Country Primer

Country Primer Playlist

For all of you classic rockers who can’t fathom the pop sound.

For all of you who wonder where the rock went.

For all of you who think country is redneck music, either totally right wing or too twangy…

This is for you.

I was once like you, and then I discovered…

“Stupid Boy”
Keith Urban

This is the breakthrough track. For me personally.

I realized I had a misimpression of country one day stuck in traffic on Sunset Boulevard when I decided to check out each and every Sirius station and ultimately heard Tim McGraw and realized he was good, but…

This is the track that made me believe I was truly missing out, and there was a whole new world that understood me, where I could be happy.

I know, I know, you’re not supposed to begin with a ballad, you’re supposed to hit ’em with the Hein, but the reason I’m starting here is…

The guitar solo.

It starts at 4:04, be sure to stay through there. You’ll think it’s the seventies, lying on the floor in the dark, sitting on the porch watching the world go by, when the ability to play was everything and we lived for the mellifluous sound, when it didn’t have to be a hit to be your favorite.

Little Big Town

The band has changed sounds, it no longer works with Wayne Kirkpatrick.

This sounds like “Rumours,” without being a remake. Little Big Town’s “The Road To Here” is a gem, one of the best LPs of the first decade of the century, if you like this you’ll like all of it.

“Before She Does”
Eric Church

If you think country doesn’t rock…

Eric Church’s “Caught In The Act: Live” sounds straight out of the seventies, and I’m emphasizing SOUND! It’s in your face, if you like your music heavy, if you like it to squeeze out the rest of the noise in your head, this is for you.

As for the reference to Jesus…

Listen to the lyric completely, don’t turn it off because they refer to the Lord.


An’ I believe that Jesus is comin’ back
Before she does

And that’s just FUNNY!

Remember sense of humor, it was key in the old days, but it’s been eviscerated from music today.

Now this only sounds good if you CRANK IT! If you’ve still got a big rig, if you’ve still got your JBL L100’s… GO FOR IT!

“Gunpowder & Lead”
Miranda Lambert

She’s become tabloid fodder, but her fame is deserved.

This is her breakthrough track, in it she’s every bit as soulful and infectious as all the female singers of the seventies. She’s Linda Ronstadt cutting even more loose. She sounds nothing like Ann Wilson, but they’re sisters from another mother.

The way the verse draws you in and then the chorus seals the deal… Makes you want to jump up and stomp your feet.

“Nobody To Blame”
Chris Stapleton

A cross between Pure Prairie League and Gram Parsons with a dose of Charlie Daniels thrown in.

This guy deserves the accolades, he’s the real deal, he’ll make you a believer, not only in him, but the present and future of music.

Funny, in a world where everybody’s boasting it’s refreshing to hear someone take responsibility, to say they’re less than.

“Drink A Beer”
Luke Bryan

Our bands did not only rock, they got sensitive too. One of the most poignant tracks CSN and sometimes Y ever cut was Stephen Stills’ “4+20.”

This is not the same sentiment, but…

We want our music to set us adrift. Life is complicated, music is the grease that allows us to move forward.

This is the cut that closed me on Luke. Could be by anybody, it’s that good, a deserved #1.

“Back Where I Come From”
Kenny Chesney

Listen to the audience sing along, that’s where this trend started, in country.

Kenny Chesney’s 2006 live album is the twenty first century Jimmy Buffett LP you wanted that does not exist.

Written by Jimmy’s sidekick Mac McAnally, “Back Where I Come From” will relax your muscles and make you feel good about yourself.

I’m an old Tennessean
And I’m proud as anyone
That’s where I come from

Makes you want to go to Nashville and Memphis and Chattanooga to soak up the roots of these songs.

“If I Die Young”
The Band Perry

If you dig Stevie and Christine and want them melded together in one meaningful cut…

This is for you.

“Still Feels Good”
Rascals Flatts

What a TEAR!

Come on, you like picking, you like energy, if this doesn’t hook you you’re already dead.

“Stay A Little Longer”
Brothers Osborne

Speaking of wailing.

This just makes you want to take a road trip, one of the kind before mobile phones, when it was just you and the radio with the top down, hand banging on the outside of the door to the music.

This ain’t that far from the Ozark Mountain Daredevils.

But stay for the solo, you’ll be blown away, this ain’t no “Deliverance,” these guys all have Gibsons and unlike the pop prima donnas they practiced!

When the song changes around 2:45, hang on for the ride, it’s kind of like the break in “Hotel California,” it starts somewhere and then it takes you to a place you had no idea existed.

“She’s Got A Way With Words”
Blake Shelton

He walked by me at the Hollywood Bowl and I was struck by…how tall and what a hunk he was.

And now I’m stretching you a bit. But think back to the days of yore, when you stopped at a roadhouse or diner out in the boonies and there was a jukebox filled with country tunes and there was always one with a turn of the phrase that cracked you up, that entranced you.

“Round Here”
Florida Georgia Line

Did you go to college? Did you drink beer? Did you live for Friday nights when you took it to the limit?

Then this song is for you.

FGL nails it here. You can’t live the hip-hop lifestyle, you can just be you, and so many have decided that FGL speak for them.

Even if you despise the band in principle, you’ll have to admit this is catchy.

Or maybe you tuned out a few tracks ago…

“Night’s On Fire”
David Nail

An unheralded act who gets it right enough that it rings true. A country single with a catchy chorus and a good verse. Compare this journeyman work to that of the rockers and you might decide you prefer this…

“Ain’t Worth The Whiskey”
Cole Swindell

There’s truth in the twangy sound, even though the twang is oftentimes in the vocal only.

We’ve all had our hearts broken, what do you do when you’re at loose ends?


“Our Song”
Taylor Swift

Before she became a pop icon, when she truly appealed to everybody by being an everywoman, she was Joni Mitchell for teenagers, unselfconscious, speaking her truth, deserving of all the accolades.

This, of course, is not on Spotify. Because Taylor Swift lost track of the fact that music is for the audience and if you do it well enough there’s more money than you can spend. You want your tunes everywhere, keeping them from streaming services is a failed argument, Spotify free causes conversion. After all, it’s the market share winner and its paid tier is increasing at a faster rate than Apple’s, need I say more?

“Lips Of An Angel”
Jack Ingram

That’s right, the Hinder tune.

But this cover is better, it’s more meaningful.

And now we’ve come full circle. Maybe I lost you in the journey, but maybe I didn’t, maybe I opened your eyes, now you’ve got a whole new genre to explore. Start with Spotify playlists, but if you’re a Sirius subscriber, and you should be, check out the Highway and Kenny Chesney’s No Shoes Radio, where he blends your music and his, rock and country, you’ll see we now all have the same roots, it’s a big tent, we’re all in it together.

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