As we grow older, our tastes change and some would even say that they mature. Such is the case with me, as you’ll see in the list below. There was a time when I did not like these artists (gasp!) and a time when I didn’t like these songs. However, something made them grow on me to the point that I absolutely love them now.
Which artists and songs have grown on you over time?
Here are my lists:
- Willie Nelson
- Dwight Yoakam
- Emmylou Harris
- Miranda Lambert
- Sturgill Simpson
- Josh Turner, “Another Try”
- Vince Gill, “Go Rest High on that Mountain”
- Dierks Bentley, “What Was I Thinking”
- George Strait, “Troubadour
- Randy Travis, “Before You Kill Us All”
This week in 1792, Kentucky became the fifteenth state to join the union. It’s also the state that two Country Universe writers – Jonathan Keefe and myself – call home.
Kentucky is well known as the home of bluegrass music, but our state’s rich musical heritage spans multiple genres. A wide variety of music legends hail from the bluegrass state, while its unique natural beauty and varied culture has served as inspiration for many a songwriter.
Jonathan and I have put our heads together for a Country Universe Top Five that covers two topics in one. I’ve chosen my top five favorite artists from Kentucky, while he has chosen his top five favorite songs about Kentucky. Since there are plenty of eligible inclusions for both topics, this leaves plenty of room for reader discussion, so be sure to share your own choices in the comments.
Ben’s Top Five Artists from Kentucky:
1. Patty Loveless
2. Loretta Lynn
3. Wynonna/ The Judds
4. Dwight Yoakam
5. Crystal Gayle
Jonathan’s Top Five Songs About Kentucky:
1. Patty Loveless, “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive”
2. John Prine, “Paradise”
3. Bill Monroe, “Blue Moon of Kentucky”
4. Neko Case, “Bowling Green”
5. Dierks Bentley, “Bourbon in Kentucky”
Every album tries to starts off strong, but it’s usually the second track that convinces you to keep listening to the rest.
What do you think are the best second tracks on albums?
Here’s my list:
- “Straight Tequila Night”, John Anderson (Seminole Wind)
- “Blown Away”, Carrie Underwood (Blown Away)
- “Dry Town”, Miranda Lambert (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
- “Guitars, Cadillacs”, Dwight Yoakam (Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.)
- “Let Him Fly”, Patty Griffin (Living With Ghosts)
Suggested by longtime reader and commenter Jonathan Pappalardo:
What are the five most essential albums in your collection?
I love this question!
Here’s my list:
- Dixie Chicks, Home
- Reba McEntire, For My Broken Heart
- Patty Loveless, When Fallen Angels Fly
- Trisha Yearwood, Hearts in Armor
- Linda Ronstadt, Heart Like a Wheel
Was going to try to do some equal opportunity attempt and squeeze in an album by a male act. But even without repeating artists, the next seven or eight would still be female artists.
So here are my five most essential albums by male artists, for the record
- Johnny Cash, American III: Solitary Man
- Dwight Yoakam, Gone
- Todd Snider, The Devil You Know
- Willie Nelson, Phases and Stages
- Alan Jackson, Like Red on a Rose
Suggested by longtime reader Erik North:
What are your top five train songs?
Here’s my list:
- Rosanne Cash, “Runaway Train”
- Pam Tillis, “Train Without a Whistle”
- Dwight Yoakam, “Train in Vain”
- Whiskey Falls, “Last Train Running”
- Clint Black, “There Never Was a Train”
Again, we play catch up with a daily double top five, and this one focuses on cover songs.
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
- Emmylou Harris, “The Boxer” (Simon & Garfunkel)
- Johnny Cash, “Why Me Lord” (Kris Kristofferson)
- Reba McEntire, “Sweet Music Man” (Kenny Rogers)
- Alison Krauss, “Ghost in This House” (Shenandoah)
- Dwight Yoakam, “Wichita Lineman” (Glen Campbell)
Five Worst Cover Songs
- David Kersh, “Wonderful Tonight” (Eric Clapton)
- Brooks & Dunn, “Missing You” (John Waite)
- Rascal Flatts, “Revolution” (The Beatles)
- Gretchen Peters, “Sunday Morning Coming Down” (Johnny Cash)
- Willie Nelson, “Time After Time” (Cyndi Lauper)
Those of you enjoying Dwight Yoakam’s new album, Second Hand Heart, have probably been fans for a long time!
Today, we’re sharing are top five albums and tracks for the legendary singer. Tomorrow, we’ll tackle the other legend who street dated this week.
Here are my top fives:
- Under the Covers
- This Time
- If There was a Way
- Tomorrow’s Sounds Today
- Things Change
- The Back of Your Hand
- Guitars, Cadillacs
- Ain’t That Lonely Yet
How about you?
Today’s a fairly big release day for long time country music fans, as two legends release sets today: Reba McEntire, who returns after five years with Love Somebody, and Dwight Yoakam, who is back with Second Hand Heart, which is only his second album of new material in the last ten years.
We’ve already review the lead Reba single and lead Dwight single. We’ll have reviews up of both albums at a later date, but they influenced today’s Daily Top Five: What are your most recent purchases?
I’m still an albums guy, so I’m going to list my most recent five albums purchased, but feel free to list tracks instead, if you’re more the a la carte type.
My five most recent (country) album purchases are:
- Shelby Lynne, Temptation
- Shania Twain, Still the One: Live From Vegas
- Rhiannon Giddens, Tomorrow is My Turn
- Punch Brothers, The Phosphorescent Blues
- Jason Isbell, Sirens of the Ditch
You can read the CU reviews of Giddens here, and Punch Brothers here, and there’s a good chance you’ll be reading about the Lynne set when we finish our 1993 lists. Also, a great Starter Kit for Jason Isbell can be read here. (Start with Southeastern, if you don’t have it already, before moving on to Sirens and the rest of his catalog. You should have all of his catalog. He’s that good.)
What are your five latest country purchases?
Today, we kick off a new feature: Daily Top Five. Every day, one of our writers will post their top five picks for a given category, and invite readers to share their own lists in the comments. This idea was
ripped off from inspired by the film Top Five.
Since this is the first entry, today’s topic is First Favorites – your top five songs that got you into country music.
- John Anderson, “Straight Tequila Night”
- Reba McEntire, “For My Broken Heart”
- Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler”
- Pam Tillis, “Maybe it Was Memphis”
- Dwight Yoakam, “It Only Hurts When I Cry”
What’s your top five?
“Like a Wrecking Ball”
Written by Casey Beathard and Eric Church
This is a bold single choice. “Like a Wrecking Ball” sounds like nothing on the radio today. Irregular rhythms, a vocal sung out of the corner of his mouth, and a lyric that makes every other love song out there sound like child’s play.