Five of my favorite country songs

I’ve never been a huge fan of country. I hated it as a kid, but as an adult I’ve grown to appreciate it a lot more. Life experience makes it more relatable, I guess. Who knows?

I’m currently traveling down a deep country rabbit hole, discovering old music I didn’t know existed and revisiting old favorites. Here’s a few.

Willie Nelson: Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain

Willie Nelson with Waylon Jennings was the first concert I ever went to. My parents were both into Willie Nelson. I hated every moment of it until they launched into the Dukes of Hazzard theme, which I had no idea was by these boring guys I was being forced to watch. And I was absolutely thrilled.

Blue Eyes Crying was on a tape that my parents played constantly during the many cross-country road trips we took when I was a kid. I saw all of America to Willie Nelson’s music, from the badlands of South Dakota to the Palo Duro canyon in Texas to downtown Chicago and lots of other places in between and around. And we often camped in those places, or stayed with family and friends or friends of family and friends. Very rarely did we stay in a motel. We camped near the spot where this pic was taken in Texas.

We camped in sight of Mount Rushmore and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. We camped on a Civil War battlefield in Tennessee. I’ve met real life hillbillies who lived deep in the Appalachians. I’ve seen wild gators in Florida swamps. We stayed in a log cabin in Colorado and fished for rainbow trout, which we grilled and ate. I saw how all different types of people lived..

Blue Eyes Crying makes me tear up because my parents would turn to each other in the car and sing along to it. I was disgusted at the time and constantly rolling my eyes. But I get it now. When I hear those songs, I see white lines, tall mountains, green trees and endless prairies littered with grazing buffalo. I see cornfields and old half-collapsed barns. I see homeless people on the streets of St. Louis. I see old factories and schools and churches that once teemed with life, all long since closed. I see Detroit. I see the Great Lakes and I see the Atlantic Ocean. I see ancient cliff dwellings in New Mexico. I see all the roadside attractions we used to stop at. I see my mom and dad in love, both alive and happy.

Dwight Yoakam: Guitars, Cadillacs

I love Dwight Yoakam. His entire catalog. I love the bouncy rockabilly twang of his playing and I love the sound of his voice. This is one of his raddest songs.

Brooks & Dunn: Neon Moon

Man, this song is perfect. The verse, the bridge and the chorus–everything’s so beautifully constructed here. Love this song.

Hank Williams Jr: A Country Boy Can Survive

Is there a better lyric in music history than “I’d like to spit some Beech Nut in that dude’s eye, and shoot him with my ol’ .45, cuz a country boy can survive?” I don’t think so.

Johnny Cash: Man in Black

This song lets you know exactly who Johnny Cash was and what he stood for. He was punk before punk was a thing. Go watch Tricky Dick and the Man in Black and you’ll see what kind of man he was. He pulled no punches and never bowed to pressure from labels, radio or even the President of the United States. He had a platform and he used it to speak the truth as he saw it, and I find that inspiring.

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