recommending tonight?

Discussion: Recommend a Track

December 5, 2008 // 12 Comments

Tonight’s Recommend a Track, “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?”, has been recorded three times by its songwriter Dolly Parton.  First, as a solo tune, it was the B-side to the 1982 version of “I Will Always Love You.”   Then in 1990, it was cut as a duet with Randy Travis on his album Heroes and Friends. Tonight’s recommendation is the third recording of the song, this time with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris. Finally, the song is recorded in a pure country style, with Harris singing lead.  It’s the best showcase for one of Parton’s best lyrics. What’s your recommendation tonight?

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