Your Take: I Wish…

Karlie Justus Marlowe | August 7th, 2010

Over on The Boot this week, Alan Jackson answered 20 questions ranging from his favorite date night activities to the best car ever made.

One question that stood out had the country legend-in-making naming tunes he enjoyed so much, he wished he had written them:

What song did somebody else write that you wish you’d written?

I love that ‘In Color’ that Jamey Johnson wrote with [James Otto and Lee Thomas Miller]. That’s a good song, well written. Another song I like is that Taylor Swift song, ‘Teardrops on My Guitar.’ Some of the other songs are a little bit teenager for me, but [when I heard] ‘Teardrops on My Guitar,’ I didn’t even know who she was and I thought that was a good song.

Speaking of Jackson, I heard the Bob McDill-penned “Gone Country” on the radio a couple days ago and was reminded of how it manages to be tight and tongue-in-cheek without sacrificing a vivid storyline – all topped off with a catchy chorus and melody. I’m no songwriter, but after singing along the to the entire tune, I thought, “Man, if I could have my name attached to one song, it would be that one.”

Since country music is a genre of storytelling, there are certainly no shortages of well-written songs. Songwriter royalties aside, what country songs make you wish you’d been in the songwriting room? What makes you gravitate to those songs?

  1. Ben Foster
    August 7, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    “Cheatin’,” by Sara Evans, strikes me as one of the most well-written country songs I’ve ever heard. I love how it starts out on a humorous note, and then becomes more serious. I would have loved to have been in the songwriting room when “Cheatin'” came to be. Since Sara didn’t have a part in writing that song, I’m sure she would wish the same.

    “Here I Am,” by Patty Loveless, is another. As the song progresses, the narrator slowly and reluctantly admits that she has not quite gotten over a difficult breakup, even though she had claimed to be “over” her ex-lover.

    Both singers elevate the songs to new heights with their spectacular performances.

  2. Noeller
    August 7, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow is something I’ve always been quite fond of, and certainly Sunday Morning Coming Down is just about the best thing I’ve ever heard in my life, or pretty damn close, but that’s a cliche.

  3. Vicki
    August 7, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    “Probably Wouldn’t be This Way” by Lee Ann Rimes.
    “It’s Me Your Talking To”-Sung by Trisha Yearwood
    “Twenty Years and Two Husbands Ago”- Lee Ann Womack

    As a divorcee…these songs speak right to my soul.

  4. Vicki
    August 7, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Oops “You’re” not your

  5. Erik
    August 7, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    My favorite song is Reba’s “Only In My Mind”, a song she penned with mascara in her dressing room. I’d love to see how she is when she’s inspired as a songwriter, seeing as she so rarely writes anything solo.

  6. idlewildsouth
    August 7, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    There are too many for me to list

    “Memory Like Mine”–Darrell Scoot
    “She Aint Goin’ Nowehere”–Guy Clark
    “Yesterday”–The Beatles
    “Amazing Grace”–John Newton
    “Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground”–Willie Nelson
    “The Dreamin’ Fields”–Matraca Berg
    “The Hook”–Blues Traveler

  7. sam (sam)
    August 7, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    The song I wish I had written is whatever song has made the most money for its songwriter(s).

  8. Kyle
    August 7, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    “Too Cold At Home” (Mark Chesnutt) has always been one of my favorites. I just love the tone and how it says so much with so little.

    I’d also be pretty darn proud of “Reasons I Cheat” (Randy Travis) – I mean, where else can you find that many multi-syllable internal rhymes?

  9. Stormy
    August 7, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    “No Time To Cry” Iris Dement.

  10. Julia Hughan
    August 7, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    “Top Of The World” by Patty Griffin. Owing to the tension, regret and clear caution of now not to live my own life.

  11. Eric
    August 7, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    “The Song Remembers When” by Trisha Yearwood.

  12. Mayor JoBob
    August 7, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Dwight Yoakam’s “Buenas Noches From A Lonely Room (She Wore Red Dresses)” always strikes me when I hear it. The song was very ambitious and a commercial flop when released as a single in 1988 but I guess songs about bastard children and murder are hard to relate to!

  13. Julia Hughan
    August 7, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    *how not now…whoops!

  14. Nicolas
    August 7, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Ben Foster: ““Cheatin’,” by Sara Evans, strikes me as one of the most well-written country songs I’ve ever heard. I love how it starts out on a humorous note, and then becomes more serious. I would have loved to have been in the songwriting room when “Cheatin’” came to be. Since Sara didn’t have a part in writing that song, I’m sure she would wish the same.”

    Agreed. I also think its interesting that 1-2 years later it went from just being a song she cut to being reality. Maybe she could’ve wrote this herself if she waited a couple years.

  15. Rick
    August 7, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Let’s see, I wish I would have written:
    1.) “Smoke On The Water”, the 40’s wartime hit for Red Foley updated with the “Axis Powers” now consisting of our corrupt white house resident, current congressional majority, and newly appointed supreme court justices.
    2.) “Okie From Muskogee” – Merle Haggard at his finest!
    3.) “Fighting Side Of Me” – Ditto
    4.) Toby Keith’s “Courtesy Of The Red, White, And Blue”
    5.) Darryl Worley’s “Have You Forgotten”
    6.) Buddy Jewell’s “This Ain’t Mexico” (Sorry Buddy, once Obama declares blanket amnesty for our 30 million plus illegal aliens and their multitudinous offspring, it will be…)

    Still wishing: Then I’d like to be invited to sing all of them at one of those combination presidential butt kissing / country music concerts that Brad Paisley and Sugarland are so fond of and put a boot up Oscumbaga’s sorry ass…

  16. WAYNOE
    August 7, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    Don Williams’ “Tulsa Time”

  17. elisa
    August 7, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    I’d have to say Back When We Were Beautiful or Lying To The Moon, both by Matraca Berg. They are incredible!

  18. Ben Foster
    August 7, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    “The Song Remembers When” – good one, Eric. Another testament to the haunting power of country music.

  19. luckyoldsun
    August 7, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    I guess music means a lot of different things to different people, but to Rick it’s simply a vehicle for reinforcing your own politics and harranguing anyone whose politics are different.

  20. highwayman3
    August 7, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    If I had to be in a room when a country song was being written it would have to be ‘Bob That Head’ by Rascal Flatts. I would be playing the devils advocate the whole time and doing anything in my power to stop it from seeing the light of day saying ‘You don’t want to finish this’ and ‘You’ll regret it.’ But I’m only here now remembering it.

    Truthfully though, it would have to be one of the greatest country songs ever written ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’ I’d love to be there when the ideas sparked in Bobby Braddock and Curly Putmans minds that made this country classic.

  21. klark
    August 8, 2010 at 12:50 am

    The Dreaming Fields by Trisha Yearwood. It’s just so haunting.

  22. Fizz
    August 8, 2010 at 1:01 am

    “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” The music perfectly conveys the mood, but then the lyrics have always just gotten me. I mean, he talks about all these abstract things, these symbols, if you will, about train whistles and birds adn the moon, and then at the very end, he drops the bomb, “And as I wonder where you are, I’m so lonesome I could cry.” Ouch.

    As for Rick, it’s always made me laugh the way so many people don’t seem to realize how “Okie From Muskogee” was meant to be sarcastic, and Haggard himself didn’t want “Fightin’ Side Of Me” released as a single, figuring it would be misinterpreted, and of course it was.

    August 8, 2010 at 2:03 am

    Wish I’d written: Radney Foster’s “Just Call Me Lonesome”, Hag’s “Lookin’ for a Place to Fall Apart”, Kris’ “For the Good Times”, Roger Miller’s “King of the Road”.

  24. Thomas
    August 8, 2010 at 4:50 am

    …bobbie cryner’s “girl of your dreams” is a terrific try to capture love and lost love feelings in great detail in 4 minutes.

    …i would have loved to be part of the discussion, whether jimmy johnson and tommy thompson were a little too cheesy even for the supercheesy “don’t take the girl”. one of the finest cheesy songs ever written and sung.

    …”courtesy of the red, white and blue” – there are tons of reasons to despise this epitome of populism and when it comes to “we put a boot…” you want, deep down, nothing more than sing along from the top of your lungs, if you belong to the generation that saw the towers crash.

  25. Mayor JoBob
    August 8, 2010 at 5:09 am

    I keep kicking myself for not having written “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”!! :)

  26. elisa
    August 8, 2010 at 8:42 am

    The Dreaming Fields is also a Matraca Berg song.

  27. Jon
    August 8, 2010 at 9:22 am

    “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”…he talks about all these abstract things, these symbols, if you will, about train whistles and birds adn the moon, and then at the very end, he drops the bomb, “And as I wonder where you are, I’m so lonesome I could cry.” Ouch.

    You don’t think this bomb-dropping is mitigated at all by the preceding verse, in which the narrator declares that he’s lost the will to live and says (for the second time in the song), “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry?”

    Haggard’s offered a lot of different and contradictory accounts of how and why “Okie From Muskogee” was written, and it would take a pretty foolish person to pick one of them as the true or definitive one. And not only do I not see how the very plainly written “FIghtin’ Side” could be misinterpreted, I do not believe that Haggard did or does either.

    As for songs I wish I’d written, Cordle & Shell’s “The Fields Of Home” is a mighty fine one, and so is Tom T. and Miss Dixie’s “Hero In Harlan.”

  28. prior
    August 8, 2010 at 11:13 am

    not ready to make nice, by….. you know who…

  29. luckyoldsun
    August 8, 2010 at 11:51 am

    I guess this will sound heretical, but I always found “He Stopped Loving Her Today” to be the most overrated record/song in country music. I think George Jones is great, but there are a bunch of Jones ballads from that era that I can think of instantly that are better: :”The Door,” “The Grand Tour,” “A Good Year For The Roses” “Walk Through This World With Me” for starters.
    Anyway, the story line of “He Stopped Loving Her” seems to be derived from Guy Clark’s “Let Him Roll.”

  30. Fizz
    August 8, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Nah. It’s always been the final verse that’s gotten me. As for “Okie From Muskogee,” I can’t help but see it as pure, biting sarcasm.

    Kinda wish I’d been in the room during the writing of “Small Town USA,” so I could shove somebody’s head through a window.

    The song Jon wishes he wrote: … none, he wrote ‘em all!

  31. Brady Vercher
    August 8, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    I prefer Haggard’s take on “Okie From Muskogee” in the recent PBS documentary. I’d recommend watching the whole thing, but the part in question comes at the 49 minute mark.

  32. WAYNOE
    August 8, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    You are right Luckyoldson, that was a heretical statement about Jones. But you really show your skin when you say this is THE MOST overrated song? Are you kidding me? Of all the tunes you think this is the most overrated? I honestly cannot comprehend that statement. Maybe I am misinterpreting it and would like to be corrected if I am reading it wrong.

    By the way, it’s Rick’s right to evaluate songs based upon his criteria. I think we see that in a lot of reviews today and also the admittance that everyone has their bias when deciding which songs they like, of which there is nothing wrong with.

    @Brady, I knew you would prefer that sequence of comments of Haggard’s. Regardless, he was quite an artist.

  33. Nicolas
    August 8, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    “Tennessee” by The Wreckers is one of my most favorite songs, its lyrical perfection. And having Jessica Harp’s beautiful voice sing it is only icing on the cake. =D

  34. Leeann
    August 8, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    There are a ton, of course, but one that’s been stuck in my head lately is one of the best songs ever, Don Williams “Good Ole Boys Like Me.”

  35. K
    August 8, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    “I’m Movin On” and “Bless The Broken Road.”

    And Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”- because I’d love to see how a team of male writers came up with a great womanly anthem. (:

  36. Steve Harvey
    August 8, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    I wish
    I wish
    I wish to go the festival!

  37. luckyoldsun
    August 8, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Since “He Stopped Loving Her” seems to almost universally be called the greatest country song of all time, that gives it a jump on being the most overrated.

    I’d also put “Good Ole Boys” up there.

  38. Jon
    August 8, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    I pretty much agree with Luckyoldsun on the over-ratedness of “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” (Note, BTW, that in the excellent _Heartaches By The Number_ by Bill Friskics-Warren and David Cantwell, it comes in at #147.)

  39. Paul W Dennis
    August 9, 2010 at 6:11 am

    “Walking The Floor Over You” by Ernest Tubb and “I’m Moving On” by Hank Snow. The yin & yang of breakup songs, one a “please come back” and the other an “up yours – I’m outta here”.

    These are the two basic themes of relationship breakups. These two themes recycle endlessly but they’ve never been done better

  40. luckyoldsun
    August 9, 2010 at 11:11 am

    I meant to say that I agree that “Good Ole Boys” is a great song. Definitely NOT overrated.

  41. will
    August 9, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Blue Moon With Heartache – Rosanne Cash
    I Fall To Pieces
    You Dont Even Know Who I Am – Gretchen Peters
    The River & The Highway – recorded by Pam Tillis
    Help Me Make It Through The Night
    Til I Can Make It Own My Own
    Notes to the Coroner – Chely Wright
    Georgia Rain – recorded by Trisha Yearwood
    When The Fallen Angels Fly – Billy Jo Shaver & recorded by Patty Loveless
    God Is In The Roses – Rosanne Cash

  42. Sandi
    August 14, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    More Like Her by Miranda Lambert.

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