Collin Raye Starter Kit

collin_rayeWhen Collin Raye first surfaced, it seemed like he was a poor man’s Vince Gill. Nice, sweet vocals but not much depth. However, he’d reveal himself as having one of country music’s stronger song senses. At his peak, he enjoyed both commercial success and regular Male Vocalist nominations.

Most of this list comes from Raye’s first four albums, all of which were certified platinum. His music started to decline in quality toward the end of the decade, but he still put out some good radio singles. He’s been mostly quiet this decade, releasing albums on independent labels.

Ten Essential Tracks

“Love, Me”
from the 1991 album All I Can Be

One of country music’s finest tearjerkers. It put Raye on the map as a balladeer to be reckoned with.

“In This Life”
from the 1992 album In This Life

One of those rare ballads that works just as well at a wedding as it does at a funeral.

“That’s My Story”
from the 1994 album Extremes

A riotous attempt at creating a plausible alibi, co-written by Lee Roy Parnell.

“Little Rock”
from the 1994 album Extremes

Raye’s masterpiece is an emotional powerhouse, as he takes on the role of a recovering alcoholic trying to reconcile with his wife.

“If I Were You”
from the 1994 album Extremes

Raye encourages the woman he loves to follow her dreams, hoping that in the end, he’ll be one of those dreams.

“Not That Different”
from the 1995 album I Think About You

Another song that works on numerous levels, working as well as a call for a couple to unite as a call for all humanity to do so.

“I Think About You”
from the 1995 album I Think About You

If all men saw women the way that Raye does in this song, we might be able to leave gender-based crime and discrimination behind.

“What If Jesus Comes Back Like That”
from the 1995 album I Think About You

A powerful moral warning to see every person as a child of God.

“I Can Still Feel You”
from the 1998 album The Walls Came Down

Raye’s final #1 single is all nervy and paranoid, as he’s haunted by a memory he can’t shake.

“Someone You Used to Know”
from the 1998 album The Walls Came Down

A man struggles with being seen as just a memory by a woman he still love.

Two Hidden Treasures

“Dreaming My Dreams With You”
From the 1994 album Extremes

A quiet and understated delivery of the Waylon Jennings classic.

“Heart Full of Rain”
From the 1996 album I Think About You

It’s hard to keep a flame alive when the woman you love keeps dousing it with water.


  1. He was often a little more AC than I liked, but he does have a lovely voice and has recorded some fine songs. I’m pleased you picked Heart Full Of Rain as one of the Hidden Treasures – I really love that song.

  2. I’m not a big Collin Raye fan, mostly due to his material, but he does have a good voice. I’ve only owned two of his albums on cassette, AllI Can Be and I think About You. I remember liking I Think About You back in the day. I have to say that while it’s corny, I remember liking “Every Second.” I haven’t heard it in forever though. I’ve never been able to decide if I like the unique way he reaches for his high notes or if I don’t though.

  3. “Love,Me” is just an awesome song…

    I always liked Collin’s sincere approach and sense of decency, though not a fan of every song.

    “That’s My Story” is a hoot and reminds me a little of Vince’s “One More Last Chance” in the proud “how do I get myself out of this jam?” traditon of country music. ;)

  4. Good choices all, Kevin. My favorite is definitely “In This Life” and I also like the inclusion of “Heart Full of Rain.” Another song that I always liked was “Time Machine” off of the I Think About You album. Thanks for the post.

  5. As far as singing ability, few country artists can match him. His cover of “Open Arms” on his Direct Hits cd was better than the original. Some of my favorites not on your list include uptempo tunes like “On the Verge”, “Anyone Else” and “I Love Being Wrong” as well as sappy songs such as his duet with Melissa Manchester “A Mother and Father’s Prayer” and “I Wish I Could” (love those from a parent’s perspective even though my kids are now grown). His song about alzheimer’s “She’s Gonna Fly” also gets to me.

  6. “Little Rock” is also my favorite on the list followed by “Love, Me” and “Someone You Used To Know.” Also, great choices on the two hidden treasures, especially “Heart Full Of Rain.” Another of my favorites that didn’t make the list is “On The Verge,” which I think is his best upbeat number. Others I really like : “Anyone Else,” “Little Red Rodeo,” “What The Heart Wants,” “One Boy, One Girl,” “Somebody Else’s Moon,” and “Every Second.”

    Two more hidden treasures:
    “Latter Day Cowboy” from In This Life – He’s recorded some great Hugh Prestwood songs.
    “Faithful Old Flame” from All I Can Be – A solid neo-traditional country album, actually

  7. This is probably off -topic but I stopped listening to Collin Raye after I read an interview he gave in which he was very anti-gay. For me that was a turning point. Now I know a great many artists have been bigoted. But when an artist or singer comes out, and states his or her bigotry they have ruined my openness to their talent- even if that talent is great. Collin Raye did that. I am sorry to go off topic.

  8. I do think “Little Rock” is a fantastic song, but as with a fair amount of Raye’s material, I find the vocal performance kind of bland and over-the-top. The songwriter, Tommy Douglas, performed it at Belmont a few months ago with only a keyboard, and it was stunning.

  9. I hadn’t read that interview, Craig, but I do know from other things that he’s said that he’s very conservative.

  10. Collin Raye is the artist who got me hooked on country (so maybe that’s why I like pop-leaning stuff). I can separate a person’s personal beliefs from their music (which is why I can still somehow enjoy a John Rich song or two).

    I think his ‘message songs’ are all great but one of his best songs ever is “The Time Machine” from the “I Think About You” album.

  11. Yeah, proof that I can separate an artists’ beliefs from the music is that I just downloaded Gretchen Wilson music today and I’ve decided she rubs me the wrong way.:) Same with Toby. It is admittedly still disappointing to learn their beliefs sometimes though. It’s natural, but I couldn’t listen to country music if I had to agree with their personal beliefs, since I tend to be less conservative than country artists at large. It sure is difficult at times though.

  12. Same here. I own a few Toby Keith and Gretchen Wilson CDs as well. It all comes down to the quality of their music which is why, if John Rich actually made music that I enjoyed, I would still purchase one of his CDs. And the reason I buy the Dixie Chicks’ albums is not because I agree with their political views, but because their music is so awesome. I realize that the country music community tends to be conservative this is an argument I’ve seen before every time there’s a John Rich, Toby Keith or Dixie Chicks review on this site as well as other blogs. It’s still a bummer though when you find out that an artist you like doesn’t feel the same way about issues that are important to you.

  13. Ditto. I always do my best to separate the artist’s personal life from their music. In the case of Toby Keith, it’s very tough, but I still like his older music. I had also heard about the Collin Raye interview Craig R. mentioned, but never read it myself.

  14. I always liked his music – but like some other commenters I just never bought any of his albums except his Direct Hits CD. I really like all these songs and ‘What The Heart Wants’. ‘Anyone Else’ is my favorite though.

  15. I agree with Occasional Hope — Raye was often a little more AC than I would have liked but he had some great songs. I even liked his cover of “Open Arms.” I have most, if not all, of his Epic albums.

  16. A few days ago I heard his song “What if Jesus comes back like that” on the True Country channel on Music Choice and was blown away. He was one of those “just there” type singers who I liked the music, but I haven’t really heard enough of him to decide one way or another. It was just great to hear this song and think about the other ones I’ve heard. He might even be my choice for underrated artist (Country or otherwise) in the last 20 years.

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