When an artist you hate releases a song you hate, it’s part of the natural order of things. But when an artist you love records a song you hate, it’s a source of great frustration. Every time you praise that artist, trying to get another fan in their corner, you’re secretly thinking: “Stick to the mix CD I gave you! Don’t go venturing on your own into the catalog!”
Here are five songs by artists I love that make me wince. Add your own in the comments, and I’ll highlight some of your choices later in the week!
Dixie Chicks, “I Can Love You Better”
from the 1998 album Wide Open Spaces
One of the reasons it took me until Fly to get into the Dixie Chicks was this God-awful single, which was the first from their major label debut. The irritating harmonies, the “doo dum doo’s”, the video filmed at the Nashville airport – okay, fine, that last point has nothing to do with the quality of the record. But I never would’ve thought that the three girls that I wanted to knock off that baggage carousel would end up my favorite country band of all-time.
Alan Jackson, “www.memory”
from the 2000 album When Somebody Loves You
Even the best songwriters stumble from time to time. The concept of this song is so ridiculous that I don’t believe even John Lennon could’ve made it work. Jackson tries his best, but the idea that if a woman is feeling like going back to the man she left behind, she’ll find him waiting on the web is silly. “If you feel the need, just click on me.” It doesn’t even make for a good double entendre, let alone a good country song.
Dolly Parton, “Daddy Come and Get Me”
from the 1970 album The Fairest of Them All
Trying to pick the most ridiculous Dolly Parton song is an exercise in futility, she’s written so many jaw-droppingly silly things. I say that as someone who considers her one of the greatest singer-songwriters in the history of recorded music, but there’s no getting around the clunkers in her catalog. I picked “Daddy Come and Get Me” over all the others for two reasons. First, it was released as a single instead of the “got pregnant, sent away from the family and had a stillborn baby” classic “Down From Dover”, which wasn’t released because it was seen as too dark, so this is the song that took the rightful place of “Dover” at radio. Second, the subject matter is beyond all reason: a woman singing for her Daddy to come and free her from the mental institution that her philandering husband has placed her in to get her out of the way. The line that clinches its place on the list? “It’s not my mind that’s broken, it’s my heart.”
Pam Tillis, “Betty’s Got a Bass Boat”
from the 1995 album All of This Love
Just as the the redneck humor thing was going out of style, Tillis released this cringe-worthy good ol’ girl single about a gal named Betty who finally figures out how to catch the attention of the men in town – by shopping at Big Bass Pro Shop. Bad enough that it ruins the flow of a brilliantly somber album, the final insult is this grammatically disastrous line in the bridge: “She’s got the boys just blowing their fuse.” Eek.
Dwight Yoakam, “She’ll Remember”
from the 2005 album Blame the Vain
He’s always been a little strange, waving the art flag in his unconventional music videos. But why on earth Yoakam chose to introduce a pretty solid country song with more than a minute of speaking in a fake British accent against a backdrop of sci-fi music will always be a mystery to me, especially when he’s already saying TMI lines like “There was one thing she used to do at night. I missed that especially.” That would’ve been painful to listen to in his regular speaking voice.