Music

5 Impactful Country Hits Turning 30 in 2021

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey (2)

The year 1991 fueled the mainstream momentum of country music with these five tradition-honoring hits.

While Alan Jackson pledged allegiance to George Jones, Ricky Van Shelton scored his final No. 1 and Brooks & Dunn, Diamond Rio and Trisha Yearwood made the short list of artists to ever debut on top.

Here's our roundup of the most impactful country songs turning 30 in 2021.

"Brand New Man," Brooks & Dunn

The duo of Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn reached No. 1 with this, the title track from their game-changing debut album.

The Brooks, Dunn and Don Cook co-write tells of a once-troubled man changed by a woman's love. Its chorus gets referenced in obvious Brooks & Dunn fan Blake Shelton's "God's Country."

It became the first of four straight chart-toppers off the album Brand New Man, with the others being decade-defining hits "My Next Broken Heart," "Neon Moon" and "Boot Scootin' Boogie."

"Meet in the Middle," Diamond Rio

That early Diamond Rio blend of classic and contemporary country, bluegrass and rock elements sounded comfortably familiar to ears accustomed to Alabama and Restless Heart. Diamond Rio's sound was so suited to 1991 that "Meet in the Middle" became the first debut single by a country band to reach No. 1.

Four additional singles from the band's self-titled debut ("Mirror, Mirror," "Mama Don't Forget to Pray For Me," "Norma Jean Riley" and "Nowhere Bound") cracked the Top 10.

"Don't Rock the Jukebox," Alan Jackson

Alan Jackson stood on the shoulders of giants while charting country music's future, first with this reminder that George Jones songs do a broken heart good and later on with covers of Don Williams and Tom T. Hall.

Jones appears on the 1991 album of the same title, singing the last line of "Just Playin' Possum."

"Keep It Between the Lines," Ricky Van Shelton

Ricky Van Shelton's 10th and final No. 1 hit closed out his 1991 album Backroads. Kathy Louvin, the daughter of Ira Louvin, co-wrote the multi-generational tale of father-son bonds with former Amazing Rhythm Aces singer Russell Smith.

Songs from the same time period that stir up similar dad-and-lad emotions include George Strait's "Love Without End, Amen" and the late Doug Supernaw's "I Don't Call Him Daddy."

It's not to be confused with the song of the same title from Sturgill Simpson's Grammy award-winning 2016 album A Sailor's Guide to Earth.

Read More: Ricky Van Shelton's 10 Best Songs

"She's in Love With the Boy," Trisha Yearwood

Most fans of a certain age surely remember when this song and its music video introduced the world to country music's next superstar, Trisha Yearwood. Even after four more No. 1 hits and way more examples of why she's one of the most gifted singers in any genre, "She's in Love With the Boy" still stands up as Exhibit A of Yearwood's greatness.

The John Ims composition helped Yearwood's self-titled debut album reach the Top 30 of the all-genre Billboard 200 en route to double platinum status.

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"Keep It Between the Lines" Lyrics

He was sitting beside me
In the passenger seat
As I looked through the windshield
At the quiet little street
He was smiling so proud
As he gave me the key
But inside, I knew
He was as nervous as me

I said, "Daddy oh daddy
Are you sure I know how
Are you sure that I'm ready
To drive this car now"

He said, "I'm right here beside you
And you're gonna do fine
All you gotta do
Is keep it between the lines

'Cause it's a long, narrow road
Only the good Lord knows
Where it leads in the end
But you got to begin
So keep your hands on the wheel
Believe in the things that are real
Just take your time
And keep it between the lines

I was sitting in my chair
And sneaking a look at him
Lying on the floor with his coloring book
Then he caught me watching
And he climbed on my knee

He said "Daddy oh daddy
Would you do one with me"
Then I hugged him so tightly
As we turned the page
Said, "I haven't done this
Since I was your age"

He said, "I'm right here beside you
And you're gonna do fine
Daddy, all you gotta do
Is keep it between the lines"

So we finished the picture
And I put him to bed
Got down on my knees and I bowed my head

I said "Father oh father, I feel so alone
Are you sure I can raise him
With his mommy gone"
Then the answer came back so gentle and low
In words of my daddy, from so long ago

He said, "I'm right here beside you
And you're gonna do fine
All you gotta do
Is keep it between the lines"

So keep your hands on the wheel
Believe in the things that are real
Take your time, and
Keep it between the lines

Just take your time, and
Keep it between the lines

Now Watch: Nashville Singer and Songwriter Joe Diffie's Songs Through the Years

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5 Impactful Country Hits Turning 30 in 2021