New Year’s Day will be here before we know it. Christmas gets all the glory as far as December holidays go, but there’s something about New Years that carries a sense of hope. A sense that no matter how bad, or good, the prior year was, there’s always the chance for improvement, or change.
A lot of country music is about improvement through change, and the consequences of those improvements and changes. Some changes are good, others are bad, but one things is for certain: change is inevitable, and country music displays that sentiment perfectly.
Here are 10 country songs that are about New Years reflections, changing for good, changing for bad and sometimes, not changing at all.
10. “Ringing in the Year”, Turnpike Troubadours
Turnpike’s New Year’s lament about starting another year without a former flame goes from sad misery to a sad acceptance by the song’s end.
9. “The Life You Chose”, Jason Isbell
In the same vein as “Ringing in the Year”, Isbell finds himself in a chance encounter with an old flame and becomes nostalgic, wistfully wishing he could whisk her away again and run off together. He asks her, “Are you living the life you chose, or the life that chose you?” before the song reveals that he’s been living in the past his whole life since he met her. The song is a haunting reminder that you have the power to make your own choices in life, but once a choice is made, it’s not good to constantly relive it.
8. “I Wanna Feel Something”, Trace Adkins
Adkins’ plea for him to “feel something real” is the song of a man who knows he needs to change for the better, and is willing to make that change.
7. “Some People Change”, Montgomery Gentry; Kenny Chesney
Kenny Chesney also recorded a version of this song. Both versions are equally powerful, but the Montgomery Gentry video is especially moving. The song is about how some people, whether they be racists, drunks, or otherwise unlovable people, can indeed change if someone acts with love towards them.
6. “Startin’ With Me”, Jake Owen
One of Owen’s first breakout hits, “Startin’ With Me” finds the narrator running over his greatest regrets. At once sad and inspiring, this barroom mea culpa reminds the listener that it is possible to change your ways.
5. “Maybe Baby (New Year’s Day)”, Sugarland
From their Chirstmas album, “Maybe Baby” is one of the few Sugarland songs where Kristian Bush takes lead vocals. It falls into the “sing about an old flame as the year ends” category, but this song is hopeful instead of sorrowful.
4. “Welcome to the Future”, Brad Paisley
A lot of country songs whine and complain about how today just isn’t as good as it was back then. Paisley’s guitar-driven tribute to progress is just the opposite, celebrating how much humanity has evolved and changed for the better over the course of time. “Welcome to the Future” imagines a happier future than the one we have now, and captures the wonder that previous generations might experience if they could see us now.
3. “My Next Thirty Years”, Tim McGraw
Maybe the perfect New Year’s song. A man takes stock of his life on his 30th birthday, evaluates what went right, what went wrong, and how he can change for the better in his “next thirty years.”
2. “Maybe Next Year”, Corey Smith
On the other side of the “Next Thirty Years” coin is Corey Smith’s “Maybe Next Year,” a light-hearted poke at the guy who can’e seem to ever find a job or change his freeloading ways. It is the anti-New Year’s Resolution.
1. “New Year’s Day”, Charlie Robison
Charlie Robison’s song reminds us that every day can be New Year’s. It’s just up to us if we want to change or not. In this case, Robison’s perfectly content with hanging out on the Mexican border.