I have a fluctuating interest in Valentine’s Day, and that may come from conflicting feelings about it from my youth. For those of you who do not normally celebrate it, Valentine’s Day starts out as a reason to sugar kids up and give out Disney Princesses or Transformer valentines to all of your classmates, but evolves into that one-on-one declaration of love that many adults struggle over. For me, Valentine’s Day always manifests itself musically, either as a celebration of the love I am currently experiencing, or as a balm for those times when being single and Cupid collide. Based on selections from this year’s Country-leaning playlist, I think you will be able to tell where my heart is at currently.
– Brad Paisley “Then” – Paisley normally has the critics in the palm of his hand, but when “Then” was released in advance of American Saturday Night, it was derided by many as a bit bland and not as clever as he normally is. However, for myself and a lot of other music fans, “Then” is a sweet and real tale about how the love between two people grows farther and further than you can ever imagine. Picture being in the early weeks and months of a relationship, and having someone play this song for you and telling you that these lyrics remind them of you:
I remember, trying not to stare the night that I first met you.
You had me mesmerized.
And three weeks later in the front porch light, taking forty five minutes to kiss goodnight.
I hadn’t told you yet, but I thought I loved you then
– Ty Herndon “Loved Too Much” – There were two types of country hits in the 90s…those “New Traditional” songs that harkened back to the Golden Age of Country Music, and those that could be played on Top 40 radio stations almost as easily as they could be on Country radio. Ty Herndon’s music definitely leaned toward the pop side of country, although he only barely hit the Top 40 on the Hot 100 chart one time (“It Must Be Love” at #38). A perfect example of Ty’s pop-country sound can be found on “Loved Too Much”, which tells the story of a man who isn’t able to casually be in a relationship.
I need to be loved too much I need to be held too tight
I need to hear someone say at the end of day
I’ll make everything right.
– Dixie Chicks “Never Say Die” – Way back on their major label debut, the Chicks already had some of the best writers in Nashville offering up their wares to be Dixiefied. George Ducas and Radney Foster capture the minutiae of a relationship that has seen some pretty big moments, because sometimes you don’t realize what you have until life slows to a crawl for a moment. Martie Maguire can milk some amazing emotion out of a few violin strings, and this song is a perfect example of that. “Die” is one of multiple highlights on Wide Open Spaces, and occasionally it will drift up to the surface for no apparent reason.
We’ve both had our share of doubts
Waited out those ole storm clouds
Boy it’s nights like this that I know why
Lovers like you and me will never say die
– Norah Jones “Come Away With Me” – So the mix closes with a request to run away to anywhere but here. Has a 3-minute song ever sounded as lush as this song does? Within those three minutes, you are transported to a cabin in the woods, a mountaintop, a field on the plains, and a bus heading for points unknown. The amazing thing to me is how much of a classic this song sounded like upon its release, and it was from Norah’s debut album. I have enjoyed music from each of her successive records, but I fear that lightning may not strike twice for Norah. Then again, wouldn’t most artists beg, borrow or steal to have one record like Come Away With Me?
And I want to walk with you
On a cloudy day
In fields where the yellow grass grows knee-high
So won’t you try to come?
So speaking of “Come Away With Me”, it appears on the new Now That’s What I Call Love collection that came out last week. The cool thing about this collection is that it has a variety of sounds, including rock, country, pop, and R&B. Coolest inclusion? Howie Day’s “Collide”, which remains one of my favorite songs from the late 90s. There’s even one for the potential adulterer in your life, courtesy of Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel”.
Is your interest piqued? Well, thanks to the folks at EMI, I have 2 copies of this 20-song collection to give away. If you leave a comment between now and Tuesday afternoon, you will be entered to win a copy of the CD. Comment away!