A Country Music Conversation, Day 21: “The Sound of Goodbye” to “Strawberry Wine”

A Country Music Conversation: Introduction and Index

Previous Entry: Day 20: “She Can’t Say That Anymore” to “The Sound of a Million Dreams”

Day 21 features tracks from Crystal Gayle, Faith Hill, Tracy Lawrence, John Anderson, and Deana Carter.

“The Sound of Goodbye”
Crystal Gayle

Written by Hugh Prestwood

Crystal Gayle’s pop-flavored confections reached peak flavor with this smart Hugh Prestwood-penned hit. The production uses strings to great effect in the chorus, amplifying the tension that Gayle slowly builds up in the verses with her subtle performance.

Other Favorites: “Why Have You Left the One You Left Me For,” “Ready For the Times to Get Better,” “Half the Way”

“Stealing Kisses”
Faith Hill

Written by Lori McKenna

My dream Faith Hill project remains The Lori McKenna Songbook. I love watching McKenna score big hits as a songwriter with other artists, but nobody interprets her work better than Hill, who is yet another artist who doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her talent for discovering obscure songs and songwriters worthy of attention.

Other Favorites: “Cry,” “When the Lights Go Down,” “If I Should Fall Behind”

“Sticks and Stones”
Tracy Lawrence

Written by Roger Dillon and Elbert West

Tracy Lawrence’s debut single is the perfect showcase for his Keith Whitley-influenced vocals. I love how deep he goes at the beginning of the bridge that leads to each chorus.

Other Favorites: “Alibis,” “Can’t Break it to My Heart,” “Time Marches On”

“Straight Tequila Night”
John Anderson

Written by Debbie Hupp and Kent Robbins

Country music never came closer to a meritocracy than it did in the early nineties, where even a faded eighties star could score a massive and well-deserved comeback on the strength of great material. “Straight Tequila Night” became John Anderson’s first #1 hit since 1983 and first top ten hit since 1986, kicking off one of the most impressive comeebacks in country music history.

Other Favorites: “When it Comes to You,” “Bend it Until it Breaks,” “I Wish I Could Have Been There”

“Strawberry Wine”
Deana Carter

Written by Matraca Berg and Gary Harrison

I’m still amazed that this quiet, reflective song about the loss of innocence powered its parent album to sales of five million, earning awards for Single and Song of the Year at the 1997 CMA Awards along the way. It’s an oversimplification to say that country music all comes down the song – “three chords and the truth,” the old saying goes – but “Strawberry Wine” can certainly be presented as supporting evidence for that idea.

Other Favorites: “Absence of the Heart,” “Count Me In,” “Angels Working Overtime”

Up Next: Day 22: “Take a Little Pill” to “Wake Up Older”


  1. Crystal Gayle favorites:
    Talking in Your Sleep, When I Dream, Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue, Why Have You Left the One You Left Me For and I’ll Get Over You.

    Faith Hill:Let Me Let Go, The Secret of Life, Dearly Beloved, It Matters to Me and Just About Now.

    Tracy Lawrence: Paint Me a Birmingham, Time Marches On, Is That a Tear, How a Cowgirl Says Goodbye and Find Out Who Your Friends Are.

  2. Crystal Gayle is my all-time favorite country singer so I’m devoting my entire post to her. So sad that most people only think of her for her hair and her blockbuster hit Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue. Kevin, I appreciate you listing a later big hit – one of her 18 #1 hits. Not exaggerating that I could list close to 100 songs. I have every album she’s ever released.

    CG songs produced by Allen Reynolds – Wrong Road Again, Somebody Loves You, You Never Miss a Real Good Thing, I’ll Do It All Over Again, Brown Eyes, Ready For the Times To Get Better, Talking In Your Sleep, Why Have You Left The One You Left Me For, Half The Way, If You Ever Change Your Mind, You Never Gave Up On Me, Our Love Is On The Faultline, Never Ending Song Of Love

    produced by Jimmy Bowen – Till I Gain Control Again, Baby What About You, The Sound of Goodbye, I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love, Turning Away, Me Against The Night

    produced by Jim Ed Norman – Making Up For Lost Time, Cry, Straight To The Heart, Only Love Can Save Me Now, Nobody’s Angel

    and of course the amazing duet with Eddie Rabbitt – You And I

  3. Here are some of my favorite and/or most played tracks from these artists:

    Crystal Gayle – Ready for the Times to Get Better, Why Have You Left the One You Left Me For
    Faith Hill – Cry, Let Me Let Go, Stealing Kisses (and more plays on lots of other songs than I would have initially guessed)
    Tracy Lawrence – Time Marches On, The Coast Is Clear
    John Anderson – Seminole Wind, Bend It ‘Til It Breaks
    Deana Carter – Count Me In

  4. Let Me Let Go is my favorite Faith Hill song. I love Fireflies as well and her theme for the Pearl Harbor movie never fails to bring tears. When Faith is at her best, there are few artists to match her caliber. I love her Christmas album as well; it is one of the classier albums of that genre out there. Her duet with her husband, Tim McGraw, of Mama’s House is beautiful, also, even if it features Tim more and Faith less.

    Deanna Carter. She deserved much more attention than she has received over recent years. Yet, Strawberry Wine has to rank amongst the highest echelon of country singles over recent decades, and it still stands the test of time.

  5. “My dream Faith Hill project remains The Lori McKenna Songbook.” You just GET me; I’ve always wanted to hear a Faith version of “Rocket Science”! Apparently she covered Lori’s GEM “Lonestar” for the fireflies album, but it was only available as an amazon download? It haunts me to this day that I have never heard her interpretation of it, as I can only imagine.

  6. Just today I reviewed CAGE THE SONGBIRD. Some wonderful material there, especially “The Sound of Goodbye.” Such a great, great song. I’ve really been digging her version of “What He’s Doing Now,” too. I had totally forgotten she recorded it. “Why Have You Left The One You Left Me For” is another favorite. It’s never too late to dig into back catalogs, especially since she was popular before my time.

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