Your Take: Love at First Listen

Karlie Justus Marlowe | February 12th, 2011

Yesterday on the blog, Juli pulled together a Friday Five centered around Valentine’s Day songs. And while the artists included ranged from Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard to the Old 97’s, all had their own take on the official (commercially, at least) day of love.

2010 was a good year for country music love stories, marking the marriages of Carrie Underwood and Kellie Pickler and the engagement of power couple Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. The Boot used the upcoming holiday to put together a very comprehensive roundup of country artists’ takes on love and relationships, including this interview with Shelton:

Blake Shelton may be a guys’ guy, who hunts, drinks and sings about his ‘Hillbilly Bone,’ but if you check out his latest single ‘Who Are You When I’m Not Looking’ and the way he looks and talks about his fiancĂ©e, Miranda Lambert, you know the singer is 100% head-over-heels in love.

“Being able to look at Miranda, and know everything about her — know the good times, the bad times, every habit she has and everything she does, and I don’t have a problem with one thing about her,” gushes the groom-to-be. “I can find something in everything she does that says that she’s awesome. I’m constantly in awe of the things that she does and she says and the way she looks. It doesn’t get old to me. I don’t get tired of it. I know that’s a lame way to talk about love, but when you talk about being in love with somebody, as I’ve gotten older, once you get past those early days when you cry when they go to the grocery store [laughs] and you don’t want to sleep so you can stare at them. Once you get past that and you still feel the way I’m talking about, to me, that’s when it gets good.”

And while Shelton and Lambert were busy falling in love with each other, millions of fans have found a similar spark with their music. Who was the first country artist or what was the first country album or song you fell in love with? Did the love affair turn into a lifelong relationship, or did it fizzle out early?

  1. Ben Foster
    February 12, 2011 at 7:58 am

    I think the first country album I fell in love with was Lorrie Morgan’s “Something In Red,” which my parents used to play on the stereo in our living room when I was knee-high. It did indeed turn into a lifelong relationship! That was a great album.

  2. Nicolas
    February 12, 2011 at 9:46 am

    The song Backseat of a Greyhound Bus by Sara Evans was the first song I fell in love with and it introduced me to country music. <3

  3. Gator
    February 12, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Jessica Andrews’ “Who I Am” shortly followed by everything Shania Twain

  4. Mike Wimmer
    February 12, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” was the Country song that pulled me in. At the time I was a 15 or 16 year old who listened to Alt-Metal and Hard Rock and I heard that song on a classic Country station that my Dad always listened to when he was working on stuff and it pulled me in. At the time I didnt know it was a cover of a Nine Inch Nails song, but the darkness, honestly and power of that song pulled me and got me into Country Music. I started to devour Outlaw Country and then got into songs like “Whiskey Lullaby”. I still listen to a lot of rock, but as long as guys like Jamey Johnson are around I will always have a strong foot in the Country music fandom.

  5. Donald
    February 12, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I’ve been over this many times, and memory plays tricks…but I think it has to be Rosanne Cash’s Seven Year Ache album. As a just-post high-schooler working my first record store job, I remember cracking that one and playing it in the store. From there it was a quick hop to Emmylou, Johnny, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart…Then again, there may have been a George Jones album in before that, but memory tells me that Seven Year Ache- closely followed by the Somewhere in the Stars album- pulled me in. Of course, I wouldn’t have been ready for that without Darkness on the Edge of Town…

  6. Jonathan
    February 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    It’s funny, Ben – Lorrie Morgan was the artist who pulled me into country music, too. I was (and still am) an avid Eagles fan before that but the first real country music (The Eagles are more pop/rock than country) I got into was Lorrie’s “What Part Of No” and her album Watch Me. I still have the purple cassette of the album.

    I remember the solidification of my love for country was Mary Chapin Carpenter. I was listening to her album Come On, Come On one day in the car (back when it was her latest album) and when the third song came on I remember thinking, this is country music and really liking it.

    But Lorrie Morgan’s “What Part of No” and the album Watch Me are what I credit for getting me hooked on country music. I’ve been a avid fan ever since going on 15/16 years now.

  7. MayorJoBob
    February 12, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Like gator, Jessica Andrew’s “Who I Am” was the first country song I ever noticed but I didn’t know it was country then! Toby Keith’s “How Do You like Me Now” was the first country song to convince me to go looking for it and “Shock’n Y’all” was the first country album I bought. I’ve done better since.

  8. Jenna
    February 12, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    “It’s a love thing” by Keith Urban. I was 5 or 6. And anything by George Strait because my older sister used to make me listen to it when she washed my hair. both lifelong relationships for the most part, especially Keith!

  9. CountryFan
    February 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Mel McDaniel’s “Stand Up” was the very first country song I remember loving. That led me into Conway Twitty… followed by everything Dolly Parton.

  10. Andrew
    February 12, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    I grew up in the ’90s so for me it was Garth’s “Friends in Low Places” and George Strait’s Ten Strait Hits album.

  11. Dan
    February 12, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Gator and Mayorjobob, I’m glad you mentioned Jessica Andrews! I’ve been listening to country music for as long as I can remember, but she was one of the first singers whose music I really got into. I used to listen to every song on her CD “Who I Am” over and over again, and I went to see her perform live before anyone had even heard of her. I give her a lot of credit for sparking my interest in country music.

  12. Stormy
    February 12, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    By all accounts Tanya Tucker was playing in the room when I was born, so I was always (literally) listening to country. The first song I remember striking me hard enough on the first listen to find out who sang it and then go out and get their album was Rodney Crowell’s After All This Time. Then, when I went away to college in the mid 1990’s I fell out of country. Leeann Womack was about the only country singer I discovered during that period that I liked. Kasey Chambers pulled me out of my Lilith pop reverie.

  13. Rick
    February 12, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I was thankfully brainwashed early in life, so there was no “eureka moment” when it came to knowing I liked country music. Growing up as a kid during the 1960’s my Mom was always spinning Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Hank Williams albums on our Magnavox console on the weekends (with some Marty Robbins, Ray Price, and Charlie Pride tossed in now an then).

    Our family also religiously watched The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour and The Johhny Cash Show on TV and I always looked forward to hearing the great music they featured. Even though I listened almost exclusively to rock and pop music on my own time the traditional country seeds has been sown and I turned to country full time in the mid 1980’s after burning out on rock music after 20 years of dedicated listening. My love for real country music has continued to grow over the last 25 years, but so has my disdain for the mediocre pop-rock crap that passes for Top 40 country music these days. Crikey!

  14. plain_jo
    February 12, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Kevin Sharp – Nobody Knows

  15. Hoggy from Oz
    February 12, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    I know it’s a bit of a juvenile song, but Brad Paisley’s song “Online” was perhaps the first country song that I heard that I felt had something to do with me while making me laugh instead of sad (I was 16 at the time). That, and then hearing “Letter to Me” soon after made Brad Paisley my favourite artist to this day and likely into the future, and eventually led me to listening a lot more country music :)

  16. Cutting the Treacle
    February 12, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    The Gambler – Kenny Rogers

  17. Carrie
    February 12, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    I fell “in love” with George Strait when I was all of 8 years old and “All My Exes” was out — my 8 year old self really thought it was about the alphabet! But I was hooked. (My parents still wonder what sparked my love for country music.) George and I have had a long and wonderful relationship (I’m now 31 and he still ranks in my top 2), but he did end up introducing me to my current #1, Dierks Bentley. (There was a brief run with Clay Walker while in my teens, as well.)

    He’ll always be King George to me.

  18. Eric
    February 12, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    Jenna- if you were 5 or 6 when “It’s a love thing” came out, then we are possibly the exact same age. For me, it was also a Keith Urban song- an underrated one in my humble opinion- “Stupid Boy”. It came out when i was in middle school and I absolutly loved it. However, I was a mild at best country fan back then, so it didn’t make me love country on the spot. The song that did that was Dierks Bentley’s “Every Mile a Memory”, and the album, Brad Paisley’s “Mud on the Tires”. Still love them all.

  19. K
    February 12, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    The first country song I fell in love with was “I Hope You Dance.” I loved Leann’s music for a few years after that, but I quickly lost all interest after “Something Worth Leaving Behind.”

    Ironically, I can’t stand Womack’s voice these days; I don’t even like the tone of her vocals.

    I was pretty young when “Dance” was released, and looking back now, it’s obvious that I thought if I loved one song, I’d have to love everything else, too. Of course, that was my niave, young self speaking. (:

    After Womack fizzled, Toby Keith was my favorite artist, and my first concert. I still love a lot of his earlier music, but my reaction now is much like the one I have with Womack.

    I saw Rascal Flatts open for Toby in the earlier part of the decade, and they’ve been my favorite band since. I fell in love with “These Days” the minute I heard it, and my Mom went out and bought the album for me a few days later.
    The rest is history as they say.

    Although I don’t remember the song that made me fall in love with the Dixie Chicks music, I vividly remember LOVING their first album, and I played it until it wore out.

    I fell off the bandwagon after “Fly,” but I have recently renewed appreciation for their music after I purchased their “Essential Dixie Chicks” album.

    I was never into country’s female artists until Carrie Underwood came along, and she’s one of my all-time favorite artists. Even if I vote for an artist on American Idol, I rarely buy their albums, and I never consistently followed anyone from the show before her.

    I also thinking falling in love with Carrie’s music was the thing that finally solidified my love for the country music genre.
    She’s opened my eyes to lots of other artists through Idol and beyond, and especially because of her love for older country music (which I didn’t grow up around).

    These days I’m so much more open to listening to all kinds of other artists (country and otherwise), but I listening to country music reminds me of WHY I love country music.

    It’s the lyrics, stories, and artists themselves that make you connect with them and their music that seems disconnected in other genres.

  20. Fizz
    February 13, 2011 at 1:10 am

    Growing up in the ’80’s, the men in my family were all into country, and the women were more inclined toward top-40 pop. And since my grandfather was in FLorida most of teh year, adn my dad was a trucker on the road all week, the women won out. We listened to the local top40 station all the time, in the car, in the house, wherever. Then the ’90’s dawned, and country became cool, and the top-40 stations were playing a lot of rap, and the ladies made a beeline for country. (I remember my aunt, my mom’s youngest sister, going crazy for Clint Black’s “Just Killin’ Time” when it came out, adn being puzzled and dismayed that Tunes, our local music store, didn’t carry country singles). And I already posted about my grandfather offering me a hundred bucks to learn to play “Tennessee Flat Top Box” on the guitar, and how my guitar teacher said it was in an alternate tuning, which I used as my excuse (it was Roseanne’s version that sparked the whole thing).

    Fast-forward to my college days. My buddy Dennis made me a cassette of Irish drinking songs, and to fill up the extra time, he put on a bunch of country songs, adn the fist one wa “Long Haired Country Boy” by the Charlie Daniels Band. The second was “Long Haired Redneck” by David Allan Coe, incidentally. But it was that CDB song that sparked my interest. Around the same time, I had just broken up with a nutcase chick,and so gravitated toward the angry, lonely, dark side of country, which is still the side I most identify with, as opposed to the picket-fence, everything’s-great Hallmark country I love to trash. And I still have long hair!

    Honorable mention goes to Hank Williams’s “Honky Tonk Blues,” as covered by Huey Lewis and the News (I swear!) When I wa all of four years old, my aunt (same one as mentioned above) had the Sports album playing constantly in her Walkman, and I fell in love with that song, and only found out years later that it was a Hank cover.

  21. Paul W Dennis
    February 13, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Just grew up with it so there was no defining moment. The first songs on the radio that inspired me to run out and by a 45 was “Love Takes Care of Me” by Jack Greene and “Love Me, Love Me” by Bobby Barnett

  22. Ken Morton
    February 13, 2011 at 9:00 am

    In 1980, I was eight years old and rode my bike over to Payless Drugs Store and bought Anne Murray’s Greatest Hits. When I got home, I asked my mom if I was supposed to throw away the plastic csse that held the cassette or if I was supposed to keep it. (She still teases me.) Like Rick, I took a diversion in my teens into lots of various forms of rock and hair bands, but by college, I was back into country again. As I get older, I really appreciate the music of that era that my mom was playing regularly more and more.

  23. Dana M
    February 13, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    My family didn’t listen to country music so I discovered it on my own. The first albums I owned were at 15 and they were the Dixie Chicks ‘Top of the World Live’ and Martina McBrides ‘Martina’. Since then, I’ve been listening to country music. Now I’m the only member in my family who listens to country music. My mom is still confused about how that happened.

  24. Jeremy Dylan
    February 13, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    My earliest memory of falling for a country song is Don’t Rock the Jukebox. Something probably predates that, but I have little memory prior to the age of 4.

  25. bll
    February 13, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Mum loved Glen Campbell and we watched the Goodtime Hour faithfully. When I heard ‘Last Thing on my Mind’ it didn’t just resonate it struck a power chord to my very soul with the words ‘I could have loved you better, didn’t mean to be unkind, you know it was the last thing on my mind’. I was a pre-teen at the time and though the song was geared towards a fated love affair those words summed up my father’s style of raising his children. We never heard the words ‘I love you’ from him and his idea of discipline back then is now considered a felony.

    The scars (physical and emotional) greatly shaped me in ways he could never have fathomed. That song hits me in the gut every time I hear it.

  26. Matt B
    February 13, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    Well, I can remember singing along to “Elvira” as a little kid but the first song that got me hooked on country music, and out of my love for R&B and pop/rock was Collin Raye “Little Rock.”

  27. Mike Parker
    February 14, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Mac Davis… Oh Lord, It’s Hard To Be Humble. I was probably singing it before my ABCs. I also remember listening to a lot of Tom T. Hall. After dabbling in heavy metal and gangster rap for awhile, it was probably Steve Earle that brought me back with Guitar Town

  28. will
    February 14, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Rosanne Cash Seven Year Ache. Before that I was mostly into disco and 70s POP. That album introduced me to lyrics and Country. That led to Patty Loveless…. Lifelong love, yes. I have everything Rosanne has ever done, even books. She continues to impress and deliver excellent work.

  29. Jo Jo
    February 14, 2011 at 11:37 am

    “Little Bitty” by Alan Jackson was the first country song I ever really liked. I was probably about five years old. Ever since, I have been a country fan. It is pretty much the only type of music I listen to. I still really like Alan, but I have been a huge Carrie Underwood fan ever since Idol.

  30. J.R. Journey
    February 14, 2011 at 11:39 am

    In the last months of 1992 (most likely December because I think it was Christmas-time), my sister and I were playing in one of our rooms (probably mine) and we had the TV on CMT when on comes the latest Reba McEntire music video. Lots of music videos began with bits of dialog back then, and a scene immediately grabbed our attention with the flashbulbs and ‘Where is this Reba?’ from the judge. Next, we saw a sexy redhead strut into the courtroom where she began to buffalo the defense (her ex’s lawyer) and charm the judge and jury with her singing and choreographed dance moves. Before those 3 minutes were over, I was a life-long Reba fan. Even though Reba and I have went up and down over the years – mostly when she put music in the backseat to become a TV star – I am still a life-long fan today. And it all started with one music video and song.

    I’ve told this story before, but it was actually Trisha Yearwood’s cover of ‘Seven Year Ache’ that pulled me in to the wealth of awesome songs in country music’s back catalog. I remember thinking ‘if classic country has more songs like this, then I want to hear them all. Sign me up.’

    Really interesting stories from everybody too. I always enjoy hearing how people discovered their love for country music.

  31. Janet Goodman
    February 14, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Hal Ketchum’s “Sure Love” sure did it for me.

  32. t.scott
    February 14, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    This thread makes me feel old,I was about 7 or eight when dad bought a Sears console record player (pretty good sound,10inch woofers 5inch mids and 2inch tweets)
    He began digging through his Ernest Tubb,Hank Williams,and Bob Wills 78’s.I think I buoght my first album at about 9,with money from selling greeting cards. I think it was Buck Owens,but I was allowed to use his stereo,and my favorite was dad’s copy of Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan “Together Again”.
    To me , Bob Wills is still the king…..

  33. Adam
    February 14, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    The songs that got me hooked were “Cherokee Fiddle” and “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” from the Urban Cowboy Soundtrack that my mom played a lot when I was a kid.

  34. Noeller
    February 14, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Alan Jackson’s Chatahoochie and the “Lot About Livin’…” album are basically the reason I’m in Country radio right now. I was a Rock guy, listening to Green Day, Tragically Hip, Our Lady Peace, etc. before a friend turned me on to AJ and from there, I found Garth’s “In Pieces”, BnD’s “Brand New Man”, Confederate Railroad’s “Notorious” and so many others.

    Along with that, because I had become a big fan of Alan Jackson, it was his “Under The Influence” album which turned me on to the older Country acts, and I became a huge fan of Hank Jr, Waylon, Possum and all those greats…all because of AJ.

    I love this genre, and it breaks my heart to see where it’s going.

  35. Emily
    February 15, 2011 at 12:56 am

    The first country song that I fell in love with was The Dixie Chicks’ “I Can Love You Better.” I was in college and mostly listened to alternative and rap. My entire family listened to country and I was still rebelling against being like my parents. I was flipping the channels and saw the video on CMT and really loved the song. That started my love of the Dixie Chicks that continues to this day. I’ve bought everything they’ve released. The Dixie Chicks were my gateway drug to country music and I’ve enjoyed the ride so far. Sometimes I get sick of the genre and listen to something else, but I always come back.

  36. Reagan
    February 16, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    When I was a kid, I adored Alan Jackson’s Revenooer Man from his awesome Under the Influence album, as well as Livin on Love from Who I Am.

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