I'm firing the What I'm Listening To feature back up with the 5th installment, featuring new songs from George Strait, Reba McEntire, and Joy Williams, along with an old cut from Patty Loveless. These are four songs that I've been listening to frequently the last few weeks. I hope you enjoy! :)
George Strait's "Old Violin" - This song serves to remind everyone that one of George's greatest talents, next to singing, is picking great songs to record. "Old Violin", written by Johnny Paycheck, is a cover that seems to fit Strait to a T and happens to be one of Strait's finest moments on his latest record, Honky Tonk Time Machine. Originally a hit for Paycheck in 1986, the song as been covered by several artists since then, including Daryle Singletary and Lee Brice. The song itself is a stunningly vulnerable offering that compares the narrator to an old instrument soon to be put away and never played again. The comparison is driven home by the last stanza, "And just like that, it hit me why that old violin and I were just alike, We give our all to music, And soon we'll give our life." It's a beautiful song, one that struck a chord immediately upon my first listen. George's vocal performance is a shining example of why he is known as the reigning King of Country Music.
Interesting fact about "Old Violin": It is said that the song served as the last performance for both Johnny Paycheck and Daryle Singletary.
Reba McEntire's "The Bar's Getting Lower" - A cut from Reba's latest record, Stronger Than The Truth, "The Bar's Getting Lower" is one of my favorites on the record. It tells the story of a woman who has watched her dreams of marriage, children, and a white picket fence go by unfulfilled, and all the while she just keeps getting older. It's a sad reality for a good many people (and a happy one for others). The song struck a chord for me, not in the sense that I want to get married and haven't yet. I'm actually perfectly happy being single currently. It's more that I am consistently reminded that I'm getting older and have to deal with people wondering if I'll ever get married. I particularly liked the verses, "And that drunk cowboy tellin' her lies, Ain't the John Wayne she had in mind, But she's gettin' older, And the bar's gettin' lower," simply because I've been a John Wayne lover for 20 years now and he/his characters do contribute to my picture of the ideal man.
"The Bar's Getting Lower" is a great song with solid lyrics and an easy on the ears production. Definitely a standout on the album.
Joy Williams' "Front Porch" - The title track from William's newly released album, "Front Porch" was cowritten by Williams, Liz Rose, and Emily Shackelton. The song gets specific about the often alluded to front porch experience, which is more about coming home to a safe environment, than just sitting on the porch having a good time. It's warm and welcoming through both the lyrical story and the stripped-down melody featuring the soft strumming of an acoustic guitar and the beautiful sighs of a fiddle.
The chorus, "If never you find what you’re looking for/ Come on back to the front porch/ Say my name through the screen door/ Come on back to the front porch/ Whatever you’ve done, it doesn’t matter/ 'Cause darling we're all a little splintered and battered/ But the light is on, what you waiting for?/ Come on back, come on back to the front porch sums of the message of the song," sums up the message of the song.
Patty Loveless' "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive"- Written and originally recorded by Darrell Scott, Loveless covered "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" on her 11th studio album, Mountain Soul. The song, which depicts the life of the coal miner and the plight of the land controlled by outsiders in Harlan, Kentucky, has been covered numerous times by other artists including Brad Paisley and Kathy Mattea. It stands out as one of those songs that has yet to see a bad cover/version. It's always beautifully and hauntingly done, though I have to say I think Patty does it the best. She brings an authenticity to the song, having been born and raised near Harlan herself and having lost her father, a coal miner, to the infamous black lung disease. Her first-hand experience with the subject coupled with her haunting, powerful vocals laid over a sparse folk production makes for a pure gold cover.
Born and raised in Upstate NY, Liz is a freelance writer. She has written for websites, blogs, and magazines for the last 10 years. She works as a freelance writer and editor, as well as a proofreader and beta reader for several authors, all the while working on her first book.