A Country Music Conversation, Day 5: “Café on the Corner” to “Come On Back”

A Country Music Conversation: Introduction and Index

A Country Music Conversation: Spotify Playlist (thanks to reader Justin Lai)

Previous Entry:  Day 4: “Blown Away” to “Burn One Down”

Day 5 features tracks from Sawyer Brown, Garth Brooks, Merle Haggard, Porter Wagoner, and Carlene Carter.


“Café on the Corner”
Sawyer Brown

Written by Mac McAnally

I will always associate this song with my father being out of work during the early nineties recession, back when the construction market went bust.  It was the first time I learned how visceral country music’s impact could be. I’ve had a deep appreciation for Sawyer Brown ever since, and I think that their best work has radiated a similar empathy.

Other Favorites: “‘All These Years,” “The Walk,” “Another Side”

Garth Brooks In Pieces

“Callin’ Baton Rouge”
Garth Brooks

Written by Dennis Linde

When Eric Church gave a shout out to New Grass Revival in “Record Year,” my mind immediately went to this Garth Brooks cover. Sure, that band recorded it first.  But has there ever been another record that truly captured the euphoria that Garth Brooks brought to country music? It’s the closest he’s ever come on record to matching the manic joy of his live shows.

Other Favorites: “Pushing Up Daisies,” “Mom,” “Friends in Low Places”


Merle Haggard

Written by Tommy Collins

When I ranked the 100 Greatest Men of country music a couple years back, Merle Haggard came in at #1. He’s simply the greatest overall artist: singer, songwriter, musician. “Carolyn” showcases his remarkable gifts as a singer, as he pulls of something along the lines of conversational extortion on the lady he feels isn’t treating him well enough at home.

Other Favorites: “In My Next Life,” “If We Make it Through December,” “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink”


“The Cold Hard Facts of Life”
Porter Wagoner

Written by Bill Anderson

Hearing Porter Wagoner sing this song before he had the reputation for singing songs like this must’ve been a lot like moviegoers watching boy next door Anthony Hopkins on the screen in Psycho. He plays the poor sap being cheated on so well that you’re feeling awfully sorry for him…until he shows up with a knife. It’s dark, disturbing, and kicked off a much more interesting chapter in his career.

Other Favorites: “The Last Thing on My Mind” (with Dolly Parton), “The First Mrs. Jones,” “The Rubber Room”

Carlene Carter I Fell in Love

“Come On Back”
Carlene Carter

Written by Carlene Carter

I can listen to this song on repeat and not get tired of it. A great hook, and a whole lot of heart. Carlene Carter’s other two big hits were almost like cheerleader anthems, they were so energetic. But “Come On Back” has a sincerity and maturity that is more reflective of her work overall.

Other Favorites: “Judgment Day,” “Me and the Wildwood Rose,” “Stronger”

Up Next: Day 6: “Cry, Cry, Cry” to “Elephant”


  1. Another day, more great selections.

    Here are the most played songs and other favorites in my library by these artists:

    Sawyer Brown – All These Years, Hard to Say, Outskirts of Town, I Don’t Believe in Goodbye
    Garth Brooks – Wolves, In Lonesome Dove, Learning to Live Again, What She’s Doing Now, We Shall Be Free, Burning Bridges
    Merle Haggard – In My Next Life
    Porter Wagoner – Please Don’t Stop Loving Me (with Dolly Parton)
    Carlene Carter – Something Already Gone, Change, Easy from Now On, Come On Back

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