The famed author Victor Hugo once said: "music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." Country music has, for decades, done exactly that, giving voice to stories and emotions that seem a tad hollow when shared via spoken word or handwritten letter.
Country music has long been a mirror of life in the rural towns of America. It encompasses the dirt roads and the flyover states, the mill worker and the farmer, the lazy days on the lake and the harsh summers begging for raindrops. And of all the peaks and valleys in life, there's always a love song or two we can pull from the country music file.
Here is a list of the Top Ten Country Love Songs of the 1990's. Why the 90's? Well, for one, that decade had the best country music. Beyond that, to compile such a list spanning 100 years of country music is just impossible. Frankly, narrowing the group of songs from 1990-1999 to 10 was harder than a slab of frozen fatback.
A few quick rules before we begin:
- This list only includes songs from the 90s. Because of that simple rule, you will not find Randy Travis mentioned because "Forever and Ever Amen" was put out in 1987. Likewise, you won't find any Taylor Swift songs because I'm pretty sure she wasn't even in diapers in the 90s. Or wasn't too far out of them.
- Songs that a country artist recorded that someone else did better aren't on the list. We'll call this the John Michael Montgomery Rule, because as great as "I Swear" and "I Can Love You Like That" are, All-4-One did them much, much better.
- This list is purely opinion. Don’t be mad if you don’t see your favorite 90’s song on there. I’m sure it’s a good love song, but it’s not one of the ten best.
- There are no Wynonna songs on the list. Wynonna’s music is not good. I’m sure Wynonna is a fine person along with the other members of the Judd family. But no Wynonna songs made the list. We’ll call this the Wynonna Rule.
#10“When I Said I Do” Clint and Lisa Hartman Black (1998)
"Forever you and I will be the ones who found out what forever means"
Duets are nothing out of the ordinary in country music. They’re special when they get you an award. They’re even more special when it’s between a husband and wife. This “made to be sung at weddings” ballad from Clint Black featured his wife Lisa Hartman Black who is also an actress. They’ve been married now for 26 years which is not only impressive in sheer marriage stature but also in keeping up with the theme of the song, which won an ACM award in 1999.
#9“Thank God for Believers” Mark Chesnutt (1997)
“I don’t know why she hangs around, after all the hell I’ve put her through and the times I’ve let her down.”
Alcoholic husbands can be a draining bunch. Such is expressed in this song. Said husband can’t seem to get his act together, but his wife stays loyal to him and helps to see him through his struggles. The song paints a picture of marriage that is, no pun intended, sobering. A great image of vows being taken seriously and a wife who kept believing in her husband and in her faith that God would bring him through. Thank God for believers, indeed.
#8“Two Sparrows in a Hurricane” Tanya Tucker (1992)
“The world says they’ll never make it…love says they will.”
You can imagine what two actual sparrows attempting to navigate a hurricane might be like. It’s a great metaphor for marriage, the ups and downs that come, the joy of children and pressure of bills, and the eventual closure of time on the earth together. Every husband and wife have had their moments flying in a hurricane. Making it through together is a rough but sweet journey.
#7“I Do” Paul Brandt (1996)
“Baby, I will. I am. I can. I have. I do.”
Paul Brandtcouldn’t have known the success he would gain by writing a wedding song for his best friend, but that’s exactly what happened with “I Do.” While his other songs never gained quite the acclaim this one did, “I Do” stands out as a go-to song of love a commitment. Impressive coming from a Canadian country artist.
#6“Love, Me” Collin Raye (1992)
“If you get there before I do, don’t give up on me.”
From the moment you hear the opening chords and the first lyrics (I read a note my grandma wrote back in 1923), you’ve already begun reaching for the Kleenex. Or, if you’re a strong man like myself, you turn the song so you don’t risk shedding any tears. The song tells the story of an old man and old woman and love and death and let's move on to the next song, please.
#5“From This Moment On” Shania Twain with Bryan White (1998)
“You’re the reason I believe in love, and you’re the answer to my prayers from up above.”
It’s odd to look back on Shania Twain now that she’s been out of the business for so long because we forget just how successful she was. This song came from her “Come On Over” album, which actually sold more copies than any other female artist in history. Not just country artists, ANY artist. “From This Moment On” in particular achieved crossover success, getting a ton of airplay on Top 40 stations. It also goes down as a classic wedding ballad.
#4“More Than You’ll Ever Know” Travis Tritt (1996)
“But girl when you're not by my side I feel a part of me has died, ‘cause I love you more than you'll ever know”
You were probably wondering when the first singer with a mullet would make the list, and then BAM in like a Chuck Norris leg kick comes Travis Tritt. This is probably the most understated song on the list, with simple lyrics, an acoustic guitar, and a touch of harmonica in the background. It falls in line perfectly with Victor Hugo’s quote about music expressing what cannot be said, especially for men.
#3“Carried Away” George Strait (1996)
“When I see you standin’ at your door, nothin’s ordinary anymore”
You just knew George would have a song in the top ten, you just didn’t know which one. “Check Yes Or No” could have easily made this list. Something about a man telling a woman that the mere sight of here carries him away and nothing matters in this world as much as being with her. With a slight touch of twangy guitar, this song is the epitome of a country love song.
#2 Any Garth Brooks song (1990-1999)
Seriously, any of them. Not only was Garth the king of country in the 90s, but most of his songs could be on this list from that decade. He will go down as the best performer in country music history. If you try to argue with me on these points, then we may cease to be friends. Garth is amazing. I love Garth Brooks and would take a bullet for him in every non-literal sense of the word. Here are my top 5 Garth love songs from the 90s:
1) “The Dance” (I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance.)
2) “To Make You Feel My Love” (There ain’t nothing that I wouldn’t do, go to the ends of the earth for you.)
3) “She’s Every Woman” (She’s sun and rain, she’s fire and ice. A little crazy, but it’s nice.)
4) “Unanswered Prayers” (Just because he doesn’t answer, doesn’t mean he don’t care)
5) “If Tomorrow Never Comes” (Did I try in every way to show her every day that she’s my only one?)
#1“It’s Your Love” Tim McGraw and Faith Hill (1997)
“If you asked me why I changed, all I gotta do is say your sweet name”
All this talk about Beyonce doing a beautiful photo shoot while pregnant makes me wonder if people forgot about Faith Hill shooting a music video for a number one single while pregnant? Not just any single, but the pinnacle of duets, doing it with her husband Tim McGraw. The song nabbed the couple multiple ACM awards but somehow lost out on a Grammy to the song “Butterfly Kisses”. Grammy awards don’t make sense sometimes.