Kevin Coyne Starter Kit

Birthday CakeThis is an exciting day for Country Universe. Our favorite blogger and Country Universe founder, Kevin Coyne, turns thirty today! We are thrilled to join Kevin’s best friend, Charlie Geier from The Widening Geier, in wishing Kevin a heartfelt happy birthday!

In celebration of Kevin’s big day, we have compiled a Starter Kit of some of our favorite articles that Kevin has written throughout the life of Country Universe, which is quickly approaching five years, by the way. Some of our readers may recall these posts and others will be reading them for the first time. This Starter Kit will not only give Kevin an opportunity to look back on his own writing, but allow the rest of us to either reminisce or explore some excellent work as well. And as is the ultimate purpose of Starter Kits, it’s a starting place to encourage people to discover more of the subject’s body of work, who happens to be Kevin Coyne in this instance. By doing this, we hope to pay tribute to our friend by spotlighting his insightful writing. First and foremost, you will see Kevin’s easy and obvious writing prowess. Moreover, you will surely note his passion for country music and, most importantly, his sincere and deep compassion for people in general, not to mention his sense of humor and philosophical outlook.

All of the writers for Country Universe have joined the staff due to our admiration for Kevin and his thoughtful blog that existed long before any of us began adding our voices to the mix. So, we are honored to have the opportunity to have this platform to wish him a very happy birthday today. And we invite you, our readers, to pleas join us in extending warm wishes to Kevin and note your favorite Kevin Coyne posts in the comments.

#10 Single Review: Toby Keith, “Stays in Mexico”

Charlie Geier: The above does not necessarily represent the best writing/blogging Kevin has ever done. It is a simple review, with hints of the writing style which would develop over the next several years. I chose this as part of the Starter Kit because it is the first post that I can remember Kevin ever posting. I was his roommate at the time, and it was his site which inspired me to begin on my own blogging journey.

This post serves as evidence of how something like Country Universe can emerge from the most humble beginnings. I know Kevin has inspired a lot of people to begin their own writing careers, and I am proud to have been one of them. I am also proud to hold the distinction of being one of the, if not the, first CU reader.

Happy Birthday buddy!

#9 Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists: Emmylou Harris

This is Kevin’s first Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists article. He admits that Emmylou Harris is an acquired taste, but one that he acquired in a big way once he did. By sharing his connections to the songs, he honestly shares parts of himself with his readers in the process.

#8 400 Best Contemporary Country Singles: #25-#1

This won’t be quick reading. Kevin took on the gigantic task of compiling 400 of the best contemporary country singles. He admits that they are ranked, in part, according to his personal barometer, but it’s as an objective of a list such as this can be. Be sure to check out the prior fifteen sections to this post as well.

#7 Concert Review, Dixie Chicks, Madison Square Garden, 8/1/06

It’s no secret that the Dixie Chicks are Kevin’s favorite band. He has gone to bat for them even though it hasn’t been particularly popular or emotionally safe to do so within the world of country music in the last several years. He had an opportunity to see them in concert, which inspired this review that includes open commentary on the fall out from the tempestuous events of “the incident.”

#6 The Fifty Best Debut Singles of All-Time: Part 5

This is another one of Kevin’s impressive countdowns. It was so impressive, in fact, that Country Weekly even featured it in their popular magazine. Be sure to check out the previous four sections of the countdown, too, which display a great deal of historical insight.

#5 Mary Chapin Carpenter, Stones in the Road

This revealing album review details many of Kevin’s life philosophies that certainly contribute to his outlook today. He acknowledges that it speaks to him on a personal level like no other album has done. It is also a part of the Top 100 Greatest Contemporary Country Albums countdown, which was yet another staggering undertaking of Kevin’s.

#4 A Conversation with Pam Tillis

This is a milestone for Country Universe, because it was the first interview ever conducted for the site. Happily, the interviewee just so happened to be the interviewer’s favorite artist, which is clearly evident throughout the “conversation.” Without needlessly gushing, Kevin is able to highlight Pam Tillis’ music from the perspective of a person who knows her music it inside out. It’s not just an interview, but a labor of love.

#3 Discussion: Carrie Underwood, Shania Twain and Gender in Country Music

This is one of Country Universe’s most memorable posts. As the title suggests, Kevin boldly explores the complications of gender, particularly the marginalization of women, in country music. With over 100 comments, many of them very passionate, it definitely struck a sensitive but important chord with readers.

#2 The Coping Power of Music

This post is heartbreakingly honest and poignant. It demonstrates Kevin’s willingness to let his guard down and share his heart with Country Universe readers in a very intimate way.

#1 100 Greatest Women

The number one spot for this Starter Kit was inevitable. Anyone who has followed Kevin’s writing at Country Universe for any measurable period of time is more than likely aware that he holds a special place in his heart for the women of country music. It’s their music and heart that most deeply speaks to him and it’s their profound music and stories that he devoted months promoting in the form of extensive essays that detailed their individual journeys.

Our readers may not have always agreed on the specific placements of these women within the countdown, but our blog statistics, frankly, told us that they appreciated the focus that was dedicated to paying tribute to a group of people who often have to struggle to be noticed in a male dominated industry. Not only did our regular readers enjoy the countdown that spanned four months, but Country Universe gained new readers as a result of Kevin’s tireless labor of love. To this very day, we enjoy devout readership of people who initially happened upon this blog because of this seminal 100 Greatest Women Countdown.

As much as we are proud of our contributions to this blog, we are all quick to acknowledge that Kevin single handedly built Country Universe, one of the first country music blogs to ever exist, from the ground up. Along with dedicated readers, it is his vision and unmatched dedication that has made Country Universe the successful blog that it is today. And we are extremely honored that he has so graciously invited each of us to be a part of it.

As Charlie touched upon above, Kevin’s gentle and supportive leadership has been a great source of encouragement to us all, as writers and human beings. He may be a great blogger, but he is an even better person, which we suspect is actually most important to him.

Happy birthday, Friend!


  1. For the record, this list was a collaborative effort…except, of course, Kevin wasn’t involved, since we did it without him knowing about it until he turns on his computer and sees it today.:)

  2. Great idea Leeann!
    Wonderful tribute to a great writer and the founder of Country Universe, one of the absolute best sites of it’s kind on the internet!

    I have learned so much from you Kevin, and the other staff writers here at CU as well. You’ve assembled a great stable of writers here, and have led the way with a very impressive body of work.

    Well Done, and Happy Birthday!

  3. Happy Birthday Kevin! I’ve been a long-time reader of this blog, but some of these articles are new to me, so I’ll have a read of them now. You’ve done some great writing on this blog, and it’s been fun reading them!

  4. I had some free time this morning when I clicked on this post, so I sat here and read each one of the 10 posts above and though I’d read a few of them before, I was amazed at the candor, wit, and depth to them all. Those of us who have been reading for a while sometimes forget what a great writer Kevin is so we need reminded once in a while.

    I first found Country Universe through the 100 Greatest Women countdown, through links from my newly discovered country music news blog, The 9513. Since then I’ve watched it grow to include new writers and a couple new looks. I’ve also been inspired by both Country Universe and The 9513 to start the My Kind of Country blog – which this site is regularly the #1 referrer to, meaning they send us more readers than anybody else.

    So happy birthday Kevin. And thanks for educating us, entertaining us, and inspiring us.

  5. Since stumbling upon this site a few months ago, I have spent many, many hours exploring posts like the ones above. It has been so much fun though. The 100 Greatest Women was such a huge project. Thank you again for this amazing site and have a very happy birthday, Kevin! :)

  6. This is just altogether too nice and very humbling. I’m deeply appreciative!

    We have to be nice to you now that you’ve entered your declining years. ;)

  7. Happy birthday, Kevin! And a very nice job paying tribute to him by all involved. Five years is a long time to be plugging away at it and those of us who’ve come along since then are very appreciative that you laid the groundwork for our own efforts. Keep up the good work.

  8. Great list of must reads…its certainly fun to read these again.

    Happy Birthday Kevin, and thanks so much for great writing on a great blog!

  9. Happy birthday Kevin! In the short few months I’ve grown to know you as both a person and my leader on this site, I’ve learned, as Leeann said, you are above all a great, compassionate person. And I think that’s actually what makes you such a fantastic writer. Here’s to your next 30 years :)

  10. Congratulations, Kevin. I remember reading your stuff back when it was on wordpress. Your website was one of the first evaluative websites that I remember reading. I don’t agree with every single one of your opinions, but you created a nice website, and added some really good writers. Keep up the good work.

  11. Happy Birthday and congratulations – the level of discourse your writing provokes is proof of its quality. If you did not write n interesting topics, no one could be bothered to comment

    Keep it going !

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