A Country Music Conversation, Day 11: “If I Had Wings” to “I’m No Stranger to the Rain”

A Country Music Conversation: Introduction and Index

Previous Entry: Day 10: “I Hold On” to “If I Die Young”

Day 11 features tracks from Matraca Berg, Mark Chesnutt, Lee Roy Parnell, Rascal Flatts, and Keith Whitley.


“If I Had Wings”
Matraca Berg

Written by Jessi Alexander and Matraca Berg

A harrowing tale of spousal abuse, Matraca Berg’s talent for writing fully rounded characters through a careful selection of specific details makes this one soar.

Other Favorites: “‘Her Name is Mary,” “Back When We Were Beautiful,” “The Things You Left Undone”


“I’ll Think of Something”
Mark Chesnutt

Written by Jerry Foster and Bill Rice

When I look back on the nineties and my favorite artists, I often notice that what made their albums so effective was the expanse of their knowledge of the genre’s history. Mark Chesnutt covered a lesser hit of Hank Williams Jr. from his pre-“Whiskey Bent and Hellbound” days, and turned it into a #1 country hit through his tender and moving reading.

Other Favorites: “Almost Goodbye,” “Trouble,” “I Just Wanted You to Know”


“I’m Holding My Own”
Lee Roy Parnell

Written by Tony Arata

Tony Arata, writer of “The Dance” and “Here I am, ” crafts another deeply layered song, and Lee Roy Parnell’s nuanced performance alternates between bitterness and wistful resignation.

Other Favorites: “The Rock,” “On the Road,” “What Kind of Fool Do You Think I am”


“I’m Movin’ On”
Rascal Flatts

Written by Phillip White and D. Vincent Williams

I can only wonder what Rascal Flatts would’ve become if they’d used their understated performance of this beautifully written ballad as their future template. Maybe they wouldn’t have filled as many arenas, but they’d have quite a few more spins on my iPod.

Other Favorites: “These Days,” “What Hurts the Most”


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

Written by Sonny Curtis and Ron Hellard

So many of Keith Whitley’s recordings have a haunted feeling because of his untimely death; it’s impossible to separate that event from the listening experience. This has always been my favorite Whitley track, made more poignant by the last time he “wrestled with the devil.”

Other Favorites: “Tell Lorrie I Love Her,” “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” “I Wonder Do You Think of Me”

Up Next: Day 12: “I’m Tryin'” to “It’s Not You, It’s Me”


  1. Chestnut – I only like three of his songs and they may have come from the same album – It Sure Is Monday, Almost Goodbye, and I Just Wanted You To Know

    Not a big Rascal fan but I liked two of their early songs – While You Loved Me and These Days

    Whitley – Don’t Close Your Eyes is still a big favorite of mine. Just beautiful and so honest and sad.

  2. Matraca–It’s a shame she didn’t become a bigger recording artist, because she has that all-important quality called a Voice; but then again, when you’ve got tons of people, many of them other female artists, covering your material, you don’t lose either way. I would add “Baby Walk On” to the discussion, with a further addition that it includes not only Matraca’s own original version, but also Linda Ronstadt’s 1995 cover (which Matraca is on record as having been excited over from her first hearing).

  3. Saw Parnell at the Franklin Theater 2 months ago. He’ll turn 60 in a few weeks but still sounds great. Gary Nicholson did a great job opening and Tony Arata was in the audience. Arata co-wrote 6 and Nicholson 4 of the 12 tracks on LRP’s last album, Back to the Well, released in ’06.
    Favorites: Love without Mercy, On the Road, I’m Holdin’ My Own, and from Back to the Well, Something Out of Nothing and Just Lucky That Way.

    Matraca Berg – Your Husband’s Cheating on Us, The Dreamimg Fields (but better by TY)

    Mark Chesnutt – When You Love her Like Crazy, Too Cold at Home, Things to Do in Wichita, Oughta Miss Me by Now

    Whitley – When You Say Nothing at All, It Aint Nothin’ and I’m No Stranger to the Rain

    Rascal Flatts – These Days, Skin and their support of many charities

  4. I’m not a fan of much of Rascal Flatts’ output, but I do have six of their songs (These Days, What Hurts the Most, Stand, Here Comes Goodbye, My Wish & Fast Cars and Freedom) in my library.

    I was actually just listening to that Lee Roy Parnell song over the weekend along with “A Little Bit of You”.

    Whitley is amazing and Chesnutt’s version of “I’ll Think of Something” is phenomenal… an exquisite record that holds up after almost 25 years. It looks like a few of his other songs have also garnered almost as much play in my iTunes (Down in Tennessee, Broken Promise Land, Ol Country, Too Cold at Home and I Just Wanted You to Know).

  5. Down in Tennessee

    Oh, YES! I bought What A Way To Live specifically for that song. I halfway figured I’d be the only one who remembered it after all this time, considering it wasn’t even a top 20 hit. “I Just Wanted You To Know” is also a favorite, as is Mark’s version of “Better Class of Losers.”

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