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.
Ah…Remember the days when a name drop of a country singer actually meant something and made sense within the context of the song? Before Jason Aldean’s gratuitous and inane name checks of Johnny Cash, Alabama and even Joe Diffie? Those were the days, weren’t they? What are some of your favorite songs that refer to country singers or country songs? Don Williams, “Good Old Boys Like Me” (Hank Williams) Vince Gill, “Some Things Never Get Old” (Emmylou Harris’ “Bluebird Wine”) Rodney Crowell, “Walk the Line Revisited” (Johnny Cash) Ashley Monroe, “Hank’s Cadillac” (Hank Williams) Josh Turner, “Loretta Lynn’s Lincoln”
Just as country music corners the market on drinking and cheating songs, it also expertly explores the emotions that often accompany slowing down on Sundays. Iconic classics like “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and even modern hits such as “Sunday in the South” and “That’s What I Like About Sunday” describe that day of rest and reflection in various ways. What are some of your favorite songs about Sunday? Here are some of mine. Clay Walker, “Seven Sundays” Blue County, “Sunday Driver” Elizabeth Cook, “Sunday Morning” Marty Stuart & Loretta Lynn, “Will You Visit Me on Sunday” Darrell Scott, “It Must Be Sunday“ * Of Course, Johnny Cash’s version of “Sunday Morning Coming down”, along with the others listed in the intro, are favorites of mine too.
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
Regular posts, including single reviews, will begin again tomorrow. In the meantime, today’s Daily Top Five is perfect for the day in question. What are your five favorite country songs about being a dad? It can be the experience of being the father or being the child, or just songs that you like that don’t bear much relation to your actual relationship with your father or your child. Here’s my list: Sawyer Brown, “The Walk” Reba McEntire, “The Greatest Man I Never Knew” Alan Jackson, “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” Loretta Lynn, “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy” Doug Supernaw, “I Don’t Call Him Daddy”
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 Read More
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. Read More
Once again, technical difficulties derailed yesterday’s Daily Top Five. So we’re doubling down today. 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 Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, “The Last Thing on My Mind” Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty, “After the Fire is Read More
Today is International Women’s Day. Historically speaking, country music has never enjoyed a reputation for being socially progressive. For the general public, the definitive statement the genre made was “Stand By Your Man.” That Tammy Wynette classic is often cited as country music’s counterpoint to the women’s liberation movement, although Wynette wrote the thing in fifteen minutes without any agenda in mind. She just needed a song to sing. I generally consider the classic country era to have ended with the seventies, preceding the Urban Cowboy and New Traditionalist movements. What follows are some of the best deliberate statements made by country artists during those years in support for women’s rights. Some were big hits. Some were not. But they were all ahead of their time and are still interesting to listen to today.