As if narrowing down your five favorite albums or your five favorite songs isn’t difficult enough, lets make things even more difficult by trying to narrow down our favorite song from our favorite albums. Don’t worry, however, if you can’t choose five.
- Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson, “One More Year” (Rattlin’ Bones)
- Shovels and Rope, “Birmingham” (Oh Be Joyful)
- Dixie Chicks, “Long Time Gone” (Home)
- Johnny Cash, “Cocaine Blues” (Folsom Prison Blues)
- Old Crow Medicine Show, “Wagon Wheel” (O.C.M.S.)
It’s gotten to the point that I can’t listen to more than two country singles in a row without wanting to hurt somebody.
So here’s the daily top five. What are some songs that are your palate cleansers, that you can always go back to when you need to wipe out the aftertaste of some really bad music?
Here’s my list:
- Alison Krauss & Union Station, “The Lucky One”
- Rosanne Cash with Johnny Cash, “September When it Comes”
- Kathy Mattea, “Where’ve You Been”
- Jason Isbell, “Elephant”
- Carrie Underwood with Vince Gill, “How Great Thou Art”
Not only is the alliteration kind of fun, Murder Monday seems appropriate, because who doesn’t want to murder Monday?
What are some of your favorite murder songs?
The murder came as a delicious surprise in the song that I’ve chosen as my first choice.
- Old Crow Medicine Show, “My Good Gal”
- Vince Gill, “Molly Brown”
- Johnny Cash, “Delia’s Gone”
- Willie Nelson, “Time of the Preacher”
- Gillian Welch, “Caleb Meyer”
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
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)
Ralph Stanley & Friends
Man of Constant Sorrow
Perhaps the uninitiated may have “discovered” Ralph Stanley through his participation in the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack, For those who have spent their lives appreciating the man and his music, Ralph Stanley is a certified living legend — not to mention one of the last remaining links to that first generation of bluegrass musicians who blazed the trail for newgrassers and traditionalists alike. Even though he threatened retirement not long ago, the 87-year-old singer is back with a new duets album, available through Cracker Barrel stores.
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 countdown concludes with a wide range of classics, including breakthrough hits, signature songs, and exciting later career gems from long-established icons of the genre.
“(Who Says) You Can’t Have it All”
Written by Alan Jackson and Jim McBride
LW #10 | BF #5 | JK #38
What makes a better country song than a stark naked light bulb, one lonely pillow on a double bed, a mournful fiddle and steel guitar? Jackson’s “(Who Says) You Can’t Have It All” is one of the finest exhibits to present as the answer to that question. – Leeann Ward
100 Greatest Men: The Complete List
Known affectionately as the Man in Black, Johnny Cash is a figure who has towered over popular music, casting a long shadow over the history of both country and rock and roll.
He was born and raised in Arkansas, and was writing songs from the age of twelve, inspired by the artists that he heard on country radio. Unlike many of the legends of his time, he did not pick up a guitar until much later, purchasing one while he was in the Air Force. After his time in the service, Cash married and settled down in Memphis, Tennessee, working odd jobs while focusing on his music at night.
100 Greatest Men: The Complete List
From the vantage point of history, he is the indisputable King of Rock & Roll. But he earned that title through his ability to perform country, blues, and R&B successfully, and it is often his impact as a country artist that is most easily overlooked.
Presley was born into deep poverty in Mississippi, laying the groundwork for his exposure to American roots music. By his teenage years, he was living in Memphis, and it is in that city where he would be discovered by Sun Records owner Sam Phillips. His work for Sun Records cannot be overstated in its significance. On those early recordings, he brought together elements of country, blues, and R&B into a sound called rockabilly, which created the very foundation for what would soon be known as rock and roll. His cover of Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky” was among these early recordings, as were his first big country hits: “Baby, Let’s Play House”, “I Forgot to Remember to Forget”, and “Mystery Train.”