This year country music started to make sense to me. I’m not sure this is a good thing, but I’m actually more familiar with this year’s country hits than with the rock, metal, and alternative charts. How did this happen?
There were two bathrooms I had to clean several times every day at the campground. The one in the main building had a rock station playing through the overhead speakers. The bathroom on the other side of the campground had country playing, LOUD!
Some of these songs were actually released in 2008, but seemed to stay at the top of the 2009 charts, and as a radio listener, they were in fact top songs of 2009 for me.
Driving a golf cart full of cleaning supplies back and forth all day, for a few pennies more than minimum wage gave me a new understanding of what I was hearing in the “country bathroom.” From a rock ‘n roll janitor’s point of view, here are 2009’s top 10 country songs:
1.People are Crazy , by Billy Currington: It’s a song that tells a story of a lengthy barroom conversation with an old man, with a surprise ending. The title itself, and chorus, “God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy,” contain the basic and simple truth of the song. Actually released in October of 2008, it stayed high in the 2009 charts for a long time.
2.Shuttin’ Detroit Down, by John Rich: Bitter, political and timely, this is a song for historians to examine at some future time, a sample of today’s world.
3.White Liar by Miranda Lambert A simple and melodic ballad of infidelity, describing who the acts of a turpentine-tongued lover finding their way back to the ears of a wronged woman through the ever-reliable mechanism of small town gossip.
4. She’s Country by Jason Aldean This song is ironically titled. The beat is hard-rock; the lyrics are delivered in an almost-hip-hop cadence. The result however is impressive, and it’s a song that plays in my head repeatedly. (This song was also released in 2008 but dominated the 2009 charts)
5. Kiss a Girl by Keith Urban Almost a little too cute, somehow the would-be Jerry Garcia of C&W pulls this one off and makes it work.
6. You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift: Taylor Swift’s voice is credible and innocent sounding. This song of (as yet) unrequited love and a sophisticated and possibly slutty rival creates sympathy for the song’s protagonist and storyteller almost instantly.
Using visual (“she wears high-heels, I wear sneakers”) and social (she’s cheer captain, I’m on the bleachers), contrasts, Taylor Swift makes the nature of the conflict, and the storyteller’s longing clear and easily understandable. A year ago Taylor Swift was just a name to me; now it’s easy to understand her critical acclaim and well deserved awards. This song, released late in 2008 dominated the 2009 charts well into the summer and beyond.
7. Strange by Reba McEntire: This song rocks, with a driving beat, bittersweet melodies, and dark-edged harmonies. “Strange,” is in fact a strange and fairly complicated song, dealing with the classic country theme of heartbreak, and more importantly, recovering and rising above it.
8. Marry for Money by Trace Adkins The title of this song is self-explanatory and says it all.
“Don’t really care if she loves me
She can even be ugly
I’m gonna marry for money” -Amen to that bro’
9. Sideways by Dierks Bentley Another country rocker with a good hook, a celebration of celebration (and alcohol), this one sticks with me too.
10. One in Every Crowd by Montgomery Gentry A spectacularly silly song, with “hey y’all” chorus that was destined to be a party favorite from the moment it hit the airwaves.
People are Crazy , by Billy Currington Album “Little bit of Everything,” Mercury, 10-14-2008
Shuttin’ Detroit Down, by John Rich Album “Son of a Preacher Man,” Warner Bros. 3-17-2009
“White Liar” August 2009, Miranda Lambert, Natalie Hemby Album: Revolution, Columbia Records
She’s Country by Jason Aldean Album: Wide Open, Broken Bow Records
Kiss a Girl by Keith Urban Album Defying Gravity 4-4-2009 Capitol Nashville
You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift: Album “Fearless”, 11-4-2008 Big Machine Record
Strange by Reba McEntire Single released 4-6-2009 Starstruck Records
Marry for Money by Trace Adkins 11-5-2008 Capitol Nashville
Sideways by Dierks Bentley Album “Feel That Fire” 2-3-2009 Capitol Nashville
One in Every Crowd by Montgomery Gentry Single Released 2-2-2009 Columbia Nashville