A Country Music Conversation: Introduction and Index.
Day 1 features tracks from the following five artists: Suzy Bogguss, Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty, Todd Snider, Dwight Yoakam, and Sugarland.
Written by Cheryl Wheeler
“Aces” is as good a place to start as any, as it an illustration of my favorite country music recipe: an extraordinary singer interpreting the work of an extraordinary songwriter, producing something that is greater than the sum of their individual talents. I’m not one of those people who thinks that a song necessarily sounds best when its the writer singing it. Looking at this list in its entirety, I’m a bit surprised that even artists who are known as much for their writing talents are still represented by songs written by others.
“Aces” is a brilliant, quirky song that is rough around the edges. It is the vocal talents of Bogguss that smooths those edges, finding the beautiful melody lurking underneath Wheeler’s halting original recording without compromising its raw vulnerability. The transformation of a simple, somewhat clumsy folk song into a mainstream country hit was early nineties Nashville at its best.
Other Favorites: “Outbound Plane,” “Drive South,” “Diamonds and Tears”
“After the Fire is Gone”
Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty
Written by L.E. White
My most played Loretta Lynn track is a duet with an artist I’ve played a lot more over the years. There are so many things that I love about “After the Fire is Gone.” I love how both vocalists are so iconic that they are both immediately identifiable in the first line of the song. I love how Lynn plays against type, being the cheater for a change, and how Twitty can make even a louse sympathetic with his peerless vocal talent. I love how a song like this can tell a full story and communicate intense emotion in under three minutes. It’s an indisputable classic.
Other Favorites: “Portland, Oregon” (with Jack White), “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” “The Pill”
“Age Like Wine”
Written by Todd Snider
I first discovered Todd Snider in the pages of New Country magazine, when Pam Tillis wrote a guest piece about his debut album, Songs For the Daily Planet. I finally heard that album years later, on an overnight drive from Nashville to New York, when my traveling companion popped in the CD changer. I was an instant fan, and that album remained my favorite of his until East Nashville Skyline was released. I was older by then, and so was Snider. His youthful exuberance had stepped aside for world-weary experience, and I was able to relate to that, too. “Age Like Wine” finds him lamenting that he’s an “old timer, five and dimer, trying to find a way to age like wine somehow,” since he’s “too old to die young now.”
Other Favorites: “Waco Moon,” “The Devil You Know,” “This Land is Our Land”
“Ain’t That Lonely Yet”
Written by James House and Kostas
It feels like heresy to have my most played Dwight Yoakam song to be among the few hits of his that he didn’t write, but I’ve always assumed that James House and Kostas had already been laboring under the shadow of Yoakam’s influence by the time they wrote this song anyway. This bitter rejoinder to a jilting lover has all the elements of Yoakam’s best work: a heartbreak, a humiliation, and a perfectly scripted comeuppance, the kind that we rarely enjoy in real life but are so fun to vicariously experience through songs like this.
Other Favorites: “Things Change,” “Gone (That’ll Be Me),” “Suspicious Minds”
Written by Kristian Bush, Jennifer Nettles, and Bobby Pinson
Love on the Inside was, for me, peak Sugarland, where the songwriting and production came together for something truly original but still grounded in country music. This isn’t their most iconic hit, but it’s the one that I’ve played the most, likely due to that incredible couplet in the last verse that still floors me today: “Pictures, dishes and socks/It’s our whole life, down to one box.” Such a stunning attention to detail, and sung by the only woman I can think of who can break your heart when singing about socks.
Other Favorites: “Stuck Like Glue,” “Very Last Country Song,” “Stay”
Up Next: Day 2: “Another Lonely Song” to “Baby’s Gotten Good at Goodbye”
Still love “Aces”. It’s my most frequently played Suzy song on i-tunes. Most frequent Sugarland song is “Very Last Country Song”. Never liked Loretta L but I do like Crystal Gayle.
I love this idea for a running feature!
“Aces” is just tremendous. It’s an extraordinary lyric and melody, and Bogguss’ pitch-perfect clarity and thoughtful phrasing just elevate the song that much further.
For this set of artists, my top 5 most played tracks are:
– Suzy Bogguss: “Aces”
– Loretta Lynn: “Portland, Oregon”
– Conway Twitty: “Don’t Call Him a Cowboy”
– Todd Snider: “In Between Jobs”
– Dwight Yoakam: “The Back of Your Hand”
– Sugarland: “Genevieve” and “Life in a Northern Town”
I’ve never re-set my iPod play counts, so this will be fun to keep up with as you go along!
Love this feature!
Just to join in these are my top played tracks from the same artists!
Suzy Bogguss – “Give Me Somewheels”
Loretta Lynn – “One’s On The Way”
Conway Twitty – “Fifteen Years Ago”
Todd Snider – “Don’t Tempt Me”
Dwight Yoakam – “Little Sister”
Sugarland – “Want To”
I’m loving this so far. I went back and played “Give Me Some Wheels” and “The Back of Your Hand” after reading these comments!
Nice list of favorites for each artist. My most played Suzy Bogguss song is “Hey Cinderella”