Some cover songs pale in comparison to previous incarnations. Other attempts may come across as competent but disposable. But every now and then, a cover song comes along that just might rival or even replace the original in my listening rotation. What are your top five cover songs that you like better than the original? Here’s my list: 1. Dixie Chicks, “Landslide” (Fleetwood Mac) 2. Linda Ronstadt, “Blue Bayou” (Roy Orbison) 3. Alison Krauss & Union Station, “When You Say Nothing At All” (Keith Whitley) 4. Jo Dee Messina, “Lesson in Leavin’” (Dottie West) 5. Pam Tillis, “When You Walk in the Room” (Jackie DeShannon)
Jo Dee Messina
UPDATE: Check out the impeccably researched work of Deb B, also known as Windmills, over at MJ’s Big Blog: Country Radio & The Anti-Female Female Myth: A Data-Based Look ORIGINAL POST: Via Terri Clark’s Twitter, this gem from radio consultant Keith Hill: This One’s Not For The Girls: Finally, Hill cautions against playing too many females. And playing them back to back, he says, is a no-no. “If you want to make ratings in Country radio, take females out,” he asserts. “The reason is mainstream Country radio generates more quarter hours from female listeners at the rate of 70 to 75%, and women like male artists. I’m basing that not only on music tests from over the years, but more than 300 client radio stations. The expectation is we’re principally a male format with a smaller female component. I’ve got about 40 music databases in front of me and the Read More
“Prize Fighter” (with Kelly Clarkson) Trisha Yearwood Written by Jessi Alexander, Sarah Buxton, and Ross Copperman Yes, it’s been more than seven years since Trisha Yearwood has released a proper single. Yes, it was worth the wait. “Prize Fighter” is uplifting, inspirational, and powerful. It showcases Yearwood’s still flawless voice, an instrument that is effective at every setting between whisper and shout, and is always properly calibrated to the material it delivers. It’s a credit to Kelly Clarkson that she can even keep up with Yearwood, and her contributions to the track are complementary, if not entirely necessary.
There are a lot of great country songs chronicling the breakup of a relationship, but it’s the female characters who have often shown a particular propensity for leaving their lovers by car. Sometimes she changes her mind and turns the car around; most of the time she doesn’t. Either way, it’s been the making of many a great country song. There are obviously numerous songs that fit this mold, but here’s my whittled-down list of six personal favorites. I look forward to reading about your favorites in the comments section below. “Nothin’ But the Wheel” Patty Loveless Written by John Scott Sherrill Whenever I attempt to rank my many favorite Patty Loveless songs, “Nothin’ But the Wheel” is always one of the top three. Loveless’ mournful drawl is gorgeously framed by the weeping fiddle and steel guitar as she gives voice to a woman striking out on the road in the wee hours of the Read More
Nothing like a good country music driving song, right? I could make a whole road trip playlist full of them. Ostensibly, Sara Evans upcoming single “Anywhere” is seeking a spot on my road trip playlist. It’s a bit off-putting, unfortunately, that the lyric plays more like a watered-down knockoff of Jo Dee Messina’s “Heads Carolina, Tails California.”
At the very least, the single earns points for a committed vocal performance on Evans’ part, as well as a cool banjo-rocker of a production, which could have made for a pleasant little slice of pop-country. But the song structure is totally not there.
As might be expected, the subject matters are getting more intense as we edge closer to the top. But there’s still room for some carefree moments here, thanks to the Dixie Chicks and Jo Dee Messina.
400 Greatest Singles of the Nineties: #75-#51
When You Say Nothing at All
Alison Krauss & Union Station
1995 | Peak: #3
This Keith Whitley classic was recorded as part of a tribute album to the late country star. It became a hit all over again, perhaps because Krauss performed it in a near-whisper. The quiet arrangement matches the sentiment beautifully. – Kevin Coyne
1993 | Peak: #1
Lawrence dishes on his ex’s cheating ways to her new potential lover. How did she get that way? He reveals that he’s the one who taught her everything she knows from the cheater’s playbook. Moreover, he seems regretful of her corruption. – Leeann Ward
Many a star was launched in the nineties, a few of them right out of the gate. This section includes the debut singles from Toby Keith, Jo Dee Messina, LeAnn Rimes, and Doug Stone, along with Grammy-winning hits by Alison Krauss and Dwight Yoakam.
400 Greatest Singles of the Nineties: #100-#76
The Battle Hymn of Love
Kathy Mattea & Tim O’Brien
1990 | Peak: #9
Wedding songs are typically made of the same fiber, but this one is a little different: it’s energized by burning conviction and fierce pledges. – Tara Seetharam
1996 | Peak: #10
Sure, the novelty of thirteen year-old Rimes’ prodigious Patsy imitation helped things along. But that unshakable yodeled hook would have made “Blue” a classic in any era of country music. – Dan Milliken
Johnny Cash may have been too dark for country radio back in 1994, but his morbid single lives on alongside debut singles, seventies covers, and a whole lot of Mary Chapin Carpenter.
400 Greatest Singles of the Nineties: #125-#101
1999 | Peak: #1
Sure, the melody of the chorus sounds just like “It Matters to Me.” But “Breathe” took the country power ballad to new heights, becoming Hill’s signature hit in the process. – Kevin Coyne
Life’s a Dance
John Michael Montgomery
1992 | Peak: #4
It’s the catchy fiddle riff that’s so memorable about John Michael Montgomery’s debut, number one, single. He is known for being a balladeer, but this one is an up-tempo motivational song. – Leeann Ward
The second segment of our countdown includes the first appearances by Garth Brooks and Reba McEntire, two of the biggest-selling stars of the decade.
How Do I Get There
1997 | Peak: #1
It’s always a gamble when friends decide to take their relationship to the next level. “How Do I Get There” explores the struggle of following one’s heart, even though it’s taking a big emotional risk to do so. – Leeann Ward
If I Could Make a Living
1994 | Peak: #1
This song is either ridiculously cheesy or irresistibly cheesy depending on your taste, but there’s no denying Walker sells the heck out of it with charm and enthusiasm. – Tara Seetharam