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.
“Gentle On My Mind The Band Perry Written by John Hartford The Band Perry’s Grammy-winning cover of Glen Campbell’s classic “Gentle On My Mind” (the trio’s contribution to the soundtrack of the recent I’ll Be Me documentary on Campbell) is an absolute delight. It feels fresh and energetic, but you don’t get the sense that they’re going to needless lengths to modernize or reinvent it.
I discovered Country Universe in the spring of 2010 and quickly became a regular reader. At the time, Dan’s review of Miranda Lambert’s much-lauded release “The House That Built Me” was a recent post. Besides making me wish that my own ‘shameless rants’ could come out sounding half as smart and classy as Dan’s, the article raises a series of points that remain valid nearly half a decade later. “The House That Built Me” is a great record, but should it really have stood out so dramatically as such? Dan discussed the single in a way that turned the mirror back on us. Have we developed a tendency to praise or over-praise music, not on its own merits, but in comparison to the weaker material surrounding it? Perhaps it was my recent participation in Country Universe’s Best of 1994 feature which moved me to revisit this article and topic. I think about the great Read More
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.
It’s always disappointing when a good song is tainted by mundane lyrics, and I fear that’s the case with “That’s How Country Boys Roll.” Like most of Currington’s singles, the song –lyrics aside– is charming and endearing, and the vocal performance rich and distinct.
But we come away from the song learning what, exactly, about country boys? That they like fishing, suped up cars and working real hard? Granted, there are a few deeper messages in the mix, but none are expressive enough to actually paint a picture of a multi-dimensional country boy.