The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 1

Inspired by a recent trend on Facebook, the staff of Country Universe is launching our tweaked version of The 30 Day Song Challenge.

Every day, the staff will share our picks in a different category.  We hope that all of our readers will do the same in the comments!

We’re not limiting ourselves to the country genre. All of us are primarily country fans, but our tastes run wider and deeper than that.

The category for Day 1 is…

Your Favorite Song

Staff Picks

Leeann Ward: “One More Year” – Kacey Chambers & Shane Nicholson

It’s nearly impossible to choose a definitive favorite song, but I can pretty reasonably settle on “One More Year” as one that I haven’t tired of in three years despite my husband’s penchant for playing certain songs repeatedly until I can hardly stand even a great song after a certain saturation point. Such is not the case with “One More Year.” I’m still impressed by its understated devastation every time I hear it.

Dan Milliken: “Days Go By” – Keith Urban

The first time I heard it, on a fuzzy radio station in the background, it sounded like “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me” redux. Within my first proper listens, it had me dancing around my dining room. “Days Go By” takes a sad truth – that time is constantly slipping away from us – and twists it into a joyous, mandolin-clanging celebration of life and the time we do have. Carpe some diem, y’all.

Tara Seetharam: “Bless the Broken Road” – Carrie Underwood

It’s hard to find words that speak to the personal connection I’ve formed with this song, so I’ll let my favorite line sum up its lyrical poignancy: “Now I’m just rolling home into my lover’s arms” is as best a description of the ease of true love as I’ve ever heard. As I said in my very first Country Universe post, I’ll take this song in any form by any artist (literally – I have over ten versions on my iPod), but if I had to choose, the conviction in Underwood’s acoustic version is second to none.

Kevin John Coyne: “Hung Up” – Madonna

No matter how much I like a song, I always go through periods where I’m tired of hearing it, and will skip it from time to time when it pops up on shuffle. That’s true about every song I love except this one, which I never tire of. I don’t know if it’s the way the ABBA-borrowed hook fades in and out, or if it’s the insanely catchy chorus that she sings nine times and it’s still not enough.  It’s the perfect pop song by the perfect pop artist and nothing else sounds as good in comparison, even from her own deep catalog of ear candy hits.


  1. This will be fun! I’m on day 14 today. It’s been hard to choose the songs to pick. I have J.R. Journey to thank for getting me hooked on this.

    Can’t wait to see your choices

  2. Oh I love Kasey Chambers! My favorite song is Nullarbor Song from Barricades & Brickwalls. That song just demands to be heard, it makes me cry and I have to stop to listen to it. Just beautiful.

  3. Wow. Really went for the homerun category on the first day didn’t ya?!?! Haha

    If I’m on the spot for a favorite song, I’m gonna go with something I consider my own hidden gem and I’ll say “Mama, I’m Alright” from Miranda Lambert’s first album. There are certainly songs I feel are more significant and have had lasting impacts but this is a little more unique.

    The line “You taught me how to stand those tests and trials/But you can’t see a desert sunrise in the Bible” is as compelling a line as she’s ever written. Children can be taught everything and it can all be sound raising, but in the end you have to experience it yourself to truly learn it.

  4. Ol’ Red from Blake Shelton.

    I know there are other versions, but I like this one the best. Just has everything I think a great country song should have.

  5. Checking my I-Tunes top 25 most played songs I find John Denver’s “Matthew” at #1. Solely written by JD, Matthew’s story is told from the perspective of his nephew. We hear of Matthew’s happy early life as a Kansas farmboy. The chorus goes “Yes, and joy was just the thing he was raised on, love was just the way to live and die, gold was just a Kansas wheat field, blue, just a Kansas summer sky.” He faced hard times, including losing home, family, wheat and farm to a twister (sound familiar?) but his faith got him through it. Then Matthew came to live with his brother and nephew, helping his brother and becoming the boy’s friend. Besides the lyrics and Denver’s great vocals, I love the banjo in this song.

  6. I checked my most played songs on iTunes as well, and I found “Every Mile a Memory” by Dierks Bentley at the top. I don’t know what it is about that song, I just can’t seem to get enough of it. The lyrics are great, the melody is catchy, and the instrumentation is just right. I honestly can’t think of any other song that’s more deserving of “favorite” status for me.

  7. Lessons Learned- Carrie Underwood

    If I am ever stressed or having second thoughts about something, I listen to this song. It makes everything better!

  8. Wonderwall – Oasis

    It moves me in ways that I can’t even explain in words. Liam’s voice just takes me there and I feel everything that he’s singing. Noel may have wrote it, but Liam sings it with so much conviction.

  9. Not easy for me to pick an all-time favorite song. Seems to change every so often over time. One song that always seems to top the list though is “Smoke Rings in the Dark” by Gary Allan. I’ll never tire of that performance. Such a great vocal delivery coupled with such atmospheric production.

  10. So difficult to choose a favorite, but I’m going with “The River and the Highway” by Pam Tillis. I’ve heard it more times than I can remember and have never gotten tired of it. It’s got beautiful lyrics and production, and perfect vocals from Pam.

  11. Trisha Yearwood’s “Try Me Again.” Her vocal is a tour de force, complete with uninhibited anger and passion. The fact that she’s covering Ronstadt, one of her idols and biggest influences, only makes the song better.

  12. My all-time favorite song would have to be “These Days” by Rascal Flatts.
    It’s such a fantastic song, great vocals, great melody. It always puts a huge smile on my face whenever I hear it.

    Tara, great call on Carrie’s version of “Bless The Broken Road.” Carrie’s version is brilliant. Probably better than the Flatts version, and this is coming from a huge fan of both artists.

    Have you seen this one? It’s an incredible version as well. I still listen to it often.

  13. mine is without a doubt the song that got me to love country music (along with everything Shania Twain that is :) ) and that song is “Who I Am” by Jessica Andrews. when I was younger I wouldn’t let people exit the car until it was over and it even got me an A on the harddest paper I had to write in my Advance English class my freshmen year of high school so it is my favorite song of all time.

  14. I’m gonna have to go with Pam Tillis “Maybe it Was Memphis” that song really takes me back to my childhood!

  15. Although picking a favorite song out of all genres is really impossible I’m going with Stronger by Faith Hill. Shut up train by Little Big Town is giving it a run for it’s money though lately.

  16. This is hard but I think overall “We Shall Be Free” by Garth Brooks is my favorite song. I know world peace can seem corny with a lot of songs, but this is like a call for all of us to be better people. And even though it’s from the early 90s it doesn’t sound dated at all.

  17. Good call on Every Mile a Memory, Dan.

    I think for me, it’s a toss-up between For the Nights I Can’t Remember by Hedley, and Down Goes Another One by McFly.

  18. This is a tough one to start. Probably, depending on my mood, Brad Paisley’s “American Saturday Night” and “Letter to Me” or Alan Jackson’s “Here in the Real World”. :)

  19. Hard choice but I would choose “Hey Jude” by the Beatles. It has everything you like in a pop song put into one, and is 7 minutes long. I also like it because it started off slow, then ends in a 4 min climax.

  20. “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” by Alan Jackson. This song is a masterpiece. I think it puts into perspective what really is important in life.

  21. Tough to pick just one; it would be a toss up between ‘Ireland’ by Garth Brooks and ‘Whispering Pines’ by Johnny Horton.

  22. I’m on day 16 of this challenge and some of the categories are nearly impossible for me to pick a song! This one was a tough one because I have a million “favorite” songs but I went with “The House That Built Me” by Miranda. It’s just a brilliant song that hits so close to home for me so it’s probably my all-time favorite song.

  23. Sweet Old World, by Lucinda Williams. Followed closely by Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. A beautiful piece of poetry that found me when I needed it the most. I love it.

  24. Country: Sara Evans I Learned That From You

    Non-Country: Belong by Cary Brothers or Little Lion Man by Mumford and Sons

  25. The longer the waiting by Josh Turner,
    Absolutely fantastic maritime song, sung hauntingly well.
    Sounds like some traditional scottish folk songs, which only heightens the appeal.

  26. I have to backtrack for a moment on my pick. I was in a mood when I made it (although I do like “Isn’t It A Pity”). Mine is actually a tie between these two:

    “Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)”–Eumir Deodato
    “You’re No Good”–Linda Ronstadt

  27. I cannot ever choose one over the other, so I must claim both “Smoke Rings in the Dark” and “Loving You Against My Will” by Gary Allan as my utmost favorite songs. They both hooked me instantly on his music when I first started listening to country, and 11 years later they still both take my breath away with every hearing.

  28. I agree wholeheartedly with Mary Katherine [and Joe] about “Loving You Against My Will” and “Smoke Rings in the Dark,” but my personal favorite would probably be “She Don’t Know She’s Beatiful” by Sammy Kershaw. I just love everything about it.

    And, Karly, “These Days” has always been my favorite Rascal Flatts song.

  29. The Card Cheat by The Clash is an absolutely underrated gem. If you like classic rock, I whole heartedly recommend it.

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