Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Top 25 Reba McEntire Songs

I didn't grow up with country, so I missed the huge Reba McEntire pandemonium of the early 90's. It wasn't until the summer of my sophomore year of high school (2004) that I even got into country music. I started watching CMT like I had once devoured VH1. While watching the "100 Greatest Country Music Videos", I discovered the song "Does He Love You?" by Reba McEntire and Linda Davis. Before the summer was out, I had bought her Greatest Hits Vol. 2 CD and was hooked. In the years that followed, I collected songs from here and there. By college, I was doing the whole "buy-every-album-so-I-have-every-track" thing. And now, on this cloudy June morning, I am counting down my Top 25 Reba McEntire Songs.
Reba is not for everyone, and I know that. My mother particularly detests her twangy voice. Although many of her songs are pop infused, her voice is very country and should be avoided by those who hate the genre. Still, I love her voice. It is unique and powerful and she is definitely one of my favorite vocalists. Note: As of this moment, I have not heard every Reba McEntire song, so this list is somewhat incomplete. It is subject to change. So really, this is a list of the Top 25 Reba McEntire Songs I've Heard So Far.

Rank: 25
Title: "Am I the Only One Who Cares?"
Original Appearance: Sweet Sixteen (1994)
Interpretation: A fourteen year old girl named Jamie has a disagreement with her mother and talks to the moon about her troubles.

Comments: I definitely think that Reba's voice is better suited for ballads than for upbeat dance hits. Since she has such a powerful voice, she can go back and forth. But personally, I like the slow stuff. That is why "Am I the Only One Who Cares?" is one of the only non-ballads on the list. It's off of her aptly titled 16th album, Sweet Sixteen. It was the first full album of her's that I bought and I was surprised to find that this song was my favorite. It's a sweet mother/daughter song. Trust me, I'm a love song it's truly weird to me that this song outranks other traditional strongly chorused slow songs.

Rank: 24
Title: "Because of You"
Sung With: Kelly Clarkson
Original Appearance: Reba Duets (2007)
Interpretation: Not really a duet with two stories, but rather a normal song split into two vocal parts. Two women discuss how a person has effected their ability to love and trust.
Comments: All you music connoisseurs out there know that "Because of You" was originally recorded by the first American Idol winner, Kelly Clarkson, and released as a pop single. But for Reba's first full album of duets, she teamed up with Kelly to record a country tinged version of the song. This is the only one of Reba's duets on my list to not have a definite story, it's simply a great new arrangement to an already good song.
Watch the music video for "Because of You" here.
Rank: 23
Title: "Till You Love Me"
Original Appearance: Read My Mind (1994)
Interpretation: Your basic “hopelessly devoted” song.
Comments: "Till You Love Me" is not hugely deep or meaningful song. But it has a powerful build and catchy chorus, thus putting at #23.
Watch the music video for "Till You Love Me" here.

Rank: 22
Title: "I’m Not That Lonely Yet"
Original Appearance: Unlimited (1982)
Interpretation: Although a woman is feeling alone, she isn’t lonely enough to go home with a stranger.
Comments: I really love Reba's early stuff. Thanks to Youtube, I have found scads of it. This song is an incredible twangy waltz. It showcases Reba's beautifully without a lot of melismas or vocal tricks. A perfect, simple country song.
Listen to "I'm Not That Lonely Yet" here.
Rank: 21
Title: "You Lie"
Original Appearance: Rumor Has It (1990)
Interpretation: A woman knows her lover is continuing their relationship to not upset his girlfriend even though he is truly unhappy.
Comments: "You Lie" comes at the beginning of Reba's early90's superstardom and is a perfect example of Reba's formula: Saddened woman in failing relationship + power chorus = super hit.
Watch the music video for "You Lie" here.

Rank: 20
Title: "I've Waited All My Life For You"
Original Appearance: Reba McEntire (1977)
Interpretation: A woman pledges her devotion to man she has waited her whole life to find.
Comments: One of Reba's very first songs off of her first album. Recorded at age at 22, this song is typical innocent fair for young country artists of the time. Reba's voice had not yet reached its full maturity and so, like most of her early stuff, the chorus is not stadium worthy. Still, it's a lovely song with a lovely message.
Listen to "I've Waited All My Life For You" here.
Rank: 19
Title: "I Can See Forever in Your Eyes"
Original Appearance: Feel the Fire (1980)
Interpretation: Your basic “lay me down” song.
Comments: Another early Reba song with another classic theme: do me. I suppose by 1980, the country listening public was ready for Reba to declare her needs for a night of lovin'.
Listen to "I Can See Forever in Your Eyes" here.

Rank: 18
Title: "Whoever’s in New England"
Original Appearance: Whoever’s in New England (1986)
Interpretation: A woman is aware of her husband’s affair and wants him to know that she will be waiting when he chooses to end it.
Comments: "Whoever's in New England" is a hugely important song in Reba's career. Despite having released nine other records, it wasn't until this 1986 single that Reba finally became a superstar.This is the first in a long line of songs where Reba plays the wife of a cheating husband, with each heartbreaking moment shown in her first music video. Interestingly, many view this as an answer song to Barry Manilow's 1976 pop hit "Weekend in New England." That song discusses how a man longs to be back in his lover's arms who lives in New England. There is no reference to a wife. To extend the saga, Sugarland made "Stay" as answer to Reba's hit, taking the perspective of the mistress.
Watch the music video for "Whoever's in New England" here.
Listen to Barry Manilow's "Weekend in New England" here.
Watch the music video for Sugarland's "Stay" here.
Rank: 17
Title: "For My Broken Heart"
Original Appearance: For My Broken Heart (1991)
Interpretation: A woman mourns after her lover moves out of the house.
Comments: One of Reba's saddest songs. It perfectly exemplifies the hopelessness of those few days after the the ending of a relationship and how the world goes on without giving a damn.
Watch the music video "For My Broken Heart" here.
Rank: 16
Title: "And Still"
Original Appearance: Read My Mind (1994)
Interpretation: After running into a former flame and meeting his wife, a woman realizes that she is still in love with him.
Comments: Along with being the wronged woman, another reoccuring theme in Reba's songs is running into a former lover. And, as usual, there is someone new, dashing all chances of reigniting the relationship.

Watch the music video for "And Still" here.
Rank: 15
Title: "He Wants to Get Married"
Original Appearance: It’s Your Call (1992)
Interpretation: A woman describes a man who holds marriage in the highest regard and wants it for himself but not with the narrator.
Comments: This is one of those great songs that was never released as a single, therefore made the album purchase totally worth it. You have to listen to the entire song to get the full meaning. As Reba describes this non-commitmentphobic man, you think the song will end with him proposing, but instead, he doesn't think she's good enough.
Rank: 14
Title: "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia"
Original Appearance: For My Broken Heart (1991)
Interpretation: An epic tale of a young woman who’s brother is convicted of murdering his unfaithful wife even though it’s his sister who is the murderer.
Comments: Classic country song. First recorded in 1972 by Vicki Lawrence, Reba blows that version out of the water. A powerful, epic song needs a powerful, epice voice and Reba delivers. This is a wonderful example of why covering classic songs is can be the right choice.
Watch the video for "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" here.
Rank: 13
Title: "If You See Him/If You See Her"
Sung With: Brooks & Dunn
Original Appearance: If You See Him (1998)
Interpretation: A married couple tell a go between that they both still love one another but refuse to confront the other.
Comments: The second duet on the list...and technically the first real duet. In my mind, duets should tell two different stories and express the feelings of two different people. In this song, both of the parties feel the same things, and tragically refuse to admit it to each other. As the listener, we take on the role as the go between and become a part of the story.
Watch the music video for "If You See Him/If You See Her" here.
Rank: 12
Title: "She Thinks His Name Was John"
Original Appearance: Read My Mind (1994)
Interpretation: The story of a woman who contracts AIDS from a one night stand.
Comments: This must be the most depressing Reba song of all time. In the early 90’s, AIDS was just beginning to leak into the public view. The song garnered much media attention because it features a “normal” woman and not a homosexual man, a drug user, or a promiscuous woman or prostitute. Country music is particularly known for making statements on current issues, which is why this song was so famous. In this song, AIDS is finally portrayed as a dangerous threat to everyone.
Watch the music video for "She Thinks His Name Was John" here.
Rank: 11
Title: “Face to Face”
Sung With: Linda Davis
Original Appearance: If You See Him (1998)
Interpretation: The wife and the other woman confront one another and discover it is neither of their faults and rather the husband’s.
Comments: This is a sequel song of sorts to 1993’s “Does He Love You?” In that song, the wife (Reba) and the mistress (Linda) know of each other, but have never met. This song (assuming it is a sequel) is their meeting. The two characters are forced to realize that other isn’t just the homewrecking slut or the frigid bitch wife. They are both humans with feelings and the characters are forced to reckon with that. Ultimately, they decide they are better off without the man.

Listen to "Face to Face" here.
Rank: 10
Title: “Fancy”
Original Appearance: Rumor Has It (1990)
Interpretation: A destitute mother pushes her young daughter into prostitution, a life in which she flourishes.
Comments: Reba McEntire’s signature song. Like “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” “Fancy” is not a Reba McEntire original. It was originally recorded in 1969 by Bobbie Gentry, but Reba has since claimed it as her own. Her powerful voice and epic arrangement turn it into one of the classic country story songs and classic music videos.
Watch the music video for "Fancy" here.

Rank: 9
Title: Every Time You Touch Her
Original Appearance: Whoever’s in New England (1986)
Interpretation: A woman begs for her man to think of her even when he’s with another woman.
Comments: This may be the only song in which Reba plays the role of “the other woman.” This song is open to interpretation. Certainly, the man is with two women, but it is hard to tell who the narrator is. She believes the man to be in love with her, and using the other woman for sex. This may be a one sided precursor to “Does He Love You?” This is a beautiful, simple song with only guitar accompaniment.
Listen to "Every Time You Touch Her" here. (P.S. sorry it's so shitty!)

Rank: 8
Title: “Somebody”
Original Appearance: Room to Breathe (2003)
Interpretation: A man realizes a waitress at his diner is the one for him.
Comments: “Somebody” is one of the only happy, upbeat songs on my list. It was still a new hit when I started listening to country, which probably has something to do with it. Plus, I love the optimistic outlook and the theme of “sometimes what you’re looking for is right beside you."

Watch the music video for "Somebody" here.
Rank: 7
Title: “Every Other Weekend”
Sung With: Kenny Chesney
Original Appearance: Reba Duets (2007)
Interpretation: A divorced couple with joint custody only see each other every other weekend when they trade children and refuse to tell one another they’re still in love.
Comments: “Every Other Weekend” is very much like “If You See Him/If You See Her” in the sense that it’s about two people who are too proud to admit they still love each other. Perhaps it’s even a sequel song. And if it is, it shows that unexpressed emotions can torture you forever.
Watch the music video for "Every Other Weekend" here.
Rank: 6
Title: “I Still Long to Hold You Now and Then”
Original Appearance: Out of a Dream (1979)
Interpretation: A woman sees her lover again and is taken aback when she realizes she still wants him.
Comments: Another
reunited lovers song. This one, however, does allude to there being a new woman, so the possibility of starting it up again is there. As an early song, it has a simpler vocals and arrangement, but still is awesome.

Listen to "I Still Long to Hold You Now and Then" here.
Rank: 5
Title: “Don’t Touch Me There”
Original Appearance: Whoever’s in New England (1986)
Interpretation: Spurned by love, a woman allows her date to touch her everywhere but her heart.
Comments: This song feels like it’s from one of Reba’s earlier albums, just for its simplicity. But rather, it’s on Whoever’s in New England. It shows the transition from gentle songs into her huge ballads.

Listen to "Don't Touch Me There" here.

Rank: 4
Title: “I Know How He Feels”
Original Appearance: Reba (1988)
Interpretation: A woman sees her ex-boyfriend with his new woman and regrets ending their relationship.
Comments: The last of the lovers reunited songs. This one is a little different because we learn that Reba herself is the one to blame for the end of the relationship. This one also has no actual interaction between the narrator and the ex, mostly because he is caught up with his new girlfriend.

Watch the music video for "I Know How He Feels" here.
Rank: 3
Title: “How Does It Feel to Be Free?”
Original Appearance: Heart to Heart (1981)
Interpretation: A woman calls her ex-lover shortly after their break up to see if he’s feeling the same way as she is.
Comments: I’ve finally discovered why I like Reba’s earlier slow songs. Her voice doesn’t overpower the message of the s
ong. “How Does It Feel to Be Free?” for example, is sung so simply, you feel the sadness of the narrator. She’s too depressed to put any real effort into singing the song. Of course, Reba is so good that her “lack of effort” makes the song all the better. (This is one of the reasons I like Karen Carpenter so much, but more on that later…much later.)

Listen to "How Does It Feel to Be Free?" here.
Rank: 2
Title: “She Wasn’t Good Enough For Him”
Original Appearance: So Good Together (1999)
Interpretation: A woman stays in a physical relationship with a man even though he has no desire to have a real relationship with her.
Comments: I love songs told from a third person perspective. They’re so rare. They feel less biased, too. I think I love this song so much because I witnessed an actual situation like this where a guy friend of mine basically used this girl for sex even though he knew she was in love with him. The sick part was that I found myself in a similar situation with him even after witnessing this. There are very few songs that deal with this subject and lucky for me, Reba has one.

Rank: 1
Title: “Does He Love You?”
Sung With: Linda Davis
Original Appearance: Reba McEntire’s Greatest Hits Volume 2 (1993)
Interpretation: The wife and her husband’s mistress wonder who their man really loves.

Comments: Okay…was there really any doubt in your mind what number one would be? I referenced this song like 3 times. Of course, the first Reba song I ever liked is my favorite. I love it because, like so many other Reba songs, it deals with one of my favorite themes: the other woman. For the first time (maybe ever) we are given a sympathetic look at the mistress. Believe me, I’ve looked for other songs, but the only one I can think of off the top of my head is Sugarland’s “Stay.” This shows that both parties are in pain, not just the wronged wife. “Does He Love You?” proves that there is no winning side to this battle. One woman has his heart, the other has his loins, and neither has his mind. Which would you rather have? This song perfectly portrays the hopelessness of love triangles. Due to its “movie within a movie” music video, the song became famous on CMT and an instant country classic.

Watch the music video for "Does He Love You?" here.

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