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“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven; a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a  time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate;  a time for war, and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-9.

 

By: The Staff at Strictly Country

 

(This article was printed in the March / April 2014 issue of Strictly Country Magazine.)

 

   For everything there is a season.  Summer’s hot sun brought us much needed warmth and reprieve of winter’s grasp.  Fall brought the beautiful colors upon Mother Nature’s palette.  The glorious colors of yellows, reds and oranges remind us of the pride and good that commeth before the fall and death.  The gentle snowflakes that dance towards the ground bring upon us the feelings of hope, peace, joy and love that the season of Christmas can renew our souls with.  January’s bitter cold enhanced by the barren trees seeps into our souls and reminds us of the death we all shall face one day.

   But all is not lost.  For in the early morn, you awake to find that life does not cease to exist. Its the warmth of the sun’s rays, that life begins anew.  The black-capped chickadee has changed it’s song to welcome a new dawn. The snow bird leaves as we welcome the bluebirds. The snow begins to melt to uncover a ground riddled with debris caused by winter’s grasp. The trees that seemed so barren and dead have come alive with buds that will soon grow into the leaves we all wish to see.

   For everything there is a season, and we are now entering into a season of spring.  What is it that you feel as we pass from winter to spring?  Do you feel a renewed soul that has come to life in the warmth of the spring sun?  Do you feel freedom as you welcome the spring air when you open the windows of your enclosed home?  Do you feel the grasp of death wash from your soul as you breathe the fresh clean spring air?  Do you feel alive?  Are you inspired?  What is it that you feel on that first day in which you can feel spring deep with in your soul?

   For everything there is a season.  For Christians, this is the season of renewed hope.  Easter brings, to those of us who believe, a reminder that the evils of the world will not concur, but will be destroyed.  Even if you are not a Christian and do not believe, you must believe that all is not lost.  For the season of spring shows us that we shall all over come the grasp of winter, death, and be renewed.  For good always wins over evil.

   For everything there is a season. This is the season of inspiration.  In a society that is slowly crumbling down around us, we are able to draw strength from those who share our pain and suffering. We draw strength from all the various entertainers who inspire us through their words and music.

   Country Music is no stranger to inspiration.  In fact, the Ryman auditorium (original home of the Grand Ole Opry) was once a gospel and temperance hall called the Union Gospel Tabernacle.  Today it has been deemed “The Mother Church of Country Music.”

   If you were to research the history of country music, you will find that Christian beliefs are the foundation of country music.  Many of the legends and today’s country music entertainers began their careers in little churches across the country.

   As hard as the industry and society tries, they just can not take the Christian beliefs out of country music.  Hank Williams would always sing a Gospel song in his weekly radio show “Mother’s Best Flour Show.” In 1980, Barbara Mandrell and The Mandrell Sisters television show debuted on NBC.  The network executives often butted heads with Barbara Mandrell about featuring a Gospel song on the show.  Mandrell was quite adamant about singing a Gospel song.

  Thirty-four years later, Christian beliefs are still present in Country Music.  In 2013, author Deborah Evans Price published a book called Country Faith, 56 Reflections From Today’s Leading Country Music Stars.  The book features fifty-six entertainers sharing their favorite Bible verses.  The entertainers also share stories of how those Bible verses have inspired them. 
   Throughout country music history, many entertainers have been vocal about their Christian beliefs.  Many entertainers, including Barbara Mandrell, Eddy Arnold, Hank Locklin, Johnny Cash, Alabama, Charlie Daniels, Alan Jackson and The Bellamy Brothers have recorded Gospel albums.  Others like Randy Travis and Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers have extended their careers by releasing a series of Gospel albums.  While other entertainers including Craig Morgan, Rhonda Vincent and Dolly Parton may include a Gospel song on each of their albums.

   In 2012, bluegrass artist Donna Ulisse took on a project that she later called All The Way To Bethlehem.  In this project, Donna researched the greatest story ever told - the birth of Jesus Christ.  The album featured eleven songs that truly make you think about this ancient and inspiring story.

   A song may not be a Gospel song taken directly from a church hymnal to inspire us.  It just may be a song with a good melody that contains lyrics that touch one’s heart that will inspire us.  Some songs inspire us to take action, while other songs inspire us to think and or reminisce of days gone by.

   This past winter has been a long and brutally cold season.  Now as we shed off winter’s grasp and welcome spring we thought that we would share with you some of the more unknown songs that inspire us everyday.

   For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven...

   When you are in need of prayer and a prayer just does not come to your mind, just say the Lord’s prayer.  The musical setting, for the Lord’s prayer, was first introduced by Albert Hay Malotte in 1935.  There have been many versions of this piece released ranging from traditional, to modern and uplifting. Since then many artists have recorded various versions this incredible piece including Grasstowne, Ronnie Milsap, John Berry, Rhonda Towns to name a few. However, the two most inspiring versions of this song were recorded and released in 2002 for a project called Let’s Roll in dedication and honor of the victims of 9/11.

   In 2010, one the best well written, most powerful and most inspiring songs came into the offices of Strictly Country.  As the story goes, this song was passed around Nashville, looking for an entertainer to record it.  After nearly two years of being passed by, it came to Billy Dean.  “A Seed” is a powerful song that inspires us that a simple seed can grow to become an important part of our daily lives. 

   Many of us know the Biblical story of Jesus’s crucifixion.  But no one captures it in a song like LeAnn Rimes with “Ten Thousand Angels Cried,” Nu-Blu with “Hammer” and Dolly Parton with “He’s Alive.” All are powerful songs that bring this historic inspirational story to life.

   With out the birth of Jesus we can not celebrate his death and our freedom from sin.  There are so many Christmas songs that inspire us each season.  In 2013, we received one of the most inspiring Christmas songs when we received “What A Glorious Night” by the Sidewalk Prophets.

   No matter where we are in life, even if we go back in time, there has always been one person who has been there and seen it all.  Josh Turner inspires us to remember this in his song “I Was There.”

   For everything there is a season - a time to be born, and a time to die...

   Sometimes we come across a ballad that speaks about the light that comes with death.  In 2011, Sherrie Austin released a very personal song in “Streets of Heaven.”  This song proposes the question, why God must take the young before their time.  This is a powerful song that sheds new light to such a dark subject.  This is one that you can share with those who are going through the season of a child fighting for their life. Perhaps it will inspire them to see a new light on such a difficult season.

   Another song that speaks about a passing child is found in Cadillac Sky’s “Homesick Angel.”  This beautiful ballad speaks about how a child comes from heaven and is homesick for their home in heaven, that is why they must return.

   Many of us have a fear of dying.  Johnny Cash begs for Jesus’ help, when he dies, in his inspiring song called “Spiritual.”

   One of the most powerful and inspiring songs about children comes from Bobby Cyrus.  His song “Send Me Wings” speaks about an unwanted child who prays for his angel wings so he can fly to heaven.

   Death does not have to be such a macabre subject.  In fact we can look forward to it with hope and inspiration.  One of the most recorded Gospel songs is “I’ll Fly Away.”  The hymn was written in 1929 by Albert E Brumley and published in 1932.  However, it’s Charlie Daniels’ instrumental version that is the most inspiring.

   Dolly Parton gives us another uplifting song about death in her powerful song “When Jesus Comes Calling For Me.”

   “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” is a Gospel song, about dying, that has been recorded by many artists. The song dates back before 1862, when Wallis Willis, a freed man wrote it.  He was inspired by the Red River in Choctaw County, Oklahoma, that reminded him of the Jordan River that is mentioned in the Bible.  He was also inspired by a story in the Bible, 2 Kings 2:11, of the Phophet Elijah’s being taken to heaven by a chariot.  However, the earliest known recording of this historic American Negro song was in 1909 by the Fisk Jubilee Singers.  But its Barbara Mandrell’s medley of this song and “Swing Down Chariot” that inspired us the most.

   Another song that was made famous by the Fisk Jubilee singers is “The Gospel Train.” This traditional American Negro song was first published in 1872 and the credit of writing it goes to John Chamberlain, a Baptist minister from New Hampshire.  The bluegrass group Mountain Heart captures the essence of this song in their inspirational acapella version. 

   Gordon Mote is no stranger to the music industry.  He has sat in on many recordings as a session musician and is an accomplished song writer.  However, he is not the writer of a very powerful and inspiring song about dying and rising to heaven in “When I Rise.”  Many of us agree that we would love to have this song played at our funerals.

   For everything there is a season - a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted...

   Eddie Arnold is no stranger to inspire us with his music.  In 2005, Arnold released his 100th album entitled After All These Years.  The album contained a feeling of reflections of Arnold’s life.  Eddy reflects on the good things of his life in a beautiful ballad called “To Life.”  This song inspires us to be thankful and appreciate the good things in life.

   Life has a way of planting a seed of thought in our minds.  John Berry inspires us with a seed of hope in his song “Salvation.”  Where as Johnny Cash’s song “Man In Black” plants the seed of awareness for those who are less fortunate and down trodden. 

   The season of how were raised is often the subject matter in a song.  Most of these songs bring inspiration of being raised with traditional values.  Many of these songs, like Chris Cagle’s “I’ll Grow My Own,” inspire us to raise our children as we were raised.  Another song about growing up and passing down the traditions and traits of a family member comes from John Conlee in his song “Pass It On.” Another song that speaks about growing up comes from Due West in “Bible & The Belt.”  Where as Tracy Lawrence plants the seed of lessons in his “Lessons Learned.”  The legends always inspire us with songs about the old days.  Loretta Lynn plants the seed of her simple childhood in “God’s Country” and Dolly Parton sings about hers in two songs “Coat of Many Colors” and “Paradise Road.”

   Sometimes it’s a story about someone’s life that plants a seed for us to change our lives.  Craig Morgan plants this seed in his song “God, Family & Country.”

    For years we have been enjoying the music of Pete Huttlinger and have not even known it.  Pete is an accomplished musician who toured with many country music entertainers, including John Denver.  In 2013, Pete released his album McGuire’s Landing.  The album came with a short prose that enhanced the music on the album.  Huttlinger’s incredible talents in picking and writing planted a seed in many of us to practice our instruments and follow our dreams.  It also planted a seed to seek more instrumental musicians.

   Sometimes we need to be reminded of what makes a good person. Jack Ingram plants the seed of what it takes in his song “That’s A Man.” Where as Steve Holy plants a seed of hope in all of us with his song “Heart of A Hero.”  Montgomery Gentry also plant the same seed in “Something To Be Proud of.”

   Sometimes we are closed minded and refuse to see things in a different way.  Tracy Lawrence plants the seed of taking a different look at things in his song “It’s All How You Look At It.”

   Strictly Country is all about the music and how it can inspire us.  In 1982, Barbara Mandrell released her Gospel album called He Set My Life To Music.  The title track inspires us to acknowledge that He did set our lives to music, whether it’s the music we find here or the music we find in your daily lives. Mandrell also inspires us with her song “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.”  However, it’s Barbara’s song “I’ll Leave Something Good Behind” that inspires us to plant a seed of hope in our children.

   For everything there is a season - a time to kill, and a time to heal...

   Society has taken it’s toll on many of us, but when you break it all down it’s not society who is in control.  John Anderson inspires us to understand that God is in control in his song “Bigger Hands.”

  The old saying - what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger - is very evident in Carlene Carter’s inspiring song of her life in “Stronger.”

   I need help.  For many of us, these three words are the hardest to say.  In 2011, we came across a beautiful, heartfelt ballad by Vince Gill called “Bread & Water.”  This song may not fit under this category for many reasons. But the song speaks about a homeless man whom sought food - healing for his troubled soul.

   “Ordinary Angels” by Craig Morgan may not seem like it fits under this category.  But, in our lives we come across people who inspire us by lending their help. Craig inspires us to appreciate these people who heal us in this song.

   Anger.  It rules many of us.  Sometimes we need to let it go for our own sanity.  Tracy Lawrence inspires us to heal in his song “I’m Done.”

   For everything there is a season - a time to break down, and a time to build up...

   One of the most recognizable and inspiring songs in Gospel music actually began as a poem.  “Amazing Grace” was written by a poet named John Newton and was first published in 1779.  The melody, which is called “New Britain,” combines two other melodies “Gallaher” and “St. Mary” and was first published in 1829 by Charles H. Spilman and Benjamin Shaw.  “New Britain” was wedded to Newton’s text in 1835 by composer William Walker to form the hymn we all know today.  It is estimated that “Amazing Grace” is performed over 10 million times annually.  Many artists have recorded this popular song.  However, the best version of this classic hymn was recorded in 2013.  Prior to his death, George Jones recorded his very first Gospel album.  The album featured twelve beautifully recorded Gospel songs including a very haunting version of “Amazing Grace.”

   Many of us tend to feel sorry for ourselves in one way or another.  However, we are truly inspired when we see a person over come their physical limits to succeed.  Austins Bridge inspires us to see beyond the limitations in their song “Quitters.”

   Life in general can break a person and leave them in a desperate state.  Fear not, for when you have reached the bottom, there is one who can help build you up.  Kathy Baillie sings about how God can help build you back up in her song “Come To Me.” 

   Sometimes we are inspired to build ourselves up because of a person or in this case a pet.  In 2007, The Bellamy Brothers released their song “Lord Help Me Be The Kind of Person (My Dog Thinks I Am)” a fun song about becoming a better person.

   The Prodigal Son is a well known story in the Bible. The story speaks about a son who returns to his father’s open arms. Dierks Bentley inspires us to return as he teams up with The Grascals in his adaptation of this well known story in “Prodigal Son’s Prayer.”

   We have come across many songs that speak volumes about being a broken down sinner and inspire us to ask the Lord’s help. Mark Brinkman opens his soul in two of his songs “I Am Unworthy” and “Beyond The Rain.”

   Chad Brock released many wonderful songs in his short career. However, one of his best songs is an inspiring song called “That Changed Me.” This song speaks about how life’s events changed and made him the person he is today. 

   Throughout our lives, society will often grasp our souls to break us down.  Mary Chapin Carpenter’s song “Why Walk When You Can Fly,” inspires us to break away from societies grasp to be free to fly.  Another song that inspires us to fly comes from Sara Evans with “Born To Fly.”  Where as Matt Kennon’s song “Drive It Like You Stole It” inspires us to run with our dreams.  Another song that inspires us to achieve our dreams comes from Richie McDonald with his song “Footprints On The Moon.”

   Another song that inspires us to follow our dreams, comes from Bluegrass band called The Daughters of Bluegrass.  The ladies inspire us to push towards our dreams as they pursue theirs in “Grass Angels.”

   No one is perfect and we all have bad things that we have done in our lives.  The Departed inspires us to build our souls up before we die in their song “Better Get Right.”  Another beautiful song about building one’s self up comes from Sara Evans with “Pray For You.”

   In 2010, bluegrass group The Grascals released a powerful song called “I Am Strong.”  This song inspires us to see the sick as strong people.  This song was dedicated to the children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.  There were two versions of this song released.  In the first version, The Grascals team up with Dolly Parton.  In the second version the group gains help from Dolly, The Oak Ridge Boys, Darryl Worley, Charlie Daniels, Terri Clark, Randy Owen, Steven Seagal, Tom T. Hall, Joe Nichols and Ansley McLaurin.  Both versions are powerful and inspiring songs that you will keep in your heart for a long time. 

   In 2012, Lucas Hoge co-wrote and recorded “Sharing The Journey” an inspiring song about healing.  This song was produced to raise funds for Sangre De Cristo Hospice & Palliative Care.  Another song of healing recorded by Lucas is “Hope Lives There.”  In this song, Hoge inspires us to turn to church for healing. 

   However, the most powerful song about building up comes from Richie McDonald.  It’s his song “Blessed Are The Hands That Give” inspires us to lend a helping hand to those who need help.

   Having faith can sometimes be a difficult thing to maintain.  Gordon Mote inspires us to have faith in his powerful song “Faith Like That.”

   Sometimes we just need something to keep us level.  Dolly Parton sings about what keeps her level in “Jesus & Gravity.”

   For everything there is a season - a time to weep, and a time to laugh...

   In our lives we meet people, and or in this case pets, who inspire us to become better people.  In 2006, Alabama released their version of an old classic song called “Old Shep.”  This classic song inspires us to remember lost loved pets who made our lives better with their unconditional love.

     In 2008, a Bluegrass group named Angel Band took the ever popular poem “Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep” and put it to music.  The poem was originally written by Mary Elizabeth Frye in 1932.  The Angel Band gives this macabre poem new life with it’s up beat melody.  This song inspires us to view our loved ones as always being with us.

   On earth as it is in heaven.  This phrase comes to mind when we hear Johnny Cash’s song “Meet Me In Heaven.” In this song, Johnny reflects on his life with wife June Carter Cash and prays that they will meet in heaven.

   When we are faced with the death of a person, we often find ourselves reflecting on the good times.  In 2009, Tammy Cochran paid tribute to her brothers in a very unique and inspiring song called “Angels In Waiting.”

   Sometimes we need help to understand life's little things like the loss of a loved one.  Vince Gill asks God’s help for understanding in his song “Hey God.”  Richie McDonald also inspires us in his song of the same title, slightly different meaning and different lyrics.

   How do we continue to keep living when we lose a loved one?  Some how we find strength to make it through.  Lucas Hoge inspires us to continue on in his song “I’ll Meet You There.”

   For many of us we work jobs that make us weep.  However, George Jones makes us laugh with his inspiring song “Finally Friday.”

   For everything there is a season - a time to mourn, and a time to dance...

    Nothing is more painful then when a parent loses a child.  The hurt of knowing that child will not experience life’s little pleasures in growing up can overwhelm a person.  However, Jeff Bates inspires us to put a stop to the pain with his song “If You Could See Me Now.”  In this beautiful ballad, Jeff encourages us to look at all the fun that a child may have living in heaven.

  Another song that inspires hope to parents who lose a child comes from Mark Brinkman in his song “Littlest Guardian Angel.” The same goes for Darren Warren’s song “Go Get My Angel.” Where as Richie McDonald’s “Miracles Happen” inspires us to have faith and believe in the best. 

   So many people lose their lives to drunk drivers.  Its an extreme pain and hurt when a loved one is lost, but the pain is greater when the loss is caused by a simple wrong decision.  How do you over come such a great loss like that?  Bluegrass artists Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver inspire us to over come this loss with their beautiful ballad “Say Hello To Heaven.”

   Nearly five years ago, Linda Davis recorded a demo song called “My Amazing Grace.”  This powerful and inspiring song speaks volumes about a parent who appreciates the blessings of a child.  Even though that child was born with medical difficulties and special needs.  Truly inspiring.

  Sometimes we come across a song that inspires us to dance.  The Judds do so in their song “This Country’s Rockin’.”

  Shortly after losing her band mates in a plane crash on March 17, 1991, Reba McEntire recorded a powerful song called “If I Had Only Known.” Reba claims that she has only performed this song twice in her career; once for the album and a second time at the ACMs later that same year.  This song inspires us to never take for granted our time with our loved ones. 

    Have you ever thought about what your first moments would be like when you finally make it to heaven? The Kenny & Amanda Smith Band inspire us to dance with their song about arriving in heaven with “I Can’t Sit Down.”

   Federal budget cuts are not inspiring and its these cuts that are effecting many school programs such as music.  Several years back, Aaron Tippin gathered a group of artists to release an album called I Wanna Play.  This album was created to bring awareness and to raise funds to put musical instruments in to the hands of every child. Aaron inspires us to sing, dance and play with the title track, “I Wanna Play.”

   For everything there is a season - a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together...

   Throughout our lives we meet people whom we can depend on.  Whether we depend on them to share in the good times or if we need to lean on them in bad times.  Jeff Bates inspires us to remember those people in his song “Living Stones.”

   Many believe that only saints can gain access to heaven.  But in fact, we have no clue as to who will be accepted at the pearly gates.  Dierks Bentley inspires us with his vision of who will be accepted in to heaven in his song “The Heaven I’m Headed to.”

   Many of us are guilty to cast the first stone, when we should look upon our own lives first.  Flynnville Train inspires us to look at the people whom we are so eager to cast a stone upon as people whom Jesus would walk along side in their song “Friend of Sinners.”  Mila Mason also sings about casting stones on people whom we don’t understand in her powerful song “Stained Glass Window.”  But it’s “Through God’s Eyes” by Cody McCarver that truly inspire us to see sinners as God sees them.

   “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20.  Think about all the places of worship, how and when they were built.  Now think about what those places have witnessed over the years.  Tracy Lawrence inspires us to think about the gathering of stones in building these places in his song “The Rock.”

   In our research we came across a song that fit under so many of the seasons listed, however, we felt it belonged right here.  In 2012, Rusty Rierson presented to us his song “The Greater Gift.”  In this song, stones are cast in anger over a gift. In the end the gift one thought that they received was actually the gift they always wanted.  We highly suggest that you seek this song for it’s powerful and inspiring message.

   For everything there is a season - a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing...

   Alabama has inspired us with so many great songs.  However, it’s there “One Big Heaven” that inspires us to embrace the diversity in our friends.

   Sometimes we must embrace the ones we love and adore.  John Anderson inspires us to embrace one’s mother in “The Greatest Story Never Told.”

   Not every inspiring song speaks of faith.  In Chris Cagle’s song “Dance Baby Dance” we are inspired to embrace the smallest moments in our lives.
   In 1972, Eddy Raven inspired us to embrace kids with his song “Thank God For Kids.”  It was then made famous by The Oak Ridge Boys in 1982.

   What do you see when you look upon the face of an innocent child?  A child’s innocence is one of the closest things to seeing the face of God.  Billy Ray Cyrus inspires us with such notions in his song “Face of God.”

   Perhaps embracing a place you once knew, may inspire you.  Bobby Cyrus took a poem that his late father Bob Cyrus wrote called Homeplace and featured it in his song of the same title.

  Life is all about making memories.  Embracing those memories is sometimes hard to do.  Willie Nelson wrote a song that inspires us to embrace memories in “Family Bible.”  This song has been recorded by many artists including Daily & Vincent.

   Sometimes we don’t realize what we have until we lose it.  Charlie Daniels has toured much of the world in his career.  He has witnessed war and peace, through out nations.  In 2010, Charlie released his album Land That I Love.  The album features an array of beautiful songs dedicated to America and the soldiers.  One song that truly stands out among the rest is a song called “My Beautiful America.” Set to a soft and peaceful melody, Charlie performs a nice inspiring recitation that points out the best parts of each state that makes up the United States of America.  This song is both peaceful and truly inspiring.  Another song that inspires us to embrace America is found in Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless The U.S.A..”

   For many of us, even Christians, its hard to accept the fact that God gave his only son so that we may be free from sin.  The Daughters of Bluegrass inspire us to truly reflect and embrace this event in their song “Still Feel The Nails.”

   When you break it all down, and look at our lives, we are only alive for a little while.  Billy Dean inspires us to embrace our short lives and to make the best of each day in his song “Only Here For A Little While.”  Dean also inspires us to embrace our children while they are little in his song “Let Them Be Little.”

   Sometimes we meet someone who we thought would never be a huge part of our lives.  They inspire us to do things we thought we would never do.  Eric Durrance inspires us to embrace these people with his song “Angels Fly Away.”

   Billy Gilman’s song “Awaken The Music” could be placed in so many categories in this article.  However, we felt that it inspired us more to embrace music and the people who are part of our lives.

   As you continue to read this article you will read about more songs that inspire us.  When we came across Pat Guadagno song “Ships,” it captured our hearts and souls with it’s simplicity but powerful message of embracing simple things like ships.  For many of us at Strictly Country we hold this song dear.  Many of us spend our vacations in Duluth, Minnesota, on the shores of Lake Superior, where the ships come and go.

   Another song that embraces the simple things comes from Tracy Lawrence with “I Know Where Heaven Is.” Montgomery Gentry is another who inspires us to embrace the simple things in their song “Simple Things.” But it’s Daniel Lee Martin who inspires us the most to embrace more of the simple things in one of our favorites in “That’s What God Made Rivers For.” Another band that inspires us in this way is Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with their two songs “Rippilin’ Waters” and “Fishin’ In The Dark.” We also have to include Eric Paslay’s song “Country Side of Heaven” in this list. 

   One of the most beautiful songs about becoming a parent was written by Shana Canada, Gary Duffey and Gordon Mote.  “The Sound A Dream Makes” was originally released by Heartland and later by Gordon Mote.  This beautiful ballad inspires us to embrace every moment in raising a child.

   Knowledge is power.  If you have the power of knowledge what would you do?  Kelly Lang inspires us to seek knowledge and embrace it with her powerful song “If You Knew.”

   Everyone loves a good day in their lives.  Lonestar inspires us to celebrate good days with their song “Pretty Good Day.”  Craig Morgan also inspires us to appreciate the good days in his song “That’s What I Love About Sunday.”  Where as Dolly Parton inspires us to see that better days are coming in her song “Better Day.”  But the more notable song about good days comes from Don Williams with “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good.”

   Sometimes we need to embrace what we have and who we are.  Montgomery Gentry inspire us to be the people that we are in “God Knows Who I Am.”

   In 2013, Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis got together to record an album called Dos Divas.  The album featured a beautiful array of fourteen songs including “I Am A Woman.”  This beautiful ballad speaks volumes of women embracing who they are.  This is sure to become an anthem for women, breast cancer survivors and fighters.

   For everything there is a season - a time to seek, and a time to lose...

   Sometimes we need to seek proof that there is a God.  In 2010, Austins Bridge released a song that inspires us with proof in life’s little moments in their song “There Is A God.”

   Other times we are seeking a reason for why we lose what we have lost. We often find the answer much later than when the event took place.  Sometimes there is no answer. But perhaps the answer lies in Brooks & Dunn’s song “God Must Be Busy.”

   Then again, we often seek proof that there is a heaven.  Billy Ray Cyrus inspires us with a glimpse into heaven with his song “The Other Side.”

   At this time of the year many of us seek a vacation from winter’s grasp.  Bluegrass duo Daily & Vincent inspire us to seek the ultimate vacation in their song “Eternal Vacation.”

  There comes a time in our lives when we realize that we have lost our childish ways.  It’s at that point when we seek the very thing that we have lost.  Billy Dean inspires us to seek our childish ways in his song “Billy The Kid.”  Billy also inspires us to seek people whom we believe might be angels in his song “Angels.”

     Throughout the process of writing this article we came across several songs that we questioned where we should put them.  The case goes with the song “People Get Ready.”  This song inspires us to seek the train to heaven.  The song was originally recorded by The Impressions in 1965.  In our collection of music we found two incredible versions by Exile and Wynonna Judd.

  Sometimes we need to be inspired to take the right path.  The Grascals help us in their song “Give Me Jesus.”  The same goes with a wonderful Hank Locklin song called “Lead Me Gently Home.”

   The hardest thing we must do in our lives is to give ourselves to someone.  Many Christians will take the plunge and give themselves totally to the Lord.  Barbara Mandrell inspires us to lose ourselves to the Lord in “I’m Yours Lord.”

   Have you ever taken the time to look for a four-leafed clover?  They’re difficult to find and sometimes angels are difficult to find as well.  Kathy Mattea sings about seeking love in an angel with “Trouble With Angels.”

   There are days when we see things that bring back a flood of memories of things and people we have lost.  Justin Moore inspires us to seek the memories of people whom we lost in his song “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away.”

   One of the most inspiring songs about seek and lose comes to us from Kenny Rogers.  In his song “The Greatest,” he sings about a boy who can not hit a baseball; at strike three the child says “I didn’t know I could pitch like that.”  Sometimes what we thought we lost is actually what we were seeking.  Where as in his song “Heroes,” Kenny reminds us that we all seek people in our lives to look up to and become our ‘heroes.’

   For everything there is a season - a time to keep, and a time to cast away...

   A song that inspires us does not always have to be about God and our beliefs.  Sometimes it’s a song that points out something that we witness.  This is the case with Rodney Atkins’ song “A Man On A Tractor.”  Sometimes it’s the simplest things can inspire us.

   Sometimes our lives our filled with dark clouds of negatives, the bad and the evil.  When you need to be inspired to cast away all the negativity, then seek Audie Blaylock and Redline’s light hearted song “Pray The Clouds Away.”  Rhonda Vincent also sings about the dark clouds in her song “God Put A Rainbow In The Clouds.”

  What does one do when one loses a loved one and then finds another?  Do you keep the memory of your lost love and not welcome the new love?  Do you cast away the lost love to make room for the new love?  In 2007, Suzy Bogguss took on such a delicate matter in her powerful, hopeful and tear jerking ballad “In Heaven.”

   Bill Monroe inspired many throughout his career.  One of his songs, “What Would You Give (In Exchange For Your Soul),” was originally recorded with his brother in the mid 1930s.  However, Charlie Daniels brings this classic inspiring song new life.

   The best things in life are for free. Whether it’s love, friendship and or inspiration.  Jack Ingram inspires us to keep the best things in life in his song “Free.”

   Sometimes our brains take over our hearts and make us do things we would normally not do.  We cast away good things thinking life is greener on the other side.  Then we hear a song that overwhelms our hearts.  Randy Houser sings about this in his song “Power of A Song.”

   We believe that everyone of us has things in our life that we are thankful for and would love to keep.  Tracy Lawrence addresses the things that he wishes to keep in his song “Dear Lord.”

   For everything there is a season - a time to rend, and a time to sew...

   There are many times in which we find ourselves being torn apart or we tear apart others.  We may try to justify our reasons, but when we break it all down and take the time to get to know the other person we often find that we are very much a like. In 2009 we were introduced to a new artist named Brennin when he released his very inspiring song “Try.”  This song speaks volumes of trying to bring people together.

   Have you ever wondered about that cross or flowers that you see at the side of the road?  Have you ever wondered about the person or people who died, that is indicated by that cross and or flowers?  Glenn Cummings inspires us to think about those things in his song “The Ones Left Behind.”

   Throughout our lives evil is always there to try and tear us apart.  Some of us are strong enough to fight off evil.  The band Herrick inspires us to be strong in their song “Satan & Grandma.”

   For everything there is a season - a time to keep silence, and a time to speak...

   Every once in a while we come across an entertainer who is more unlikely to inspire us. They go on to surprise us with a song that captures our attentions and addresses us to speak up and share their song of inspiration.  Big & Rich did just that when they released their inspirational song “That’s Why I Pray.”

   Many of us keep silent when others speak of God and religion. It may be fear of getting preached at or it’s that we keep our beliefs to ourselves.  But most of us will agree that we often bow our heads in prayer, in silence, for those in need.  Blackberry Smoke inspires us to say a prayer in their song “Prayer For The Little Man.”

   Having faith does not always have to mean attending church or Sunday school.  Sometimes you have to just take that first step and pray.  Billy Dean inspires us to speak in his song “I Pray.”  Tracy Lawrence also inspires us to do this in his song “Say A Prayer.”

  If you think about all the wonderful memories in your life, are they connected to televisions, video games, cell phones or computers?  Eric Durrance inspires us to keep the silence by “Turn It Off.”

   In our collection we have found so many songs about the times in which we live in.  Flynnville Train inspires us that we are not alone and that we need to speak up in their song “Preachin’ To The Choir.”

   Many of us have said things that we wish that we could take back.  Some words hurt, while others give inspiration.  The song “Last Words” speaks about just this thing.  Big & Rich recorded this song, but it’s Herrick’s version that is more powerful and inspiring.

   Sometimes we witness an event in which captures our soul.  This event will inspire us to speak and take action.  Steve Gulley and Tim Stafford inspire us to speak up in their song “Angel On It’s Way.”

   Another song that inspires us to speak up comes from Lucas Hoge.  “Have I Done Something” is a powerful song that inspires us to think about taking action.

   Matt Kennon is an entertainer who inspires us to take action.  His song “Some People Piss Me Off” speaks about the bad things people do that make most of us good people mad.  Another powerful song that Matt released that makes us want to speak up is “The Call.” This song addresses so many taboo subjects like abortion and suicide.

   One of the most inspiring and powerful songs about taking action and speaking up comes from Martina McBride.  Martina’s signature song “Independence Day” speaks volumes about taking action. 

   Every once in a while we come across a song that contains a funny storyline with in the lyrics.  We were inspired to laugh and keep quiet with the song “Bible On The Dash” by Corb Lund featuring Hayes Carll.

   There are many times at Strictly Country when we look towards the sky and ask for God’s help.  Throughout the process of writing this article we asked for His help.  There are times when words just do not come, whether it’s in writing or just simply in our daily lives.  Gospel group Point of Grace inspires us to seek the Lord’s help in taking action in their song “You Be The One.”

   For everything there is a season - a time to love, and a time to hate...

   There is no greater love then a parent’s love.  Clint Black inspires us with the love of a parent in his song “Little Pearl & Lily’s Lullaby.”  The subject matter is one that any father will certainly appreciate in this delicate song.

   When you find that special someone who makes you whole, then you know it is love.  Tracy Byrd opens his heart and soul in his inspiring song “Keeper of The Stars.”

   Another inspiring song about love is “If I Were An Angel.”  This song has been recorded by several entertainers including Glenn Cummings and Daniel Lee Martin.

   The actions of September 11, 2001, were powered by hate. Shortly after 9/11, Alan Jackson inspired us with his powerful song “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning).”  This song inspires us to never forget and not to focus on the hate.  This song inspires us to remember and appreciate the things we take for granted.  Richie McDonald also sings about 9/11 in his inspiring song of hope with “God’s Still In America.” Another entertainer who sings about hope shortly after 9/11 is Wynonna Judd with her song “Carry On.”

  Love is a very powerful feeling. The Judds inspire us with the power of love in their song “Love Can Build A Bridge.”

  The power of God’s love is vast.  Alison Krauss sings of this power in “When God Dips His Pen of Love In My Heart.”

  You know when you are loved when someone misses you. Lonesome River Band and Dolly Parton inspire us with their individual versions of “Somebody’s Missin’ You.”  The feeling of love comes over you when someone says they are praying for you.  Ricky Skaggs inspires us with this type of love in his song “Somebody’s Prayin’.”

   One of the songs that inspired many of our soldiers is a song of love by Lonestar. As soon as soldiers heard “I’m Already There” they adopted it as their anthem. 

   In 2011, another anthem of love was recorded by Martina McBride.  Written by Ben Hayslip, Sonya Isaacs and Jimmy Yeary; “I’m Gonna Love You Through It” is a powerful song about a woman battling breast cancer and her husband supporting her by loving her through it.  This is a strong song of hope that should be shared with every breast cancer patient and survivor.

   Another song about love comes from Brandon Rickman.  In 2009, Brandon won the Spirit Award for Song of The Year with his song about a mothers love in “Wearin’ Her Knees Out Over Me.”

   In 2003, Kenny Rogers released a very inspiring album called Back To The Well.  This album featured an array of songs including two powerful songs of love with “Tears In God’s Eyes” and “Hand Prints On The Wall.”

   For everything there is a season - a time for war, and a time for peace...

   The season of peace comes in many forms.  It could be a person, place or thing.  For Blackberry Smoke, it’s an event that they sing about in a working man’s song in “Freedom Song.”

   Peace. Many of us have endured lives filled with hurt, pain and torment that all we seek is peace.  One of the most played songs at Strictly Country is a song of peace performed by Blue Moon Rising.  Their song, “My Sittin’ Window,” reflects on life that is witnessed by a once living person.

   When you sit down and seriously think about life?  What do you think about?  Do you think about all the good times or do you think about all of your troubled times?  If you think about your troubled times, do you see them as an inner war with yourself.  When you think about your death do you have faith in which you will arrive in heaven?  Once in heaven, will you find peace?  But the biggest question is what will you feel when you finally see the face of God?  Many entertainers have recorded “I Can Only Imagine,” a beautiful and powerful ballad about the feelings one would have when they finally face God for the first time.  However, it’s Wynonna Judd’s incredible vocal talents that brings this inspiring song to it’s full power.

   For a couple of decades we have featured songs about soldiers in our annual Memorial Day Honors special issue of Strictly Country. Many of these songs are sad, but a few of them inspire us.  John Conlee’s song “They Also Serve” inspires us to think about the spouses and children of those who serve.

   There are many symbols that contain the meaning of peace.  The Biblical symbol for peace is the image comes from Isaiah 11:6 “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together, and a little child will lead them.”  Billy Gilman inspires us with this image in his song “Peaceable Kingdom.”

   In 1971, Cat Stevens wrote and recorded the song “Peace Train.”  This song of hope for peace was later released by Dolly Parton. 

   The perfect song that speaks about war and peace comes from Gordon Mote with his song “Meanwhile Back At The Cross.”  This song inspires us to think about all the things that the devil tries to encourage us to take part in, but many of us are reminded of the sacrifices that Jesus took that day on the cross. When we break it all down this is truly what inspiration is.

   One of the most inspiring songs to many of us here at Strictly Country comes from Wynonna Judd.  We have said it before and we will say it again, Wynonna is one of the most inspirational artists in country music.  Her performances are more experiences than performances.  When Wynonna released her song “Sing” on her 2009 album Sing: Chapter I, we were so inspired by it.  Even today, this song is still a major inspiration to all of us.

 

   Granted there are many more inspiring songs out there in the world of music.  There were many songs that were on our list that did not make it in this article for one reason or another. 

   This article has taken it’s toll out of all of us.  Together we have spent long hours researching, arguing, discussing and finally writing this article.  The hours turned into days that turned into weeks. Coffee turned into Mt. Dew; then water that turned into wine and then back to coffee as we needed the strength to finish this article.

   A lot of sweat, tears and emotions went into writing this article and we hope that some where down the line it will help inspire you to seek the songs mentioned here.

   But if inspiration is not what you seek, well we have you covered there as well.  In 2011, actor Steve Martin teamed up with a Bluegrass band named Steep Canyon Rangers to release an album called Rare Bird Alert.  On the album they include a song written by Steve, Graham Sharp and Wood Platt.  The song is quite comical and is one that we played while we celebrated the end of writing this massive article.  As we close this article, we leave you with “Atheists Don’t Have No Songs.”

 

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