Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists: Vince Gill

I am excited to introduce a new feature to Country Universe. From time to time, we will be choosing an artist and counting down our favorite songs by that particular artist. The rules are very simple. Any song sung by the chosen singer is eligible for this countdown, including songs recorded for projects other than his/her solo studio albums.

Since I make no secret of the fact that he is my favorite artist, I have decided to begin this feature by counting down my favorite songs by Vince Gill. Vince Gill has more than proven his musical prowess with his triple threat talent—respected songwriting, high quality musicianship and, of course, his distinctive tenor voice. Picking 25 of my favorite songs has proven to be an almost impossible task, because there are so many songs from which I can choose. In fact, if you don’t see your favorite Vince song on this list, you’re probably correct in assuming that it should be, as far as I’m concerned.

“Oklahoma Swing” (duet with Reba McEntire)

When I Call Your Name (1989)

An infectiously fun song done in the western swing style. Reba sings the heck out of this one and it was nice of her to help out a struggling friend.

“The Reason Why”

These Days (2006)

The rolling piano in this song is enough to get my attention. This is a simple, melancholy melody that accompanies the sentiment of a man who can’t understand why his relationship has gone sour.

“It’s Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night That Chews Your Ass Out All Day Long”

The Notorious Cherry Bombs (2004)

Perhaps this song, with its ridiculous and less than flattering lyrics, should offend me, but it doesn’t. Instead, I find it deliciously funny. Its pure country intro only adds to the hilarity.

“Old Time Fiddle”

Next Big Thing (2003)

I’m a sucker for fast songs and fiddles, which are both contained here. This one is catchy. Once it’s in my head, it stays there for awhile.

“High Lonesome Sound” (bluegrass version)

High Lonesome Sound (1996)

This is a perfect modern bluegrass song. The Alison Krauss harmony is what makes it so perfect.

“The Key To Life”

The Key (1998)

This is a nice tribute to Vince’s father. I’m sure glad Judge Stan Gill took the time to teach his son those first cords on that banjo. In case you didn’t know, I love the banjo!

“Sweet Thing”

These Days (2006)

This is a brash redneck song if there ever was one. In fact, it’s about a redneck divorce. She can take everything as long as she leaves her…you know! She should kick his ass. What fun! I guess this is how it goes when The “queen of {your} double wide trailer has had enough.

“What You Give Away” (featuring Sheryl Crow)

These Days (2006)

There is no one who has more of a right to stand on this soapbox than Vince. He truly lives the lyrics of this song. Not only did his daddy teach him some cords on the banjo, he taught him that “the measure of a man is the one that lends a hand.” The added gospel flavor is certainly appropriate here.

“Rock of Ages” (duet with Amy Grant)

Rock of Ages…Hymns & Faith (2005) – Amy Grant album

Brother Vince sings this song with a soulfulness that raises the roof!

“My Kind Of Woman, My Kind Of Man” (duet with Patty loveless)

The Key (1998)

This is simply a great example of a pure country love song. It was about time Vince and Patty did a duet together.

“Everybody’s Sweetheart”

The Way Back Home (1987)

This song showcases Vince’s sense of humor. Written at a time when he was struggling to get his fledgling career off the ground and his then wife, Janis, was in a popular duo called Sweethearts of the Rodeo, “Everybody’s Sweetheart” took a cleverly tongue and cheek look at their challenging situation. I’m thinking Janis wouldn’t take too kindly to staying “barefoot and pregnant.”

“That Friend Of Mine”

Let’s Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye (2000)

This song can be found on the album that has been dismissed by critics as the “Amy Album”, because just about all of its songs were, in fact, inspired by Amy Grant. While this CD has mostly been forgotten, this particular song is a gem. The harmony with his daughter, Jenny, is something special. It’s made even sweeter when you consider that Vince’s daughter agreed to sing on a composition written for her stepmother, which was likely a gesture that meant the world to Vince.

“The Radio”

The Way Back Home (1987)

This song is the serious insight into emotions felt by one half of a couple where one is successful while the other struggles to attain the same kind of success. My favorite line is “It does my heart good to see you shine.” I believe he meant it.

“Sweet Little Corrina” (featuring Phil Everly)

These Days (2006)

This song is just super fun. Done in the Everly Brothers style, it’s a tribute to his daughter, Corrina.


Next Big Thing (2003)

A somber, yet hopeful song. When I hear this song, I think of my single friends who long to find that special someone, but have almost given up hope. You can definitely detect the Richard Marx influence here, which happens to be a guilty pleasure of mine.

“The Heart Won’t Lie” (duet with Reba McEntire)

It’s Your Call (1992) – Reba McEntire album

Reba and Vince always sound great together. This song was originally supposed to be recorded with Kenny Rogers. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m sure glad Vince slid in and stole Kenny’s spot. This song about smoldering love that cannot be denied is nothing short of passionate.

“One More Last Chance”

I Still Believe in You (1992)

Another example of Vince’s subtle sense of humor. To the average listener, this song is about a guy who puts partying at the top of his priority list at the expense of his relationship. He will do anything to get to the next party with the boys, including using his old John Deere tractor as transportation. This song was inspired by a story that Vince had heard about George Jones. While it is unclear if this story is actually true, George plays along by appearing in the video, which is the icing on the cake.

“Tryin’ To Get Over You”

I Still Believe in You (1992)

This song has met with some controversy because people feel that the singer is saying that he would have to kill himself in order to get over his wife. To me, this is more of a “He Stopped Loving Her Today” sentiment as opposed to “Whiskey Lullaby.”

“ Faint of Heart” ( duet with Dianna Krall)

These Days (2006)

Purposefully done in lounge style, this song is meant to drip with sex appeal. And it does!

“When I Call Your Name”

When I Call Your Name (1989)

This somber song is what propelled the successful era of Vince’s career. Such would not be the case today. The weeping steel guitar and Patty Loveless’s mournful voice elevates this song to greater heights than if Vince had sung it by himself. However, the haunting melody that Vince certainly wraps his voice around helps to capture the desperate loneliness that is quite successfully conveyed.

“Give Me Jesus”

How Great Thou Art: Gospel Favorites Live from the Grand Ole Opry (2008)

This is Vince’s latest recorded offering, which can only be found on a new live Grand Ole Opry gospel compilation. The melody is simple and the lyrics are sparse, but the message and mood of the song pierces right through the heart.

“If You Ever Have Forever In Mind”

The Key (1998)

What woman wouldn’t want these words sung to her, especially from Vince? A woman afraid of commitment would surely reconsider upon hearing this song!

“If It Weren’t For Him” (duet with Rosanne Cash)

The Things That Matter (1984)

While his duets with Reba have garnered the most attention, this song with Rosanne Cash should be a country classic. This is a song about two people who harbor an attraction that can’t be affirmed due to a significant other who stands in the way. The instrumentation is traditional and Vince and Rosanne’s voices combine to convey tortured heartache.

“These Days”

These Days (2006)

The title song from Vince’s history making four disc project, “These Days” illustrates a more peaceful time in Vince’s life. Previous songs on this countdown have shown the tumult that accompanied his first marriage. With this song we are assured that Vince is the happiest he’s ever been and that he’d “take these days over any other days I’ve ever known.” With this gentle tribute to his wife, Amy Grant, he conveys the old adage that success and money doesn’t buy happiness, just “empty victories.”

“I Still Believe In You”

I Still Believe in You (1992)

When I was trying to rank my favorite Vince songs for this countdown, I kept coming back to this song. While it’s not an original or surprising choice for the top spot, I couldn’t deny that it is simply my favorite Vince Gill song. It is the song that began my Vince obsession. I started listening to country music after this song had made its run up the charts. While it was old news to the Billboard countdown, it captured my attention and cemented Vince’s place as my very favorite artist.

In this song, we find Vince in a much different place than in “These Days.” Peace was nowhere to be found. This is one of the last songs in the line of compositions inspired by his marriage to his first wife, Janis. There was an obvious history of disappointment and frustration in their relationship that is well evidenced here. We know that the song was inspired by a fight that the couple had had earlier that day regarding Vince’s crowded schedule. I suppose the heartbreakingly bitter irony here is that the roles were reversed. Instead of Vince trying to fit into Janis’s success, it was Janis’s turn to try to get “a little piece” of Vince’s time.

While the keyboard threatens to date this song, Vince’s vocal performance is phenomenal. He hits those high notes with complete ease as he does with all of his songs. It has been reported that this song was originally written to be sung at a faster tempo. Thankfully, Vince had the foresight to slow it down so that it could be transformed into one of the most memorable country ballads of the 1990s.


  1. Great list…

    My three faves are (in no particular order), When I Call Your Name, I’ve Been Trying to Get Over You, I Still Believe in You….

    As far as other Reba Duets, I also love the one on her last CD (It Just Has to be This way). And I’ll always remember his acceptance speech for best song (which awards show?) for Go Rest High on that Mountain when he lost it on stage.

  2. Chad, I really wanted to include that Reba duet…I certainly didn’t forget about it. Thanks for mentioning it. One of the things I love about vince is that he’s “an emotional boy.”

  3. I have always enjoyed Vince Gill’s music. I think this is a wonderful idea to list your favorite songs of your favorite artists.

    I have always felt Vince’s “Pocket Full of Gold” album was one of his most underrated. The title track, “Liza Jane”, and “Look at Us” are three of my favorite Vince Gill songs. I also enjoyed “When Love Finds You” and “When I Call Your Name.”

    One of the problems of listing your favorite songs of legendary artists like Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, and George Strait is there are so many great songs to choose from. Picking just of few of them is difficult.

  4. Great list, i like how you have added some lesser known, but classic songs to that list. I think Vince is doin’ a concert pretty soon. Does anyone know where to get tickets?

  5. I generally like the uptempo Vince Gill better than the wimpy balladeer.

    1) “When I Call Your Name”
    2) “High Lonesome Sound” grass version
    3) “Oklahoma Swing”
    4) “Restless” (w/ Steve Wariner, Ricky Skaggs , Mark O’Connor)
    5) “One More Last Chance”
    6) “My Kind Of Woman, My Kind Of Man” (w/ Patty Loveless)
    7) “It’s Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night That Chews Your Ass Out All Day Long”
    8) “The Next Big Thing”
    9) “High Lonesome Sound” country version
    10) “Turn Me Loose”
    11) “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away”
    12) “Oklahoma Borderline”

  6. The Next Big Thing, The Reason Why, What You Give Away, Go Rest high On That Mountain, I Still Believe In You and Little Liza Jain are among my personal favorties.

  7. I’m going to have to fill in the gaps in my collection, so I can hear some of these songs that I’ve missed!

    You included some of my all-time favorite Vince songs: The Key to Life, What You Give Away, When I Call Your Name, It’s Hard to Kiss…, Tryin’ to Get Over You, The Heart Won’t Lie.

    There were only four of my faves that didn’t make your list: Worlds Apart, Look at Us (my parents’ anniversary song, so that one has a special meaning for me), Go Rest High on That Mountain and Pocket Full of Gold.

    I thought it was cool that you included a lot of early and late Vince, and didn’t feel obligated to focus on the big-selling albums. I was never crazy about what I heard off of “When Love Finds You”, so I found it interesting that you didn’t include anything from that.

    You did such a great job introducing a new feature here, and I’m itching to jump in and do one myself. Methinks the Hall of Fame announcement is all the encouragement I need to do an Emmylou list!

  8. Kevin–
    Thanks for the awesome comment! I agree that those songs that I left off are great. I especially wish that there had been room on my list for “Look At Us” and “Worlds Apart.” I guess I should have done a top 50 list or something.:) Funny about the “When Love Finds You” album. I remember absolutely loving it at the time of its release, but the songs on it really haven’t stuck with me as my favorites, though I still enjoy “Whenever You Come Around.”

    I’m sure people would really enjoy an Emmy Lou list! I could learn from it myself. You’re really opening me up to some of these female singers that I’ve kind of overlooked in the past.

    I thought your list was pretty cool; it was even more diverse than mine.:)

    There were so many more songs that I wanted to include in this list, but I had to stop somewhere and make some choices.

  9. Peter,

    Thanks, but it wasn’t my concept. Leeann came up with the idea, and wrote the first one.

    I agree with you, though. I’m chomping at the bit to do one of my own!

  10. In case anyone is interested, xmradio is celebrating Vince’s Grammy for Best Country Album by playing an encore presentation of an addition of Artist Confidential, where Vince offers some live performances of songs from his “These Days” album and commentary about the songs. You can catch it tomorrow (Feb. 18) at noon on highway 16. If you are not an XM radio subscriber, you can sign up for a free online trial that lasts for a couple of days, I believe. If you do that, be sure to go to the settings and switch it to the internet connection speed of your choice; it affects the quality of sound.

    I, personally, am very excited because I missed this program on its original airdate and happen to have the day off from work tomorrow.

  11. Vince is one of those artists that you easily find yourself not being able to pick “A” favorite song. Great list and I love the others that didn’t make the final cut.

    One night on the Opry, I heard him sing “Give Me Jesus” and it was really incredible. It was one of those songs you could almost tangibly feel the emotion. I’m so grateful to have caught it.

    I think the fact that Vince is such a cool, non-celeb with a great sense of humor that equals his musical talents, makes him all that more likeable, IMHO.
    In an industry that is more assembly line than ever (it seems), country music needs Vince Gill.

  12. I have been trying to get the words to the following songs:

    Give Me Jesus , Wafaring Stranger, Precious Lord, and I”ll Fly Away. If you can get me the words to these songs through the mail. My address is 1308 Laurent Street Opelousas,La.I would feel ever so blessed.

    Your Spiritual Sister
    Jeannette Stelly

  13. Great list Leeann. I’m sure it was a struggle to narrow down the list of your favorite artist’s songs and you definitely honored some lesser known ones. I want to mention/remind everyone of a few of my favorites: “Never Alone” and his cover of the Eagles’ “I Can’t Tell You Why”. It gives me chills.

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