Hear It Again For the First Time

Yesterday while driving, “Maybe it Was Memphis” came on the radio.   Pam Tillis gets decent rotation on XM, as do all of the nineties stars.   It was that song that got me into country music in the first place, a good eighteen years ago.

I listened to it all the way through, which I don’t do that often anymore.  I’ve heard the song thousands of times, and I know every nuance of it.   Once in a while, I can get pulled into its intensity again, but nothing like when I first discovered it.

It reminded me of an old Roger Ebert movie review, where he describes a comment made by a college English professor:

I had a professor in college who knew everything there was to know about “Romeo and Juliet.” Maybe he knew too much. One day in class he said he would give anything to be able to read it again for the first time.

Hence, tonight’s question:

What songs do you wish that you could hear again for the first time?

(And if you’ve yet to hear “Memphis” for the first time, enjoy the clip.)



  1. I still stop and listen to “Maybe It Was Memphis” when it comes on the radio. It feels like an old friend. I love those surprises!

    There are certain songs that had an impact the first time I heard them. I still remember the first time I heard “Goodbye Earl.” I was exiting the freeway on my way home. My jaw dropped; I couldn’t believe they had the guts to put that on the radio, especially at that time! I loved and still love that song.

    I remember the first time I heard “Travelin’ Soldier”, “Bumper of my SUV” and “The Angry American.” Maybe it was just the time period, but each of those songs had a definitive message and were aimed at evoking emotion. It would be interesting to know if the same would be true if I heard them again for the first time tomorrow.

    I also remember when Trisha’s “Walkaway Joe” and “On A Bus to St. Cloud” came on for the first time and the first time I heard Martina’s “Independence Day,” Randy Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses” and Reba’s “Fancy.” It would be fun to hear them again for the first time and discover a favorite artist (minus Martina) all over again.

    I don’t know if I answered your question…but there you go. :)

  2. “Celebrity” by Brad Paisley and “Devil Went Down To Georgia” by Charlie Daniels and his band.

    Charlie’s song was my very first country song from when I was very young, in the early 90’s. It wasn’t until Brad’s song “Celebrity”, along with a few others from the time, that I realized I’d been a big fan of the music my whole life, but never knew I was into country music. If I could hear either of those for the first time again I would guess I would feel the same way because both remind me why I love this music so much.

  3. I would love to be able to hear K.T. Oslin’s song “Hold Me” for the first time….I remember I was driving to North Carolina and it came on satellite and it was vaguely famillar but the song came out when I was 2 years old and I raced to see the name and description of the song, it just seemed to get to be true coming out of my radio. A couple others are
    “He Thinks His Name Was John”-Reba McEntire
    “The Song Remembers When”-Trisha Yearwood
    “You Dont Even Know Who I Am”-Patty Loveless
    “Tell Me I Was Dreamin”-Travis Tritt

  4. I have to go with Lee Ann Womack’s “Last Call”. I know it’s newer, but it still gets me and I remember the first time I gave it a listen. I had heard of the song, but hearing it just changed what kind of music I like, a real gateway to what country music could be.

    Also the first time I paid attention to the Dixie Chicks’ “Top Of The World”. I heard it and it was like I riddle that I couldn’t solve, and then one day I just got what the song meant, and it came to life for me.

  5. This is a great discussion. When you know a song like the back of your hand, you miss the days when you loved it even more, when you were still getting the feel for it, and couldn’t get enough of it.

    A few Hedley songs like “Gunnin'”, “Trip”, “She’s So Sorry”, and “Old School” come to mind. The Jonas Brothers song “Burnin’ Up” is another special one. Some McFly songs such as “Down Goes Another One” and “Transylvania”, “Turn It Up” by Josh Gracin, “Every Mile a Memory” by Dierks Bentley, Jason Aldean’s “Why” and “Amarillo Sky”, I could go on and on…

  6. At nine years old, I remember hearing “How Can I Help You to Say Goodbye” by Patty Loveless for the first time when it debuted on the weekly countdown. I’d heard music, country and otherwise, before then, but I’m still amazed that I remember that moment with such clarity.

  7. I’m actually not crazy about first listens, because I don’t always feel like I’m getting the nitty gritty of the song, but a few instances would be

    Roger Miller – “The Last Word in Lonesome is Me”
    Merle Hagard – “Looking for a Place to Fall Apart”
    Hank Williams – “Beyond the Sunset”

    but really in general, knowing the songs make me enjoy them way more.

  8. Garth Brooks – “Friends in Low Places”

    When I was a little kid, I had a copy of No Fences that I played over and over until it wore out. It’s because of Garth that I’m a country fan. But as much as I still love that song, it’s just not as special after hearing it for the millionth time.

  9. Great Question!
    I remember hearing these songs for the first time and at the same time discovering a new artist and with all of them it began a life-long love – It would be fun to discover these artists all over again.
    Alabama – “Tennessee River
    Dixie Chicks – “I Can Love You Better”
    Leanne Rimes – “Blue”
    Lee Ann Womack – “Never Again, Again”
    Patty Loveless – “If My Heart Had Windows”
    Ricky Van Shelton – “Crime of Passion”
    Tim McGraw – “Welcome to the Club”
    Trisha Yearwood – “She’s In Love with the Boy”
    Faith Hill – “Wild One”
    And, last but not least, the first time I heard Garth on the radio with “Much to Young” – I remember thinking ‘who is this?’ ‘What is this?’

    And, I remember hearing these songs for the first time and being blown away by the lyrics and/or the power of the artist’s voice –
    Alan Jackson (on the CMA’s) ‘Where Were You”
    Sugarland – “Stay” – Listening in my car and couldn’t believe how powerful the song and Jennifer’s voice was and feeling like I got punched in the gut with the final verse
    Brooks and Dunn – “Believe” – Again, listening in the car and was so taken aback by the lyrics and Ronnie’s voice I had to listen again and again.

  10. Normally I build up appreciation for a song every time I hear it, so although I may be impressed the first time I hear it, I usually like it even more the more I hear it. However, I do remember the first time I heard “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful” by Gary Allan I couldn’t get over how good it was, so I would like to hear that over again for the first time.

  11. Great discussion idea …

    And I am going to say ‘Seven Year Ache’. I originally heard the Trisha Yearwood version, and like many people have already mentioned about their prospective songs, this one stopped me dead in my tracks.

  12. Bobby, I’m with ya there on Life Ain’t Always Beautiful.

    I also want to add Jesus Take The Wheel to my list there. I hadn’t followed Amrican Idol until the season after Carrie won so I was a little concerned about how she would merge with country radio, but when I heard that song for the first time I said, “this girl is gonna be the next Shania Twain”. Hearing that song for the first time was huge for me.

  13. Kevin,

    “Maybe It Was Memphis” is a great song, I love it!

    I’d love to re-live the first time I heard, (or saw) a Patty Loveless song..It was “Chains”, It was when the song first came out, back in the late eighties..I was watching TNN, I believe, or maybe it was CMT…when along came Patty’s video,” Chains”, and that’s all it took, I became an instant fan.

    For many reasons, I drifted away from Country music in the nineties, may have been my marraige, it was still my favorite genre of music. But during that period of my life, although I didn’t buy albums, attend concerts or watch awards shows. So I kind of lost touch with Patty Loveless’ career as well.

    After my divorce around the year 2000, I re-discovered Country music. I think it was in 2004, I was attending a Sara Evans concert @ Mohegan Sun in CT. The Wrights had just finished their opening act and Sara’s band was setting up. On the speakers, they were playing a recording of Patty’s song, “You Don’t Seem to Miss Me”…. I was just blown away (yep, it sent shivers down my spine)…I turned to my brother, and said “Mike, now THAT’S a COUNTRY song! That sounds like Patty Loveless! And sure enough…So even though the song was roughly six or seven years old at that time, it was the first time I heard it, and it was at that point that I went from being a casual fan of Patty’s, to the serious, crazy-loyal PL fanatic that you all have been so graciously putting up with!

    It’s amazing what power and impact one great Country song can have!

    On a side note, I have since discovered a promotional mini-interview for an awards show, in which Sara Evans was asked who would be her ideal duet partner. She replied “Patty Loveless, we’d record In The Pines” together…Sara was also asked if she had heard any songs lately that she wished were pitched to her first, and she replied, “You Don’t Seem to Miss Me, recorded by Patty Loveless”

    I wonder if that explains why Sara’s band and road crew was listening to Patty’s music as they were setting up., either way, Sara has great taste!

    Great topic Kevin, thanks!

  14. J. R….

    I love Rosanne Cash’s version of “Seven Year Ache”…I did not realize that Trisha also did a version…I can just hear her, I bet she does an amazing job with it.

    Where can I find Trisha Yearwood’s version of Seven Year Ache?

  15. Diamond Rio’s “One More Day” had such an impact on me that it would be cool to re-live that. Rascal Flatt’s “I’m Movin’ On”, too, simply because I should have listened to it the first time, instead of waiting a year to take it’s advice.

  16. I remember the first time I heard Sara Evans’ “Born to Fly.” I was on my way to work early one morning and the song came on the radio. It was love at first listen. I went barging into work and told my colleague (who was a huge country music fan, God rest her soul) about the song. I raved for days on end about “Born to Fly.” It still is one of my favorite songs…top five, in fact!!

  17. I’m telling how old I am, but when I was a young girl I was always very much into rock and roll, loved Elvis, then I heard Hank Williams, Sr’s “I’M SO LONESOME I COULD CRY” and I still to this day love, love this song. My brother-in-law sings and plays the guitar and at our family get togethers he would always sing this song for me!!

  18. I’d have to go with “Just to See you Smile” and “Green Grass Grows” by Tim McGraw, “Getcha Some” by Toby Keith, and “I’ll go on loving you” by Alan Jackson. All happened within approximately the same time period, when I was discovering country music, and always bring me back to the person I was then. Its fun to visit who you were when you first heard certain songs.

  19. The two that come to mind–

    Keith Whitley–I’m Over You. I was still a kid when this came out and I remember asking my dad if the song was by an older singer because it sounded like the older country music my dad listened to. Unbelievable talent…

    Guy Clark–Dublin Blues. I didn’t hear this song when it first came out because Guy didn’t get a lot of play in the part of the country where I lived at the time and music wasn’t as easy to access. When Guy Clark writes something and then sings it you know it’s the truth. I kinda felt like I was the one sittin’ in Dublin “just a rollin’ cigarettes.”

  20. Remember When – Alan Jackson
    Live Like You Were Dying / Remember Me – Tim McGraw
    How Do I Live – Trisha Yearwood
    Jesus Take The Wheel / Wasted – Carrie Underwood

    That was a good clip Kevin

  21. “Paper and Pen” – Alicia Nugent
    “Jesus, Daddy, and You” -Rebecca Lynn Howard
    “Why Do I Still Want You” – Chely Wright

  22. Ill have to add Diamond Rio’s “Your Gone” to the list, as well as “Memory Like Mine” by Darrell Scott.

    Ill forget the night I was watching the bluebird cafe on Turner South tv in my dorm room at Tennessee Tech and they had Darrell Scott playing with Brad Paisley, and i’d never heard of Darrell Scott before. As soon as he finished “Memory Like Mine” and I got done finishing crying, I decided I had to buy everything I could of his.

  23. My first listens tend to be underwhelming – I think my mind just tries to get familiar with the groove and overall gist. There are a few exceptions – “Where’ve You Been” completely blew me away the first time I heard it, and hasn’t had nearly the same impact since. I mostly experience this with movies, though. I really wish I could see The Shawshank Redemption again for the first time.

    On a side note, Kevin, your affection for Roger Ebert is a Cherry Coke Zero-sized disappointment to me. For shame.

  24. I remember hearing Roger Ebert talk about this with movies and I always think the same thing when I see a movie for the first time.

    Music-wise (and off the top of my head)…
    “Just a Dream” by Carrie Underwood
    I had read much discussion about it on the boards here and then heard it one morning on the radio and it blew me away.
    It sealed the deal on becoming a fan of Carrie’s.

    “Very Last Country Song” by Sugarland
    It was one of those instances where I knew I had not just listened to any old album track.

    “Seeds” by Kathy Mattea
    Whether you agree with the concept or not, it was and still is a song that makes me think and consider perspective.

  25. Two songs:

    “I Know You Won’t” by Carrie Underwood [piano version]. When I saw her on the Opry telecast, I was blown away at how she turned a song with a good vocal into a work of art simply with her voice and expressions.


    “This Town Needs A bar” by Jeremy McComb is one of the strongest records I’ve heard because of how down-to-earth and realistic it is.

  26. Talking in your Sleep by Crystal Gayle
    Chisled in Stone by Vern Gosdin
    But You Know I Love You & Yellow Roses by Dolly
    Everything that Glitters by Dan Seals
    What Do I Do With Me? by Tanya Tucker
    Lets Call It A Day Today by Tammy Wynette

  27. Steve, Even tho Cory already answered your question, I will add that I heard Trisha singing ‘Seven Year Ache’ (and the song itself) for the first time on a local radio station that always plays album cuts when a new album comes out. I went and bought the album the same day. And like ‘Maybe It Was Memphis’ for Kevin, it was the song that really got me interested in country music as a genre – my interest up to that point had been limited to certain artists (Reba and Garth Brooks namely) that I liked.

  28. “Nothin’ But the Wheel” by Patty Loveless
    “Cowboy Take Me Away” by Dixie Chicks
    And please forgive me for this one, but “Can’t Touch This” by MC Hamnmer. I was 13, I had been at an amusement park all day with my family, and we were on our way home. The song came on the radio and I had never heard anything like it before. It seemed so weird! The wind picked up and an hour later we had to take cover at a Wal-Mart because of a tornado (I am not making this up, I swear). When we finally got home we saw that our garage had been blown away by the tornado. How interesting it would be to go back to that day!

  29. Thanks Cory and JR (Erik?)…I’ll have to check out Trisha’s Inside Out!

    And Kevin, thanks again for posting the YouTube to Maybe It Was Memphis…SO good to see that video again, I think that is my favorite from Pam.

    Jaime…Patty’s “Nothin’ but the Wheel” gives me chills… I think it just may be the perfect Country song performed by the perfect Country singer!

  30. I love “Maybe It Was Memphis.” It’s so catchy. I think it’s one of the first country songs I liked.

    I would like to hear “Any Man of Mine” by Shania Twain for the first time again. And Sara Evans’ “Three Chords and the Truth.”

  31. Great question!

    Albums have to grow on me, but individual songs get less appealing after I’ve heard them for the millionth time.

    I have to agree with Dan on the Mattea song. I was floored when I heard it for the first time and subsequent times after that. Of course, I still love the song, but that first time warm and fuzzy feeling is long gone. Another one that really effected me the first time I heard it was Joe Diffie’s “Ships That Don’t Come In.”

    A month or so ago, The9513 was giving away free downloads of some songs from the Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson album and I remember Kelly from The Gobblers Knob commenting that he was kind of jealous of the people who get to experience those songs for the first time that day. I felt the same way. There’s nothing like discovering new music for the first time.

  32. There are so many, but I’ll keep it short.

    “Concrete Angel”
    “Three Chords and the truth”
    “Where’ve you been”
    “What a Woman knows” (remember kris tyler)
    “The Chain of Love”
    “Travelin’ Soldier”

  33. “Where’ve You Been” – Kathy Mattea
    “Somebody Should Leave” – Reba
    “Who’s Bed Have Your Boots Been Under” – Shania
    “Blame It On Your Heart” – Patty Loveless
    “How Will I Know” – Whitney

    Is this the gayest list ever?

    I still LOVE the Kris Tyler album (esp “I’m In Trouble Now”)

  34. I had to think about this. There are a few songs that come to mind. A recent, first listen, was Leann Womacks “More Where That Came From”. I knew the name of the song because it’s also the title track but I didn’t know the premise of it. The first time I heard iit it was like a light bulb going on. Ooooh!!! NOW I get it!

    Another memorable, “first listen” was George Strait’s “Give It Away”. I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard that song and I loved it from the first note.

    One I’d like to go back and hear for the first time, Blake Shelton’s “Austin”. It still gives me goosebumps even though I know what’s coming. Amazing song.

  35. Something about John Michael Montgomery’s “Letters From Home” really got to me when I first heard it. Some of the emotion has worn off as time has passed, but I still like it and would love to hear it for the first time again.

  36. “Down at the Twist and Shout” – Mary Chapin Carpenter. I remember hearing that on the radio the first time and thinking I’ve got to find out who is singing that. Such a fun song.

  37. LeAnn’s Blue was amazing…I also loved MCC’s “Down at the Twist and Shout”…I was blown away by both of those performances.

    Great topic…but another suggests itself as well.

    Have you folks ever done a:

    “Name some songs that didn’t impress you at first, but that have really grown on you.” topic?

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