A Country Music Conversation: Introduction and Index


A Country Music Conversation



Day One

Suzy Bogguss, “Aces”

Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty, “After the Fire is Gone”

Todd Snider, “Age Like Wine”

Dwight Yoakam, “Ain’t That Lonely Yet”

Sugarland, “Already Gone”


Day Two

Tammy Wynette, “Another Lonely Song”

Travis Tritt, “Anymore”

Kenny Chesney, “Anything But Mine”

Zac Brown Band, “As She’s Walking Away” (with Alan Jackson)

George Strait, “Baby’s Gotten Good at Goodbye”


Day Three

Kellie Pickler, “Best Days of Your Life”

Gary Allan, “Best I Ever Had”

Ashley Monroe, “The Blade”

Billie Jo Spears, “Blanket on the Ground”

Tanya Tucker, “Blood Red and Goin’ Down”


Day Four

Carrie Underwood, “Blown Away”

Willie Nelson, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”

Emmylou Harris, “The Boxer”

Jo Dee Messina, “Bring  On the Rain” (with Tim McGraw)

Clint Black, “Burn One Down”

Merle Haggard

Day Five

Sawyer Brown, “Café on the Corner”

Garth Brooks, “Callin’ Baton Rouge”

Merle Haggard, “Carolyn”

Porter Wagoner, “The Cold Hard Facts of Life”

Carlene Carter, “Come On Back”

Pam Tillis

Day Six

Highway 101, “Cry, Cry, Cry”

Old Crow Medicine Show, “Dearly Departed Friend”

Pam Tillis, “Deep Down”

Lorrie Morgan, “Don’t Worry Baby”

Jason Isbell, “Elephant”


Day Seven

Mark Collie, “Even the Man in the Moon is Crying”

Terri Clark, “Every Time I Cry”

Reba McEntire, “The Fear of Being Alone”

Pirates of the Mississippi, “Feed Jake”

Kacey Musgraves, “Follow Your Arrow”


Day Eight

Ray Price, “For the Good Times”

Laura Bell Bundy, “Giddy On Up”

Jeannie C. Riley, “Harper Valley P.T.A.”

Nickel Creek, “Hayloft”

George Jones, “He Stopped Loving Her Today”


Day Nine

Johnny Cash, “Hurt”

Don Williams, “I Believe in You”

Alison Krauss & Union Station, “I Can Let Go Now”

Linda Ronstadt, “I Can’t Help it (If I’m Still in Love With You)”

Patsy Cline, “I Fall to Pieces”


Day Ten

Dierks Bentley, “I Hold On”

Lee Ann Womack, “I May Hate Myself in the Morning”

Keith Urban, “I Told You So”

Amy Dalley, “I Would Cry”

The Band Perry, “If I Die Young”


Day Eleven

Matraca Berg, “If I Had Wings”

Mark Chesnutt, “I’ll Think of Something”

Lee Roy Parnell, “I’m Holding My Own”

Rascal Flatts, “I’m Movin’ On”

Keith Whitley, “I’m No Stranger to the Rain”

Day Twelve

Trace Adkins, “I’m Tryin'”

Toby Keith, “In a Couple of Days”

Martina McBride, “Independence Day”

Wynonna, “Is it Over Yet”

The Little Willies, “It’s Not You, It’s Me”

Day Thirteen

Joy Lynn White, “Just Some Girl”

Vince Gill, “The Key to Life”

Little Big Town, “Kiss Goodbye”

Brother Phelps, “Let Go”

Conway Twitty, “Linda On My Mind”

Day Fourteen

Brooks & Dunn, “The Long Goodbye”

Dixie Chicks, “Long Time Gone”

Cal Smith, “The Lord Knows I’m Drinking”

Lori McKenna, “Lorraine”

Gram Parsons, “Love Hurts”

Day Fifteen

Collin Raye, “Love, Me”

Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart”

Bobby Bare, “(Margie’s at) The Lincoln Park Inn”

Kip Moore, “Mary Was the Marrying Kind”

Taylor Swift, “Mean”

Day Sixteen

SHeDaisy, “Mine All Mine”

Emerson Drive, “Moments”

Charlie Rich, “The Most Beautiful Girl”

K.T. Oslin, “New Way Home”

Joe Diffie, “A Night to Remember”

Day Seventeen

Dolly Parton, “9 to 5”

Iris DeMent, “No Time to Cry”

Radney Foster, “Nobody Wins”

Kim Richey, “Not a Love Like This”

Lari White, “Now I Know”

Day Eighteen

Hal Ketchum, “Past the Point of Rescue”

Olivia Newton-John, “Please Mr. Please”

Tim McGraw, “Please Remember Me”

The Civil Wars, “Poison & Wine”

LeAnn Rimes, “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way”

Day Nineteen

Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Quittin’ Time”

Eric Church, “Record Year”

Sara Evans, “Rockin’ Horse”

Lynn Anderson, “Rose Garden”

Rosanne Cash, “Seven Year Ache”

Day Twenty

John Conlee, “She Can’t Say That Anymore”

Chely Wright, “Shut Up and Drive”

Alan Jackson, “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore”

Ricky Van Shelton, “Somebody Lied”

David Nail, “The Sound of a Million Dreams”

Day Twenty-One

Crystal Gayle, “The Sound of Goodbye”

Faith Hill, “Stealing Kisses”

Tracy Lawrence, “Sticks and Stones”

John Anderson, “Straight Tequila Night”

Deana Carter, “Strawberry Wine”

Day Twenty-Two

Brandy Clark, “Take a Little Pill”

Rodney Crowell, “This Too Will Pass”

Randy Travis, “Three Wooden Crosses”

Shania Twain, “Up!”

Julie Roberts, “Wake Up Older”

Day Twenty-Three

Kathy Mattea, “Walking Away a Winner”

Alabama, “We Can’t Love Like This Anymore”

Billy Dean, “We Just Disagree”

Trisha Yearwood, “Where are You Now”

Brad Paisley, “Whiskey Lullaby” (with Alison Krauss)

Day Twenty-Four

Aaron Tippin, “Whole Lotta Love On the Line”

Sammy Kershaw, “Yard Sale”

Donna Fargo, “You Can’t Be a Beacon (If Your Light Don’t Shine)”

Kenny Rogers, “You Can’t Make Old Friends” (with Dolly Parton)

Patty Loveless, “You Don’t Seem to Miss Me” (with George Jones)

Day Twenty-Five

Marty Robbins, “You Gave Me a Mountain”

Anne Murray, “You Needed Me”

Bobbie Cryner, “You’d Think He’d Know Me Better”

The Judds, “Young Love (Strong Love)”

Diamond Rio, “You’re Gone”


I became a country music fan in 1991. It was music that I’d always heard in the background, listening in the car to the artists my parents favored. It was music that two of my early favorite artists – Olivia Newton-John and The Everly Brothers – had deep connections to, but weren’t primarily associated with by the time that I discovered them. It was music on the periphery, that I was exposed to but not particularly interested in.

And then came 1991. We had cable TV in our weekend home, and I discovered CMT. If I’d known my life was changing at the time, I might have better chronicled the events, but today they’re just hazy memories that all cloud together.

I remember liking “Except For Monday” and hearing “Maybe it Was Memphis” for the first time on a show called Hot Country Nights, and using my own money to purchase country music for the first time, buying the cassettes of Put Yourself in My Place and Something in Red on the same day.

I remember my older sister coming home with a fundraiser from the Catholic school she attended, and my parents using it to order two Reba McEntire cassettes – Rumor Has It and For My Broken Heart – as Christmas presents for me that year.

I remember CMT regularly playing something called – I think – Triple Take, where they played three videos in a row by the same artist, which was my first experience with exploring the deep catalogs of some of the artists I was discovering.

I even remember artists and videos that annoyed me because they were played so much, some of whom became among my favorite artists with time. The only video in heavy rotation on CMT by Patty Loveless was “Jealous Bone, ” and while I think this song came along later, I still vividly remember fumbling for the remote to change the channel as soon as I heard the front porch opening of Marty Stuart’s “Now That’s Country.”

I spent the next few years simply devouring country music, fascinated with the history and fueled by an insatiable, pre-internet desire to hear everything, past and present, relying on CMT music videos and New Country magazine as my only guides. Thanks to the video clip of “Thanks to You” – hey, isn’t that Trisha Yearwood singing backup?? – Cowgirl’s Prayer was my first Emmylou Harris album. Thanks to five star reviews in New Country, there was a mid-nineties Christmas where the Harris box set Portraits and Wanda Jackson’s Vintage Collection were waiting for me under the tree.

My parents, presumably baffled by me binging on artists from their time that they didn’t care for, stuck with a steady diet of Conway Twitty, John Conlee, and Ricky Van Shelton, and my dad had a triumphant moment when he came home earlier than expected and heard me blasting Clint Black in my room, an artist he loved and that I mostly dismissed at the time. Today, my dad’s been gone for almost ten years, and I play his favorite Clint Black songs and it’s like he’s here again, at least until the songs come to an end.

All year, I’ve felt that I should somehow acknowledge that I’ve been listening to this music for 25 years, but I couldn’t figure out how to tell the above story in a meaningful way. I stumbled upon the right framework when I realized that it isn’t a story that I want to tell; it’s a conversation that I want to have. So many readers of Country Universe, not to mention my fellow writers, have similar experiences of discovering country music. The dates and artists and experiences all change, but the underlying feeling is the same: a deep connection to a genre with so many roots and branches that we can all have a powerful attachment to it, even if our personal tastes don’t overlap at all.

Still, there needs to be some structure to this, so here it is. I’ve used my trusty iTunes tools to craft a list of 125 songs, representing the most played song in my collection by 125 different artists. I’m going to go through the songs over the next 25 days – 5 a day, and listed alphabetically by title.  I think that limiting it to five artists a day will help the conversation from getting too unwieldy, and I’m more excited to hear what our readers think about these songs and artists than what I have to say myself.


  1. One of my early favorites was the Everly Brothers. I heard them on NYC rock stations in the late 50’s but didn’t get to see them til the mid 80’s at Westbury. I still love their music. I never liked heavy metal, hard rock, etc. so my path to country music was not a drastic change in taste.

  2. Thanks KJC, so honored :)

    So far, I can’t find 5 of the songs (incl. Garth “GhostTunes” Brooks) on Spotify. Are you ok with excluding them, or should I add one “Other Favorites” for each missing artist instead? (Karaoke tracks are not in consideration, as tempting as it may be!)

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