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#1 Country Song – Highway Don’t Care

8 Jul

It’s been a long time since I posted a blog about the number one songs, but I decided to start it up again. Let me know what you think? Is this something that interest people, especially other songwriters who can use this as inspiration for their own music. If you are competing in the songwriting market these songs and songwriters are your competition, whether you are already a hitwriter or an aspiring hitwriter. I think it’s important to study what the market is currently doing.

So let’s dig into Tim McGraw’s current 2 week number one “Highway Don’t Care”. The song hit number one June 15, 2013 and remained in the top spot for the week of June 22, 2013. As most of you may know, the song features Taylor Swift on vocals as well as Keith Urban on guitar. This is an awesome combination: Tim, Taylor and Keith all in one song, not to mention that Taylor’s breakout song in 2007 was titled “Tim McGraw”. It has to be surreal for her to do a duet with her hero.

The song was written by Mark Irwin, Josh Kear, Brad Warren and  Brett Warren. These four guys have a list of hitsongs that will amaze you, from Irwin’s “Here In the Real World” to Kear’s “Need You Now” and “Blown Away”. The Warren brothers not only had their own career on BNA Records in the late 90’s, but also have written many recent hits including Tim’s “Felt Good On My Lips” and “Feel That Fire” recorded by Dierks Bentley.

The four writers pitched the song to Tim as a duet and it was Tim’s idea to bring in Taylor as the female vocalist as well as bring in Keith on guitar. Country weekly quotes Tim about the video “It’s such a great song, and Taylor and Keith took it to another level, I am a fan of both of them as artists and as people. Keith’s guitar part is probably one of the most awesome guitar parts that I have heard in a long time. There was so much character and purpose and intent in his playing. It was just amazing how it all turned out”

With an unexpected twist at the end, the video for “Highway Don’t Care”, takes the song as well as Tim’s career to the next level.

For all your guitar players, this song is so simple to play with a repetitive D, Bm, G, A pattern throughout the entire song:

You can find the full guitar tab here:
Highway Don't Care Guitar Tabs

Comment below and let us know what you think.



#1 Country Song for January 21, 2012

14 Jan

2012 starts off with lots of newcomers in country music racing to the tops of the charts. David Nail is perhaps one of my favorite newcomers and has scored his very first #1 song this week with “Let It Rain”. Nail wrote this song with Jonathan Singleton who also co-wrote Nail’s 2009 top 10 “Red Light” with Nail.

Singleton said about writing “Let It Rain”, “we came up with the idea for the song while talking about movies that we enjoyed. We recalled a movie where “this guy cheats on his girlfriend, and he goes to her house and decides he’s going to sit on her porch until she lets him in.” We did not find the situation plausible and if it was a southern girl or [David’s wife] or my wife, the first thing they’d do is throw all our stuff on the porch with us.” Instead of having the male narrator say “I deserve whatever I get, if she never talks to me again”, Nail decided to have the character say “that I’m human just like everyone else and you mess up”. (Source Wikipedia)

I love the imagery in this song of him sitting out on the porch with all his belongings. Nail does a great job portraying the character’s emotion in this situation. His soulful voice brings out the guilt that he feels as he longs for her forgiveness. I think my favorite line is the tag at the very end of the song: “Every word, let it hurt, even more than I deserve; just let it come down on me,
let it come down on me; let it rain” , where he admits that he was wrong in cheating on her and knows he’s going to get what he deserves.

In my opinion, we are going to see lots of David Nail in 2012. He kicked this year off with a great song and his first #1 of his career. Let’s hear what you think about “Let It Rain”

#1 Country Song for December 3, 2011

28 Nov

Brantley Gilbert may seem like a new face to country music, but throughout 2011, Brantley had a few huge successes as a songwriter.  Brantley and rapper Colt Ford shared writing credits on Jason Aldean’s #1 song “Dirt Road Anthem” in July 2011. Jason Aldean also covered Brantley’s “My Kind of Party”  which peaked at #2 on the billboard charts in January 2011.

But this week, Brantley is celebrating his first #1 song of his own on the Billboard charts, “Country Must Be Country Wide” which was written by Brantley, along with Colt Ford and Mike Dekle. With a southern rock feel, Brantley sings about an encounter with a country boy in Ohio and discovers that country music is not just popular in the south. He brings in country artist such as Cash, Hank, Willie, and Walyon as he states that in every state these classic artist are still heard on the radio.

I love how he describes country life all across the US when he says ” It ain’t where, it’s how you live We weren’t raised to take, we were raised to give the shirt off our back to anyone in need” It’s amazing how simple these lyrics are along with a simple yet infectious melody. The southern lyrics along with the southern rock feel brings you back to such songs classics as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama.

What do you think about Brantley Gilbert. Will he be a future super star of country music?

#1 Country Billboard Song for September 10

16 Sep

Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood are no strangers to the number one country spot, but this week they achieved it together with a powerful duet, “Remind Me” which was written by Brad along with Chris Dubios and Kelly Lovelace. The premises of this power ballad is a married couple who has forgotten what it was like to be in a brand new relationship. What I love the most about this song is how they go back and forth with the hook “Remind Me” as Brad and Carrie bring up things that they have forgotten along the way in their relationship such as “the way I used to kiss your neck” and “kissing goodbye and we couldn’t stop.”

The interesting thing about the structure of this song is there really is no chorus. The only part that somewhat resembles a chorus is the line “So on fire and so in love”, but each time it’s repeated it ends with a different phrase. I think the driving force is the repetition of the hook “Remind Me” after each phrase. One thing that I do like though is in the first part, Brad is singing the main lines and Carrie is singing the “Remind Me” parts and then in the second part it’s reversed with Carrie singing the main lines and Brad singing the “Remind Me” parts.

I actually read in Country Weekly that Brad wrote the song with Carrie in mind  as they had been talking about doing a duet and couldn’t get their schedules together. The song made Brad’s “This is Country Music” album at the very last minute before he submitted the project to his label.  I think this is a very well written country ballad, but I find  it very comparable to the duet “Don’t You Wanna Stay” sung by Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson and I’m not sure it stands up to the 3 week number one smash hit. What do you think?

#1 Country Billboard Song for September 3, 2011

31 Aug

Dierks Bentley returns to the top of the country charts this week after venturing back to his roots with a bluegrass album entitled “Up on the Ridge.” His bluegrass project yielded two singles, “Up on the Ridge” which peaked at #21 and “Draw Me a Map” which peaked at #33 so it’s nice to see Dierks back at the top of country radio with the fun upbeat song “Am I the Only One.” Bentley quotes ” I wanted to come back with a song that was fun for fans and fun for country radio and fun for us to play every night.” (Wikipedia)

Although “Am I the Only One” doesn’t have much lyrical content to it, it is a fun party song and portrays exactly who Bentley is in his live shows. The song is simply about a guy who wants to go out and party on a Friday night, but none of his buddies are willing to go out with him. The catchy melody sucks you in as Bentley asks  “Am I the only one who wants to have fun tonight?” My favorite line is “If I have to raise hell all by myself I will, but ya’ll that ain’t right”

What do you think about Dierks’ return to the country music charts? Does “Am the Only One” match up with his list of  top 10 songs which include “What was I thinkin'”, “How am I doin'” and “Sideways?”

#1 Country Billboard Song for August 20, 2011

28 Aug

This week Lady Antebellum tops the charts with “Just a Kiss.” The three members of Lady Antebellum, Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, are not only powerful performers, but they are great songwriters. Together with songwriter Dallas Davidson they wrote what I believe to be one of their strongest ballads, “Just a Kiss,” which is the first single from their new CD “Own the Night.” Dallas Davidson has a few credits of his own with #1 songs including “Gimme That Girl,” “All About Tonight” and even the recent #1 “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away.”

The trio and Davidson took on the challenge of writing a slow country ballad, which can be very over done  and become very cliché. But with the powerhouse vocals of Hillary Scott and the deep sultry vocals from Charles Kelley, the song’s simple lyrics reach out and touch listeners in a unique way. With lyrics like “I’ve never opened up to anyone – So hard to hold back when I’m holding you in my arms” they build the suspense of a new found love.

After setting up the story, the song dives right into the chorus with “Just a Kiss on your lips in the moonlight, Just a touch of the fire burning so bright.” Lines such as “No I don’t want to mess this thing up; I don’t want to push too far” round out the chorus, and turn what could be the same old love story into a unique spin that most people can relate to at some point in their lives. Everyone has been at that point where they are falling in love and feel like they may say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing and mess up something great.

I think the four writers were very smart to tell such a common story in such a unique way. Even though the lyrics are so simple, they really relate to people’s everyday lives and combined with the catchy melody and powerful performance, this is certainly a download for me. How about you?

#1 Country Billboard Song for August 13, 2011

4 Aug

Zac Brown Band sits at the top of the country charts with a beach themed song called “Knee Deep,” which in typical Zac Brown fashion was written by Zac Brown and two guys in the band, Wyatt Durrete and Coy Bowles. But this time they enlisted the songwriting skills of Jeffrey Steele, who has written a number of songs, most notably “What Hurts the Most” for Rascal Flatts. For the recording of “Knee Deep” the band brought in the master of beach music, Jimmy Buffett, to do vocals with the group.

Although I do find this song to be relaxing and a fun summer song, I feel like Zac Brown has already over done the beach theme. With lines such as “I think I found my own kind of paradise,” I find “Knee Deep” to be very similar to their other #1 hits, “Toes” and “Free.”  Oddly enough it was almost exactly a year ago (August 10, 2010) to the date that Zac Brown reached number one with their carefree song “Free.” While all three of these songs have catchy melodies, I find their lyrics are very vague and don’t have much substance. In “Knee Deep,” Zac Brown hits the top of the chorus with “Wish I was knee deep in the water somewhere,” but doesn’t really put you in the scene. He brings in some imagery with lines such as “Only worry in the world  is the tide gonna reach my chair,” but then follows that with vague lines such as “Never been so happy, never felt so high.” I understand that these songs are just meant to be feel good summer songs, but they seem to be the song of the season and then quickly fade out.

Then there’s a song like “Margaritaville” that continues to stand the test of time. Thirty years after the song debuted, “Margaritaville” remains an extremely popular summer anthem. I think it has a lot to do with the lyrics. Buffett is so descriptive and really puts you in the scene. From the very beginning, where he says: “Nibblin on sponge cake, watching the sun bake, all of those tourists covered with oil,” you can just see Buffet sitting in the hot sun on the beach. Then, he takes us to Margaritaville with his lyrics and easy flowing melody. Lines like “Smell of shrimp they’re beginning to boil” and  “Blew out my flip flop, stepped on a pop top” appeal to the senses. And of course who can forget the singable hook, “Wastin’ away in Margaritaville, searching for my lost shaker of salt.”

So will “Knee Deep” stand the test of time and be a popular summer theme song 30 years from now? What do you think?

#1 Country Billboard Song for August 6, 2011

28 Jul

Chris Young slid  into the #1 slot this week with his new single “Tomorrow.” The song was written by Chris Young, Frank J. Myers, and Anthony L. Smith and is a traditional sounding country song with a slight contemporary feel. Chris Young has become a staple in the new sound of Country music over the past few years. With his strong deep voice, Chris brings something new to the genre while keeping the familiar country sound many fans have always loved. “Tomorrow” is the first #1 from his new CD, “Neon.” It follows the success of his debut CD, “The Man I Want to Be,” which produced 3 consecutive #1’s.

“Tomorrow’s” lyrics are very clever with lines such as “Tomorrow I’m gonna leave here…..but tonight I’m gonna love you like there’s no tomorrow” as he sings about a relationship that he thinks is not working out, but wants to give one more try before calling it quits. He talks about how they aren’t good for each other using unique phrases such as “We’re like fire and gasoline” as well as really bringing the point home with a simple two line bridge “Baby when we’re good, you know we’re great, but there’s too much bad for us to think, that there’s anything worth trying to save.”

Personally, Chris Young has become one of my favorites ever since he hit country radio in 2009 with “Getting You Home.” But the road to fame for Chris began in 2006, when he was declared the winner of Nashville Star. He released two singles that same year, but both barely got into the top 50. His third single, “Voices” in 2008, peaked at #37. But in 2009, he found his place in country music with #1’s such as “Getting you Home” and “The Man I Want to Be” and re-released “Voices,” which made it up the charts to #1 that time around. “Tomorrow” makes my list of songs to download. Does it make yours?

#1 Country Billboard Song for July 30, 2011

22 Jul

This week’s #1 country song proves that there are no genre distinctions when it comes to today’s popular music. What is it that really classifies a song as country, rock, pop, or even rap these days? Today’s artist are trying to reach out to fans from all genres and are blurring the distinctions that make each genre its own unique style of music that we’ve grown to love. Jason Aldean is doing just that with his current #1 song this week “Dirt Road Anthem,” which was written by Colt Ford and Brantley Gilbert.

I love all of Jason Aldean’s music, such as “The Truth” and the rock anthem “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” but this song has me very torn. In this song about southern pride and country living, Jason throws in raps on the verses and then has very smooth country sound on the chorus. I am huge fan of most music, from rock and pop to country, so when they mix a little pop into country such as Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood I love it, but mixing rap into country is a whole different story. I have nothing against rap, I just think that country and rap should not be mixed.

Matt Bjorke of Roughstock gave “Dirt Road Anthem” a 4.5 star rating, saying “Jason Aldean knows he’s not a rapper and this isn’t a style of music that he’ll continuously do…but as for a new song with a different sound, it certainly works.” (Source: Wikipedia) I sure hope this is not a trend that will catch on. I think people like all types of music and may even like country and rap, but when you are listening to country such as Jason, you want to hear country and when you’re listening to rap, like Kanye West, you want to hear rap. I think it’s a huge mistake to mix the two permanently, but if this is just a one time thing for Jason, maybe it was a good move on his part to bring him a new audience that never would have listened to country before.

Jason is not the first country artist to dabble in adding hip hop influences into country. Toby Keith’s singles “Getcha Some” and “I Wanna Talk about Me” had spoken parts that sounded a lot like rap. Other country artists that have experimented with rap are Trace Adkins and Sugar Land. What are your thoughts on this? I can’t decide if “Dirt Road Anthem”  is worth a download or not. I love Jason’s voice on the country parts, but I’m not too fond of the rap parts and feel like he is just speaking instead of actually singing and, as a result, the song loses all its momentum in my opinion.

#1 Billboard Song for May 21, 2011

31 May

Sara Evans holds the #1 slot for the second week in a row with “A Little Bit Stronger,” which was written by Hillary Lindsey, Luke Laid, and Hillary Scott (Lady Antebellum). Since I already discussed this song last week. I figured I would flashback to the #1 song this week one year ago, five years ago, and ten years ago.

One year ago, on May 22, 2010, Chris Young held the #1 spot with “The Man I Want to Be”. This song was written by Brett James (“Jesus Take the Wheel”) and Tim Nichols (“Live Like You Were Dying”) and was Chris’ 2nd #1 song, his first being “Gettin’ You Home” in October 2009. I personally love this song and feel like it has a great message as the narrator asks God to help him become the man he wants to be. This song held the #1 spot for 3 straight weeks in May 2010.

Five years ago, on May 20, 2006, Jack Ingram found himself at the top of the charts with “Wherever You Are,” which was written by Steve Bogard (“Carrying Your Love with Me”) and Jeremy Stover. The song was originally intended to be recorded by Canadian country music artist Deric Ruttan, as well as the band Rushlow, but in 2005 it found its way to Jack Ingram and became his first top 40 hit as well as his first #1 hit and the first #1 hit for Big Machine Record Label. But for Jack, the road to that first #1 began a decade earlier in 90’s when he toured Texas, opening for acts such as Mark Chestnut. His first album was self-titled and released under Rhythmic label in 1992, followed by Lonesome Question in 1995, both producing no singles. In 1997, under Rising Tide Records, he had his first charting single “Flutter,” which peaked at #51 on the billboard charts. Two years later with another new label, Lucky Dog, a division of Epic Records, he charted with “How Many Days,” which only reached #64. In 2005 he finally found his record label home with Big Machine Records, which lead to his first #1 song, “Wherever you Are”.

Ten years ago, on May 19, 2001, Brooks & Dunn sat at the #1 spot with “Ain’t Nothing ‘Bout You.” This fun loving upbeat song was written by Rivers Rutherford (“When I Get Where I’m Going”) and Tom Shapiro (“No Place that Far”) and was named the #1 Country song of 2001 by Billboard, as well as nominated for the Country Music Association for Song of the Year.

Hope you enjoyed going back in time with me to examine these great country song.