By Kurt Wolff
Nostalgia comes in numerous flavors. We remember the ‘good times’ of our old hometown, our moms and dads, a former lover, a favorite childhood moment or simply the look and feel of the house we were raised in. Some of these memories are happy and nourishing, others come with additional details that can be painful to revisit or that we would never choose to endure again. The past is, like the present, complicated.
While some artists have dug up specific memories to create enduring songs, others have simply charmed us with tales of the good ol’ days, a time when life was simpler and people were happier, or so it often seems in hindsight. Songs like Miranda Lambert’s recent No. 1 “Automatic” or the Judds’ classic “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days)” can give us comfort as they spin stories about how back in the day we all got by with less and were plenty happy about it.
To accompany our recent Country Clichés feature, which looks at the various forms of nostalgia in country music dating back to the 1920s, we’ve come up with ten songs from the past several decades that show the different forms nostalgia can take in contemporary country music. And how, to paraphrase Dierks Bentley, those songs about the past might help us all “move on” into the future that still lies ahead.
1. Alabama, “Mountain Music”
This is not just one of beloved country group Alabama’s most popular recordings, it’s among the most enduring country sing-alongs of the past several decades. The mood in the song is deliberately happy and the energy upbeat. It’s a song that remembers the past in a positive light and is designed for sunny days, dances on the porch, floating on a lazy river or picnics on the ground. Eat, drink and be merry.