1. Loving County
A tale spun so well and so fine that one almost forgets it involves a murder. The diamonds sparkle and so does Charlie Robison’s songwriting on this showstopping song set in the least populous county in Texas amid an oil boom gone all sorts of wrong. If Robert Earl Keen’s”Road Goes on Forever” unknowingly glamorized crime, this song makes it all too real. A career spanning highlight both the studio version and each time the chorus was belted out by thousands of drunken fans.
2. My Hometown
Few songs distill the elements of Texas Music as well as this one. Nostalgic. Rowdy. Fun. Optimistic. Takes the piss out of Nashville just a bit. Robison kept it simple with this one and scored a touchdown. Of course he did…he could run like the wind.
3. El Cerrito Place
Written by Keith Gattis, Robison emotes and evokes the pain of each lyric in the best way. The backing vocals from Natalie Maines remain some of her finest work. A true career highlight. Others have tried this song, but nobody does it better.
4. The Preacher
His sins went with him when they threw him in the hole, but bless our hearts this song remains one of his best.
5. Sunset Boulevard
Wry, off-kilter and just strange enough to be familiar. Robison’s heartbroke anthem became an instant Americana classic.
6. Desperate Times
Robison’s answer to the aforementioned “Road Goes On Forever”. In Robison’s version, the players are a little seedier, a little more corrupt and a dash more violent.
7. Good Times
Nobody has ordered a pizza without humming “pineapple ham” since this song was released. A rollicking trip through all the things the narrator finds joy in.
8. Beautiful Day
From the record of the same name comes this track detailing the end of a relationship through rose colored glasses that alternately see red and tears. Melancholy at its finest.
9. New Year’s Day
Harmonica-driven ode to some south Texas cowboys with more money than sense.
A nursery rhyme turned on its ear. So clever and apparent, it’s a wonder somebody didn’t write this 40 years before Charlie did.
11. John O’ Reilly
An Irish-infused folk jam that makes you toe tap and jig dance whether you want to or not.
Written and released some time before Jamey Johnson’s “In Color”, this emotional track traces a family lineage via an old and new photograph glued into an album.
13. The Wedding Song
Another vocal appearance from Natalie Maines finds her singing this winking duet with Charlie and celebrating the type of white trash lovers that call the suburbs of Seguin home.
14. Poor Man’s Son
Borrowing some of the attitude from “Barlight” and adding a dash of sarcasm, Robison’s narrator laments a life of being on the wrong side of the tracks at the right time.
15. Nothin’ Better To Do
Bitterness and denial combine to create a true musical moment out of the ashes of divorce. Feelings of unworthiness and despair seek a sunny future that doesn’t always seem like it will come, but inevitably does.
16. Arms of Love
In the same lyrical ballpark as “My Hometown” but with more swing, this track finds Robison listing all the things love has saved him from…including his best friend Phil’s record deal.
17. If the Rain Don’t Stop
Every track on Beautiful Day is heartache powering through the good times and vice versa. This one makes rain sound divine.
18. Life of the Party
Funnily enough, not found on the album of the same name this tongue in cheek romper finds Robison focusing on absurdities among the revelry with earworm lyrics for days.
19. Feelin’ Good
Another triumph among the sadness of Beautiful Day.
20. You’re Not the Best
Written by Bruce, but it could never have been delivered as fantastically by anyone other than Charlie.