The general consensus is that 2009 has been a less than stellar year for mainstream country music. Most of the artists that I like have fallen out of favor with radio, so it’s little surprise that most of the songs on my list were not huge radio hits.
10. Consider Me Gone – Reba McEntire
9. Living For The Night – George Strait
In a way, both of these songs are testaments to the weak state of country music in 2009. Both are decent songs, but neither is among the artists’ very best work.
8. Red, White and Pink Slip Blues — Hank Williams, Jr.
An accurate and sometimes scathing commentary on the current economic crisis. This song would have resonated with the masses if only they’d had a chance to hear it.
7. White Liar — Miranda Lambert
I haven’t completely gotten on board the Lambert bandwagon yet; I’ve considered her an artist with a lot of potential and have been waiting for her to come out with a song that just blew me away. This isn’t quite it, but it comes closer than anything else I’ve heard from her so far.
6. Staying Together — Gene Watson & Rhonda Vincent
It’s always great to hear new music from Gene Watson. He and Rhonda Vincent sound terrific together on this cut.
5. Love’s Gonna Live Here — Tanya Tucker with Jim Lauderdale
I’ve always liked this Buck Owens classic, no matter who was singing it, so when one of my favorite artists covered it, it was a no-brainer that it would end up on my favorites list.
4. Drunk Dialer — Miss Leslie
Who would have thought that a retro honky-tonk sound would work so well with lyrics that deal with modern conveniences such as voice mail and texting? This song puts the mainstream to shame.
3. Backwoods Barbie — Dolly Parton
This was Dolly’s strongest single in years, and it deserved, but did not get, a shot at radio. It would probably have received a warmer reception had Dolly not committed the mortal sin of being over 60.
2. ‘Til The Last Shot’s Fired — Trace Adkins
For reasons that are comprehensible only to those strange beings known as record label executives, Capitol chose not to take advantage of Trace’s powerful performance of this song at this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards by releasing it to radio. However, the live version was sold as an iTunes exclusive to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project, so technically, it qualifies as a single, and it is without question, a highlight among this year’s slim pickings.
1. Busted — Patty Loveless
The Harlan Howard-penned classic, heard for the first time with the original coal-mining lyrics. Far too country for today’s market, this single was dead on arrival at radio but it is the year’s best single, nonetheless.