Gary Allan — Tough Little Boys

Year: 2003

I always liked this song, but now that I have children I cry half the time I hear it.

I own Allan’s first six albums. Just something about his voice. Smooth as silk. Unlike Trace Adkins’ wife who shot him, Gary Allan’s shot and killed herself. His album after that was pretty dark. Songs he wrote were “I Just Got Back From Hell,” “Puttin’ Memories Away” and “Putting My Misery on Display.” And then a great cover of Vertical Horizon’s “Best I Ever Had.”

Alabama — I’m In A Hurry (And Don’t Know Why)

Year: 1992

Alabama steamrolled the charts in the 80s, thanks in part to little competition. And then in 1992 when all the competition was revving up they released one of the best country songs ever made. If it had been released ten years earlier or ten years later it would have climbed up the pop charts, too. Don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this song.

Still the most successful county band ever and they’re still going after 52 years.

Aerosmith — What It Takes

Year: 1989

The Demon of Screamin’ screams a bit too much for my taste, but his vocal range is sure impressive. I only like a handful of their songs, but this one I will always listen to if it’s on. The line, “Without thinking you lost everything that was good in your life to the toss of the dice?” has a great rhythm and crescendo and hat tip to Tyler who has the lungs to pull it off.

Trace Adkins — There’s A Girl In Texas

Year: 1996

The first country song of many to come. Shut my mouth, slap your grandma!

This is his debut single. It’s nothing special, but it’s a good showcase for his vocal range and I find the coda hits the sweet spot. He’s not a terribly imaginative writer and after his first album I didn’t follow him much. But this song is in regular rotation.

He’s been married four times, major alcohol problem. Not especially interesting but no kidding the man has had a lot of trauma that would drive a lot of people to use chemicals. From various sources:

At age 17, Adkins was in an automobile accident in which his 1955 Chevrolet pickup truck hit a school bus head-on. He broke some ribs, punctured both lungs and his nose was partially torn off. Adkins was forced to give up college football after a severe knee injury at Louisiana Tech. Somehow he managed to come away from FIVE work-related accidents with his life and limbs intact. In 1982, he was involved in a bulldozer accident that caused such deep cuts to his hindquarters that “I thought I was fixin’ to lose both my legs.” Less than a year later, a tank containing 400 barrels of oil exploded while he was trying to repair a leak, and his left leg was totally crushed. In 1988, he flipped his truck on an icy overpass in Texas, putting him in a neck brace. A year after that, he accidentally cut off one of his fingers in another job accident. In 1989, Adkins, along with nine coworkers, were stranded on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Chantal. He was shot by his second ex-wife Julie Curtis in 1994.The bullet went through his heart and both lungs. He survived and chose not to press charges.

And then he released his first album!

Adele — Rolling In The Deep

Year: 2011

I was tempted to post “Chasing Pavements” but dangit “Rolling In The Deep” is such an impressive song. The rhythm she created makes you not notice that almost none of the verses rhyme (or are slant rhymes at best) and it helps push through the anger without any contrived words. And of course her voice is just mind-bogglingly powerful.

Just one of those songs that transcends pop.