Sunday, 11 December 2011

Country counting

The ESC Nation Message Board recently had a music competition where participants entered songs from around the world, the only criterion being that they had to have numbers in the title. It got me thinking, so here's twelve country songs, connected by nothing more than their numbers.

Bomshel - 19 and Crazy
I wish that we could always stay 19 and crazy

Barrelling along at 200mph, the vibe of this song suits its message of youth and freedom perfectly, with just a hint of the regret of growing up, but with the knowledge that a great pairing is always young at heart. I'm also a sucker for a good 'craaay-zay', and this song provides that over and over.

George Jones and Tammy Wynette - Two Story House
How sad it is, we now live, in a two story house

Playing on the typical country knack for double meanings, Jones and Wynette sing about their journey to buying their own house, before their married life disintegrates, leaving them each living their own story. The two story house shifts from being something to aspire towards to being a sad representation of their lives.

Taylor Swift - Fifteen
When you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you, you're gonna believe it

One of Taylor Swift's strengths is her skill in speaking to young people and showing just how well she knows their lives and what they're thinking, by providing just the right amount of detail and honesty among the empathy. This song is one of the best examples of that.

Kristy Lee Cook - 15 Minutes of Shame
I hope you enjoy your 15 minutes of shame

A very typical kiss-off from the American Idol 8th-placer, pretty predictable, doesn't cover any new or innovative ground - but it is a whole lot of fun... JASON!

Jessica Rae - 24 Hour Church

There's always a seat at the 24 hour church in Memphis

Independent artist Jessica Rae sings this strummy acoustic number, about a 24 hour church and all the people who find their salvation there. I've never been entirely sure if there's a subtly drawn link here between turning to God for inspiration and turning to music (and specifically Elvis), but it works with either interpretation.

Sara Evans - Three Chords and the Truth
Just when I thought I was over you, he changed my mind with three chords and the truth

The very description of country music and what it can do. The narrator is leaving her husband but when on the radio she hears a country song, she realises the error of her ways and turns back. The title refers to the two key ingredients of a country song - three chords and the truth.

Ashley Gearing - Five More Minutes
He needs five more minutes

A by-the-book example of the classic country three-verse format. In the first verse, the narrator needs 'five more minutes' with her boyfriend on the front porch, before her father wants five more minutes with his daughter on her wedding day. Someone's clearly going to die in a hospital bed in the third verse.

Jewel - Ten
By the time I get to ten I'm right back in your arms again

Even before she turned to country music, one of Jewel's greatest skills was always her way with words and turn of phrase. Here she takes the idea of counting to ten before leaving and takes the listener with her on the emotional journey of the count, from "I still want to hate you" to "take a deep breath" and "right back in your arms again".

Kathy Mattea - Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses
Eighteen wheels and a dozen roses, ten more miles on his four day run

Charlie's on his last day of driving a juggernaut, he has his retirement gift in his cab, along with a bunch of flowers and he's on the way home to "spend the rest of his life with the one that he loves". A lovely, gentle song about ordinary people and long-lasting love.

Alan Jackson - It's Five O'Clock Somewhere
It's only half past twelve, but I don't care - it's five o'clock somewhere

Neither I, nor Alan Jackson, nor Jimmy Buffett accept any responsibility for the consequences if you use this excuse with your boss.

LeAnn Rimes - One Way Ticket (Because I Can)
Gonna buy a one way ticket on a westbound train, and see how far I can go

LeAnn Rimes' only country No 1, and it came early in her career. A simple and enjoyable song combining the kiss-off and the coming-of-age, it contains one of the best key-changes in country music.

Jennifer Hanson - '73
Mom holding Dad, Dad holding me, in '73

A song that never fails to touch me. Hanson uses the standard country metaphor of looking through old photos, and remembering family times in the past, taking the listener along on a story of her childhood. On the way she chronicles her parents' divorce, Christmas in two different homes, her new half-brother and, finally, her graduation photo, where she stands, once again, flanked by both her mother and father.

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