When I think about the musical journey that has gotten me to where I am today, there are definitely stand out songs, albums, and artists. A while back I shared how George Strait impacted not only my taste in music, but my life as well. This time around I am sharing how a debut album released way back in 1995 became a landmark album in that musical journey.
As a kid I remember my mom was a part of one of those music clubs where you were sent several CD’s each month. I was always excited to see which new albums would arrive in our barn shaped mailbox that I would often run out as soon as the mailman pulled up to our house to get it. I was always told not to open the box until my mom got home, but most of the time I simply couldn’t resist. It was basically like getting a Christmas present every month.
So one day we received a new batch of CD’s and I opened it as soon as I ran through the front door. It was then an album featuring a woman dressed in a white t-shirt and cowboy hat caught my eye. The album was simply titled Terri Clark. By that time the singer’s debut single “Better Things to Do” was taking off at country radio and as a result, I was already a fan. I immediately ran to my room and popped the album into my stereo and began listening. Upon first listen nearly every song caught my attention especially tunes like “Catch 22,” “Boy Meets Girl,” and “Suddenly Single.” Since I was only six years old I was still too young to pick up on the lyrics’ themes and subject matters so I was merely listening to the production. Every song was unique and no two songs had the same production, which is probably why the album kept my attention through its entire 12 songs. Needless to say I immediately fell in love with the album and would play it over and over again (thinking about it now, I probably annoyed my entire family).
The reason I consider this album a landmark album in my life is because it’s the first album that allowed me to find my own style of country music to love. Prior to hearing this album, I’d simply been listening to what my family listened to. Not to say I didn’t enjoy listening to albums from 90’s artists like Wade Hayes, Darryl Singletary, and Rick Trevino, but I was merely following my family’s lead. This album served as the root to a tree that is still growing and branching out today. That tree began with Terri and quickly grew to include other 90’s artists like Leann Rimes, The Wilkinsons, Lee Ann Womack, SheDaisy, Lila McCann, Shania Twain, and the Dixie Chicks. Now it includes newer artists like Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum, and many, many more. If it weren’t for that album showing me a different side to country music, I’d probably still be influenced by those around me. In a way, the album helped me create a unique identity and helped me see who I was in terms of style of music.
In addition, the record led to a rather huge obsession with the singer that lasted well into the next decade. The singer’s following album releases all received major airplay on my CD player and I was present at most of her Arizona concerts. I was able to see the singer open for George Strait a few times where I convinced my mom to buy me a Terri Clark t-shirt that I would eventually wear to picture day in the third grade. So yes…there’s a picture of me rockin’ my concert t-shirt somewhere in my mom’s collection of pictures!I was always pretty vocal about my musical obsessions with friends so it was no surprise that I would take my stereo outside and play her albums on full-volume for the other neighborhood kids to hear. Looking back, I’m slightly embarrassed that I actually did that.
But anyway, the one concert that I will never forget took place the day before my ninth birthday at the Arizona State Fair. We were lucky enough to score third row tickets to see her and opening act Paul Brandt. The week before the show I was told to make a sign to hold up letting her know it was a big day. So with the help of my cousin, I manufactured a sign that told the singer the day after the show was my birthday. The day of the show was one full of nerves and excitement. My cousin and I were off-the-charts excited because Terri was pretty much our favorite singer at the time. So we’re sitting there in complete awe as the charismatic singer delivered a high energy performance when my mom tells us to hold up the sign. So we spread apart the vinyl sign for Terri to see. It didn’t take long (after all we were in the third row) and right then and there, on stage, in front of a packed house, she wished me a happy birthday. It’s a moment I will never forget.
I’ve always said the 90’s was the best decade for country music. To me, it was the decade that allowed me to grow and branch out of a comfort zone that I had been enclosed in during the earlier years of my life. That’s the reason why I have such a strong connection to the decade’s music and its artists, especially Terri Clark. I’ll always be grateful this album was delivered to our mailbox because who knows who I’d be without it.