As with the Albums of the Year, 2010 will go down as a high water mark for the amount of top quality songs released, and just like with the albums, some songs that on other years would be near the top got pushed down a rung, and the requisites on who could qualify for the top mark got more stringent.
A Song of the Year can’t just be good, it has to touch you. You have to be a different person, in whatever small way, after listening to it. Points are rewarded for things like catchiness and accessibility, but you’ll have to get at least a little bit deep to makes this year’s list. Great songs speak to many people, but to each individual in different ways. We also saw a lot of songs this year with an epic approach, whose sheer vision and grand design deserves to be highlighted.
Here are the 2010 candidates: I tried to provide links to the full songs, and where not available I made sample players through Amazon.
The Boomswagglers Run You Down from the Outlaw Radio Compilation Vol.1 This is going to sound like pointy-nosed music critic talk, but the beauty of this song is it’s simplicity. Nothing groundbreaking here, no esoteric lyrics. But it works. Great songs can communicate soul without saying much, and that is what this one does. For the first national exposure for these dudes, it was a home run. Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming tour and record from Hillgrass Bluebilly Records.
Roger Alan Wade – Ruins of Paradise – from Deguello Motel – Whether it is the song of they year is yet to be determined, but without question it contains the line of the year, “Some hostile Pentecostal prophet, shakes a God-forsaken snake in my face. The pagan says “Man, just get off it.’ Blames it all on a God he don’t believe in anyway.” The best song on a masterpiece album.
Left Arm Tan – Wish – from Jim – I’m sure most have never heard of Left Arm Tan, or their excellent song “Wish,” but this dark horse out of left field not only belongs here, but just might win. Some may think I’m losing my mind to name this song a candidate, but if you’ve not heard it yet and given it a chance, you’re missing out. It prompted my first song review, and is a perfect example that in the current music climate, the cream doesn’t rise to the top, and I’m not just talking about the weird stuff we all listen to around here.
Jayke Orvis – Dreadful Sinner -from It’s All Been Said – Jayke could’ve had another candidate with ‘Streets,” but “Dreadful Sinner” is just a much more epic undertaking in so many ways, and really highlights Jayke’s contributions to music best. This isn’t a song, it is a composition.
Hank III – Karmageddon – from Rebel Within – I caught a little flack for naming this in my mid-year list, even from Hank III supporters. But even in the face of adversity, I proclaim this song a standout track for 2010 for it’s freshness, unique approach, and theme. Yes, I know Hank III did not write it, but he was possibly the only one who could flesh the full potential of this song out by a fearless approach and vision.
Hellbound Glory – Be My Crutch – from Old Highs & New Lows – You might opine that this is me picking a favorite track of an album just because the album was one of the best of the year. On a top tier album, every song has to be good, but “Be My Crutch” cuts through the crowd not only from it’s own strength, but because at its heart, it’s a love song, and a love song that is actually good is one of the hardest things to write and perform.
Joseph Huber – Can’t You See A Flood’s A-Comin’ – from Bury Me Where I Fall – From a lyrical standpoint, there may not be one better this year. Listen, and heed the warning.
Possessed by Paul James – When It Breaks – from Feed the Family – They say when Possessed plays a song, it is like he is giving birth. If that is the case, this is the pick of the litter. Infinite soul combined with great singing and playing make this simple song so much more than the sum of its parts.
Hillstomp – Cardiac Arrest in D – from Darker The Night – For the best balls-out song of the year, this one takes the cake. It is wickedly infectious. What is the song about? What are the lyrics? Eh, who cares, I’m too busy banging my head.
.357 String Band – Oh Adeline, The Days Engrave, Ride Again – from Lightning from the North – Any of these songs and maybe a few more from this album could have made the top list if it wasn’t such a crowded list this year. But if one of these is your fav for 2010, I can’t argue.
Dale Watson – Hey Brown Bottle – from Carryin’ On – This song was ergonomically-designed to fit Dale’s voice perfectly. Never has it shined more.
Trampled by Turtles – Wait So Long, It’s A War, Bloodshot Eyes – from Palomino – They’re know best for their blazing fast bluegrass-esque numbers, but the slow “Bloodshot Eyes” ballad is one not to overlook.
Lucky Tubb & Wayne Hancock – Hillbilly Fever, West – from Hillbilly Fever – can’t talk about songs without mentioning duets with Wayne and Lucky. “Ramblin'” is destined to be a standard of the Lucky rotation moving forward as well.
Also liked Reverend Deadeye’s version of “Chased Ol’ Satan,” and there were a ton of great songs from people like Bob Wayne and Six Gun Britt and Rachel Brooke on the Outlaw Radio Compilation Vol. 1 that you need to check out if you have not.
So there’s my list, leave your complaints below. Comments will be considered in the final winner, but this is not an up and down vote type thing. I’m sure I’m overlooking a few songs , so enlighten us all by leaving any ones left out below.