Looking at my list it becomes very apparent that the best singles don’t always make it to country radio. There are songs on various albums that I like much more but that were never released. That said, here are some of the songs that I find myself humming and still enjoying at the end of 2009.
10. Welcome to the Future – Brad Paisley (June)
Musically, this one had to grow on me, even though it has some great licks between phrases. At the same time, the lyrics jumped out at me from the get-go. I’m probably going to be the only one with this one on my list for sure, but this is another one that spoke to me in the midst of the huge shifts in our country’s landscape. Watching the elections and the inauguration reminded me of watching the Berlin Wall come down – something I didn’t know I’d ever see in my lifetime. Welcome to the future.
9. A Little More Country Than That — Easton Corbin (July)
Our local station started playing this one right after its release last summer with the tag that it’s sung by Easton “I’m-Not-George-Strait” Corbin. If you weren’t paying attention though, you’d almost think it was George! And not only does Easton have a great laid-back easy country vocal, but it fits the song to a T with lyrics like:
Imagine a dirt road full of potholes
With a creek bank and some cane poles catchin’ channel cat
I’m a little more country than that.
It’s a proposal that lets her know just who she’s getting “under this ol’ hat”. Just a great, simple, easy country song, that’s appropriately produced. Love it! Others must, too – it just rolled into the Top 20.
8. Big Green Tractor – Jason Aldean (May)
Yup. I’m going to admit I like this one. Not sure why, but it makes me smile. Not only does the tractor never break ground, but the song probably doesn’t either. Yet it’s a charming, catchy and sweet love song that paints a great picture that fits us Nebraska folks out here in corn country. It’s Jason’s second release from his 2009 album Wide Open and stayed at #1 for several weeks.
7. White Liar – Miranda Lambert (August)
Acoustic and steel guitar on a cheating song with a burning lyric of a strong woman calling out the cheat himself and dropping her own bombshell. Doesn’t get much more country than that!
6. Cowgirls Don’t Cry – Brooks & Dunn f. Reba (Feb.)
The digital re-release of this one featuring Reba makes this a possibility for my 2009 list. With some great fiddle, a good story and Ronnie’s vocals, topped off by Reba’s heart-felt last verse, it just got to me. Granted the character in the song loses her dad, but having lost my mom in 2008 it struck a chord for me. That’s part of what I love about country music in general – its power to touch and heal.
5. Living For the Night – George Strait (May)
Love George’s interpretation of this one. He captures that absent, empty kind of feel that missing someone is all about. And then there’s the fact that he and his son wrote it together with Dean Dillon. The lyrics are straight forward yet speak volumes:
Everyday’s a lifetime without you
Hard to get through, since you’ve gone
So I do the only thing I know how to to get by
I’m living for the night.
4. People Are Crazy – Billy Currington (March)
Written by Bobby Braddock and Troy Jones, ‘People Are Crazy’ is Billy’s second single from his 2008 album, Little Bit Of Everything, and is nominated for a Grammy in two categories. It’s probably my favorite story song of the year due to its humorous way of making the point that we all share the most basic common denominators: God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.
3. Consider Me Gone – Reba McEntire (July)
Though I loved ‘Strange’, her first single from her first album with Valory (April 09), Reba’s second single has become even more of a favorite. Reba calls it a “strong woman’s song” and that it is. Like Sugarland’s ‘Settlin’’, Reba’s character isn’t going to settle either. She lets her lover know in those powerful Reba vocals that
If I’m not the one thing you can’t stand to lose
If I’m not that arrow to the heart of you
If you don’t get drunk on my kiss
If you think you can do better than this
Then I guess we’re done
Let’s not drag this on
Consider me gone.
This one went number one on the Billboard chart this week, making Reba’s 24th trip to the top.
2. Solitary Thinkin’ — Lee Ann Womack (April)
The second single from her Grammy nominated album, Call Me Crazy, and more bluesy jazz than straight country, ‘Solitary Thinkin’ stood out on radio this year as an example of less is more. Lee Ann’s vocals are subtle and embody that smoothness that everything takes on when you’re doing some solitary drinkin’ and thinkin’.
1. High Cost of Living – Jamey Johnson (March)
This one actually got released, but was a bit too dark, rough and long for much radio play. Earthy and honest, pointed and powerful, it’s the best country song of the year in my book.