Song Talk: Music that Moves Me

Sarah JaroszMy local Public Radio station has a wonderful series called Music that Moves Me, which was conceived and originally produced by the inimitable Suzanne Nance who has now (sadly for us, but happily for her) moved on to bigger things in a big Chicago market. For this series, people across Maine submitted touching or funny stories about how a particular song or specific music has moved them in their lives. As a result, this series inspired me to make a playlist of songs that move me whenever I hear them. The songs that move me the most are those that promote sensitivity and kindness in the world or in me.

Here are just a few of the songs that move me. What are some of yours and why?

Sarah Jarosz, “Ring Them Bells”

Jarosz beautifully interprets this Bob Dylan Chestnut with the help of Vince Gill. There’s just something in her voice that makes me feel that she’s emotionally connected to the song and it’s inclusive message, which, in turn, connects me to the song.


Vince Gill, “What You Give Away”

The inspirational gospel chorus is enough to elevate anyone’s giving spirit, but the message of giving will trigger something inside me that makes me want to be a better and more charitable person.

Kacey Musgraves Same Trailer Different Park

Kacey Musgraves, “Silver Lining”

Since Kacey Musgraves does a great job of singing about the grittier parts of life, it stands to reason that her songs with more hopeful messages would be palatable enough not to make us cringe, as happens to be the case with “Silver Lining.” Furthermore, I’m a sucker for an inspirational sing-along chorus and this song’s got it in spades! Throw an irresistible clap line in there and I’ll do anything the song tells me to do!

Waylon Jennings America

Waylon Jennings, “America”

Jennings sings about the America I love and want to champion. Josh Turner does a great live version of this song that’s worth checking out as well.

Radney Foster Everything I Should Have Said

Radney Foster, “Not in My House”

A couple of months ago, I heard someone who is close to me casually use a racial slur and then vehemently defend it when he was called out on it. This experience knocked the wind out of me and left me feeling very disappointed. I heard this song for the first time soon after that situation and it gripped my heart and reached deep into my soul.

While I was sadly not able to convince that person that he was wrong, he certainly now knows without a doubt that saying such a thing will not be tolerated in my presence or “in my house.” As I hear this song, I’m proud to have a home where it is well established that neither my husband nor I will tolerate bigoted comments or attitudes within our walls. So, as Mr. Foster sings, “Not in my house, not from my mouth.”


  1. Some songs that move me:

    “Sheets Down” by Connor Christian and Southern Gothic
    This song gets everything right in a way that no other song I’ve heard has managed. It’s gritty, catchy, bleak, and excellently produced, but there’s something in the line “Don’t it make you feel so helpless, sometimes it makes you feel so lost. Your love’s all I got, baby” that hits me in just the right way every time.

    “Look Through My Eyes” by Phil Collins
    Buried in the epic-ness of the string drenched production and Collins’s firestorm vocal is a simple, comforting message that everything will turn out alright in the end.

    “This Is Love” by Mary Chapin Carpenter
    A song and artist I got into via this website (Thanks, Kevin!), the final verse of this song captures in words my idea of the perfect image of peace and tranquility, and the piano ending captures that image in notes. Just beautiful.

    “When You Come Back Down” by Nickel Creek
    I think all anyone in this world really wants is to find someone they could sing this song to and know that that person would sing it right back to them and both would mean every last word.

    There are many more, but those are the ones I could think of for now.
    Great post, by the way.

  2. Nice idea for a feature, Leeann. Great selections and good writeups on them.

    I recently lost a loved one and Vince Gill’s “Go Rest High on That Mountain”, Reba’s “If I Had Only Known” and The Judds’ “Guardian Angels” have taken on a new meaning for me. My attitude toward those songs had always been that they were just alright or ok, but now I do love them for their power to heal.

    I recently watched an old episode of a tv show in which a beloved character died and they made excellent use of Linda Ronstadt’s “Goodbye My Friend”.

    Finally, I saw the Cyndi Lauper & Cher concert this week and, respectively, they closed with “True Colors”, a song with special meaning for the gay community and “I Hope You Find It” a song from her new album which I was unfamiliar with but made for an excellent choice.

  3. I appreciate your responses, SRM and Michael!

    Isn’t it funny how songs take on a whole new meaning and connection if you hear it at just the right time of vulnerability?
    “Go Rest High” did not used to be one of my personal favorite Vince songs, but it’s resonated with me a lot in just the last year. I can’t even explain it.

  4. Great idea.
    Similar to the theme of your song by VG, I like Kevin Sharp’s “Measure of a Man” (Larry Boone & Rick Bowles) which I commented on for CU’s post on Kevin’s untimely death. The chorus goes:
    “It ain’t how far you go
    It ain’t how much you make
    Son, it’s what you give
    Not what you take
    It’s being strong and true
    To those counting on you
    It’s lendin’ a hand, makin’ a stand
    That’s the measure of a man”

    A song I discovered fairly recently that moved me:

    “A Soldier’s Memoir” (ptsd song) – Joe Bachman (Mitch Rossell & Joe Bachman) a powerful song also recorded by Mitch Rossell. Both versions are available on i-Tunes. The second verse goes:

    “My mama says I look the same

    As I did before I left

    But if she could see inside of me

    It would scare her to death”

    Hearing a song like this or songs about those who didn’t make it home like Tim McGraw’s “If You’re Reading This” (McGraw & Warren Brothers) might encourage some to contribute to organizations like:
    Disabled American Veterans –

    Wounded Warrior Project –

    There are obviously many country songs about cheating. Martina McBride’s “All the Things We’ve Never Done” (Craig Bickhardt & Jeff Pennig), a song about not cheating, always gets to me. A man is lamenting the things he didn’t get to do for his wife. She answers:

    “You never walked away
    When I needed you to stay
    Or made me feel I’m not the one
    There’ve been no broken vows
    And the reason we’re here now
    Is all the things we’ve never done.”

    Songs about sick kids get to me like Tammy Cochran’s “Angels in Waiting”
    (Stewart Harris, Jim McBride & Tammy Cochran), especially the lines:
    “They always knew they’d never grow old.
    Sometimes the body is weaker than the soul.”

    And James Otto’s “Where Angels Hang Around” (Monty Criswell & James Otto) about St. Jude’s:

    “Across the Mississippi
    A mile or two from Beale Street
    Not too far from Graceland
    Where the king of rock and roll sleeps

    There’s a place for children
    Where God sends his mercy rainin’ down
    In the heart of Memphis
    Where angels hang around”

    Finally, I absolutely agree with your sentiments about “Not in My House”. Maybe the people who say these things have a need to feel that they’re superior to some person or group. Whatever their reason, it’s wrong.

  5. A great idea for a post! :)

    Some of my favourite songs that can always elicit an emotion from me:

    George Strait, “Love Without End, Amen”: one of my favourite songs of all time. Always brings a smile to my face when it makes me think of my dad and, despite the fact he never met his father, is such a brilliant parent to me. Can I do the same?

    Brandy Clark, “Hold My Hand”: In my opinion, the best song that I heard last year. I love the vulnerability in Clark’s performance and the way the production gently builds around it. Whenever this song comes on my iPod I just have to stop, sit down, shut up and listen.

    Troy Cassar-Daley, “Trains”. I have always loved trains and this song, being almost autobiographical to me, always take me back to my childhood when trains weren’t just a boring means to work and school, but something that stirred the imagination.

    Brad Paisley, “Officially Alive”: Brad Paisley is easily my favourite artist and so, I wanted to list a few of his songs here, but the closing track to his last album just gets me. It’s not his best song and many would listen to it and ask what happened to the “old” Brad Paisley, but at the current stage I am in life, where I’m figuring out where I want to go while coming to grips with growing up, this song and it’s rousing production and delivery is something I often play to reflect on, whether happy, sad, angry or buggered after a tough week. Not many songs can do that for me.

    Bonus non-country song: Maroon 5, “Misery”: Shameless pop, but it moves me, literally.

  6. Great songs everyone. The two songs that moves me now are ” Letter to Me” by Brad Paisley and ” Home” by Dierks Bentley. The first time I heard “Letter To Me” was on CMT in its video form. A music video can ruin a good song – Paisley’s was too idyllic for my taste, and seemed to be aimed at well off, white, suburban teenagers. I have never known that world. But when he sings the line ” Oh you got so much going for you” I was very tearful. I often think as I get older what I would tell a teenage me. Paisley’s song and his voice ( for once) hit a great chord of regret and faithfulness. No matter when I hear it I tear up, and think about by teenage self, and how life is never over even when everything seems so overly important.

    Bentley’s ” Home” gets me everytime. I am not a patriotic song lover. I think all of them have a childish view of America. One that makes certain listeners think ” what country are you singing about”. But Bentley doesn’t avoid who we are, but also makes that a strength and a virtue. He sings with a graceful hope. I can’t but be moved by that hope. Sometimes that is all you have. Thanks for letting me share.

  7. Several that come to mind that I think people have heard enough to commit the lyrics to heart:

    I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU–Linda Ronstadt (maybe an exception here)
    BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER–Simon and Garfunkel

    And for true American patriotism, as opposed to the jingoistic kind:

    AMERICAN TRILOGY–Elvis Presley (from Hawaii; January 14, 1973)
    AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL–Ray Charles (1972)

  8. Welcome back, Leeann, always great to see you on the front page. It’s also wonderful that you got me thinking about my own contribution to his discussion.

    So, what songs move me? Well…

    Where Corn Don’t Grow, Travis Tritt, The Restless Kind (1996)
    A perfect example of the teenager suffocated by his small town upbringing and the father whose sole existence has been life amongst the corn fields. The son escapes, only to realize “I can’t say he didn’t warn me, this city life’s a hard road to hoe” and dreams “can turn around where corn don’t grow.”

    If the teenager hadn’t gotten out and experienced the real world first hand he wouldn’t have been taken back to earth by the hard knock life of the big city, a foreign world for the kid who grew up on the farm. Tritt’s gravely yet tender vocal allows us to sympathize with the kid, and feel his father’s pain, without turning the kid into an arrogant jerk. It’s a damn near perfect record about growing up that hits me in the gut every time I hear it.

    One of These Days, Tim McGraw, Everywhere (1997)
    As a nine-year-old, I thought I had this song figured out. McGraw’s #2 hit is a love song between a high school student and his girl Patty Sue. Imagine my shock when I wrote a retro review of the album fifteen years later and essentially heard the haunting number for the first time. The simple love song wasn’t a romantic ballad at all, but rather a tale about a man on a journey towards self-acceptance, after life-long prejudice finally got the best of him.

    As I get older, I know for sure that it takes people a long time to come around in life, to finally see things as they really are. The opening verse, with McGraw as the cool kid bullying the “freckled faced redheaded fool” breaks my heart, especially the chorus, when the McGraw character sees the boy thinking “what good friends we might’ve been” if only he could’ve opened his heart to accept those a life different from his own.

    The House That Built Me, Miranda Lambert, Revolution (2009)
    One of the more recent songs that really moves me is one of the finest mainstream country singles so far this decade. The lyric is a flawless tribute to home and the structure we were fortunate to have spent our childhood in, the place that truly built us into the person we are today.

    This past May we sold the house that built me to it’s first new occupants in 37 years. I never had the handprints on the front steps, but we sure left a favorite dog buried in the yard. I knew in my heart selling was the right thing to do, but that didn’t make saying goodbye any easier.

    I shared the song with a friend going though a nearly identical experience and she, who hadn’t heard it before, was a sobbing mess by the end. She said she’d been okay that day until she passed play on the YouTube clip I had emailed her. It’s kind of mind-blowing to get this emotional over a house, but like the teenager dreaming and ultimately rejecting a life where corn don’t grow, they’re an essential part of us. And it takes the goodbye process to fully understand just how deep-rooted it truly is.

  9. Two that come to mind for me:

    “Top of the World” – Dixie Chicks
    This one moves me greatly, and I listen to it to be reminded that I don’t want to live a life of regret. I need to reach out to people, even when it’s uncomfortable.

    “Close My Eyes” – Mariah Carey
    I know it isn’t country, but this song describes my feelings about being sexually abused at a young age and trying to forgive what happened so I can move on. Part of that is reaching out to others and not staying withdrawn, which gets back to the sentiment in “Top of the World.”

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