Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Inter:Mission Music Team.
For as long as I can remember Country music has held a special place in my heart. My favourite songs are a mixture of escapism and relatability. I love references to southern states I’ve never visited combined with honest universalizable sentiment. I’ve never heard a techno track that can make me dance, cry and laugh in the same way Country music can. However, this isn’t a rant about why Country music is severally underrated in the UK – for that come find me in a pub after 4 pints on a Friday night. Instead I’ve compiled 6 country songs that are all you needed this Valentine’s Day, whether you’re loved up, single or struggling with something under the umbrella of “it’s complicated”. Enjoy and much love xxx
In Spite of Ourselves – John Prine
In Spite of Ourselves is hands down my favourite love song. It’s a witty duet between the incredible John Prine and the wonderful Iris Dement. It’s sweet, simple and sometimes a little bit dirty. In Spite of Ourselves throws away any manicured illusions of romances and celebrates an enduring love between two flawed real individuals - in spite of their personal grossness and weird quirks. It’s adorable and strange love story between a “wacked out weirdo” and his lover who “swears like a sailor when she shaves her legs”, i.e. all my Valentine’s goals.
Jolene – Dolly Parton
Everyone in a relationship feels a little green eyed occasionally, but no one manages to express struggling with jealousy better than Dolly Parton. Jolene is about the hot girl who’s been sitting really close to your boyfriend in the smoking area for the past half an hour. Jolene is all the anger, confusion and insecurity you feel even though you know you have nothing to worry about. When you finally walk over and tell her you like her dress because it’s “a brave choice” what you’re really saying is all of the lyrics to Jolene. I sincerely hope this isn’t how your evening goes – but if it is at least Dolly feels your pain too.
She Left Me for Jesus – Hayes Carll
It’s never easy when your high school sweetheart becomes a born-again Christian and stops wanting to get drunk with you. Research* suggests this problem isn’t limited to deepest Texas so I’ve included it in case this resonates with you. Not only does Hayes Carll wish his wife was having an affair with “Carlos or even Billy or Ted”, he threatens to kill Jesus if he ever finds him – now that’s real love.
*(a few anecdotes from casual acquaintances)
Different Kind of Fine – Zac Brown Band
I must admit that I’ve never fallen in love with a girl “as country as the day is long” (yet). I’m not sure if it’s a good thing that she’ll “make you want to slap your mama” or “spill your dip cup”. I’m not even sure what a dip cup is. However, like all good country songs a few lost references isn’t a real issue here. It’s almost impossible not to tap your foot to a Different Kind of Fine; it’s funky, modern country with a banging fiddle solo. This is the perfect Valentine’s song for those with a badass and potentially confusing partner who you’d do anything for.
Thing Called Love – Johnny Cash
A perfect all-rounder, Johnny Cash reminds us of the good, bad, beautiful and maddening aspects of love. Thing Called Love covers a broad basis; from love that brings giant men to their knees to a mother’s tenderness towards her child. It’s pretty hard to argue with the idea that “ever since time nothing's ever been found that's stronger than love” (unless you compare it to graphene which is pretty damn strong too).
That Don’t Impress Me Much - Shania Twain
You need to re-evaluate your life if you’re not filled with undying love and respect for the Queen of Country Pop. Her music’s been played in space, her face is on a Canadian stamp and she once rode a horse down the Las Vegas Strip before a gig. All Shania Twain songs belong on your Galentine’s playlist however That Don’t Impress Me Much deserves a special mention. It’s an anthem for single folks not willing to settle for a basic lover. They might be Brad Pitt or a rocket scientist but you’re pretty damn fine too. It’s important to take time to celebrate your own beauty, February the 14th or not.
Article by Sam Stone @babbikat