For a few years, country music was a guilty pleasure of mine. Then, I stopped caring what other people think, and country music became just plain pleasure. My love for country music started with my Dad – so many country songs bring back good memories of him. Though he’s been gone for thirteen years now, that love persists – and has grown stronger. Yeah, I’ve heard all the jokes. What do you get when you play country music backwards? You get your dog back, you get your woman back, you get your truck back …. How many country singers does it take to change a lightbulb? Two. One to do it, and one to sing a song about all the good times he had with the old bulb. A few times, I’ve also been treated to a yowling rendition of “there’s a tear in my beer ’cause I’m crying for you, dear”. Whatever. I like what I like, and it’s cool because I like it.
During our most recent road trip, rolling through rural Texas, we discovered 104.1 (“The Ranch”). Tall trees on either side, stretching toward a cloudless blue sky, and a cold Dr. Pepper and …. “Seven Spanish Angels”! This Ray Charles-Willie Nelson ballad gave me goosebumps and filled my eyes with tears when I was a kid. It still does. I sat transfixed in the passenger seat, soaking it in. That radio station took over our dial and held it nearly the whole afternoon (in direct contravention of our rule that we take hour-long turns with music in the car). 104.1 played so many beloved songs that I started writing them down, already knowing I would share them with you. So, break out the cowboy hat and oversized belt buckles …. Enjoy the cheesy, like “Cadillac Ranch” and “Older Women”. Enjoy the poignant, like “Back Home Again” and “Smokey Mountain Rain”. Enjoy all of it. Here’s a list of my favourites from that day, in the order the station played them, with links ….
“Cadillac Ranch” – Chris LeDoux
“Back Home Again” – John Denver
“Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses” – Kathy Mattea
“If Heaven Ain’t Alot Like Dixie” – Hank Williams Jr.
“Fool-Hearted Memory” – George Strait
“It Must Be Love” – Don Williams
“Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys” – Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson
“I’ve Already Loved You In My Mind” – Conway Twitty
“Drivin’ My Life Away” – Eddie Rabbit
“Smokey Mountain Rain” – Ronnie Milsap
“Older Women” – Ronnie McDowell
“All My Exes Live in Texas” – George Strait
“Long-Necked Bottle” – Garth Brooks
“The Ride” – David Allan Coe
“She’s My Rock” – George Jones
Disclaimer: I did my best to find videos that are not cringe-worthy. This is no small feat in the wild west of Youtube. Just close your eyes and focus on the music.