My Top 5 Country Songs Of All Time (Probably)
I Can’t Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt
As far as I’m concerned, "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt (written by Allen Shamblin and Mike Reid) is the standard in country music and the level of songwriting I will forever be chasing after. Listening to this song is what makes writing sad songs so appealing to me. It’s not a self-indulgence thing, but an opportunity to access a part of yourself and be a degree of real and raw that has been a little lost in music lately. I would estimate most of us (with a heart) have felt what this song is saying at some point, or can at least understand this specific emotion in a way where we feel it deeply on the inside. I imagine this song got a lot of people through the days and nights when they needed it the most.
Fire Away by Chris Stapleton
My favorite song from probably the best living vocalist today. The music video for "Fire Away" made this one hit a hundred times harder for me. Simple and heavy as they come. There is not one wasted breath or syllable here. This is another sad one, but in a very different way. I always lose it about a quarter of the way in, because I know what's coming. I'm so happy to see that they used this song and video for a much greater cause.
In The Heart Of A Woman by Billy Ray Cyrus
Before I opted for rock & roll in my pre-teens, a seven-year-old me was heavily influenced by the Billy Ray craze going on at the time- especially his second album of the same name. I wore out multiple copies of this cassette rewinding and replaying this song an insane amount of times. It’s still one of the best breakup songs I’ve ever heard.
Mr. Misunderstood by Eric Church
At a songwriting feedback session early in my Nashville experience, the incredible songwriter, Jimmy Yeary, listened to one of my early country songs and suggested I immediately buy the Mr. Misunderstood album by Eric Church and listen to it over and over again. On my 8 hour drive home back to Chicago, I ended up having this song stuck on repeat. Like many others I'm sure, this song has always felt like my own personal anthem and articulates my relationship with country music and the music business better than I ever could.
Change My Mind by Oak Ridge Boys
When the music video for Change My Mind came out around 1991/2, I was a massive fan of the late Steve Sanders and his tenure in the Oak Ridge Boys. When this single and accompanying music video came out, it had me glued to the TV and I had what I can only call a spiritual experience to it- it gave me the notion of wanting to write songs that felt like this one felt to me. A few years ago, I got to thank one of the songwriters (the great Jason Blume) for writing it on during one of my first trips to a Nashville songwriting seminar in a crazy, full circle moment. Incredible guy, incredible song.