In this spirit-numbing information age, we gorge on the web and on CNN, we cannot free our hands of our Blackberrys and lap-tops and cellphones, but, in the end, we know less and less … of each other … of our hearts … of our souls.
But Johnny Cash singing “I Walk The Line” or Hank sorrowing through “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” still gives us more insight in three minutes, tells us more about what matters most in our lives, than we get in an entire twenty-four-hour news cycle.
– Dana Jennings, in his magnificent book “Sing Me Back Home: Love, Death, and Country Music“
This is our first article in a series highlighting the best country songs. We start off by nominating songs from the start up till 1955. The next post will focus on songs from 1956-1965.
When we are through nominating songs.. probably around 70-80 songs.. we will pull it all together and put a list of the 20 best Country songs ever.. in JV’s humble opinion.
Our goal is to only nominate one song from each artist.. I’ve managed to do so on this first article (although it was tough only including one Hank Williams song….)
… and btw .. the songs are presented in random order…
Can The Circle Be Unbroken (Bye and Bye), The Carter Family
Produced by Art Satherley
Written by A.P. Carter
What’s really the most amazing thing about this vast collection is that there really isn’t a bad song on it – Bruce Springsteen’s outtakes and leftovers are better than most artists’ released album tracks.
When we first started this task of finding the 20 best tracks off Tracks I was sure it would be an enjoyable but easy endevour. Not so.
They’re all so goddam good!
It took a lot longer than expected, and it was much more fun!
You got your book baby with all your fears
Let me, honey, and I’ll catch your tears
I’ll take your sorrow if you want me to
Come tomorrow that’s what I’ll do
Listen to me
Recorded June 16 in 1983. Great track from the Born in the USA sessions. Steve Van Zandt on guitar and background vocals. When the song was being readied for release as the B-side to “I’m Goin’ Down” in 1985, Nils Lofgren went into a studio and replaced Van Zandt’s vocal track.
Like “My Love Will Not Let You Down,” this was also on side two of Landau’s suggested track listing for Born in the U.S.A. “Janey” has been played in concert ten times (5 times on the Rising tour). Clarence Clemons’ name is not on the credits on the box set but obviously he participates, and he magnificently plays on the song.
Live in Los Angeles 1985:
Here’s a great version from the Devils and Dust tour (2005) solo/piano:
Bruce told Rolling Stone Magazine this four years before the set was released:
“We record a lot of material, but we just don’t release it all… I always tell myself that some day I’m gonna put an album out with all this stuff on it that didn’t fit in. I think there’s some good material there that should come out. Maybe at some point, I’ll do that.”
Bruce Springsteen to Mojo Magazine:
“So it began just with that idea and we listened to about 250 songs, maybe more, I made quick notes in a notebook and put it away. A year went by, more maybe, and I came off the Tom Joad tour and I began to write acoustically again and I wrote about half a record. Then I got stuck and said, ‘Well, I’m going to put this aside for a while.’ Then I wrote half of an electric record, and hit the same place. So I thought, instead of waiting for another year to put something out I’ll put some of this music together. So once again I went back to the archives.”
He told Billboard that the songs were chosen from 2-300 songs. A legal battle concerning the rights to Greetings from Ashbury Park NJ sessions, made these tunes unavailable for release.
The Tracks Box set was inteded as a 6 cd release, but it was cut down to 4 cds before the official release. This means that there’s still a ton of unreleased songs in “The Springsteen Vault”. The rumours of a second Tracks box set is strong on the web.
These are the 25 chosen albums from 2011. The list is a collaboration between Egil and Hallgeir, and has been decided through discussion and mathematics. The Math have had second place, our feelings comes first. We both presented our individual lists as a starting point, the result is the list we present here, the best list of the best albums from a good year!
Click on the album cover or the link to get our descriptions of the album and a list of our chosen tracks for each record.