It’s not specifically the ‘first (country) song’ I ever heard, but I remember listening to Tammy Wynette a lot when I was a child. D.I.V.O.R.C.E and Stand By Your Man were always being played. My Nan liked Crystal Gayle so I have early memories of listening to her on her old 45 record player.
We always had music playing in the house when I was young so that definitely left an imprint on me. It wasn’t until I was a young adult when I was introduced to Dixie Chicks’ Wide Open Spaces and Alison Krauss’ Forget About It, and that’s when I absolutely fell in love with country music. Let ‘Er Rip really resonated with me. I remember that I bought my first car that summer; my stereo was worth three times more than my car. I listened to Dixie Chicks on repeat and went for a drive just to listen to music. Alison Krauss was a departure from the Dixie Chicks in that her voice is softer but the music is still just pure and I love the instrumentation and arrangement of her songs.
If I could only listen to one country album for the next ten years, my first thought it would be The Story by Brandi Carlile. I would say she is roots, folk-rock and country but that’s how I love my country music to sound. I first saw Brandi on a country music cruise holiday. Lyle Lovette, Shawn Colin, Emily Lou-Harris, Patti Griffith and so many more were playing along with newcomer Brandi Carlile. I was convinced by a friend to actually take a holiday and so I did, there were no real expectations I was just excited to see some great music and have a holiday, something that I never do. Brandi played a bunch of shows but I was very much into a full band sound and she was solo – occasionally joined on stage by the twins and her cellist, Josh.
She was always excellent but I had my own band so that was what really interested me at that time. It wasn’t until I accidentally saw her in Manchester’s NIGHT & DAY CAFE (I was a sound engineer and pulled some strings to get into the sold-out show) that I fell in love with her music. I had played at that venue a bunch myself so I knew the kind of gig it was going to be. It absolutely was off the scale. The band was intense and it was one of the best gigs I had gotten to see bar none. Since then I would say Brandi is in my top 5 all-time artists now and it’s great to see her and the twins finally get the recognition that they truly deserve.
My five ‘defining’ songs are in this playlist. D.I.V.O.R.C.E just takes me back to being a child. My mum would always play it when she did the housework and I probably just got in the way. She always sang along and it’s a great memory. I love the electric guitar in It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference, and Folsom Prison Blues is possibly my favourite Johnny Cash song.
I was fairly new to playing guitar when All I Wanna Do came out. Girls & guitars wasn’t something you saw a lot of in the top 40 back in the 90s, it was bubble gum pop and boy bands (which I loved too), but Tuesday Night Music Club is still among my favourite albums.
Shania Twain’s Come On Over album was massive and it was everywhere and I still love this song. It’s a song I have played live for over 20 years!
You can listen to Donna’s music, visit her website or follow her on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter @donnamariesongs. To get involved with WMYC, check out our contact page to find out how you can get in touch.