Jamey Johnson beard

In honor of Country Music Month, we asked a panel of country music experts from across the country, “what is the best country song you’ve ever heard?” This installment is from Rowdy Yates. Rowdy is an on-air personality at KILT in Houston. He has been nominated for ACM DJ of the year twice, is a member of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame, and hosts the nations’ #1 syndicated country request show “Country Gold.” Here now, is the best country song Rowdy Yates has ever heard.

Oh, how I love to spark a great debate, and I can promise that I will when I reveal in just a few sentences what I believe to be “The Best Country Song I Ever Heard.”

Understand a few things about me first and foremost:  I am a second generation radio personality who grew up in Texas, where country music did not just come along when it was cool.  I was exposed to the western/country/swing/outlaw/hot country waves as not a new thing, but merely a different sound to what was what we all call country music. I know it, play it, and love it.

Given I am 41 years of age and listened to it from my earliest days, I think many of you would be surprised to find out what I believe the best country song I have ever heard is only a few years old.

It is, “In Color” by [lastfm]Jamey Johnson[/lastfm]. The first time I heard this song was in Nashville, with CBS Radio VP of Country Programming Jeff Garrison.  We were in Music City for an industry related event.  I told him “Jeff, I think that is the best country song I have heard in 10 years.”  He said:  “I think it is the best one I have heard in TWENTY!”  Clearly, the world agreed.  The Grammy award was just a cherry on top for Jamey, and co-writer James Otto.

One of the questions I was asked when submitting this report was “Why is it the perfect country song?” That is not a simple answer, but I will answer it as simply as possible: the words are easy to understand, the song is so identifiable to so many people, it tells a great story, and it has a hook, which means if you know no other words, you can sing along with the part that is repeated a time or two (or three) during the song.

I was also asked “What does the song remind you of, or make you think of?” This too, was kind of perplexing, because I did not know either one of my Grandfathers.  But the story that was told was one quite similar to both of mine.  His Grandpa became mine and lots of others too.

I recall telling Jamey this one night before he went on stage at a Houston concert.  He (in his very calm, direct and matter of fact way) said, “Well, I wrote that song for you” -and then it hit me: he had made a man (or men) that I, and millions of others never knew quite tangible.   For those like me who never knew him, Jamey Johnson shared his Grandfather with the world.  It was a tremendous gift.

The song touched me in a way that I have never been touched in all my years in country radio.  It is one that most of us will not soon forget, and I think we will hear for years to come.

For the record, here are the rest of my “Top 5” (if you will) in no certain order:

“Marina Del Rey” [lastfm]George Strait[/lastfm]

“That’s The Way Love Goes” [lastfm]Merle Haggard[/lastfm]

“Holding Her and Loving You” [lastfm]Earl Thomas Conley[/lastfm]

“Looking For Love” [lastfm]Johnny Lee[/lastfm]

You can keep up with Rowdy on Twitter, Facebook, KILT, or his homepage.


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