Us here at Keepin’ it Country want to wish our American friends a happy Memorial Day weekend. We also want to thank all those who have, will, or currently are serving their countries overseas. The sacrifices that have been made, and will be made, by the men and women serving their countries will never be forgotten. Even as a Canadian, I still want to thank everyone for what they’ve done protecting freedom not only in the United States today, but around the world.
While there are tons of songs in country music that pay tribute to the troops, we had the difficult task of narrowing it down to just our top ten. Take a look at our top 10 playlist for Memorial Day and let us know what your favorite songs for tribute are on our Facebook page or in the comments to our post.
10. Just A Dream – Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood‘s 2008 platinum single from her “Carnival Ride” album takes a different side of a tribute for fallen heroes. She takes on the role of a widow of a soldier and her moving single takes the number ten spot on our list. The song starts out sounding like a love song about a young girl going to the chapel to get married, but quickly changes to a story about the funeral of a soldier who was lost in battle. The single earned Carrie a 2010 GRAMMY nomination for Best Female Country Vocal Performance, and reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles Chart.
9. Brothers – Dean Brody
Canadian country singer Dean Brody‘s debut single remains one of his top singles to date. His song, which peaked in the top ten of the Canadian Country Singles Chart, also made an imprint on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in the USA in the top 30. The song’s narrator deals with not wanting to see his brother leave for war and wanting to do anything to keep him home, but his brother tells him that it’s what brothers are for. The single later deals with the sacrifice an older brother gives up for his younger brother.
8. Sleeping With The Telephone – Reba McEntire & Faith Hill
Reba McEntire‘s “Duets” album brought together some of the top voices in not only country, but pop music too. Reba teamed up with country’s power vocalist Faith Hill for a track about being the wife to a soldier serving overseas. While the song never saw radio airplay, it’s still an emotional single about waiting every night for a phone call about her loved one and the thoughts always running through the wife’s head. It’s another song to remind country fans that it’s not only the soldiers that sacrifice everything to keep their country safe, but their families too.
7. Travelin’ Soldier – Dixie Chicks
The Dixie Chicks once had the best harmonies in country music, and their single about love with a soldier was quickly forgotten during its short chart run. It was the single that was pulled by radio stations across the United States due to the controversy surrounding the group’s political stance. Regardless of the statements made, the girls still have a touching story about a young girl who falls in love with a man who was sent out to war. She finds out that he was killed in action when his name was announced at a football game.
6. 8th Of November – Big & Rich
Big & Rich released a tribute to a real-life soldier Niles Harris and the 173rd Airborne Brigade who were ambushed on November 8th, 1965 by 1200 Viet Cong during Operation Hump. Forty-eight American soldiers lost their lives on that day. John Rich and Big Kenny were so touched by their friend’s story that they wrote this song and put it on their 2005 album “Comin’ To Your City.” The music video has an introduction by Kris Kristofferson on Niles, who was one of the soldiers saved by Lawrence Joel, who was the first black American soldier to receive a Medal of Honor. Niles is the one who gave Big Kenny his top hat that he is known for wearing.
5. Have You Forgotten? – Darryl Worley
Country music singer Darryl Worley released an important single in 2003 that dealt with remembering the events of September 11th. The first single from his 2003 album hit number one in only three weeks, and stayed there for a total of seven – not bad for an album that only had four brand new songs, including the title track, and songs from two previous albums. It’s a strong song that deals directly with never forgetting the men and women lost on the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and going after Bin Laden.
4. Arlington – Trace Adkins
Trace Adkins is one of the most supportive country singers for American troops. The history buff released the touching tribute to the soldiers who sacrificed everything for the United States with “Arlington” in 2005. The second single from his “Songs About Me” album tells the story of a fictional soldier who was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. While the single peaked at only number sixteen on the Billboard Country Singles Chart, it’s Trace’s vocals and story telling ability that makes the song so perfect for this holiday weekend.
3. American Soldier – Toby Keith
This is one of my favorite singles by Toby Keith, one that is often forgotten. Toby recently played this song live to the USO on his tour overseas just a few weeks ago at the military bases in the Middle East. We could have picked almost any song out of Toby’s library for this list, or he could have made our entire list, but we chose this song. It’s a moving song about the life of an American Soldier and what they really give up in the name of freedom. Is there anyone out there right now in country music that has more American pride that Toby himself?
2. If You’re Reading This – Tim McGraw
When Tim McGraw performed “When You’re Reading This” live at the Academy of Country Music Awards (ACMs) in 2007, he gave country music goosebumps. The song was so powerful that immediately following the telecast, radio stations played his performance and the live version of the song debuted at number thirty-five on the Billboard Hot Country Songs from unsolicited airplay. His performance received a standing ovation at the Las Vegas award show, when Tim revealed that behind him were families of fallen heroes. It’s one of the most touching moments in country music award show history, and Tim’s tribute to soldiers makes our list at number two.
1. Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning – Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson is one of country music’s greatest singers and songwriters of all time. The legend put together a touching tribute to the September 11th terrorist attacks, and debuted the song on the November 7th, 2001 Country Music Association (CMA) awards. It’s the number one song on our top 10 Memorial Day songs playlist because of how perfect the song is in a changed world today. No matter where you were on September 11th, 2001 you remember where you were when you heard the news of the tragedy. Alan might just be a “singer of simple songs,” but his simple song is the ultimate Memorial Day song.