Each week Wide Open Country’s music writers share new and old songs they have on heavy rotation.
“Give A Little Lovin'” JP Harris and the Tough Choices
If you’re a country fan who prefers the neon glow of a honky-tonk stage to the bombast of a modern country concert, you’ll love this track by J.P. Harris and the Tough Choices. Part Bakersfield sound, part early Waylon Jennings, “Give A Little Lovin’” shuffles along like the crowd on a Saturday night dance floor. If you like what you hear, explore his 2014 album, Home Is Where The Hurt Is, and keep an eye out for his upcoming classic country duets album, Why Don’t We Duet In the Road.
“Sitting on Top of the World,” Jerry Garcia
The leader of the Grateful Dead had deep roots in bluegrass and folk music. 2016’s Folk Time is a superb collection of Garcia’s early country music work with one of his first bands, the High Valley Drifters. On this cover of the American traditional “Sitting On Top of the World,” a young Garcia emulates the style of bluegrass guitar legend Doc Watson, and it sounds pretty damn good. In 1962, Garcia was already skilled banjoist, guitarist and vocalist. Three years later he would parlay those skills into the creation of the Grateful Dead, which long held country music as one of its core influences.
“Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind?” George Strait
Can you ever get enough of George Strait’s music? Of course not. Most of Texas and the vast majority of country fans around the world agree. Strait’s “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind” is one of his platinum-certified hits, meaning it’s sold over one million copies. This week in 1985, Strait took the tune to No. 1 on the country charts. The song’s production has a trace of the 80’s style, but as far country tunes go, it’s truly timeless. If you’re at the bar or local dance joint this weekend, slip a dollar in the jukebox and fire this one up.
“Missionary Ridge,” Shovels and Rope
If you’re a fan of Americana and a Civil War history buff, this track off Shovels and Rope’s latest album Little Seeds is sure to please. The track retells the events of the Battle of Missionary Ridge, which ended the Confederate stronghold on Chattanooga, Tenn. But this isn’t a forgotten b-side from Schoolhouse Rock. It’s a poetic and haunting folk tune that is crafted to sound like it came out of the 1800s itself. That’s a feat that few artists can pull off well, but Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent once again break modern musical conventions with this tune.
“Today I Started Loving You Again,” Merle Haggard
With 2016 now behind us, it’s still hard to believe how many great musical artists we lost in 12 short months. One of the first and arguably most devastating was the loss of Merle Haggard last April. Country music will never be the same because of his incredible talents. Need proof? Look no further than he extensive catalog of music that’s been left behind. “Today I Started Loving You Again” is one of those classics that sounds just as good today as it did when it was released back in 1968.