I think regardless of where I stray musically, I will always be at home with country music. And I say that without qualifications. None of this "I hate country music, except for the REAL stuff like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson." The entire genre taps into my soul and is the voice for my feelings.
Here's what I'm listening to...
Want To by Sugarland-- I love Sugarland and have yet to hear from any of the authorities to find out if they are legit country or not. I'm not sure if the fact could be disputed. Jennifer Nettle's voice is like sweet tea from my maw maw's kitchen, and the melody of this young love song walks you through the woods like on a Sunday afternoon. It's inspiring me to be bold. :) (Perhaps more on that later?)
Good Old Boys Like Me by Don Williams-- Many of my readers' only exposure to Don Williams was from a drunken karoake rendition of his classic "I believe in Love," by one of the groomsmen at Blake's wedding. If you asked me to name my top five singers of all time, Don Williams would be on the list. There is a kind of content resignation to the simple life in this song. This is vintage stuff. I've long said George Jones is the next guy the young 'uns latch on to, but if I'm proven wrong my next guess will be Don Williams.
"I can still hear the soft southern winds in the live oak tree/ And those Williams boys they still mean a lot to me/ (Hank and Tennesse)/ I guess we're all going to be what we're going to be/ So what do you do with good old boys like me?"
Dolly Parton's rendition of In the Sweet By and By-- All jokes about her large breasts aside, Dolly Parton is an American treasure. Hearing this helps me latch on to my old beliefs about heaven, and makes them my new beliefs about heaven. I believe when I get there Dolly's voice will be prominent. Of all the songs on this list, download this one.
Highwayman by The Highwaymen-- Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristoferson, and Waylon Jennings. Can anything be bad about this combination? This is the ultimate song of ruggedness, meant bo be listened to, well, on the Highway.
Coward of the County by Kenny Rogers-- I think Kenny Rogers is one of the greatest storytellers ever. On surface level this seems like nothing more than an old time barroom brawl song. But there is actually social commentary lingering around every corner of this song. If you want a good discussion of pacifism and just war, play this song. If you don't want to go that deep, it's still just a damn good song. Some of the greatest lyrics ever is in the line "...but you could have heard a pin drop when Tommy stopped to lock the door." I get chills every time I hear that.
Seven Year Ache by Rosanne Cash-- I may have mentioned this before, but I believe this is probably the most underrated songs in the history of the genre. I think Cash got shunned by the Nashville establishment because she wasn't enough like her dad, which was ironic since the shunned him in the beginning for not being enough like other country singers. Rosanne is one of the most gifted songwriters and this song is her crown jewel.
My melancholy will make this a country music week.