Here’s my list:
- John Anderson, “Straight Tequila Night”
- Merle Haggard, “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink”
- Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss, “Whiskey Lullaby”
- Martina McBride, “Cheap Whiskey”
- Clint Black, “Killin’ Time”
Here’s my list:
In a long, fascinating interview with the Houston Press, Vince Gill was asked about the recent controversy involving female artists and country radio.
Here’s what he had to say:
“That’s one of the greatest tragedies in this stretch of life for me,” Gill says. “Because I’ve been inspired as much or more by women artists, equally, than I have as men. So if there’s only a couple that are getting the opportunity to really knock it out of the park at radio, then you just go, “What about Patsy Cline/Kitty Wells/Tammy Wynette/Loretta Lynn?’
“I could go on and on and on and on and name you about 50 great female artists,” Gill continues. “And I don’t know why that is. To me, they’re making much more…interesting records. They’re saying more things I’d prefer to hear, lyrically and song-wise, and that’s compelling. This Ashley Monroe kid, she writes songs like she’s 80 years old. It’s remarkable, and it’s not dumbing it down. It’s not going for the lowest common denominator. It’s so refreshing, you know?”
We know, Vince. We definitely know!
Bonus quote on his duet partners Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss, and Patty Loveless:
Dolly would be a great one; getting to do “I Will Always Love You” with her. Anything I’ve ever done with Alison Krauss has been pretty magical. To me one of the most seamless-sounding partners has been Patty Loveless. I think we only maybe did one “real” duet together over all these years, but we both sang on each other’s first hit records.
I’ve been singing with her since, gosh, the mid-’80s, when she made her first record and we sang together. There’s something magical about our voices together that I was always drawn to. She sang on “When I Call Your Name,” “Pocket Full of Gold,” and I sang on a bunch of her hits — “If My Heart Had Windows” and then backgrounds on probably 15 or 20 of her records over the years.
I remember an ill-informed journalist reviewing a Patty Loveless album in the mid-nineties and suggesting Loveless get Gill to sing on some of her songs as payback for the harmony she did on his, completely oblivious to the fact that it was Loveless returning the favor for Gill’s work on her eighties hits.
That guy’s probably a radio consultant now.
What are your five favorite long songs?
Here’s my list:
Weird that all five songs involve death, with a total body count of seven between them.
Characters in a country song should get very nervous when their track passes the four minute mark.
So many great songs have been re-recorded over time. Sometimes the new versions are so good that you discover something new about the original. Other times, the new takes are so bad that you just wish they’d left well enough alone.
So today we ask: What do you think are the best and the worst cover songs?
For my five best, I’m picking versions that I enjoyed so much more than the originals that I rarely listen to the first versions anymore. But you don’t have to do that!
Original artists are in parentheses after each pick.
Five Best Cover Songs
Five Worst Cover Songs
Ever notice how the Vocal Event categories at country award shows honor harmony vocals as much as they do real, full-fledged duets? The spiritual godfather of all of this is “You and I”, the not quite duet by Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle, “You and I.” But the modern trend goes back to the award-sweeping “It’s Your Love”, the not quite duet by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.
So for today’s Daily Double Top Fives, we’re asking you to make the distinction that the award shows don’t. What are your favorite five duets, which feature two artists actually trading off lines, and what are your favorite five “all-star” harmony vocals?
Here are mine:
Top Five Duets
Top Five Harmony Vocals
This year’s Grammy Awards air on Sunday, February 8, and country music will be represented with performances Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, and the tantalizing pairing of Brandy Clark and Dwight Yoakam. Most of the awards will be handed out before the show, and we will post the relevant winners here, as part of a Grammy Open Thread where CU readers and writers can share their thoughts on this year’s awards.
Four CU writers, including myself, have shared our predictions and personal picks for the general and country-related categories below. Of course, one of the coolest things about the Grammys is that it celebrates a wide range of music from the past year, and as you’ll see by our varying levels of participation, our tastes here at CU run the gamut.
This year, I’m as excited about the performances by Madonna, Kanye West (twice!), and that Hozier and Annie Lennox duet as I am about any of the country performers, and I’ll be rooting for West and Childish Gambino to sweep the Rap and Hip-Hop categories.
Who do you think will be the big winners on Sunday night, and who are you hoping will win and looking forward to seeing perform? As always, share your thoughts in the comments!
Kevin: In a decent year for pop music, any one of these records could credibly represent the year. I think Sam Smith is Grammy catnip, so I expect him to win big. I think “All About That Bass” was the most creative and interesting record of the five.
Leeann: I’m a fan of the Sam Smith song, but I agree with Kevin that “All About That Bass” is the most creative and interesting, not to mention the catchiest.
Jonathan: I actually thought it was a weak year for mainstream pop, as reflected by this fairly poor slate of nominees. Smith is right in that Adele / Norah Jones adult-pop wheelhouse that Grammy voters love, so he’s the most likely winner. Sia’s “Chandelier” is the most progressive take on pop music among the five, though, if “Shake it Off” were to win anything, this would probably be the least egregious place to recognize Swift’s hit. I would have gladly rooted for the mash-up between Iggy Azalea’s and Reba’s respective takes on “Fancy.”
The countdown concludes with our top twenty singles of 2014. Check out the first twenty entries here, and look for our countdown of the year’s twenty best albums tomorrow.
“The Devil is All Around”
Shovels & Rope
LW #5 | JK #13
The soulful husband-wife duo that comprises Shovels and Rope delivers a no holes barred analysis of trials and temptations, which boils down to the idea that the devil is all around, which means that one must do what he can to push against such a devastating force. – Leeann Ward
As 2014 comes to a close, the Country Universe staff has been collectively impressed by the number of quality albums that were released this year. How many of those albums, however, will we still be listening to in twenty years?
We have that benefit of hindsight for the year 1994, and we’ve compiled our twenty favorite studio sets from that year. At their time of release, some of our favorites were comeback albums from veteran artists, some were from current artists reaching new artistic and commercial peaks, and some were debut sets from artists that went on to become mainstays on country radio or in the Americana music scene that was just coming together twenty years ago.
What they all have in common is that each and every one of them still sounds great today, and they collectively show the wide breadth that the country music landscape was transforming into as the genre reached wider levels of popularity than it had ever seen before.
This is Me
BF #11 | KJC #15 | LW #19
Travis’ legendary status was practically secure by 1994, but This is Me shows an artist neither resting on his laurels nor struggling to keep up with the young new talent of the era. The album serves up one solid song after another, with its best tracks delivering clever new takes on signature country themes, thus further advancing an already respectable legacy. – Ben Foster
Recommended Tracks: “Before You Kill Us All”, “This is Me”, “The Box”
The best lineup for Best Country Album that we can remember:
Record of the Year includes a former country artist and a CMA Awards duet partner:
The biggest crossover star that country music has ever known, Kenny Rogers was among the biggest stars of any genre in the seventies and eighties, becoming a worldwide icon and one of the genre’s finest ambassadors.
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Rogers started off as a rockabilly artist in the mid-fifties, as part of a band called the Scholars. Though he was not the lead singer of the band, Rogers pursued a solo career when they disbanded. When that proved unsuccessful, he joined a jazz trio called the Bobby Doyle Three. They did reasonably well on the concert circuit, but when Rogers again pursued a solo career after they folded, he was not successful.