Every year this list stirs a little controversy because people misunderstand that these are not supposed to be the songs you “like” the best, but instead is supposed to be compositions in a given year that have the most impact.
They’re songs that make you change the way you see the world, or change the way you see yourself. This year, I may put out a list of “singles” that would better represent the lighter side of the music. But the Song of the Year is reserved for those few compositions that have the ability to change lives and to change the world.
Some of the songs that find themselves on the outside looking in, but are still excellent and worth your ear include virtually any track on both Chris Knight’s Little Victories album and Corb Lund’s Cabin Fever. The problem with putting out an album where every song is great is trying to pick the best one. If it wasn’t for Tom Morello’s guitar solo, Shooter Jennings’ “The Long Road Ahead” would have made it, and the only reason why Shooter’s”Daddy’s Hands” didn’t is because of this year’s strength of the competition.
A couple of other oddball considerations that almost made it were T. Junior’s “Man in Gray” and Sara Watkins’ song of epic sadness, “When It Pleases You”.
Normally I’d gab a little bit about each song, but this year the songs are so strong and remarkably each has an excellent video. So except for a few quick notes, I think I will sit back and let the music speak for itself. Vote for your favorite(s) below, and comment feedback will be taken into consideration for the winner.
Tom VandenAvond Wreck of a Fine Man from Wreck of a Fine Man
About Hank Williams and James Hand. If you’re interested, you can read the story behind “Wreck of a Fine Man”.
McDougall The Travels of Fredrick Tolls (Part 2) from A Few Towns More
Justin Townes Earle Unfortunately, Anna from Nothing’s Gonna Change”¦
On my mid year list I included “It Won’t Be The Last Time” from Nothing’s Gonna Change too. The competition is so stiff, it didn’t seem fair to include two songs from the same artist. But if I had, it would have been from Justin Townes Earle.
Ray Wylie Hubbard New Years Eve at the Gates of Hell Grifter’s Hymnal
There were a few other songs from Grifter’s Hymnal that could have made the cut, but they didn’t call a record executive a “son of a bitch” or quote Martin Luther King.
Billy Don Burns – Stranger -from Nights When I’m Sober
A really powerful one.
Turnpike Troubadours Good Lord, Lorrie from Goodbye Normal Street
In my mid year list, I picked “Gone, Gone, Gone” as the standout with “Good Lord, Lorrie” as a runner up. Over time, “Good Lord, Lorrie” has proved to be a timeless song. It’s the “Me & Bobby McGee” of 2012. An excellent use of story.
Sturgill Simpson – Life Ain’t Fair & The World Is Mean
I’ve gone back and forth over the years if I should include songs not released on albums as candidates. This song is just too strong to leave off. I would be lying if I didn’t say this is one of the front runners. (read full review)
Eric Strickland Drinking Whiskey from Honky Tonk Till I Die
This song may even be better live.
Kacey Musgraves – Merry Go ‘Round
I admit this song is not perfect. The reason it made the list is because for a song with such a subversive message, it has been performing amazingly well on radio. It is touching a nerve with people from Americana to the mainstream. It is a song about awakening, and it may just awaken some folks to the fact that there’s a whole other world of music out there waiting for them. (read full review)
Olds Sleeper Bigsky/Flatland from New Year’s Poem
Last, but certainly not least.