Category Archives: Lists

Giving Thanks: Top 5 Country Songs about Thanksgiving

As we gear into the holiday season, it is important for us to think about our blessings and giving thanks to our friends in family. Most people value the food and parties as the most important part of the holidays, but we should take a step back and focus on what really matters, our friends and family. Now, country music discusses many topics such as drinking, tailgating, heartache, and love but what does it have to say about being thankful, here is a countdown of what I believe to be the top 5 country songs about Thanksgiving.

5. Pat Green, “Lucky” (2004)

Pat Green hopes that we win a million dollars or date a supermodel, but he also gives us the story of a regular guy. He says that the biggest victory in life fall  “beneath this red, white and big blue sky/With your job, your car, your family, your friends/The love of a girl that you know will never end.” That is what we should truly be thankful for and what aspects of life we are lucky to have.

4. Willie Nelson, “I’m Alive” (2008)

Willie Nelson sings, “As for me, I’d like to thank my lucky stars / That I’m alive and well,” He wants us to focus on the most important and little things in life that most people take for granted. Being alive and well is something we should be very thankful for, and this hit by Willie Nelson reminds us of this.

3. Blake Shelton, “God Gave Me You” (2011)

At first listen, this song sounds like it is merely a love song, but digging deeper this song is more than a story of a hopeless romantic. The song can be applied to any important person in our life. It is a song to show us that we are never alone. It is ironic that this song, for Shelton, is about his ex-wife Miranda Lambert. I wonder if he now applies this song for new girlfriend and fellow Voice coach, Gwen Stefani. Either way, this song reminds us if what were truly thankful for, friends and family.

2. Travis Tritt, “It’s a Great Day to be Alive” (2000)

“And it’s a great day to be alive / I know the sun’s still shinin’ when I close my eyes / There’s some hard times in the neighborhood / But why can’t everyday be just this good.” The chorus of this song reminds us to be thankful for everyday. Tritt also tells us that even when we are having hard days to take a step back and look at all that we have to be thankful for.

1. Martina McBride, “Blessed” (2000)

This CMA nominated hit by Martina McBride is the #1 song about Thanksgiving because she explains the little things of life we are blessed to have. The chorus states that, “At the end of every day / I have been blessed / With so much more than I deserve / To be here with the ones that love me / To love them so much it hurts / I have been blessed.” This song discusses our blessings in a humble manner and reminds us to thank God for the gifts we have been given that are “so much more than I deserve.” Martina McBride truly encompasses all aspects of Thanksgiving in this beautifully written song.

Before you dive face first in the turkey, think about what you are thankful for. Hopefully this list gets you into the Holiday spirit and makes you realize how blessed we are. Happy Thanksgiving!


Filed under Lists, Reflection, Song Analysis

Fitting Country into College

Editor’s note: This is an example of Blog Post #5.

There’s not much free time when it comes to your sophomore year of college, sometimes it seems like your professors are piling on the work just for the fun of it. But I somehow managed to fit in a few country themed events this semester. So without further ado, in no particular order, are my top three fun country themed events from the first semester of my sophomore year of college.

  1. IMG_9315Brad Paisley Concert (and it was for free!)
    Apparently one of the perks of going to the best University’s in the world is getting to see one of your favorite country stars for FREE. The weather wasn’t the best, in fact it was pretty gross, with 10 inch thick humid air hitting me like a brick, but somehow I still had fun. The best part by far was watching Brad Paisley perform and seeing the UT Tower in the background. It definitely made me realize how great this school is and how much I love the influence country music has on this state.
  1. On Wednesdays, we watch Nashville
    Two words: Rayna James. And five more: I wish I was her. This show is ADDICTING y’all. The producers have managed to keep almost all of the scenarios relatable and realistic, but yet it’s about a country music superstar and the other superstars that surround her? Props to them. The star power of Rayna, Luke Wheeler, Juliet Barnes, and all of the other fictional country music singers on the show are counterbalanced by the raw talent of Rayna’s daughters, Daphne and Maddie. Between their sound and the musical styling’s of Deacon Claiborne, these characters keep the show grounded and bring country music back to its roots. It’s great to hear pop country sounds mixed in with the sweet sound of just a voice and guitar.
  1.  Surprise! I went two- stepping.
    This actually isn’t very surprising since this is Texas, but still fun nonetheless. When someone suggests going two-stepping, I’m always immediately on board. This isn’t to say I’m good at it. In fact, I spent most of the night tripping over myself and elbowing a lot of people in the face, but it was so worth it. Honestly, “dancing” around in circles and laughing at how ridiculous I looked compared to the country-dancing veterans was one of the most entertaining things I did all semester.

10641040_777644538959654_1514473168129487529_nSo there you have it, proof that I did leave my room/library this semester. And to say it was worth it would be an understatement. I learned a lot too, that country music isn’t just Luke Bryan shaking his butt in a huge arena- it has roots dating back further than I even imagined. It’s grown and evolved and gradually transformed into the music I hear today. Luckily, all three of the things listed above helped further that understanding. I saw today’s country with Brad, got a mix of it with Nashville, and danced to all kinds of music in a way that generations of country music lovers have done before me. What could be better?


Filed under Austin, Blog Post 5, Concert, Country Pop, Dancing, Lists, Live Music, Movies and TV, Reflection, Texas

4 George Strait Songs That Deserve That #1 Seat


“Unless you’re God or George Strait, Take Off Your Boots”. Known as the “King of country music”, George Strait has released 59 #1 singles. Believe it or not, some of his greatest songs didn’t quite reach that #1 seat and here is a list of four that deserve it:

1) “Marina Del Rey” released in 1982

Released as a single from his album, Strait from the Heart, this is a song about a memory made with a love a man met while in Marina Del Rey. “As we looked into each others’ eyes/ We found our bodies lost in paradise/ Like castaways in Marina Del Rey.” We sense the affair between the two characters as something they will remember for the rest of the their lives. This song embodies notions listeners want to feel – passionate love.

2) “Amarillo by Morning” released in 1982

“Amarillo by Morning”, also a single released from the album, Strait from the Heart, describes the life of a rodeo man. Strait sings about the love the narrator has for rodeo life stating, “I ain’t got a dime but what I got is mine, I ain’t rich but Lord I’m free”. This song is relatable to many people who do what they love simply because they enjoy it.

3) “The Cowboy Rides Away” released in 1984

I know what you are thinking, “The Cowboy Rides Away” has to be a #1. Nope, but it sure deserves to be. From the album, Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind, this song tells us about relationship that has had its ups and downs. The song concludes by telling us “the last goodbyes the hardest one to say. This is where the cowboy rides away”. This song always seem to be the last song played at a dance, where you’re sure to see a full dance floor.

4) “Cowboys Like Us” released in 2003

“Cowboys Like Us” reached #2 on Billboard Hot Country Singles from his album Honkeytonkville. This song is an ode to all the real cowboys still left out there. “Cowboys like us sure do have fun/ racin’ the wind, chasin’ the sun.” I picture a bunch of boys on horses, wearing cowboy hats riding down the pasture having a genuine good time. How can you not love that? “There’ll be no regrets, no worries and such/ For cowboys like us.” This carefree way of life brings out the inner cowboy in all of us.

From break ups and heartache to love and passion, George Strait has sung about it all. These four songs symbolize the true meaning of country music. We applaud George Strait’s talents and the fact that he has had so many #1’s, but hey these songs deserve that count to be 63.


Filed under Blog Post 3, Lists, New Traditionalism, Song Analysis, Texas

6 Best Moments of the CMA Awards

The 2015 CMA Awards (a.k.a the water cooler gossip at work on Thursday) had some pretty mixed reviews. There are countless articles and disagreements regarding outfits, performances, and winners. While scrolling through lists of the best and worst moments, it was funny to see how some peoples opinions of best moments were others ideas of the worst. I think people just don’t know how to feel about the overall award show this year, except for one thing — no Taylor Swift. She has moved on from country music and I am glad everyone finally acknowledged it. Love it or hate it though, I want to focus on the positive aspects. We can bash on it all we want, but there were some pretty awesome parts that show it hasn’t gone completely down hill.

6. Chris Stapleton’s Many Wins

Stapleton made a name for himself when he won best new artist, best album for Traveller (which spiked 4,000% the day after the show), and best male vocalist. USA Today would even say he “is here to save country music.” This genre has taken an interesting direction in the past decade and Stapleton has taken it back to its real roots. He said in his acceptance speech, “about two years ago I lost my dad and I made this record thinking about the music he would have liked.” He was genuinely surprised by his many wins and with a beard like that you can’t help but love him.

5. Luke Bryan Not Shaking His Butt

Luke is turning 40 next year and, although he won entertainer of the year, he let go of his bro country image with his performance of “Strip It Down,” while fully clothed. We were finally able to focus on his vocals to understand why he was nominated for Male Vocalist of the Year. It is good to see him finally acting his age.

2004. Tribute to the Late Little Jimmy Dickens

This 4-foot-11 Grand Ole Opry star made many appearances in earlier CMA awards with Brad and Carrie. He unfortunately passed away earlier this year so it was only right to honor him with an urn. Well a miniature urn inside a bigger urn that Paisley pulled out. He mentioned that Dickens wanted to leave making people laugh and he surely accomplished that. There were a few questionable jokes during their intro, but they nailed that one.

3. Carrie Underwood.

As Little Big Town would say, I’ve got a girl crush. With her 12 perfect outfit changes and wowing of the crowd with her current song “Smoke Break,” there was nothing she did that wasn’t flawless. Whether she had princess Leia buns or knee high leather boots, she rocked it. Her and Brad Paisleys monologue wasn’t their best one in their eight years as hosts, but she looked pretty doing it.

2. Miranda Lambert Keeping it Honest

Great timing Blake. With their split up only months ago and Blake’s announcement of his new girlfriend just 20 minutes before the show, Miranda’s statement of “I needed a bright spot this year” is very accurate. She deserved Female Vocalist of the Year and killed her performance of “Bathroom Sink” with her new pink hair. Blake tried to “win” the break up but failed. I can’t wait to see the new album she releases all about him.

1. Justin Timberlake & Chris Stapleton

Since I began with Chris Stapleton, it is only fair to end with him considering his enormous success during the award show. Not only did he win three awards as I mentioned earlier, but also had the best performance of the night hands down. I think who really stole the show though was JT. “The Nashville sound meets the soul of Memphis” said Brad Paisley. I would not be upset if Timberlake went country, because I believe he can do it all. Thank you to this duo for killing it.

2608Even though ratings were down 16% from last year, I think country music is finally starting to get over the hump of the pop sound. With the successful boom of Chris Stapleton and the non-bro Luke Bryan, I believe that country music will start to make its way back up. There is hope for this genre.


Filed under Awards, Blog Post 4, Lists

Disney-Country Collaborations

Woody's Round Up

The only thing that could possibly rival country music for its domination of the market in manufactured sadness and nostalgia is, well, a Disney movie.

So I guess it makes sense that the Mouse House and country music would team up now and again to prey on our emotions and leave a trail of our glistening tears in their wake. Two recent Disney-country collaborations appear on a new album of Disney classics reinterpreted by popular contemporary singers.

we-love-disney-cdCalled We Love Country, the collection includes two country songs. The first is “Let It Go,” performed as a duet between Lucy Hale and the Rascal Flatts. Since Frozen is still fairly new and overrated, I didn’t respond strongly to that one. The second country song is Kacey Musgraves’s cover of “A Spoonful of Sugar” — a tune I strongly associate with my childhood. My mom and I watched Mary Poppins, like, daily, and I would stand on the staircase with an open umbrella and pretend I was flying.  Musgraves keeps it bouncy and light, but like vinegar and baking soda the steel guitar and my memories of that singing nanny are a mixture that yield a predictable response. I sobbed.

I started this post intending to share my ten favorite Disney-country collaborations. But since I’m running short on Kleenex, I’ll just focus on the top five. They’re ranked in order of the least to most likely to leave me in a puddle.

5. “Will the Sun Ever Shine Again” (2004)

Disney’s cow movie, Home on the Range, is a disaster except for this heart-wrenching ballad by country rocker Bonnie Raitt. For many people (myself included), feeling nostalgic often involves longing for home and brighter days. But how does one go on when there’s no way of knowing if the sun will shine again? The song is good and sad enough it almost makes me feel sympathy for that ditzy, selfish bovine with the voice of Roseanne.

4. The Robin Hood (1973) soundtrack

I’m not sure how the Disney execs came up with the idea of hiring Roger Miller to write the songs for their movie about a medieval English thief. Probably, they wanted him to bring the same zany fun to the film that he had brought to songs like “Dang Me” and “King of the Road” in the mid ’60s. In fact, with the songs “Oo De Lally” and “Not in Nottingham” he gave the movie a soul and an emotional punch. “Oo De Lally” is as much an introduction to the characters of Robin Hood and Little John as it is a testament to their friendship.

3. “On the Front Porch” (1963)

If nostalgia had a voice it would sound like Burl Ives. Though he was a celebrated folk/country singer and an Oscar-winning actor, he is best known for voicing the character of Sam the Snowman on the classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV special. In Disney’s Summer Magic, he plays a wise country bumpkin, and in one of the film’s best moments he gathers the other characters together to sing along on this ode to family, friends, and the simpler days gone by.

The song was written by Richard and Robert Sherman, who composed the songs for lots of the movies I obsessed over as a kid, including The Sword in the Stone (1963), Mary Poppins (1964), The Jungle Book (1967), Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977).

2. You’ve Got a Friend in Me (1995)

Pretty much the whole point of Toy Story is to bring the tears of nostalgia into its viewer’s eyes. Do you feel guilty even considering trashing a stuffed animal you haven’t touched in ten years? Blame director John Lasseter. “Woody’s Round-Up,” performed by Riders in the Sky, appears in Toy Story 2 and is the franchise’s most traditional country song, but the tune that brings these movies’ fans to tears is “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” At the end of the first film, the song is performed as a duet between Randy Newman and singer Lyle Lovett. Like Woody and Buzz, they’re an odd but perfect combination.

1. “Baby Mine” (1996)

This song from Dumbo is one of Disney’s most enduring classics. In 1996, Allison Krauss covered it for the album The Best of Country Sing the Best of Disney, and though the single floundered on the charts it netted her a Grammy nomination.

Like Mary Poppins and Toy Story, Dumbo isn’t just a movie I watched as a child — it’s a movie about the experience of being a child. How better to remind viewers how it felt to be both scared and comforted as a child than through a lullaby? Krauss’s version adds a bridge and a modern sound, and though the original brings me tears, it’s the cover that makes me melt. I sing the song pretty regularly to my own son at bedtime, which means my emotional attachment — not to mention the puddles of tears — will only grow in the years to come

Nostalgia is a difficult topic to discuss with other people because we all have such different experiences. Do Disney movies give you the same feels that country music does? What Disney-country collaborations that I’ve left off the list do you remember and love? Share in the comments!


Filed under Lists, Movies and TV, Reflection