In an ideal world, Jason Isbell would somehow be able to switch the titles of his two most recent albums. While his previous effort, Southeastern, chronicled his struggle toward sobriety and found liberation in the powers of redemption and self-worth, Isbell’s latest, Something More Than Free digs deep into the foundations of the contemporary South. In terms of tone and theme for each of these exceptional records, the titles would be more fitting were they swapped, and it’s simply remarkable that slight misnomers are as close as Isbell comes on either album to striking a false note.
A tender love ballad is always nice, but it’s sometimes those weird love songs that make you laugh or even creep you out a little (I’m looking at you Sara Watkins and Fiona Apple!) that are most memorable. What are some of your favorite quirky love songs? Mac Davis, “Most of All” Kasey Chambers, “The Stupid Things I Do” Sara Watkins & Fiona Apple, “You’re the One I Love” Vince Gill & Dolly Parton, “Pretty Flowers” John Prine & Iris Dement, “In Spite of Ourselves”
Texas is the most sung about state in country music. Musicians and singers can even make a good living by just touring around Texas. So, it’s no wonder that even those of us who have no physical or emotional connection to Texas might still have numerous Texas related songs that we love. Just like the state of Texas, my list of Texas songs is very large, but I did my best to narrow my list down to five of my favorites. Bill Chambers, “Dreaming ’bout Texas” Charlie Robison, “the Girls from Texas” Don Schlitz, “Death in Texas” Laura Bell Bundy, “Texas” Mac Davis, “Texas in My Rearview Mirror”
Please join me in welcoming our newest staff writer, Mr. Larry Rogowin. Welcome aboard, Larry! – KJC I can’t say I grew up listening to country music. Actually, I can’t say I had a very meaningful musical youth. My parents played a lot of Beatles, Motown and Sinatra but I was more interested in what the cool kids played. The first album I begged my parents to buy was Poison’s 1988 magnum opus Open Up and Say…Ahh! (They obliged despite…well, obvious reasons – not the least of which was that original album cover.) So there you go. I fell hard and fast for “Every Rose Has its Thorn,” the greatest and twangiest ’80s glam metal ballad. And that sent me on a path directly to Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. Only kidding. Though I don’t want to discount that this could’ve happened to me and has happened to others. Nonetheless, Read More
Ah…Remember the days when a name drop of a country singer actually meant something and made sense within the context of the song? Before Jason Aldean’s gratuitous and inane name checks of Johnny Cash, Alabama and even Joe Diffie? Those were the days, weren’t they? What are some of your favorite songs that refer to country singers or country songs? Don Williams, “Good Old Boys Like Me” (Hank Williams) Vince Gill, “Some Things Never Get Old” (Emmylou Harris’ “Bluebird Wine”) Rodney Crowell, “Walk the Line Revisited” (Johnny Cash) Ashley Monroe, “Hank’s Cadillac” (Hank Williams) Josh Turner, “Loretta Lynn’s Lincoln”
Jonathan posted an excellent review of “Dime Store Cowgirl” today, which is an autobiographical song by Kacey Musgraves. Today’s top five asks you to share your favorite autobiographical country songs, the ones where the artist/writer tells their own story in song. There are so many of these I like, from Johnny Cash’s “Five Feet High and Rising” to Carlene Carter’s “Me and the Wildwood Rose,” but while making my list, I realized I couldn’t pick just one Dolly Parton song. So my top five is just songs by her. But please feel free to mix up the artists on your own list! Here’s My Top Five: Dolly Parton, “Just Because I’m a Woman” Dolly Parton, “In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)” Dolly Parton, “Coat of Many Colors” Dolly Parton, “Shattered Image” Dolly Parton, “Backwoods Barbie”
“Dime Store Cowgirl” Kacey Musgraves Written by Luke Laird, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves Despite a slew of industry awards and sales figures that dwarf those of male artists who receive ten times the airplay, Kacey Musgraves has yet to connect with country radio. Plenty of thinkpieces have been logged about #SaladGate, Musgraves’ social mores, and the disconnections between critical favor, sales, and radio’s callout research, but there are increasing murmurs that it is Musgraves’ refusal to play politics with the powers-that-be at radio that has kept all but one of her singles (“Merry Go Round,” her debut single and lone top 10 hit) from missing the top 20. This is hardly a new phenomenon, and it is, unfortunately, indicative of contemporary gender politics both within and beyond country music that Musgraves might be penalized for not behaving in the ways that a woman is expected to behave. That context Read More
Depending on my situation and mood, artists and songs often fill different purposes for me. If I need to hear a good weeper, I have my go to songs and even artists that I can count on. The same goes for if I need to be inspired. Likewise, there are certain songs that will instantly make me feel happy no matter how many times I’ve heard them. As you’ll see on my list, the songs that make me feel simple happiness aren’t lyrically groundbreaking, but have fun productions and addictive beats. What songs can you rely on to make you feel happy? Shovels and Rope, “Birmingham” Shovels and Rope, “Hail Hail” Brandi Carlile, “Hard Way Home” Sugarland, “It Happens” The Little Willies, “Tennessee Stud”
“Strip it Down” Luke Bryan Written by Luke Bryan, Ross Copperman and Jon Nite How many ways are there to say that a song doesn’t sound remotely country? I wish I knew of a few more, because I’ve been having to make this most common criticism for so long now that I feel like there is no new or creative way to say it anymore.
Just as country music corners the market on drinking and cheating songs, it also expertly explores the emotions that often accompany slowing down on Sundays. Iconic classics like “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and even modern hits such as “Sunday in the South” and “That’s What I Like About Sunday” describe that day of rest and reflection in various ways. What are some of your favorite songs about Sunday? Here are some of mine. Clay Walker, “Seven Sundays” Blue County, “Sunday Driver” Elizabeth Cook, “Sunday Morning” Marty Stuart & Loretta Lynn, “Will You Visit Me on Sunday” Darrell Scott, “It Must Be Sunday“ * Of Course, Johnny Cash’s version of “Sunday Morning Coming down”, along with the others listed in the intro, are favorites of mine too.