My Kind of Country

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

Classic Rewind: Reba McEntire – ‘You Life Me Up’/Only You’, first Tonight Show appearance

This is Reba’s first of many Tonight Show performances.

 

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Classic Rewind: Reba McEntire – ‘Can’t Even Get the Blues’

Week ending 12/20/14: #1 albums this week in country music history

garth brooks - garth brooks and the magic of christmas1964: Buck Owens- Together Again (Capitol)

1969: Charley Pride – The Best of Charley Pride (RCA Victor)

1974: John Denver – Back Home Again (RCA)

1979: Kenny Rogers – Kenny (United Artists)

1984: Willie Nelson –  City of New Orleans (Columbia)

1989: Randy Travis – No Holdin’ Back (Warner Brothers)

1994: Tim McGraw – Not a Moment Too Soon (Curb)

1999: Garth Brooks – Garth Brooks and the Magic of Christmas (Capitol)

2004: Shania Twain – Greatest Hits (Mercury)

2009: Taylor Swift – Fearless (Big Machine)

2014: Garth Brooks – Man Against Machine (RCA/Pearl)

Week ending 12/13/14: #1 albums this week in country music history

buck owens - together again1964: Buck Owens- Together Again (Capitol)

1969: Johnny Cash – At San Quentin (Columbia)

1974: Merle Haggard – Merle Haggard Presents His 30th Album (Capitol)

1979: Kenny Rogers – Kenny (United Artists)

1984: Willie Nelson –  City of New Orleans (Columbia)

1989: Randy Travis – No Holdin’ Back (Warner Brothers)

1994: Tim McGraw – Not a Moment Too Soon (Curb)

1999: Shania Twain – Come On Over (Mercury)

2004: Shania Twain – Greatest Hits (Mercury)

2009: Taylor Swift – Fearless (Big Machine)

2014: Garth Brooks – Man Against Machine (RCA/Pearl)

Week ending 12/6/14: #1 albums this week in country music history

george strait - lead on1964: Buck Owens- Together Again (Capitol)

1969: Johnny Cash – At San Quentin (Columbia)

1974: Merle Haggard – Merle Haggard Presents His 30th Album (Capitol)

1979: Kenny Rogers – Kenny (United Artists)

1984: Willie Nelson –  City of New Orleans (Columbia)

1989: Randy Travis – No Holdin’ Back (Warner Brothers)

1994: George Strait – Lead On (MCA)

1999: Faith Hill – Breathe (Warner Brothers)

2004: Shania Twain – Greatest Hits (Mercury)

2009: Carrie Underwood – Play On (Arista/19)

2014: Garth Brooks – Man Against Machine (RCA/Pearl)

Classic Rewind: Reba McEntire & Jacky Ward – ‘Three Sheets In The Wind’

Here’s a 23 year-old Reba singing her first top 20 hit, a duet with Jacky Ward, on a local access show in Texas in 1978.

 

Song Review: Reba McEntire – ‘Pray for Peace’

reba - pray for peaceI read a quote once from Emmylou Harris that went something like “People tend to equate emotion in music with how hard the drum hits.” The drums aren’t being pounded in “Pray for Peace”, Reba McEntire’s first new music release in nearly four years. The drumbeat is right there through the entire four minute track and doesn’t even change tempo much. It is, like the song’s message, persistent.

Persistence and repetition are really the neatest aspects of this song. For the first two minutes, all you hear is the bass drum, a lonesome fiddle and Reba singing four words over and over, “please pray for peace”. Layers of production and guest voices are added after that, all leading up to a choir and a big finish.

Ronnie Dunn and Kelly Clarkson appear to do some serious scat-singing. Their efforts, for the most part, are just distracting.

Still, even with a full choir and the drums beating a bit harder, the production doesn’t take anything away from the song’s ultimate simplicity and unfortunately timely statement.  As Americans watch incidents like a jet being shot down in Ukraine and see Palestinian death tolls rising higher and higher each day, “Pray for Peace” is a tune that will resound with almost anyone who hears it. And it’s been smartly crafted and produced to do just that.

Grade: n/a

“Pray for Peace” is being offered as a free download at Reba’s official website.

Classic Rewind: Waylon Jennings – ‘Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?’

Classic Rewind: Emmylou Harris – ‘(You Never Can Tell) C’est La Vie’

Classic Rewind: Eddie Rabbit – ‘I Love A Rainy Night’

Hip Hop on Pop Country and other bad rhymes: the worst country songs of 2013

hop on popYoung bastard sub-genres like hick-hop and ‘bro country’ dominate our annual worst songs of the year list. Florida Georgia Line’s 2012-released “Cruise” makes it second appearance on our list fueled by its re-release of a remix with rapper Nelly and its record-setting year atop the new mongrel Hot Country Songs chart.  Eric Church, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, and Florida Georgia Line all have double entries here, demonstrating their consistency in putting out large piles of musical bovine feces.

Here’s our pick for the ten worst mainstream songs of the year. What would your own list look like? Share in the comments.

10. “The Outsiders” – Eric Church

Heavy metal pretending to be country; loud, cluttered, tuneless and horrible, with risibly cliche’d wannabe outlaw lyrics I don’t find remotely credible, shouted (even screamed) rather than sung.  It does not inspire any positive hope for the new album it heralds.

– Occasional Hope

9. “Get Your Shine On” – Florida Georgia Line

Last year,when I heard “Cruise”, I really didn’t think these guys’ singles could get any worse. But they proved me wrong with both their 2013 releases. This is only a little worse than “Round Here” because it sounds like some parody lyric written for the Drunken Martina twitter account.

– J.R. Journey

8. “Redneck Crazy” – Tyler Farr

This tasteless muck (co-written by Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins of “Before He Cheats” fame) is another low for country music, in an era in which everyone seems to be trying to out do themselves for the lowest levels of douchedom. Count me out.

– Jonathan Pappalardo

7. “The Only Way I Know How” – Jason Aldean with Luke Bryan and Eric Church

This collaboration boasts lots of chest-thumping bravado, self-proclaimed superiority over anybody with even subtle differences to the narrators, and the whole thing is just way too loud and overbearing. The lyrics speak of humility, but everything about this mess screams “Look at me! And how much better I am than you!”.

– J.R. Journey

6. “Ready, Set, Roll” – Chace Rice

The fact that this guy co-wrote “Cruise” tells you all you need to know about him as an artist.  The single boasts rock vocals, completely generic leering lyric, no melody to speak of, tinny processed sound.  Bad and boring; at least the likes of Joanna Smith and Chris Young can sing.

– Occasional Hope

5. “Parking Lot Party” – Lee Brice

Is there a chance Lee Brice may be the only male country singer to understand the concept of balance? I could knock him for recording this awful cliché-drenched ode to tailgating, but it comes on the heels of “I Drive Your Truck,” a surprisingly substantive moment in mainstream country this year. It’s just too bad he needs to offset a steel-heavy ballad with a desperate attempt at remaining a hero to the teen and college set.

– Jonathan Pappalardo

4. “1994” – Jason Aldean

Like most of Jason Aldean’s singles of late, ‘1994’ has no narrative to speak of, no point to its existence, or any artistic credibility whatsoever. Aldean is singing about a man once nicknamed ‘Joe Ditty,’ in a song that makes “Pickup Man” and “John Deere Green” sound like the second coming of “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” When tribute songs are of a far lesser quality than the music of artist they’re honoring, is there even a point?

– Jonathan Pappalardo

It’s an insult to Joe Diffie to include references to him on this ghastly hip hop trash.

– Occasional Hope

3. “That’s My Kind of Night” – Luke Bryan

Zac Brown called it ‘one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard’.  I don’t know that I’d go that far, but it is very poor indeed, with pornographic uh-ing at the start, little melody, cliche’d lyric, jerky phrasing; even Luke sounds as though he’s on autopilot.  Sticking banjo on top is just like putting lipstick on a pig – and not Babe or Miss Piggy, a really hairy, smelly boar with swine flu.

– Occasional Hope

2. “Cruise Remix” – Florida Georgia Line feat. Nelly

The newly minted CMA Single of the Year is the worst novelty hit in decades. The rap remix is nothing more than ‘Anti-Christ’ Scott Borchetta cementing his stronghold over commercial country, and his dominance as dictator of Music Row. He’s becoming more of a problem then his artists at this point.

– Jonathan Pappalardo

 The original was bad enough; this ill-conceived rap remix unbelievably makes it even worse.

– Occasional Hope

I said a lot about this song last year, and I stand by all of it.

– J.R. Journey

1.”Boys Round Here” – Blake Shelton feat. Pistol Annies and friends

Absolutely horrible rap with awful country-pride lyrics.  An appalling waste of talent.  This sub-genre has become a parody of itself.

– Occasional Hope

Shelton is arguably the biggest star in country music right now. That he’s using his high profile to market this kind of garbage – “chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit”, you’re kidding me? – is bad enough. But when he uses his considerable influence to recruit the likes of the Pistol Annies, Reba McEntire, Ronnie Dunn, Josh Turner, and Brad Paisley into being featured on the song’s “celebrity mix” it’s just despicable.

– J.R. Journey

Classic Rewind: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – ‘Modern Day Romance’

Classic Rewind: Ronnie Milsap – ‘Houston Solution’

Single Review: Jennifer Nettles – ‘That Girl’

jennifer nettles - that girlOn her first chart outing as a soloist, Jennifer Nettles revisits the stuff of Sugarland’s awards show-sweeping “Stay”, which won Nettles half a dozen trophies as the song’s only writer.

In 2007’s “Stay”, Jennifer Nettles sang from the perspective of the longsuffering other woman.  In interviews, Nettles has said “Stay” was inspired by Reba McEntire’s 1986 hit “Whoever’s in New England”. She flipped the protagonist to the other woman, and the song was born. This time, Nettles has given “Jolene”, the redhead from Dolly Parton’s classic 1973 hit, her own voice.

“Stay” finds the other woman weeping and wailing and literally begging a man to stay with her.  “That Girl” finds the other woman reacting to her transgression with far more grace. The other woman in “Stay” pushes away a dead-end situation eventually, where “That Girl” finds her relatively unscathed and quick to retreat.

Producer Ruck Rubin has the whole affair played out in a winning minor key, with canned percussion and a gloomy-sounding bass.  As for Nettles, she’s singing with an appropriate loose efficiency – none of her trademark throaty twang –  for what she’s got to say, which goes something like: “I always kinda liked you. Sorry I slept with your man. He called me by your name (mine’s Jolene). Hope it’s all cool.”

Revisiting a classic country song is a different and unique idea for today’s mainstream country stars. Like the idea behind it, “That Girl” is a bit offbeat, but not without its charm and it’s well executed. It all works for me.

Grade: B+

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Single Review: Zac Brown Band – ‘Sweet Annie’

zac brown band - sweet annieDo you remember your Annie? She’s the girl you put on the shelf for your career, another woman, or just because you weren’t ready to commit. But her honeyed southern drawl and if-you-love-him-you’ll-forgive-him nature keeps drawing you back. She’s your go-to girl when the world falls in on you. And God bless her heart, she still hasn’t realized it’s only during those toughest of times you turn to her.

To tell us about this Annie, the guys surround the verses’ breezy fiddles with the band’s airtight (and dig those repeating) harmonies.  Here, we find a road-weary man who’s burned as bright as he cares to and is ready to settle down, at least for a bit. It’s not the most romantic proposition when he suggests “can I stay with you a while, cause this road’s been puttin’ miles on my heart”. Nor is his wishing in hindsight he could “turn around and put that bottle down, pray it’s not too late”. Yet the kernel of sincerity in Brown’s vocal delivery makes for a convincing plea. I’ll bet Annie lets him stay.

Zac Brown could make this kind of apologetic tale of wanderlust his wheelhouse (think: “Colder Weather” with a better melody but a less interesting story) if the band would release more like this and stay away from those “jump right in, knee deep in the river”-type songs.

Grade: B+

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Classic Rewind: Waylon Jennings – ‘This Time’

Week ending 8/10/13: #1 albums this week in country music history

1glen campbell - a new place in the sun968: Glen Campbell – A New Place in the Sun (Capitol)

1973: Jeanne Pruett – Satin Sheets (MCA)

1978: Willie Nelson – Stardust (Columbia)

1983: Alabama – The Closer You Get (RCA)

1988: Alabama – Alabama Live (RCA)

1993: Billy Ray Cyrus – It Won’t Be the Last (Mercury)

1998: Various Artists – Hope Floats: Music from the Motion Picture (Capitol)

2003: Brad Paisley – Mud on the Tires (Arista)

2008: Sugarland – Love on the Inside (Mercury)

2013: Florida Georgia Line – Here’s To the Good T

Week ending 8/3/13: #1 albums this week in country music history

brooks dunn - red dirt road1968: Johnny Cash – Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (Columbia)

1973: Jeanne Pruett – Satin Sheets (MCA)

1978: Willie Nelson – Stardust (Columbia)

1983: Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson – Pancho & Lefty (Epic)

1988: Reba McEntire – Reba (MCA)

1993: Billy Ray Cyrus – It Won’t Be the Last (Mercury)

1998: Various Artists – Hope Floats: Music from the Motion Picture (Capitol)

2003: Brooks & Dunn – Red Dirt Road (Arista)

2008: Taylor Swift – Beautiful Eyes (Big Machine)

2013: Florida Georgia Line – Here’s To the Good Times (Republic Nashville)

Week ending 7/27/13: #1 albums this week in country music history

trace adkins - greatest hits1968: Johnny Cash – Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (Columbia)

1973: Jeanne Pruett – Satin Sheets (MCA)

1978: Willie Nelson – Stardust (Columbia)

1983: Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson – Pancho & Lefty (Epic)

1988: Reba McEntire – Reba (MCA)

1993: Billy Ray Cyrus – It Won’t Be the Last (Mercury)

1998: Various Artists – Hope Floats: Music from the Motion Picture (Capitol)

2003: Trace Adkins – Greatest Hits Collect, Vol. 1 (Capitol)

2008: Taylor Swift – Taylor Swift (Big Machine)

2013: Florida Georgia Line – Here’s To the Good Times (Republic Nashville)

Classic Rewind: Tanya Tucker, Terri Clark, Jo Dee Messina sit-down interview; The Lynns – ‘Woman to Woman’

In 1998, Loretta Lynn’s twin daughters, Peggy and Patsy, were signed to Reprise Records and released an album as The Lynns. Neither of their singles made it inside the country top forty, but their album was very strong and traditional and they were nominated for the CMA Vocal Duo of the Year award in 1998 and ’99. This clip is from a TNN special called Ladies Night Out, hosted by Terri Clark. It begins with the five ladies singing Tanya’s “Delta Dawn” which is followed by an interesting chat session where they discuss Loretta Lynn and women who sing honky tonk music, and their mutual love of country music. The Lynns perform their second single “Woman to Woman” at the end. I remember watching this episode when it first aired, and it was great to find this clip so I could share it with you all. Enjoy!