My Top Ten: Country Songs By Women

Nothing too fancy, I happened to hear my favorite country song by a female artist today, and thought about a list 
Here’s the good thing about lists: people will invariably disagree and tell me about other excellent music I’ve not heard before. I consider that a win/win.

So, without further ado:

1. Hands down, my favorite: Seven Year Ache by Rosanne Cash. It’s early-80s-electric piano at the top of the mountain. I love this song.

2. The Queen of Country, Loretta Lynn. This song is so amazingly redneck I can’t fathom anyone else singing these words. (Okay, maybe Dolly).

3. For sheer purity, there is nothing like the voice of Suzy Bogguss. It’s like bells in the wind, and this song about a rodeo and love and America ought to make you cry.

4. From the department of female empowerment ( take note, posers), an actual song about, you know, being an adult. Mary Chapin Carpenter is just so damned good, and she has the finest backup act in the history of the planet on “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her”.

5. Martina McBride has the kind of voice that puts an air raid siren to shame, but with a pitch and clarity that blow my mind. “Independence Day” makes me want to invade Europe, it’s that uplifting.

6.  Jo Dee Messina. Her first album is loaded with slick pop country, but this is the song that established her as worth listening to. 

7. Trisha Yearwood has a dozen songs that will never leave my memory. This one is her first, and in my mind, the best:

8. The early 80s were a time of muddled charts and excellent music. This is my favorite from that era. Juice Newton and “Angel of the Morning”. 

9. In the same vein, Charlie Dore was a late 70s artist who crossed genres without really trying. Pilot of the Airwaves captures a time when Disc Jockeys were giants, country had a twang, and there was a western US flair to a lot of hits. 

10. Last but not least, is “She Can’t Save Him” by Canadian artist Lisa Brokop. This song could actually be number one for me if the subject matter was more upbeat. Her voice is rich, full, and so riven with emotion you have to ask exactly what the hell American music executives are looking for in a singer

I await your additions.



Stillborn: A Lesson In Fiction

Bad things happen. Frequently.

Bad things cause vivid memories, and if they linger, and you write, you can turn those same images into fuel that churns the waters of your imagination.

I’m writing a character who is totally enmeshed in loss, and I reach back to a short poem from 1998 to find the fuel I need. I hope you enjoy it, and that the emotion is real, maybe?

His physician’s coat rustles
as he leaves-
 the door glides shut, to leave my wife
and I alone with the fluorescent hum
of the lights, a cold steel table
and our sadness.
Our spirits as empty as her womb
her shuffle is tender,
towards the door
to the car
each step normal
just like my stop at the nurse.
Her smile is pasty
she hands me my son in a bag.
On the ride home, I stare at his face
hoping he fogs the plastic
but the bag is as still as the air in the car.
We walk, the yard is frosty
she watches me from the window
as I stop near the hickory
and start to dig.
The pit (grave) is tiny
and the walls collapse
on his face.
Bones pull hardest
when they are small.
The walk back to the house is long.
Summers later, we lay rigid
next to each other
the fear of each furtive union causing wonder:
Will I dig again?