Monday, March 23, 2015

brantley gilbert: 39 to 1.

Happy Monday, peoples and peepettes!

I’ve wanted to do this post for a while now, if only because I believe in honoring what I consider to be greatness, when it’s great.

If you frequent this site (and if you do, a hearty “thank you!” from me), you will notice that I tend to open every post, uuh, posted on this site, with a song – a theme, if you will.

And you will notice, I tend to draw from one artist more than any other.

Brantley Gilbert.

Mr. Gilbert’s music inspires me.  I am not quite sure why.  To be honest, I have no idea why I like his stuff so much.  He strikes me as an absolute tool from afar.  White dude who loads up on the tats.  #justinbiebersyndrome 

And yet … I absolutely love the sh*t he puts out.

To date, he’s released three … screw it, I’m a product of the 90s.  To date?  He’s put out three CD’s – “A Modern Day Prodigal Son”, “Halfway to Heaven”, and his most recent effort, “Just As I Am”.  Those three CD’s have released thirty nine songs of varying degrees of greatness, upon us, the listening public.

This post?  Ranks those 39 efforts, from my least favorite, to my most.

Number one?  Stunned the hell out of me, given how much I love numbers two through about fifteen.

Number thirty seven?  Will stun the hell out of any of you, who have listened to anything Brantley Gilbert has put out.  Trust me -- numbers thirty seven and twenty four?  You'll be outraged, aren't ranked higher.

Let’s do this.

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 (I suppose this is where I should note, that the three CD’s each carry a different “theme” to them, and damn if I can’t relate to all of them, pretty much in order.  “A Modern Day Prodigal Son” is just that – a dude who hits his mid / late 20s (or in my case, his early 30s), realizes what a complete clusterf*ck he’s made of his life, and expresses his regrets and apologies.  “Halfway to Heaven” is not so much a reflection on the past, as much as a transition into the present – yeah, I blew it … but I’m still here, and damned grateful for that.  (Also known as "my mid 30s".)  

“Just As I Am”?  Is exactly what it says – you come to grips with who God made you to be, and if your friends, family, co-workers, and people you care about can’t accept that?  Then f*ck them.

For the record, I’m officially somewhere between the “Halfway to Heaven” and “Just As I Am” phase, in my own personal life.)

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39. “Picture On The Dashboard” (off of “A Modern Day Prodigal Son”). 

Why This Song Hits Me: it doesn’t.  That’s why it’s ranked last.  I have no one’s picture on my dashboard … and to be honest, I never have.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“And I ain’t as I used to be;
Tough as hell and hard to please.”

38. “If You Want a Bad Boy” (off of “Just As I Am”). 

Why This Song Hits Me: it doesn’t.  And for the record, I flipped a coin (no, not “The Coin”), to figure out the bottom two on this list … and the song up next, nearly made it a three-way flip.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“I’ll have you back before the rooster crows;
Girl?  Your mom and daddy ain’t gotta know!”

37. “Country Must Be Country Wide” (off of “Halfway To Heaven”). 

Why This Song Hits Me: it does … in a totally negative way. 

I am fully aware this is the song that launched Mr. Gilbert’s success.  I am fully aware this is the song that truly put him on the map.  And I’ll even admit, this is the song that made me look into his other stuff (almost all of which is better than this effort). 

Because this effort?  I am not a fan of.

I was raised in an area of this great nation affectionately referred to as “The Golden Ghetto” (aka Johnson County).  I have never wanted for a thing a day in my life, unless I chose to want for it.  (I hate asking others for help, when I can make do on my own … and I despise people who think everyone else exists, to prop them up and/or bail them out.  You made your mess; you clean it up.) 

So yes, I’m not exactly the “target demographic” for a country artist. 

Having said that, the insinuation this song makes, that people raised like me can’t ever be a true fan of the genre?  Is patently absurd, and beyond insulting.  Hence my intense dislike of this effort.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“And ol’ Hank?  He said it all,
When he said country folk?  Can survive!”

36. “Hell On Wheels” (off of “Halfway to Heaven”).

Why This Song Hits Me: it honestly doesn’t.  It’s a fun little track, but it’s not played all that often on Stevo’s iPod.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“Ridin’ 95 down the highway,
Sideways, running from Ol’ John Law!
I got the booze and the boot –
Move it over, Bo Duke!
Make room for a real outlaw!”

35. “What’s Left Of A Small Town” (off of “A Modern Day Prodigal Son”).

Why This Song Hits Me: I suppose if I had grown up in a small town, it might hit me.  Considering the smallest city I’ve lived in in this blessed and charmed existence I call life is either Lenexa or Lake Arlington (both with populations well into the tens of thousands), I can’t say I relate.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“Riding around
What’s left of a small town.
Making my rounds;
Waving hi to everyone around.

It’s in my blood;
It’s where I settle down.
Lay me in the ground,
Under what’s left of a small town …”

34. “Indiana’s Angel” (off of “A Modern Day Prodigal Son”).

Why This Song Hits Me: from this point on, I’ll listen to any song if it pops up on my iPod.  This song is his tribute to his mom.  Circle it pretty damned cool, Bert.  Circle it pretty damned cool.  

Also, it contains what might be my favorite line he’s ever written, and I’d argue truer words have ever been written.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“Baby?  Back home, your daddy’s dying.
Right about then, the king of perfect timing,
Walked in with liquor on my breath.

I sat and watched all of her tears glisten,
She said “Son?  You’ll learn to listen –
A man stands taller on his knees.”

33. “Take It Outside” (off of “Halfway to Heaven”).

Why This Song Hits Me: because we all can think of a few people, we’d love to “take it outside” with – anywhere, anytime, anyplace.  

Favorite Lyric(s):

“And if you think you’ve got the guts?
Then let’s take it outside!
If you think you’re man enough?
If you really wanna knuckle up?
If you wanna shed a little blood?
Then let’s take it outside!
Let’s take it outside! …”

32. “Let It Ride” (off of “Just As I Am”).

Why This Song Hits Me: as my buddy Pickell would note: “put it this way”.  Put it this way – it’s not as entertaining as “Like a Wrecking Ball” by Eric Church … but it’s still got some great visuals.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“Just one kiss?  I know I’ll lose it.
And I won’t know what I’m doing.
I can’t call it –
Guess I’m caught up in this moment –
Let it ride!

Once your lips touch mine girl?  It’s over!
Yeah, I think we both know?
We can’t stop!
We’re just rocking with this moment –
Let it ride!

Oh, let it ride! …”

31. “Hell On An Angel” (off of “Halfway to Heaven”).

Why This Song Hits Me: because it’s a fun, upbeat, enjoyable closing to “Halfway to Heaven”.  Plus, the lyrics are pretty sweet.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“They say I was baptized in dirty water,
By the hands of the devil himself.
Between the banks of whiskey river,
Beside the highway to hell …”

30. “Friday Night” (off of “A Modern Day Prodigal Son”).

Why This Song Hits Me: uuh, because it’s a tribute to football?  Definitely because it’s a tribute to football.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“This ain’t no game ‘round here –
It’s more like religion!
We’ve built this thing right here –
A football tradition!

So everybody get up!
And feast your eyes,
On the highlight of small town life –
It’s Friday night! …”

29. “Saving Amy” (off of “Halfway to Heaven”).

Why This Song Hits Me: I’m honestly not sure.  It just kinda, sorta hits me the right way.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“I wish she knew I’d do anything …

To kiss the tears right off her face,
And tell her everything’s ok.
Feel her heart beat next to mine,
And make up for lost time.

Oh, but God, I know I can’t;
You can’t let her live this way.
It’s too late for saving me,
But there’s still hope for saving Amy …”

28. “Rock This Town” (off of “A Modern Day Prodigal Son”).

Why This Song Hits Me: because I love the underdog that breaks through.  Which is what this song is about.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“It’s 10 o’clock, get ready to rock – let’s roll!
Give me the beats boys, and free my soul!
Play it all, from Skynyrd to Jones,
And some of my own.

5 foot 10 with a suntan and southern drawl,
In the front row singing along!
Yeah, it’s all about the country sound.
Yeah, we’re gonna rock this town! …”

27. “My Baby’s Guns N’ Roses” (off of “Just As I Am”).

Why This Song Hits Me”: it doesn’t … at least as much as I expected it to.  Yo, Brantley – you ever redo this song?  Work in a reference to “Mr. Brownstone”.  No G and effing R tribute, is complete without it.  (You can skip “November Rain” though – highly overrated.  “Mr. Brownstone”?  Criminitely underrated.  Best song Gn’R ever did, hands down, and it’s not up for debate.)

Favorite Lyric(s):

“She ain’t into wine and dining.
She’s shooting whiskey singing “Sweet Child Of Mine”, man!
Riding 95, sitting shot gun pretty,
Turning this town into “Paradise City”!

Running wide ass open!
Just as fast as this thing goes!
Boy, give me some more!

She’s my little rock star,
And man?  She knows it!
My baby’s Guns N’ Roses! …”

26. “Play Me That Song” (off of “A Modern Day Prodigal Son”).

Why This Song Hits Me: because sometimes?  Life sucks to the point, that someone you really are completely and totally digging?  Has no damned idea, how you feel about her. 

Favorite Lyric(s):

“Baby?  That song?
Baby, that song I wrote about the girl,
Who might not ever know,
How much I care, or how much I love her?

Baby?  That song?
I gotta tell you the truth.
I’ve been hiding it too long from you;
Can’t believe you never knew.

It’s all about you.
Oh, it’s all about you! …”

25. “Whenever We’re Alone” (off of “A Modern Day Prodigal Son”).

Why This Song Hits Me: I’d kill to feel this way about someone once again.  Let’s just say, it’s been a while.  (Pause).  What?  (Pause).  No, the random pickup at the Eclipse does not qualify!  Come on!  They’re one night stands for a reason!

Favorite Lyric(s):

“Took her out last Friday night;
Let her dance under neon lights.
And that girl?  She’s turning heads!

Stranger’s eyes right on my girl;
I can’t blame him – man, she’s beautiful!
And she’s coming home with me!

Lord, her beauty’s hard to hide;
Counting my blessings every night …

When she’s wrapped up with her t-shirt on?
Got the lights turned way down low?
Radio’s got her favorite song,
And man, she’s singing right along?

Let your hair down;
Baby?  Let it fall!
Rip the phone cord
Out of the wall!

Whisper “love you” while drifting off again –
Whenever we’re alone,
Whenever we’re alone …”

24. “Dirt Road Anthem” (off of “Halfway To Heaven”).

Why This Song Hits Me: actually, it’s the rotten fruits and/or vegetables y’all are hurling at me, for ranking this song damned near in the bottom third, that “hits me”.  

Is it an enjoyable song?  Yes.  Hell yes it is.

Is it a top twenty effort?  No.  Hell no it's not.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“Yeah, I’m chilling on a dirt road;
Laid back, swervin’ like I’m George Jones.
Smoke rollin’ out the window;
An ice cold beer sitting in the console …”

(Pause).  On second thought, this one might be ranked slightly too low …

23. “My Kinda Party” (off of “A Modern Day Prodigal Son”).

Why This Song Hits Me: it’s fun, it’s been covered the hell out of, and sweet merciful Lord Jesus, if Mr. Gilbert is writing this on his freshman effort?  Just wait until we get to my two favorite songs off of his junior effort!  (Two of my three favorites are off of “Just As I Am”, including my favorite … that you probably won’t see coming.)

Favorite Lyric(s):

“Girl?  Well if you’re gonna drink?
Go on baby, just do your thing!
Give up your keys.  (Pause).
Hell, why drive when you can stay with me! …”

22. “Bending The Rules and Breaking The Law” (off of “Halfway to Heaven”).

Why This Song Hits Me: move over, “Sinners Like Me” by Eric Church.  Sit down, “I Don’t Wanna Be” by Gavin DeGraw.  Lose that comfortable feeling, “Innocent” by Our Lady Peace.

If ANY song has ever defined me?  This one is a damned strong contender, to be that song.

(For now, Mr. DeGraw keeps the championship belt ... but it's a tenuous hold at best, on said championship belt.)

Favorite Lyric(s):

“Growing up?  I was always mama’s angel.
Never thought I’d ever fall from grace.
I was taught to walk with God, and run from trouble.
But I ran with a crowd, that was bound to change my ways …

Yeah, I was proud to be in the bad news crowd,
The ones my mama warned me about –
The closest thing to hell she’s ever raised!

But when I look back on those days?
I know I wouldn’t change one thing!
I made mistakes, that paved the way,
For the man I am today.

I’m proud of them all!
And I had a ball!
Bending the rules and breaking the law! …”

21. “I’m Gone” (off of “Just As I Am”).

Why This Song Hits Me: because every great artist needs at least one great “f*ck you!” breakup song.  The great bard known as Lionel Richie has “Sail On” (which is one of THE greatest “f*ck you!” breakup songs ever – “I know it’s a shame, but I’m giving you back your name!”)  Sir Elton John has many, my favorite of which is “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (“Maybe you’ll get a replacement!  They’re plenty like me to be found!”)

Eric Church has “I’m Getting Stoned”.  Of course, the song guaranteed to close down any tailgate for a prime time game, “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins.  Kelly Clarkson has “Breakaway” (which I love).  Martina McBride has many, my favorite of which is “Wrong Again”.  (Pause).  Fine, “Broken Wing” is pretty damned awesome too.

This?  Is one really sweet “f*ck you!  No, really -- f*ck you!!!” breakup song.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“There’s no suitcase by your front door.
There’s no note saying goodbye.
Ain’t no motor out there running,
Idling in the drive.

You don’t have to keep on looking,
For some proof you’re losing me.
You don’t have to keep on waiting,
Afraid I’m gonna leave.

I’m not going, I’m not going anywhere.
We both know it – girl?  I’m already there.
It’s been over; I don’t know why you’re holding on.
I’m not going!  I’m not going!  I’m not going!

I’m gone! …” 

20. “My Faith In You” (off of “Just As I Am”).

Why This Song Hits Me: because if I’m being honest, it’s at least ten spots too low.  (The last half of the song is an utter mess; the first half is utter brilliance.  Hence my splitting the baby, and putting it directly at the midpoint, at numero twenty.)

Look it, I feel differently about certain things at 38, then I did at 28.  (And then I definitely did at 18.)  

And because I have said a version of these lyrics so many times over the last few years, that it stopped being funny a long, long, long time ago.

Favorite Lyric(s):

The first verse and chorus:

“Yeah this world will turn its’ back,
When you find yours against that wall.
Just watch it as it keeps on spinning,
Just like there’s nothing wrong.

That’s why I’m thumbing through these pages;
They say the answers are in red.
And I believe they’re in here somewhere;
I just haven’t found them yet.

But it’s the only hope that I got left.

Because I could stand to lose my faith?
In friends that come and go.
Yeah – they’ll be there when you need them?
They say that when you don’t!

I could give up on my heroes,
And could let myself down too.
But what would I do,
If I lost my faith in You? …”

And the closing to the coherent part of this song:

“Because I’ve been beaten, I’ve been broken.
I’ve been dangerously bruised.
But Lord, I never would have made it,
If I’d lost my faith in You …”

Had this song ended there, at about the 3:10 mark?  Had the last two minutes not been recorded?  

This song might be in the top three.  The first part of it, is that damned sweet.  At least to me.

19. “Them Boys” (off of “Halfway To Heaven”).

Why This Song Hits Me: because I can guaran-damn-tee you, every person reading this?  Your parents have felt this, many, many times.  Lord knows mine have.  And I was the “good” kid in high school, compared to my brother.

(College?  Yeah, not so much.  Post-college?  Let's just not even go there.  If only because I'm not ready to move into Two Rivers over there on Raytown Road yet.)

Favorite Lyric(s):

“Them boys?  Don’t know one thing about life,
True love or trouble, struggle or strife.
They think it’s all just fun and games,
Like laws and rules, or balls and chains.

Treating little girls like hearts don’t break;
Treating old men like hands don’t shake.
I pray it’s just a phase they’re going through –
But what are we gonna do with them boys? …”

18. “Small Town Throwdown” (off of “Just As I Am”).

Why This Song Hits Me: it honestly doesn’t … but I like the sound.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“It’s a small town!  Throwdown!
It’s time to tallboy up, get those tailgates down!
And man, it’s on tonight!
‘Til the morning light!

Crank that country up loud –
It’s a small town throwdown! …”

17. “G.R.I.T.S” (off of “A Modern Day Prodigal Son”).

Why This Song Hits Me: sweet merciful Jesus.  Of every fun track Mr. Gilbert has recorded, none make me laugh and smile like this one.  This song is just awesome, in a “just enjoy it” kind of way.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“I had a buddy come down around last July.
Called me when he hit the Mason Dixon line.
Said he was heading down south,
And looking for a real good time.

I said “man, come on!  I’ve got a place in mind!”
We pulled up at a bar, right on the Georgia line.
Walked in – man, his eyes got wide!
And when his jaw hit the floor, all I could do was smile.

He said “man, we got some pretty women up north,
But I ain’t never seen nothing like this!”
I said, “man, these here?  Ain’t ordinary women.
We call them grits!

She’s a product of being raised in the country!
She knows her roots, and works hard for her money!
A southern drawl with dark tan legs!
Ain’t nothing like a woman, southern born and bred!

Now she loves her mommy, daddy, and the Lord to death,
Acting innocent, and playing hard to get.
With her girls tonight, man?  She’s out on the town!
Grits man – Girls Raised In The South! …”

16. “Kick It In The Sticks” (off of “Halfway to Heaven”).

Why This Song Hits Me: because it’s a fun little track.  Stacked between three songs yet to appear (two of which are in my top six, the third of which barely missed the top ten) that are much heavier and/or meaningful, this is a fun little track that lightens the mood leading into what I would assume, is the most personal and painful song, Mr. Gilbert has ever written and released.  (That song is ranked eleventh by me.)

Favorite Lyric(s):

“Welcome to the home of the hillbilly!
Yeah baby –
It’s a land of barbed wire and moonshine whiskey!

Park your car before you get it stuck!
Go on – grab you a beer,
And get on up in my truck!

It’s going down tonight!
It’s all on me!
It’s BYOB, and I’ve got all we’ll need! …”

15. “One Hell Of An Amen” (off of “Just As I Am”).

Why This Song Hits Me: because I’ve always believed if you’re gonna go out?  Go out with a bang.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“And that’s one hell of an amen!
That’s the only way to go –
Fighting the good fight,
Until the good Lord calls you home!

So be well my friend!
Until I see you again?
Yeah, this is our last goodbye.
But it’s one hell of an amen! …”

14. “More Than Miles” (off of “Halfway to Heaven”).

Why This Song Hits Me: the chorus hits me like few songs by Mr. Gilbert, ever have. 

Favorite Lyric(s):

“Cause I’m on my way to Tennessee,
Singing Georgia On My Mind;
Chasing what they say is a dream,
Thinking maybe it ain’t mine.

Cause that girl’s in every song I sing;
She’s in every song I write!
And that six string riding in her seat?
Won’t keep me warm tonight.

God, what am I supposed to do?
There’s still more than miles, in my rearview …”

13. “Fall Into Me” (off of “Halfway to Heaven”).

Why This Song Hits Me: from the “what I wouldn’t give to feel this way about a chica” department.  Enough said.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“A whisper away?  From changing everything!
But is it safe to say,
Such dangerous things?

When your hands are trembling?
Girl, I’m weak in the knees!

It’s times like these?
When silence, means everything –
More than anything!

So fall, when you’re ready baby!
Let our kiss count the moments,
And hearts set the pace!

I’ll be your love song,
And I’ll love you right off your feet,
Until you fall into me …”

12. “Bottoms Up” (off of “Just As I Am”).

Why This Song Hits Me: because it’s the funnest, most carefree song Mr. Gilbert has ever recorded?  

It’s just four minutes of “who gives a damn” fun and frivolity and tomfoolery and hijinks.

Sometimes?  You just have to kick your feet up, and enjoy the show.  (Contrary to what the greatness that is Waldorf and Statler would lead you to believe, it's not ALWAYS a kind of torture, to have to watch the show.  Speaking of which, Mr. Gilbert is here with Jason Aldean and Kenny Chesney at Arrowhead on August 1st.  Anyone interested?)

That’s why I love this song – it’s not meant to be taken seriously (like so many of his other recordings).  It’s meant to be a song you play because it’s one helluva fun time to party.  In the words of the great Sgt. Rick Hunter: “it works for me”.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“Let’s give a toast to the good times!
All y’all?  Get your drinks up high!
Everybody feelin’ alright?
Damn right!

Cause tonight it’s bottoms up!

Throw it on down!
Rock this quiet little country down!
And get up –
Drop the tailgate on your truck!

Find a keg, and fill your cup up!
Throw it on down!
Pretty little mama, looking at you like that?
Make ya wanna slide in like “girl?  What’s up?”

Tonight?  It’s bottoms up! …”

11. “Halfway to Heaven” (off of “Halfway to Heaven”).

Why This Song Hits Me: because but for the grace of God?  There go I.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“First thing I did was hug my momma –
I even hugged my dad.
Told them both how much I loved them –
Never saw daddy cry like that.

Started hanging out with my little brother;
Man I never miss a game.
And I’m in church every Sunday,
And I pray every day –

When you see life flash, before your eyes?
The good, the bad?  The wrong, the right?
Fade into a bright white line,
Shining down on you?

You’re hanging on by your last thread,
Wondering which one’s your last breath.
Knowing there’s so much you’ve left to do?

You live your life a better man,
When you’ve been,
Halfway to heaven …”

10. “A Modern Day Prodigal Son” (off of “A Modern Day Prodigal Son”).

Why This Song Hits Me: because it’s me, stripped of all the bullsh*t, all the false fronts, all the pretentions.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“One reckless night, just looking for my whiskey?
I found a Bible momma gave me, and read a while.
I read a story about a man who lived just like me,
Then finally ate his pride, and came running home.

Lord?  I’m a renegade, a rambler,
I’ve squandered all I own.
A bona-fide runaway, I’m a gambler,
I can’t count the lies I’ve told.

And I need redemption – how about forgiveness?
And I pray for open arms.
So be with me Lord – cause I’m coming home,
Like a modern day prodigal son …”

9. “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do” (off of “Halfway to Heaven”).

Why This Song Hits Me: because we’ve all lived this song.  And we all know it.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“Hey old friend,
Thanks for calling.
It’s good to know somebody cares.

Yeah, she’s gone,
But I don’t feel like talking.
It might be just too much to bear.

To hear somebody say,
It stop hurting?
Or hear somebody say,
She ain’t worth it?

Cause you don’t know her like I do!
You’ll never understand!
And you don’t know what we’ve been through –
That girl’s my best friend!

And there’s no way you’re gonna help me;
She’s the only one who can.
No – you don’t know how much I’ve got to lose,
Cause you don’t know her, like I do! …”

8. “Live It Up” (off of “A Modern Day Prodigal Son”).

Why This Song Hits Me: because sometimes, you just have to embrace who you are, who God made you to be.  And if for whatever reason or reasons, that isn’t acceptable to some people?  Then raise two middle fingers, tell them to go f*ck themselves, and pull up this song of defiance, against those who resent you, for daring to not conform, to not “fit in”, to refuse to be, what they demand you to be.

Just be you.  And never apologize for it.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“It’s all around town!
Here’s ten cents, for the mistakes he’s made.
It’s all word of mouth.
Oh, but they say, that’s the price you pay.

You’re in with the wrong crowd?
Oh look at the mess you made!
They’re staring you down,
Every time you show your face.

Ah, to hell with all the small town,
Small talk – I’ve had enough!
It ain’t their place to judge!
And I ain’t giving up!

And I said,
If you can’t live it down?
Might as well live it up!
You live and you learn –

Man, the world’s gonna turn!
It ain’t gonna stop for you!

And I said,
If you can’t live it down?
Might as well live it up!

Yeah forgiveness is yours,
In the hands of the Lord,
And there ain’t nothing they can do!
Hell – live it up! …”

7. “That Was Us” (off of “Just As I Am”).

Why This Song Hits Me: for the same reason “Talladega” by Eric Church hits me as hard as it does. 

I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but my favorite movie I’ve seen in the last year or so, is “The Fault In Our Stars”.  The final scene of that movie is Hazel Grace, laying on the grassy hill at Skeleton Park, reading Augustus’ eulogy to her.  It’s the next to last line of the eulogy (and the movie) that never fails to hit me proper.

“We don’t get to choose whether we get hurt in this world.  But we do have a say, in who we allow to hurt us.  I like my choices.”

Unlike Mr. Waters, I don’t like my choices, in who I have allowed in this life to matter enough to me, to have the ability to hurt me.  I don’t like my choices.

I f*cking love my choices.

(And with that, we've reached the "one to every three pages typing this in Word" f-bomb ratio this site strives to maintain at all times.  Yay!!!!  (kazoo voice) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Favorite Lyric(s):

“Every once in a while?
We’ll catch a game or a race.
And catching up on old times?
Turns into hell that we raised.

We’ll start retelling stories,
And lies we’ve rehearsed,
About the girls we made out with,
And how bad ass we were –

That was us.

That was us!

That was us down in Panama,
Cruisin’ the strip!
In the bed of my truck,
Tossin’ beads and talkin’ sh*t!

Shotgunning beer,
Playing pong and flip cup!
We never lost senior year –
Tore them son b*tches up!

That was us!

That was us! …”

6. “Back In The Day” (off of “Halfway to Heaven”).

Why This Song Hits Me: because I miss the friend, this song perfectly described.  She’s still considered a friend by me.  Unfortunately?  She’s just not someone worth knowing at this point.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“Summer was over,
College was calling,
Man, I had to watch her leave.
But I still wonder if she ever thinks of me …

Cause back in the day?
We were wild and free!
She was my dashboard drummer,
Butterflies in the backseat.
Little footprint on my window.

And parking my Chevy by the riverside,
Four letters in a heart, carved in a pine?
A little sundress laying up there on the bank,
While the water washed our innocence away.

It feels like yesterday,
But it was back in the day,
Back in the day,
Back in the day …”

5. “My Kind of Crazy” (off of “Halfway to Heaven”).

Why This Song Hits Me: because what I wouldn’t give, to have a relationship like this, at this point in my life.  Or any point, for that matter.  No girl’s ever done it for me, this epically.  At least so far.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“She says, look baby -- I’m a rock star!
Grabs my old guitar,
Playing it upside down,
Dancing round, in front of our TV.

I can’t see the ballgame,
So I just save my lighter around and say,
Rock on baby!
I’d rather watch you anyway!

And when you’re done?
Can I come backstage?
And get you to sign your name
On that Zeppelin shirt you’re wearing –
I’ll never wash that thing again!

Yeah, she’s my kind of crazy!
The little games she plays?
Lord they never get old!
She’s too cute to get on my last nerve!

The way she throws her little fits?
Poking out her lip, and biting mine when we kiss?
There ain’t a fight that she can’t win!
That’s my baby,
And she’s my kind of crazy! …”

4. “The Best Of Me” (off of “A Modern Day Prodigal Son”).

Why This Song Hits Me: like with the next choice, it’s a depressing look back at a love lost.  Unlike the next choice, it’s a depressing look back at a love lost because of your own abject bleeping stupidity.  I can relate to that.

I should probably note, when I am down and want to feel even worse?  This is always the first song I choose to listen to.  It goes shockingly well with a very stiff Jacked Up.

Favorite Lyric(s):

“Well, there ain’t nothing like a memory,
When it’s coming on strong like a hurricane.
How can love like that, just up and walk away?
You’re killing me baby!

Got me pouring up another drink;
Bourbon’s hitting me harder, like a freight train.
With my back against the wall, or on my knees?
When the worst of your memory?
Gets the best of me …”

3. “Lights Of My Hometown” (off of “Just As I Am”). 

Why This Song Hits Me: It’s a tribute to the greatest friendship you’ll ever have … and you only understand that fact, by realizing that it’s gone forever.  

I can relate to that, on multiple levels. 

You spend the first two minutes thinking this is a song about a town left behind as life propels you forward … until you hit that 2:10 mark, and my favorite part of this song hits you raw, and you realize, this isn’t about a life you’ve left behind … it’s about a life you’ve lost, and not by your choosing.

Favorite Lyric(s): I’ve got two of them.

First:

“We got the moonshine;
I’m talking both kinds.
Have you seeing double
Staring at the tan lines.

And we’ll throw ‘em down,
Until the cops come.
Cause when the blue lights flash?
Boys, it’s time to run!”

And most importantly:

“Light a flashlight,
On a tombstone.
Let your best friend know?
He ain’t alone.

Go on and pop a top,
Pour a little out.
Just to let him know,
We’re still thinking about him!

Man, the lights of our hometown?
He almost come to life when the sun goes down!
I’m talking ‘bout the lights of our hometown!
He almost comes to life, when the sun goes down!”

2. “Freshman Year” (off of “A Modern Day Prodigal Son”). 

Why This Song Hits Me: it’s just perfection.  It’s so perfect?  It’s the theme to my favorite post I’ve ever,uuh, posted.  It’s that damned amazing.  It was so damned amazing, I posted the lyrics to the entire song, on that post.  I do that maybe one out of ever fifty-seven posts.  It never happens.  This song hits me so damned awesomely, I couldn’t edit a single word from the lyrics, out of that post. 

This song?  Is what so many of us have lived … and lost.  So many of you have been blessed enough to regain it.  I haven’t … yet.

But someday …

Favorite Lyric(s):

“And now?

We’re still young and wild,
Hanging out too late at night!
In all these college bars,
With cheap Natty Light!

Just like one of the guys?
You’re still right by my side!
At every football game,
There with a smile!

Two in the crowd,
Screaming “Go Dawgs Go!”
Oh how I remember!
The way love felt, in freshman year! …”

1. “17 Again” (off of “Just As I Am”). 

Why This Song Hits Me: true story time!  The last time a “newbie” on the music scene hit me as raw and hard as Brantley Gilbert does, was Linkin Park.  That Projekt Revolution Concert ten and a half years ago was beyond incredible.  What might stun you, is that like with Brantley Gilbert (hopefully) on an insanely hot August night in 2015?  

It’s not the obvious “must hear”, that I wanted to hear that hot as hell itself night in August 2004.  It was the “might play it, might not” effort that mattered so much to me.

“Figure .09” is to this day, my favorite Linkin Park song.  (Never released as a single, off “Meteora”.)  I can passionately shout every damned word of it, to this day.  And my favorite moment of that epic night, was when LP played it about halfway through their epic two hour performance.

That’s what “17 Again” is to me.  It’s a song that just totally, totally nails, how I feel.  Ten years ago, I was feeling nothing but disgust and rage and anger, at all that was happening in life.  (Hence my ridiculous passion about “Figure .09” – it’s a song about the utter and total disgust a dude feels, when he realizes every compromise, every concession, every change he made to attain what he thought he wanted?  Was a total and utter waste.)  Now, ten years later?  It isn’t anger and rage and disgust I feel.  It’s nostalgia, both because of the way things used to be … but because I get, and sadly am coming to accept?  

They’ll never be that way again.

This song?  Just totally nails that feeling.

Favorite Lyric(s):

The entire damned song.  But most especially:

“Looking back?
I wish I could put you
Inside every memory.

You could be my first love,
My first kiss,

My first and last everything!”

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