My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Single Review: Artists of Then, Now and Forever – ‘Forever Country”


The Country Music Association has found a way of honoring their fiftieth anniversary – gather 30 of the genre’s biggest stars from the past, present and future for an unprecedented collaboration. The result is certainly buzzworthy and continues the tradition of the ‘all-star jam’ that saw its beginnings with the original 1972 recording of ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken.’ The trend continued into the 1990s (Think “I Don’t Need Your Rocking Chair” and “One Heart At A Time”) before seemly dying off.

“Forever Country,” as the collaboration is called, blends three country standards – “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “I Will Always Love You” and “On The Road Again” into a single song showcasing each of the artists involved with dedicated solos. The John Denver classic is the bedrock, with the others woven in.

The song succeeds because of Shane McAnally, who subtracts not distracts with his warm production values. He does a superb job of complimenting each artist with a sense of balance that allows each one to shine individually. While they also beautifully come together as a collective whole, it’s obvious that some do shine brighter than others, which is understandable in such a context.

It’s been a long time since the legacy of country music has been honored and I admire the Country Music Association for bringing their theme and mission alive in such a public way. To have all these artists in one place, on one track truly is astonishing. We’ve let history fall by the wayside in recent years as boom era veterans (the last artists to grow up on classic country music) have been pushed out in favor of younger artists who meet demographic needs but have little knowledge of or appreciation for what it took to make their careers possible. This pattern is cyclical and leaves behind those who refer to the past as ‘the good ole days’ when country music still had a soul.m_forevercountrycma

Those unworthy younger performers, of which there are too many to mention, are nowhere to be found, which begs a question – are they subtly making the claim that no one, save Brett Eldridge (who adds is voice to the mix), is truly worthy of carrying the torch for the next generation? It also saves the track from coming off as a laughing stock.

“Forever Country” could’ve exercised a bit more imagination than having Dolly being Dolly at the end, there are legends missing I would’ve liked to have seen included and it’s odd to have Jason Aldean (who was shut out of the nominations entirely) figure so prominently. But the intention and heart of the project is carried out in execution, which is why “Forever Country” shines so brightly. It’s the gimmick that succeeds in not being gimmicky at all. It’s far from the greatest recording I’ve ever heard, but it is a welcomed surprise. I’ll take it.

Grade: A



8 responses to “Single Review: Artists of Then, Now and Forever – ‘Forever Country”

  1. Occasional Hope September 26, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    I like parts of this, but overall it feels a little less than the sum of its parts.

  2. luckyoldsun September 27, 2016 at 1:17 am

    The most amazing country gang collaboration that I’ve ever heard/seen was the all-female, recorded-live “Women of Country” finale from the early ’90s. Beginning with the then-current Mary Chapin Carpenter and Wynonna and going back in time to a still-elegant Tammy Wynette–You get goose bumps by the time Kitty Wells and Patsy Montana hit the stage

  3. Michelle Aussie country girl September 27, 2016 at 3:46 am

    I love it but there are some of my favourite singers missing like Tanya Tucker Kenny Rogers and Loretta Lynn missing , I don’t like Luke Bryan, Eric Church , Jason Aldean or Kacey Musgraves, but that’s just me.

  4. Stan Salagovic September 29, 2016 at 2:51 am

    Quote :”It also saves the track from coming off as a laughing stock.” –
    What saves the track ? The fact that, on the track, “unworthy younger performers… are nowhere to be found” or the fact that “Brett Eldridge … “adds [his] voice to the mix” ?

  5. Leeann September 29, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    I think this medley/mashup works surprisingly well!

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