Among the greatest new traditionalists of the eighties, John Anderson is one of the best. That he managed to resurrect his career during the nineties boom, while most of his peers from a decade earlier were shown the door, is a testament to his talent and the timeless quality of his music.
His distinctive voice made him one of the last great stylists of country music, a singer you could identify after hearing him sing the first line. I recommend delving deep into his catalog, and here are the ten tracks that you should start with.
“She Just Started Liking Cheatin’ Songs” from the 1980 album John Anderson
One of Anderson’s breakthrough songs finds him concerned over his lover’s new fondness for cheating songs. “I’m not sure if it’s the cheatin’ she likes, or just the melody,” he worries.
“I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday” from the 1981 album John Anderson 2
A classic song celebrating untapped potential, courtesy of songwriting legend Billy Joe Shaver.
“I Just Came Home to Count the Memories” from the 1981 album I Just Came Home to Count the Memories
This haunting ballad of a broken home evokes memories of George Jones classics like “The Grand Tour,” complete with melancholy strings.
“Swingin'” from the 1982 album Wild & Blue
For a long time, this was the zenith of his career, resulting in a gold album and two CMA trophies, including Single of the Year.
“Straight Tequila Night” from the 1992 album Seminole Wind
The first single from Anderson’s massive comeback album barely dented the charts, but when “Straight Tequila Night” was sent to radio, it shot to #1.
“When it Comes to You” from the 1992 album Seminole Wind
I’ve never heard the music complement Anderson’s voice so effectively.
“Seminole Wind” from the 1992 album Seminole Wind
An environmental plea that is as poignant and timely today as it was upon release.
“I Wish I Could Have Been There” from the 1993 album Solid Ground
Country music gets its own “Cat’s in the Cradle”, as a working father misses the milestones of his children’s lives, then finds that they’re not around for him in his twilight years.
“Bend it Until it Breaks” from the 1994 album Country ‘Til I Die
His last big hit, and one of his best breakup numbers.
“Long Hard Lesson Learned” from the 1996 album Paradise
Anderson’s final album for BNA featured one of his finest moments, a powerful message of love and tolerance.