Earlier this week, writer and friend-of-Country Universe C.M. Wilcox announced that he was shuttering his blog, Country California. The crew here have long been admirers of the sharp, insightful writing and wry humor that Country California brought to the country music blogosphere, and we all wish Chris the best in his new ventures.
We can thank the shortsighted radio consultant Keith Hill for one thing: drawing attention to the women of country music in a year where so many of them are making outstanding music. As their mainstream counterparts cycle through a series of one-note styles and themes, female country artists are putting out diverse and decidedly more progressive music, even as they draw influence from previous generations. That they do so while supporting each other makes it all the more impressive.
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”
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”
There are so many new concepts going on in country music reissues. Two disc deluxe editions of classic albums. Box sets of an entire artist’s catalog, with the CD’s in miniature LP replica sleeves. Digital issues of concert recordings. (Wolfgang’s Vault is a thing. Check it out.) Two albums on one CD, or carefully curated collections of singles. Bear Family box sets that give you everything. Even 180 gram vinyl records are coming out at a rapid clip. So I’m wondering what your wish list is. What reissues would you rush out to buy or download on day one? Here’s my top five list: Dolly Parton, The Complete RCA Albums Collection: 1968-1986 Willie Nelson, Deluxe Editions of Nineties Classics: Across the Borderline, Spirit, Teatro Shania Twain, The Complete International Remix Collection: 1995-2006 Kay T. Oslin, Clean Your Own Tables: The Early Years Trisha Yearwood, Rarities and Unreleased Tracks: 1992-2012
The combined efforts of nine women and three men form the upper echelon of our Best Albums list from 1993. This embarrassment of riches showcases just how much great music there was to choose from that year, especially given how many of the genre’s biggest and most acclaimed stars – Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Pam Tillis, just to name a few – were between albums that year. It was also a strong and diverse enough year that despite some overall consensus among the lists of all of the writers, each one of us has a different album at #1 on our personal lists. Enjoy the second half of our list, and look for the Singles list to kick off next weekend. #10 Uncle Tupelo Anodyne #1 – JK | #3 – SG In jumping to a major label, Uncle Tupelo was supposed to give Read More
Today, we kick off our Best of 1993 feature with the first part of our album retrospective. Included in this list are the debut albums of two underrated singer-songwriters, confident projects from the genre’s leading ladies, and highlights from legends of both the mainstream and alternative country landscapes. When our writers wax rhapsodic about the glory days of the nineties, one reason why is that albums as great as this aren’t even among the top ten albums of the year. Look for the conclusion of the albums list tomorrow and the singles list next weekend! #20 Lari White Lead Me Not #9 – JK | #19 – KJC Rather than establishing a clear identity for Lari White as an artist, Lead Me Not made for an eclectic debut, as White and producer Rodney Crowell explored styles ranging from traditional country and jazzy torch ballads to torrid Southern gospel and even Read More
The last few weeks have been full of discussions, debates and even steps and leaps toward major social changes. Songs that most easily hit my sweet spot are songs with thoughtful social commentary. Happily, even with its stereotypes of drinking, cheating and, now, tailgating, country music has not been shy about commenting on social issues. Here are five of my favorite songs with social commentary. What are some of yours? Radney Foster, “Not in My House” Waylon Jennings, “America” Gail Davies, “Unwed Fathers” Peter Cooper, “715 (For Hank Aaron)” Dolly Parton, “Just Because I’m a Woman”