Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

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Country Queer’s BEST SONGS EVER for 2019

It’s the time of year where everyone has a ‘Best Of…’ list happening. Heck even if you didn’t know you had a best of – your Pandora’s, your Spotify’s, Youtube’s, and pretty much every social media platform out there is telling you what you liked, how you liked it, and how much you should totally like it again.

We here at Country Queer are no different. All of us that work here at CQ headquarters are music lovers, pop culture nerds, and full of opinions – so I figured… why not bring those opinions to you? These are the Top 20 picks from the Country Queer crew – in no particular order!

Orville Peck – “Nothing Fades Like the Light”

I’m a solid sucker for songs full of longing and nostalgia and what might’ve been. This epic atmospheric song conjures up all the magic moments and times gone by that I’ll never have again while simultaneously making me want to go out and grab life by the balls and make more memories RIGHT DAMN NOW. I’d say that’s a pretty epic feat for a song. Officially one of my favorites for the year. – Cindy Emch

Yola – “Work All Night (Love All Day)”

Yola, the black British country singer (yes, that’s a thing) gets a smidge political on her solo debut record (at least in country), declaring common purpose among us all in love and work. “We ain’t here for a long time,” the new Grammy nominee sings. “We’ve got to help one another just to make it through another night.” – Alan Richard

Tanya Tucker – “Bring My Flowers Now”

Tanya’s album While I’m Livin’ is a thing of beauty from top to tail, produced to pure country perfection by Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings. But it’s this cut, the final one, stripped down to just voice and piano and unsentimentally looking mortality dead in the eye, that takes home the prize. – Dale Geist

Willie Nelson – “Ride Me Back Home”

Any year that Willie Nelson releases music is a year I’m glad to be alive in the world. This sweet story song is solid country music all about finding / creating your own home and family of choice. Some people just get it. Willie Nelson is the poet laureate of the American soul. Absolutely one of my favorite tunes of the whole year. – Cindy Emch

The Highwomen – “Old Soul”

For my money, the best pure songwriting on one of the best honky-tonk albums of the year. Maren Morris seeing clearly through the eyes of a child forced to bear responsibilities beyond her years. – Dale Geist

Jason Hawk Harris – “Phantom Limb”

This is about as raw-hearted as songwriting can get. A limber, spare arrangement backs a simple, pulsing melody as Harris paints, in his own blood, the pain of his loss into the beauty of art. – Dale Geist

Lil Nas X – “Old Town Road”

For its popularity, for how it destroyed genre categories, for it’s floating, sensual commitment to pleasure. Because it has a kind of cruising, loping, gait. It’s popularity forces Nashville to acknowledge all that it wanted to ignore–including an obsession with purity. Queerness is marked by a refusal of containment, a desire to contaminate, to recruit. Lil Nas X does that better than most. – Steacy Easton

Karen & the Sorrows – “Guaranteed Broken Heart”

Have you been looking for a song about broken hearts and longings that linger while also getting a charming honky tonk vibe and some of the sweetest vocals to hit the radio this year? Look no further than this tune from the Queen of Brooklyn’s Queer Country scene. Karen & the Sorrows took the internet by storm in 2019 and this doozy of a song had plenty to do with it. – Cindy Emch

Che Apalache, The Dreamer
A beautifully subtle song, it’s story telling widens the geography of
Appalachia, welcoming everyone under it’s umbrella. – Steacy Easton

Miranda Lambert – “Fooled Around and Fell In Love”

Some folks may dismiss Miranda Lambert as too pop or fun to be ‘good’ country music. I say to hell with all that. Her solo tunes and work with the Pistol Annie’s is some of the best music out there today. This reworking of the old tune “Fooled Around and Fell In Love” is full of bad ass vocals, powerful hooks, and some of the biggest voices in music today. Featuring Maren Morris, Elle King, Ashley McBryde, Tenille Townes and Caylee Hammack, do yourself a favor and fall in love with this track! – Cindy Emch

The Highwomen – “If She Ever Leaves Me”

A sensuous barroom ballad, one whose conversation refuses the male gaze,
while maintaining a position in a tradition of women speaking back, almost
like a post-queer Loretta. – Steacy Easton

His Hems – “Hair”

This song is rhythmic and haunting, reminiscent of the mysterious folk ballads and hymns unearthed in the hills and hollows of Appalachia by Alan Lomax in his 1940s field recordings. – Shannon, Nashville Naturists

Bruce Springsteen – “Sundown”

It’s hard to pick a track from the most interesting Bruce album in decades, but the gorgeous, lavishly orchestrated harmonic cadence on this one, coupled with a melody as wide-open as the lonesome Western landscape it’s set in, seals the deal. – Dale Geist

Larry Krone – “Shit Motherfucker Goddam”

Artist/singer/songwriter/performer/couturist Larry Krone’s Shit
Motherfucker Goddam is the sort of achingly beautiful, uncensored
confessional one might overhear in a dimly-lit backroads bar.  Larry’s a
gentleman that knows a thing or two about Nudie Cohn, Manuel Cuevas and chainstitch embroidery. – Shannon, Nashville Naturists


Allison Moorer – “Heal”

If there exists a more sincere plea for restoration, a more abject offering up of agony into the hands of God, I haven’t heard it. Moorer and co-writer Mary Gauthier effortlessly depict how unbearable suffering begets an impenetrable shell, simultaneously fortress and prison, which in turn begets the profoundest desire for liberation. – Dale Geist


Drew Beckman + The Boundary Boys – “Colorado”

Drew Beckman’s Colorado is gentle, understated and earnest, and you sure
don’t get many opportunities to use words like those anymore. – Shannon, Nashville Naturists

The Highwomen – “Highwomen”

This stunning version of Jimmy Webb‘s “The Highwayman” leads off the
alt-country supergroup’s self-titled album. Brandi Carlile begins with a
verse in which she portrays an immigrant fleeing Nicaragua. Amanda Shires portrays a witch, Natalie Hemby a woman of the cloth—and guest singer Yola takes on the role of a murdered Freedom Rider. Seldom does a mainstream song these days take on such topics and make them current, but this one is a call for all justice for women and anyone whose life and love are restricted. – Alan Richard

Mary Bragg – “The Right Track”

This memorable track from progressive Nashville singer-songwriter Mary
Bragg’s 2019 self-produced album, *Violets as Camouflage.* Bragg, a South
Georgia native who left New York City to pursue music, reflects on her
journey, and all journeys: “It’ll all make sense once you’ve been to hell
and back. If it looks like the long way, on the wrong train, you’re on the
right track,” she sings. – Alan Richard