Growing up, my mother’s extensive CD collection included only two representatives from the Country/Western genre: Kathy Mattea’s Time Passes By, and Wynonna’s second solo album Tell Me Why.
Time Passes By is great, but Tell Me Why is a freaking masterpiece. There’s not a bad track on there. The songwriting talent is a little insane on this one: Karla Bonoff, Naomi Judd, Mary Chapin Carpenter (the excellent “Girls with Guitars”), and Sheryl Crow (Yes, that Sheryl Crow. This is back when her music was still interesting), are the most recognizable names when you’re flipping through the liner notes.
Also a little insane: Wynonna’s voice. It’s deeper and more sultry than it is on The Judds’ albums she made with Naomi, but it’s more youthful and less husky than it is today. She’ll go from a high note to a growl, and it won’t even sound contrived. It’s one of those few times when you understand why people become famous just for singing other people’s songs. It’s also one of the few times when the material and the voice are perfectly matched.
But so there’s one song on there that my mother listened to over and over. (it’s the only time I’ve ever seen her put a song on repeat; she’s usually very strict about listening to the whole album, even if she doesn’t like most of it. Unlike me, who’ll basically just leave a song on repeat until he can’t stand it anymore.) I would talk about the lyrics here, but they’re not what makes this song. Somehow, the combination of melody, singer, and words manage to produce something so much more affecting than the sum of the parts. I don’t know.
There are so many break-up songs, and even the really good ones usually manage to bounce off my brain without really sinking in. But I can’t listen to this one without feeling like the world’s going to end.
No official video for this one, so YouTube’s given us a fanboy montage. There’s no overdubbed dialogue, so I’m not complaining.
I should probably also let you guys know that I’m skipping tomorrow night, so we’ll get to see Number One on Tuesday. I know the anticipation is probably killing you, but Mondays are my busiest night, and I don’t want to have to rush Number One.