It’s been 10 years this month since Carrie Underwood released “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” a song that would define her early on as a wholesome, powerhouse vocalist with mass appeal. It was a fitting label at the time, but it fell short of what I knew her to be: a deeply emotive artist who understood humanity.
For those of you just discovering Country Universe because of Ben Foster’s stellar review of Calling Me Home, here are some other Kathy Mattea features from our archives:
This interview from March 2009 covers Mattea’s musical legacy, with a special focus on her Grammy-nominated Coal.
Mattea’s entry on our 2008 countdown of the genre’s greatest women.
Twenty-five of her best, written shortly after the release of Coal.
A look back at the single that earned Mattea her first Grammy award and won its songwriters several major honors as well.
1971 | #17
The title track got most of the love, and deservedly so, but the first single from Parton’s Coat of Many Colors album is a strong effort in its own right. Backed by Appalachian-flavored acoustic instrumentation, Parton mourns her lost love while expressing a desire for nothing more than solitude. To the bluebird singing a sad song, she says “Spread your blue wings, and I’ll shed my blue tears.” To the bright sunshine, she says “Waste not your warmth on the coldness in here…. Go light your blue sky, and I’ll shed my blue tears.” The song’s brisk tempo belies its sad lyrics as Parton sings with an emotive quiver in her voice.
John Anderson’s early 1983 hit, “Swingin’”, is the song that propelled his mainstream country music career. The quirky song that chronicled the mundane details of young infatuation is more loved for its unadulterated cheesiness than for being anything akin to a masterpiece. In fact, it sounds delightfully dated today, which only accentuates its cult appeal.