Day 21 features tracks from Crystal Gayle, Faith Hill, Tracy Lawrence, John Anderson, and Deana Carter.
“The Sound of Goodbye”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”