Daily Top Five: Country Convert Albums

Dixie Chicks Home high qualityToday’s Daily Top Five asks you to pick the five albums you would use to make a case for country music to the unconverted listener.

Here are the five albums I would lend/rip/share in a .zip to someone willing to give country music a chance:

  1. Dixie Chicks, Home
  2. Tim McGraw, Live Like You Were Dying
  3. Reba McEntire, For My Broken Heart
  4. Alan Jackson, A Lot About Livin’ (and a Little ‘Bout Love)
  5. Shania Twain, The Woman in Me

What are your Top Five Country Convert Albums?



  1. Well not an album guy but here it goes
    1. Dixie Chicks Home
    2. Gloriana A Thousand Miles Left Behind
    3. Taylor Swift Speak Now
    4. Carrie Underwood Blown Away
    5. Jon Pardi (self-titled)

    I love my females but Jon Pardi album was just amazing Carries is pure pop country perfection Taylor Swifts is just awesome. Gloriana to me is always what Lady A should be but instead Lady A come off as trend chasers who are desperate to stay relevant. But the Dixie Chicks are just country musics best thing ever and I’ll argue anyone to the ground my favorite song of theirs hands down for me was Landslide.

  2. Storms of Life – Randy Travis
    Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison
    Whoever’s In New England – Reba McEntire
    Red Headed Stranger – Willie Nelson
    Here In The Real World – Alan Jackson

    I’d like to include some Bob Wills, Hag, Hank & Lefty , but if I’m trying to convert people who listen to Aerosmith, Nelly, Katy Perry or Beyoncé , I’m not dealing with people of sufficient depth to attempt that, so I’ll stick with a bit more watered-down country

  3. It all depends on whom I am converting to the genre. If I am converting someone in a general sense there are the five albums I would pick. If I am converting someone whose musical tastes lean towards a certain area (rock, pop, folk, hip-hop) I’d tailor my selections for them. I feel the mix below represents a strong mix of mainstream and independent country music. More so, representing a solid mix of popular-sounding music intertwined with true lyrical and artistic depth.

    1. Live at Folsom Prison: Johnny Cash
    2. Southeastern: Jason Isbell
    3. Wide Open Spaces: The Dixie Chicks
    4. Carrying Your Love With Me: George Strait
    5. Trisha Yearwood: Trisha Yearwood

  4. 1. Home, Dixie Chicks
    2. Cheater’s Game/Our Year, Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison
    3. Mud on the Tires, Brad Paisley
    4. Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers At the Ryman
    5. 3 Pears, Dwight Yoakam

  5. These are the five albums I would use to try and convert someone into at least having a sizeable interest in the genre:

    1. At Folsom Prison–Johnny Cash
    2. Heart Like A Wheel–Linda Ronstadt
    3. Pieces Of The Sky–Emmylou Harris
    4. Bramble Rose–Tift Merritt
    5. At San Quentin–Johnny Cash

    There are tons of others I could probably name, but that might be considered too left-of-center by Nashville standards. As a matter of fact, even these five are left-of-center (IMHO). But then, that’s how I got into liking country, in a decidedly left-of-center way.

  6. Sinners Like Me—-Eric Church

    A beautiful blend of traditional and progressive sound that accompanies songs dealing with historic country music themes.

  7. Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison
    Garth Brooks – Garth Brooks
    Clint Black – D’Lectrified
    Vince Gill – Guitar Slinger
    George Strait – Carrying Your Love With Me

  8. Stoney LaRue–Aviator
    A great blend of organic production and great lyrics. It’s the perfect album to listen to when you want to reflect or cruise down the road with the windows rolled down. Perfect.
    Jason Isbell-Live From Alabama
    I know Southeastern was Isbell’s biggest album, but I think this does a much better job of showcasing the songwriting talents of Isbell. Not that Southeastern was bad, but sadly I think some casual listeners may only see him as the guy who wrote the recovering addict album and miss out on his thoughtful, smart takes on small towns coping with a dead soldier or being lost in life in an Alabama motel room.
    Eric Church-Chief
    I really dislike the bluster that Church has at times and how he proclaims himself to be an outlaw, but the reality is this is a great mainstream Country album.
    Jamey Johnson-That Lonesome Song
    Just a great album–start to finish.
    Jason Boland and the Stragglers–Comal Count Blue
    Another great album start to finish.

  9. 1. Dixie Chicks Home
    2. Jason Isbell Southeastern
    3. Sturgill Simpson High Top Mountain
    4. Gary Allan Smoke Rings in the Dark
    5. Lee Ann Womack There’s More Where That Cane From

    Three avowed liberals/ not religious people to start the list. After I get my hypothetical convert lulled into a false sense of security, I give them an album where the artist wears an actual cowboy hat on the album cover before I go in for the final blow with the devoutly religious and publicly conservative Womack.

  10. 1. Brad Paisley – American Saturday Night OR Wheelhouse
    2. Brandy Clark – 12 Stories
    3. George Strait – 50 Numbers Ones (is a greatest hits package cheating?)
    4. Alan Jackson – Under the Influence
    5. The Mavericks – Music for All Occasions

  11. Hmmm, probably something like…

    George Strait – Strait From the Heart
    Patty Loveless – Long Stretch of Lonesome
    Steve Earle – Guitar Town
    Clint Black – Killin’ Time
    Dixie Chicks – Home

    These are not necessarily my five most favorite albums, but are ones I would describe as wide-appealing and accessible, yet great. I’d love to let myself loose and throw a bunch of stuff at them that’s very complex and/or traditional, but I don’t want to scare them off.

  12. 1. Tim Mcgraw – Everywhere
    2. Earl Thomas Conley – Don’t Make It Easy For Me
    3. Emmylou Harris – Luxury Liner
    4. Brooks & Dunn – Brand New Man
    5. Little Sparrow – Dolly Parton

  13. If I’m trying to convert someone to country music, I would probably have to show them everything the genre has to offer, and also debunk the the stereotypes of it being nothing but A) Booze and trucks and B) Heartbreaking ballads at the same time.

    I think this would do:
    1. Sugarland: “Love On The Inside”
    2. Eric Church: “Chief”
    3. Brad Paisley: “Time Well Wasted”
    4. Brandy Clark: “12 Stories” or Kacey Musgraves:”Same Trailer…”
    5. Keith Urban: “Golden Road”

  14. Dixie Chicks – Home (because, obviously)
    Jason Isbell – Southeastern (much as I love Outfit, Dress Blues and Alabama Pines, I think this one has more crossover appeal).
    Steve Earle – I Feel Alright (first country album I really fell in love with)
    Eric Church – Chief (great rock-country crossover sound, and everybody loves Springsteen)
    The last one really depends on the listener, though.
    For pop lovers: Sugarland – Twice the Speed of Life (joyous and catchy, but good).
    For “NPR music” people: Kim Richey – Thorn in My Heart (I LOVE Kim Richey, and “Angel’s Share” is exactly their wheelhouse)
    Jam band people: Zac Brown Band – You Get What You Give (obviously)
    “Indie music” snobs (the ones who think Neutral Milk Hotel is too mainstream because of that one episode of The OC): Justin Townes Earle – Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now
    Rock people: Drive-By Truckers – Southern Rock Opera (what else?)
    Rap people are tricky, though. If they’re “NPR rap” people then there’s plenty of crossover appeal, because they’re all about the lyrics and the story.

    If they’re “I Heart Radio” rap people then there’s no way of fixing it, haha.

    I disagree with a lot of people listing trad country albums, though. I love those albums, but stuff like “High Top Mountain” has zero appeal to people who don’t already love the genre. I’d even be hesitant about Folsom Prison, unless they’re one of those people who claim that the only good country is Johnny Cash.

  15. Something I do all the time! It really depends on who I am trying to convert…but these would be my starting point.

    1. Eric Church, Chief
    2. Dixie Chicks, Fly
    3. Carrie Underwood, Blown Away
    4. Dierks Bentley, Riser
    5. Miranda Lambert, Revolution

  16. This could change day by day but here are my initial thought of country CD’s that newcomers should listen to: For newcomers it needs to be country so they can see that its not pop but not too traditional as that takes some time.

    1. Heartland – The Judds
    2. White Limozeen – Dolly
    3. Van Lear Rose – Loretta
    4. No Fences – Garth
    5. 80’s Ladies – K.T. Oslin
    6. Jolene – Dolly
    7. Any greatest hits of the ultimate legends (Jones, Cash, Dolly. Loretta, Tammy, Willie, Haggard.)

  17. Two more good ones:

    Reba McEntire, Read My Mind
    Tanya Tucker, What Do I Do With Me

    Traditional country is fine, as long as it’s presented in a way that’s fun and engaging yet smart and analytical. Releases like Southeastern , while masterful, wouldn’t be appreciated by someone who wasn’t already into that type of music. Brilliant as they are, they wouldn’t convert anyone to country music.

  18. Stoney LaRue-Aviator
    Holly Williams-The Highway or Brandy Clark-12 Stories
    Amos Lee-Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song
    Dierks Bentley-Up on the Ridge
    Micky and the Motorcars-Live at Billy Bob’s

  19. In my time, Johnny Cash’s “At Folsom Prison” was collected by the cool people just because the guts it took to record it. If you haven’t listened to the original recording, take time to hear the prisoners “boo” the warden and the guard announcements.
    Same goes for Jerry Jeff Walker’s – “¡Viva Terlingua!” which got more air play on AOR stations than country.
    On the opposite end, Bob Seger’s – “Against The Wind” wound up with more airplay on country stations and served as a great bridge between formats.
    Meanwhile, Crystal Gayle’s “We Must Believe in Magic” and the “Soundtrack from Urban Cowboy” really helped make country mainstream.
    In modern times I would put Taylor Swift’s “Fearless” as another bridge album which brings new fans to country.

  20. Southeastern is much more accessible than, say, Don’t Rock The Jukebox

    Isbell has a “wow” voice (without much twang), his backing music is far more mainstream (you can’t even hear Jackson’s style on country radio anymore), and the lyrics are self-evidently great.

    It works as a country album (obviously).
    It works as a low-key rock album (Clapton Unplugged or Nebraska).
    It works as a modern folk album (Lumineers/Mumford and Sons/Alabama Shakes).
    It works as an acoustic pop album (think Ed Sheeran).

    Southeastern’s sound exists (alongside is Isbell) right at the nexus of several genres, and is a shining example of what each aspires to be. It’s a perfect gateway drug, in a way that a more overt honky-tonk sound like Jackson’s or Simpson’s simply can’t beat.

  21. For better or worse, the way to convince people to give country music a shot is to make them to listen to things that totally break their stereotype of the genre being “My wife broke my heart/Just cause I broke her arm/And she took my dog.”

    Overt twang and honkytonk-ish instrumentation get in the way of that process, regardless of how great the singer or lyrics are. That’s why stripped down productions like Home, Southeastern and latter-day Earle (not Guitar Town, even though I love the album) are more effective.

  22. 1. Dreaming My Dreams – Waylon Jennings
    2. Home – Dixie Chicks
    3. Southeastern – Jason Isbell
    4. Buenos Noches From a Lonely Room – Dwight Yoakam
    5. There’s More Where That Came From – Lee Ann Womack

  23. Dixie Chicks–Home
    Any Alabama Album up through Cheap Seats
    Lee Ann Womack–self-titled debut album
    Alan Jackson–Drive
    Keith Whitley==Don’t Close Your Eyes

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