Country artists may just be the most patriotic out of any genre of music. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that if we were to put together a list of every country song that pays tribute to the military, that we’d have a never ending playlist. With tomorrow being Memorial Day in the United States, we wanted to put together a list of country songs that can help fans remember what this holiday is all about. From artists that perform for USO troops serving overseas, to artists who have hit singles with a remembrance theme, we put together our list for a 2013 memorial day playlist. Our picks aren’t in order.
Check out our picks below and let us know what songs you’ll be listening to for the rest of the weekend.
AMERICAN SOLDIER – TOBY KEITH
Originally released in November 2003 as a single from his album “Shock’n Y’all.” The song was a co-write by Toby with Chuck Cannon and became a number one hit on the Billboard U.S. Hot Country Songs Chart for four weeks. It was inspired by the times Toby had met USO troops serving overseas, and he wanted to find a way to show his support for them and their families. The video was directed by Michael Salomon and filmed at an actual US Air Force Base in Edwards, California with off-duty soldiers, reservists and their families.
ARLINGTON – TRACE ADKINS
This 2005 single by Trace Adkins is one of the ultimate country songs that pay respect to the sacrifices of the American military. Released from his “Songs About Me” album, it was a co-write by Jeremy Spillman and Dave Turnbull, and was produced by Scott Hendricks. The song follows the story of a soldier that was killed in battle and is to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and was inspired by the real story of Marine Corps Corporal Patrick Nixon who died in 2003. After writer Dave Turnbull met Patrick’s father, he then felt the need to write the song. The single only went as high as #16 on the Billboard U.S. Hot Country Singles Chart after Trace pulled the single off air by request of military families.
8TH OF NOVEMBER – BIG & RICH
Big & Rich released a moving single, and music video, about a friend’s story who served in the Vietnam War in the 173rd Airborne Brigade who was ambushed by over 1,200 Vietcong soldiers on November 8th, 1965. The single was originally released in 2006 as the final single from their 2005 album “Coming To Your City.” Both Kenny Alphin and John Rich wrote the song together. The music video, directed by Deaton-Flanigen, features country icon Kris Kristofferson introducing the story and has Big & Rich sitting on wooden stools while video of the battle and the story of their friend playing behind and around them. The single was the duo’s seventh top 40 hit on the Billboard U.S. Hot Country Singles Chart, hitting as high as #18. It also charted on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart at #94.
IF YOU’RE READING THIS – TIM MCGRAW
Maybe one of the most emotional remembrance songs, Tim McGraw still has one of the best country award show moments when he performed and debuted this single live at the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2007. In his performance, the spotlight stays on him sitting on a wooden stool in all black, then its revealed at the end that he is surrounded by Military families of fallen soldiers. His live version had become so popular that radio stations in the United States had played the award show version almost immediately after airing. The single was later remixed with a studio version, which bumped his “I Need You” duet with his wife, Faith Hill, off of airplay. The single reached #3 on the Billboard U.S. Hot Country Singles Chart, and was Tim’s 42nd Top Ten country single. It was co-written by Tim with Brad and Brett Warren (of The Warrens) only three weeks before the ACM Awards.
I DRIVE YOUR TRUCK – LEE BRICE
“I Drive Your Truck” is the emotional 2012 single from singer-songwriter Lee Brice. The single was a co-write by Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary and was the third and final single from his “Hard 2 Love” album. The song was inspired by an interview by a father of a fallen solider on NPR Radio, who said he drove his son’s truck to cope with the loss. Connie Harrington heard the interview and wrote down that sentence, then brought it to the other two co-writers. At the time, they couldn’t remember the name of the soldier or his father, but after reporters went digging for the name, found out it was Paul Monti speaking about his son, Jared, who was killed in Afghanistan. The co-writers, and Lee, met Paul in Nashville at the ASCAP and BMI celebration of the song.
JUST A DREAM – CARRIE UNDERWOOD
“Just A Dream” was the 2008 single released from Carrie Underwood’s hit album “Carnival Ride.” The fourth single from the album was a co-write by Hillary Lindsey, Gordie Sampson, and Steve McEwan and was sent to radio on July 21st, 2008, with the music video sent out on August 5th, 2008. The song was written over a few days by the three writers in Nashville, and was originally thought of by Hillary and originally titled “American Dream.” The title was changed in order to stay away from political debate instead of the song itself. Carrie’s performance on the song earned her a 2010 Grammy Nomination for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. It hit number one on the Billboard U.S. Hot Country Singles Chart, giving her a 6th straight number one single.
TRAVELIN’ SOLDIER – DIXIE CHICKS
While the Dixie Chicks’ version may not have been the first recorded, it was the first version to chart as a single. Originally recorded by Bruce Robinson in 1996 and 1999, it was later recorded by Ty England for his 1999 album “Highways & Dance Halls” before the trio recorded and released it as a single in 2002 from their album “Home.” It became the sixth, and last, number one single for the Dixie Chicks on what was formerly known as the the Billboard Hot Country & Tracks Chart (now the Billboard U.S. Hot Country Singles Chart). It was the single that the group was promoting overseas when their career-changing statement from lead singer Natalie Maines was made at a London, England concert. It was her anti-President Bush statement that had American radio stations take the single off of their rotation. It became the final single to chart in the top 20 country charts for the group, although their 2007 “Not Ready To Make Nice” did reach #36 on the Billboard country charts and #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.