Recommendation XXXXIV: Wynonna Judd (double-shot)

Awesome awesome.  Life’s not too shabby for me.  My work hours have increased (much to one of ex-co-worker’s dismay – stealing is bad – remember that, but I do still feel sorry for him) and I am also planning my trip to California, which I will embark on in less than half a week, and in addition, I receive my tax refund in a few days.  With regards to my possible soon return to college life, for anybody who cares, I just need to find a co-signer to help me with a student loan from the bank to pay off my balance, and then I am set to go back in the fall (I, of course, will have to deal with paying off the loan and interest after graduation, so I am not excited about that).  Tonight, I’m supposed to clean up my messy room and organize my papers and letters to look decent and civilized (so I won’t have to jump obstacles and get through the mazes any longer).  Sad to admit some old habits don’t die hard.

My forty-fourth recommendation is/are: Wynonna Judd’s “I Can Only Imagine” from her 2005 Her Story: Scenes from a Lifetime album AND “Are the Good Times Really Over?” from her 2009 Sing: Chapter 1 album.  Yes, TWO covers/remakes from the powerful and feisty red-head Wynonna Judd.  How exciting.  My love for Wynonna began, I think, with one of her first solo singles, “No One Else On Earth”.  I think I grew up more with solo Wynonna more than with The Judds… though I do know, bluegrass-tinged, “Why Not Me?”, is my favorite Judds song, and “No One…” is my favorite Wy song.  Over the years, it’s been cool to see Wynonna as a genre-chameleon who can sing just about anything, and these two songs I’m going to highlight show that.  It wasn’t that hard for me to choose which ones, because these, in my mind, were instant classics to me once I heard them. Wy made them her own.  (Btw, anybody see her on NBC’s Kath & Kim earlier this month?  That was funny how they basically made the episode about her, and how the mother and daughter were crazy fans of her’s. Molly Shannon is hilarious.)

Anyway, let’s begin with Wynonna’s version of “I Can Only Imagine”.  This is a cover/remake of Christian/Gospel group, MercyMe‘s 2001 hit song.  I first heard Judd’s version on TV, when her Her Story: Scenes from a Lifetime DVD was aired and it blew me away.  Such emotion and strength in her vocals and dare I say, just heavenly, with the choir backing her up.  She begins the live performance discussing her birth father, whom she never met, and how this song means a lot to her, because she will meet God (her other father) in the end, and it is comforting (and as much as that intro is touching, I set my iTunes to start the track at 1:08 mins, to get straight to the song).  The pop production consists of gentle piano and builds up to electric guitar, drums, and synthesizer, which showcase the message of the song and Wynonna’s passionate performance.  This really proves why Wy is one of the best female vocalists in music.  Concerning the lyrics, they are very relatable.  I do often wonder how it will be like to finally meet God up in Heaven and it’s a beautiful and scary thought at the same time.  Living forever with Jesus would be great, but then you think about it: forever is a very very long time and never ever ends.  Living forever is what scares me.  Anyway, this song is uplifting and makes you feel more closer to God, if that makes sense, and it is really compelling.  I looked on YouTube and found a live performance of the song at the CMA Music Festival from a while back.  I gotta mention something: the other Heavenly-inspired song Wynonna sings that can compete with this one is 1998’s “Testify to Love” from the Touched By an Angel soundtrack (check this out too – remarkable, especially after you see the episode she sings it on.  That performance is here and the episode is in segments on YouTube.)

Going back to the more-country-side of Wynonna.  Her latest album, Sing: Chapter 1, is pretty cool stuff.  It really displays her diverse styles and influences in music. My second recommendation is a remake of Merle Haggard‘s 1981 “Are the Good Times Really Over?”, and Wynonna really belts this one out in her version, in classic stone cold traditional country style, with a bluesy, horns-heavy production (it’s like traditional country with no steel guitar/fiddle, and horns in their place).  For a traditional country fan like me, it is impossible not to appreciate and enjoy this.  I got to be honest, I have heard of this song before, but never heard the original until recently, I think.  I love Merle and listening to his classic, it sounds great, but I do have a bigger fondness for Wynonna’s.  Her delivery is intense and makes you stop in your tracks – and also such a fine nod to Merle’s classic with the country phrasing.  I believe this will be one of the best tunes of 2009, and the lyrics of the song certainly have a connection to today’s current situation with the horrible economy.  Are the good times really over and gone?  No, I don’t think so.  I’m optimistic and think we will be fine, eventually, just like the last verse of the song turns around to promote: “the best of the free life is still yet to come…“.

Thanks for reading!

Buy “I Can Only Imagine” on iTunes or Amazon.com right now!

Buy “Are the Good Times Really Over?” on iTunes or Amazon.com right now!

Here are the full lyrics to “I Can Only Imagine”, written by Bart Millard:

I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk
By Your side

I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When Your face
Is before me
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You, Jesus?
Or in awe of You, be still?
Will I stand in Your presence?
Or to my knees, will I fall?
Will I sing “Hallelujah”?
Will I be able to speak, at all?
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself
Standing in the sun

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever -
Forever worship You
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You, Jesus?
Or in awe of You, be still?
Will I stand in Your presence?
Or to my knees, will I fall?
Will I sing “Hallelujah”?
Will I be able to speak, at all?
I can only imagine
Yes, I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You, Jesus?
Or in awe of You, be still?
Will I stand in Your presence?
Or to my knees, will I fall?
Will I sing “Hallelujah”?
Will I be able to speak, at all?
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
Oh, I can only imagine
Yes, I can only imagine
(I can only imagine)
Yes, I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When all i can do
Is forever, forever worship you

I can only imagine…

————————-

Here are the full lyrics to “Are the Good Times Really Over?”, written by Merle Haggard:

I wish a buck was still silver and it was back when the country was strong.
Back before Elvis and before the Vietnam War came along.
Before the Beatles and yesterday when a man could still work and still would.
Is the best of the free life behind us now and are the good times really over for good?

Are we rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell?
With no kind of chance for the flag or the liberty bell?
I wish a Ford or a Chevy would still last ten years, like they should.
Is the best of the free life behind us now and are the good times really over for good?

I wish Coke was still cola and a joint was a bad place to be.
Back before Nixon lied to us all on TV.
Before microwave ovens when a girl could still cook, and still would.
Is the best of the free life behind us now and are the good times really over for good ?

Are we rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell?
With no kind of chance for the flag or the liberty bell?
I wish a Ford or a Chevy would still last ten years, like they should.
Is the best of the free life behind us now and are the good times really over for good?

Stop rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell.
Stand up for the flag, and let’s all ring the liberty bell.
Let’s make a Ford and a Chevy that’ll still last ten years, like they should…

The best of the free life is still yet to come and the good times ain’t over for good…

—————————————————-

http://www.wynonna.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wynonna_Judd

http://www.myspace.com/wynonnajudd

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2 Comments

  1. Great write-up! And good luck with your student loan applications.

    I didn’t care for the production on Wynonna’s ‘Are the Good Times Really Over’. But I can definitely agree that Wynonna’s vocal performance is perfection. And I don’t have the HerStory CD/DVD set. I’ve heard lots of good things about it, so I’ll have to pick it up now.

    • Thank you J.R., on both counts! I’m actually still trying to get the loan thing figured out, unfortunately :/

      Yeah, lately I’ve really been into Wynonna. That’s a good live concert to watch. I definitely wanna see it again.


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