For our feature Nice Playlist, Brah, we ask some of our favorite musicians to make a themed Spotify playlist for us. You know, Songs to Make-out To, The Worst Bands I Have Ever Heard, Songs Your Mom Would Like, we just ask them to be creative, and then we post them to The Ardent Music Blog and share them with you. When you’re looking for a good Spotify playlist, now you know where to look. This week we invited Billy Matheny of Southeast Engine to put one together for us. We invite you to take listen to the playlist while you read why the musician included each song. Enjoy!
I suppose I’m stating the obvious here, but when you’re in a band, you spend a fair amount of time driving around in a van listening to music. While I would be more than happy to compile a lovingly selected Spotify mix of songs that Southeast Engine actually listens to en route to shows, I thought it would be more fun to turn your attention to that cowboy hat wearing hydra that was 90s mainstream country music.
This music was the bane of my youth. I came of age in rural America during the 1990s when these performers could be heard everywhere. As a rock snob in-training, I didn’t appreciate having to hear Tim McGraw at every turn. My parents used to go little parties at their friends’ houses. The adults would hang out in the kitchen, drinking Zima and Busch, while the kids would play Super Nintendo in the other room. The boombox on the kitchen counter played these CDs, which I’m sure were purchased from Columbia House or BMG. I suppose this music qualifies as the sound of childhood even more than the music that I actually enjoyed.
Without further adieu, here are some choice jams from that era. Don’t rock the jukebox, y’all.
‘Two of Kind, Workin’ on a Full House” by Garth Brooks
This isn’t the most auspicious of beginnings, because Garth Brooks apparently doesn’t allow his music on Spotify. However, making a 90s country mix without him would be like making a pizza without the crust. Because he’s such a cornerstone of the genre, I’m afraid you’ll have to settle for this faithful tribute version. I wholeheartedly recommend finding the original because half the joy of this track is the way that Garth (yes, I refer to him on a first-name basis) enunciates the line, “we really fit together if you know what I’m talkin’ about.” He’s practically beatboxing by the end of it. I like to imagine a cool-cat producer seated behind the glass, coaching him, saying, “Garth, baby, it’s great, but can you get more vowels into that last line?”
“Gone Country” by Alan Jackson
This is a song that Southeast Engine has actually played in the van on occasion. Sometimes we debate the true meaning of it. I think it’s a straight-faced send up of people who were jumping on the country bandwagon in the early 90s. Sort of like Bruce Springsteen being ironic with “Born In The USA.” As a band, our favorite moment in this song is the line, “the whole world’s gone country.” With all due respect to Mr. Jackson, I seriously doubt that all 6.8 billion people on Earth have, in fact, “gone country.”
“Forever and Ever, Amen” by Randy Travis
Hand to God, I love Randy Travis. Even though he was wildly popular with the new-country crowd, he truly hearkened back to an older generation of singers like George Jones. His presentation has the kind of sturdiness that reminds you of Johnny Cash. He sings every word like it’s a foregone conclusion, so as a listener, I’m completely sold. Pay special attention to 3:20. His voice sounds like a steak. It’s like mesquite singing.