If you’re too snobby for another installment of our country showcase, then just keep on moving. Though I compiled these songs, much credit goes to PC for making me dig out some great music by Dwight Yoakam and Hank Williams III. Rather than blather on, I’ll let you check out the songs.
The Late Great Golden State – Dwight Yoakam
The first track off Population: Me, this track features background vocals that sound like something from a 1960s country album—nothing in country music is doing any kind of throwback like this.
Things Change – Dwight Yoakam
Off A Long Way Home—Yoakam is one of the most underrated writers of love songs in the past twenty-five years. The man knows how to pen a great country ballad.
Population: Me – Dwight Yoakam
I love the shuffling drumbeat and the sparse acoustic guitar. Once again, nothing on modern country radio sounds like this—and you can year the influence of Buck Owens on Yoakam’s voice. Wait for the tuba and banjo to play. Together.
Nothing – Dwight Yoakam
Gone featured Yoakam during his creative peak—this music couldn’t be classified as any genre. That’s why Yoakam will remain a cult figure—you can’t pin him down, and that’s refreshing.
A Long Way Home – Dwight Yoakam
This is an acoustic version of dwightyoakamacoustic.net, an album whose title I’ve never figured out. This version showcases the man’s trademark voice. One of his rawest and very best albums.
The Back of Your Hand – Dwight Yoakam
Another mournful, yet hopeful, ballad. The title of the song says it all.
A Thousand Miles from Nowhere – Dwight Yoakam
One of my favorites from the man, off 1993’s This Time, my personal favorite by him. I was twelve or thirteen when I heard this and… well, if I would ever finish my little country music essay, you could read all about this and many other songs from the time.
Suspicious Minds – Dwight Yoakam
An incendiary cover of The King from the forgettable Nicholas Cage movie Honeymoon in Vegas. The electric guitar just tears it up.
Ain’t That Lonely Yet – Dwight Yoakam
Another beautiful country pop song—pretty much a perfect number.
Fast As You – Dwight Yoakam
A killer guitar riff, rock organ, and a great beat—rock radio wishes it could find something like this. Is there still rock radio?
The Blue Collar Rock – The Tractors
In 1994, I loved The Tractors. Their first single, “Baby Likes to Rock It,” was a swinging, shuffling number that scored heavy rotation on CMT. This country downer features a chorus that would make Merle smile. And my favorite line of the day: “My life is certified solid rock hard.”
I’ve Had Enough – The Tractors
Always loved this song—just the perfect rural lament about life and love. You’ll hear more of The Tractors in a few weeks—I’m one of a handful of people who probably own Have Yourselves A Tractors Christmas.
Semi-Crazy – Junior Brown (with Red Simpson)
Red Simpson was perhaps the greatest singer of trucker songs. Junior Brown—with his deep baritone sounding like a roaring eighteen wheeler—tears up the slide guitar and waxes poetic about a “slap-happy, gear-jamming, coffee-drinking truck driving fool.”
White Lightening – George Jones
Might, mighty pleasin’, Pappy’s corn squeezin’s.
4th of July – Shooter Jennings
Waylon’s song released one of the best country albums this decade with Put the O Back in Country. Think about that title if you don’t get it.
Manifesto No. 1 – Shooter Jennings
Sex, Jesus, and rock music. That’s a combination.
Satan Is Real – The Louvin Brothers
Since we had Jesus, we need some Satan to balance it out. Maybe the best album cover ever?
Medley: Satan Is Real/Straight to Hell – Hank Williams III
Straight to Hell is Hank III singing about drinkin’, screwin’, and druggin’. What did you expect a Williams to sing about?
Country Heroes – Hank Williams III
A tribute to the legends who’ve inspired Hank III. The first time I heard this song was about 10 at night in my car alone. It gave me the chills, but the electric guitar alone was enough to coax me to buy this record.
D. Ray White – Hank Williams III
D. Ray White was widely thought to be the best mountain dancer in America before his murder in 1985. He’s still a legend in Boone County, West Virginia and beyond. His son, Jesco White, is the Dancing Outlaw. If you’ve never seen this documentary, track it down. Jesco is an American original.
Pills I Took – Hank Williams III
This song is pretty much about exactly what the title says.
Crazed Country Rebel – Hank Williams III
Overdose of drugs, overdose of sin, I’m gonna live it to the fullest like I’m on in ten.
Lifetime to Prove – BR5-49
Junior Samples used to call BR5-49 on Hee Haw—yeah, I liked Hee Haw. Sue me. And it’s a great name for this country band. They mix cowboy punk, swing, and raw country for a sound that’s amazing.
One Long Saturday Night – BR5-49
I wish every Saturday night sounded like this.