Thursday: Recommend a Track

Last week’s Recommend a Track got this series off to a great start.   In fact, some readers already flagged songs I was planning on featuring in future weeks:  Sugarland, “Stand Back Up” (Lanibug); Tim McGraw, “Why We Said Goodbye” (Aeroyacine); and Faith Hill, “Stronger” (Stephanie).   Longtime reader Roger Newcomb shared the Bobbie Cryner masterpiece “Girl of Your Dreams”, which led to others confessing their affection for that phenomenal singer-songwriter.

Joseph really got me because I was going to write about Sara Evans’ “Rocking Horse” this week.  Darn!

Instead,  I’m starting things off with a track from Nickel Creek’s Why Should the Fire Die? – “Helena.”

That particular Creek album has a bitter edge throughout, at least on what I consider the best tracks.   I tend to like the band best when it’s Chris Thile in front, especially since he started singing with rough intensity on this project.

“Helena” is a tour de force.  I can’t fully describe the premise, but in short, Helena is the girl who he’s been dating while waiting for the girl he truly loves to give him “any reason to leave.”   The song starts out soft and sweet, as he seems to be sincerely concerned for Helena, but a viciousness begins to seep in.  The production builds as well, into a thunderous climax as he spews, “Go ahead and tell her anything you want. ‘Cause Helena, guys like me never sleep alone at night. ”

It’s one of those songs I can’t listen to just once.

What’s your recommendation this week?  What overlooked album track deserves our attention?


  1. “40 Acres And A Fool” from the Recent Moneyland cd by The Del McCoury Band.

    This is clever, both lyrically and musically as well as being very funny.

    Story of the rich city guy who wants to live in the country.

    I must admit when I first heard this I thought it might be a variation on a song that has been around for ages that I had missed, as far as I know it is a completely new song though. 40 Acres and a Fool: MP3 Downloads: The Del McCoury Band

  2. Dammit, I’m going to echo several from last week and come back to Bobbie Cryner – “You’d Think He’d Know Me Better” is an astounding song. Sometimes when I listen to it, I empathize with the woman telling her story, but other times, I identify with the man and think that she had it coming. Now that is a DEEP song.

  3. I love this discussion thread. I’m going to recommend Patty Griffin’s “Goodbye,” from her Flaming Red album. I like so many of her songs, but I’ve been listening to this one quite a bit as of late. Martina McBride also did a cover of it on her album Emotion.

    My other recommendation is LeAnn Rimes’ “Love is an Army” from the album Twisted Angel. It was written by an Australian singer-songwriter named Gyan Evans and is melodically unlike anything I’ve heard before. LeAnn also performs an ethereal sequence of yodels at the end, which makes the track really special. One more interesting note, even though it was never released as a single, LeAnn performed the song at the 2003 CMA Awards. I am pretty sure the video is still on YouTube. At the end of it, they pan to Martina McBride, and she has tears running down her cheeks.

  4. I’ll recommend a less serious song: “Banjo Boy” by Ryan Shube And The Rubberband.

    It was a very minor hit, but not really a hit at all, which is actually the point of the song. He wants to be a big star, but the only problem is that he plays the banjo. Fun stuff!

  5. Nickel Creek! I really miss Nickel Creek. I’ve enjoyed some of the solo material as well, but there is something about the trio as a group. On Chris Thile’s “How to Grow Woman from the Ground” the White Stripes cover ‘Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground’ is enjoyable, and ‘Stay Away’ is different but strangely haunting to me.

    Dylan’s first track on “Nashville Skyline” with Johnny Cash ‘Girl from the North Country’ certainly was not completely overlooked, but it is included on only a few greatest hits (from either artist) and in its own way overlooked.

    ‘In My Time Of Dying,’ ‘A Little Blues, ‘Dogsong,’ ‘For The Turnstiles,’ ‘Ootishenia,’ or just about anything else from “The Be Good Tanyas” as well.

  6. One of my favorite tracks from Keith Urban is from when he was in the Ranch. It’s the song “Ghost In This Guitar.” It was the song that I figured was the perfect example of Keith Urban and what his potential he had to be a star.

  7. I just tonight saw a video for Sam Bush with Emmylou Harris. It’s different.. but man I sat there and watched with amazement.

    You can see the video here:

    Emmylou’s voice is amazing, and seems to get better year after year.

  8. heather myles’ “love me a little bit longer” from her “highways & honky tonks” album is just one song from a great artist that doesn’t fit the nashville mould and can’t hide the quality label “too country”.

    consider yourself invited to the next “cry-in-our-beers-over-bobbie cryner – event”

  9. This week I’ll go with Trisha Yearwood’s “Melancholy Blue”. She performed this on the CMA Awards one year and blew me away completely. This is a cover of Rebecca Lynn Howard, but as has been noted before on this site: if Trisha Yearwood sings a song it immediately becomes the definitive version. No disrespect to Rebecca, she’s got a killer voice, but Trisha nails this song.

  10. Josh Gracin’s “Let Me Fall” is one of my favorites of his most recent album, “We Weren’t Crazy”. There’s plenty of range in the song, which certainly appeals to me more than songs that seem to be monotone. The last chorus is very excellent too.

    I’ve also heard the song acoustically. It has plenty of the raw emotion that Sugarland’s “Stay” has.

  11. Alan Jackson, “A Little Bluer Than That” (written by Irene Kelley and Mark Irwin; Irene’s version was actually the first I heard). A great example of how something truly beautiful and compelling can still be built from simple elements.

  12. Trisha Yearwood’s “Dreaming Fields”. I know it has been covered quite a bit around these parts, but it is a beautiful masterpiece.

  13. I love this topic, so I’ll go ahead and throw out a few..

    Keith Urban – “Song For Dad”
    ~Great song, reminds me of my father

    John Michael Montgomery – “Little Cowboy’s Cry”
    ~I think he is very underrated, and I love this song

    Dierks Bentley – “Can’t Live It Down”
    ~Probably my favorite all around singer out right now

    Garth Brooks – “Every Now and Then”
    ~Nobody sings with the emotion that Garth does

    Kenny Chesney – “Demons”
    ~Off his latest album, and I wish he would do more material similar to this

    Rascal Flatts – “Ellsworth”
    ~As much as they have fallen out of my liking, this song is surprisingly very good

  14. In keeping somewhat in line with the original posting (my favorite cut from Why Should the Fire Die? is the old-timey “Anthony,” but “Helena” is another highlight from a terrific, under-appreciated album), I have to recommend “Punchbowl,” the opening track from Punch Brothers’ Punch. Which happens to be Chris Thile’s current band.

    They had a brush with Junior Varsity-level fame a couple of months back when a bunch of irate Gretchen Wilson fans tried to sink their upset bid in some MLB “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” competition. But they deserve to be known for their own material, which is first-rate. There’s a bitterness to “Punchbowl” (which Thile wrote following his divorce) that works alongside that of “Helena,” and it goes without saying that the instrumentation is just exceptional.

    And as far as nu-grass / progressive folk / whatever acts go, I also enjoy all of the albums by The Duhks. “Four Blue Walls,” from their self-titled 2005 album, is among my favorite of their non-instrumental tracks.

  15. Bobby Darwin’s Daughter from Tracy Lawrence’s Strong CD — and I also like the song The Questionairre from the same CD — which are both are both great songs

  16. This wasn’t an album track; it was a recent single that scraped the bottom of the charts, but Star de Azlan’s “She’s Pretty” was a great retro sounding country song that deserved a better reception. I don’t know anything about her, but that song is still in heavy rotation on my mp3 player.

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