For a long time, I was one of those people who described themselves as enjoying “everything but rap and country,” and felt pretty self-satisfied about it. I am still pretty elitist and self-satisfied, but have come to a point where I realize that there’s some music in both those genres that I am actually really into, and some music aimed directly at my demographic that I’m really not into. (Art Brut, Bright Eyes, even kinda Bikini Kill, I am looking at you.) In deference to this realization, I’d like to share my top five favorite country songs.
1. Dolly Parton’s Jolene. I’m not even going to get into how awesome Dolly Parton is in and of herself, but I will say that this is a great song. Oh man, I can’t help singing along every time I hear it.
2. Mindy Smith’s Jolene. If I’m going to be honest, I actually kind of prefer the cover. But! But! One of the coolest parts is that Dolly Parton is featured on the second half of the track. They sound great together. I hope they hang out in real life.
3. Carrie Underwood’s Before He Cheats. Do not front like you do not like this song. Everyone likes this song. Because it is a great song. I’ve never even been cheated on. But everytime I hear this I kinda sorta wish I had been, so I could key the motherfucker’s car.
4. Brad Paisley’s Alcohol. Okay, so unless you watch CMT or have a close family member who does you may not know this song. Admittedly it is not going to win any prizes for sophistication or musicality. But it is super fun! Seriously! Also I kind of like the video, and for a country music star Brad Paisley is not so unattractive; he looks like he showers!
5. Wilco’s I Am Trying To Break Your Heart. This is maybe not entirely fair. But iTunes categorizes them as country, for real, and they totally have another album with Billy Bragg that is down-home sweet-tea straw-in-your-hair country. Also this song is great, maybe I am weird but I think it is super romantic.
There are a lot of other gems out there – I had a friend in high school who was particularly fond of “Christmas Shoes,” although I can’t really agree. Feel free to share yours! (PS I did not include anything on the O Brother Where Art Thou! soundtrack because I am not sure if it counts, but also it goes without saying I love that soundtrack.)