Concert: Reba McEntire at Tanglewood

Sometimes I struggle being from Oklahoma. Not in a literal sense, but from a moral standpoint. It’s complicated. I moved to New York around three years ago. To say the least, it’s been the best experience of my life.

Although New York offers nearly every experience under the sun, there is one thing missing: real country music. When I got word that Reba McEntire was just going to be two and a half hours north of me in Massachusets, it was a no brainer.

Courtesy of Amazon.

McEntire and her music truly mean the world to me. I’ve been a fan since I was in elementary school. Without going into great detail, my parents divorced when I was six years old. To be honest, I don’t remember all the details, but I still carry the heartache with me.

My mom knew I loved music. One day she brought home a “previously viewed” VHS from the local Blockbuster. I’m sure it was in the sale bin, that’s the only way she could have afforded it. The video was Reba: Live. I couldn’t tell you how many times I watched it. This concert became my safety blanket. My mind did not understand what it was feeling, but McEntire gave a voice and relief to those emotions.

Back to 2019. I found that McEntire was going to be the season closer for Tanglewood in the Berkshires in Lenox, MA. This was not the best financial decision, but once I found a few front row seats left I entered my credit card nearly faster than my fingers could type.

The concert, which took place on Sunday, was phenomenal. McEntire has been in the music game for 43 years. She’s a veteran, but her enthusiasm for her music and the fans has never been lost. She sinks each song like it’s brand new. She opened the concert with “Turn On The Radio,” a track from her 2010 album All The Women I Am. She quickly went into a melody of numerous number-one singles, including one of my all-time favorites “Can’t Even Get The Blues.”

Then came the song that will always pull my heartstrings “Whoever’s In New England.” It was perfection. Shortly after came her 2017 single, “Back to God.” The conviction in her voice was chilling. McEntire sings this song from wisdom and experience.

About 75% of the way through the show, she embarked on the Grammy-winning “Does He Love You.” This song was recorded with Linda Davis in 1993, but a member of McEntire’s band, Jennifer Wrinkle, accompanies McEntire on tour. To my dismay, Wrinkle does not have a solo album. She was superb.

As per McEntire tradition, she closed the show with “Fancy.” This is truly a “bow down to the queen” moment. Once she exits the stage and reemerges in that red dress, her legacy is undeniable. Yet she still meets her audience with humility. There is never a pompous moment. That’s the art of the Reba concert, you leave feeling she is your best friend.

Through all these amazing songs and stories, one moment stands above the rest. As McEntire began to introduce “The Greatest Man I Never Knew,” she told the story of her family. It’s impossible to not mention Oklahoma when talking about the McEntire’s. At that moment, in a crazy fan haze, I yelled: “I’m from Oklahoma!” She went on with her conversation. I thought nothing of it.

She then turned around and said “Where are you from in Oklahoma?” and walked straight to me.I told her I was from Lawton and she acknowledged how she knew right where that was. She went on to say that Oklahoma was “so important.” At this moment, in another crazy fan haze, I yelled: “I love you.” Then she looked at me once more and said: “I love you too.”

After the show, as I was reeling from McEntire speaking to me, I felt so much pride. Not in just where I come from, but in how far I’ve come. Although sometimes I am conflicted about my home state, it has given me an unshakeable foundation. I haven’t nearly seen the world like McEntire, but it is surreal that we could connect, even for a moment, over our shared heritage. The spirit of Oklahoma is more than OK, we’re extraordinary.

I’d like for you to take two main points from this article: 

1.) Go see Reba McEntire in concert. She’s nothing short of phenomenal.

2.) There is life out there, but Oklahoma and your heritage will always be there when you need ’em. 

PLAYLIST: Reba McEntire, The Deep Cuts

Being from Oklahoma, Reba McEntire‘s music is almost a daily occurrence for me. I’ve been a McEntire fan for most of my life. My mom bought one of her concerts on VHS when I was six and I’ve been smitten with her music ever since. I listened to everything I could get a hold of and now I own every album she’s ever recorded. I’m not obsessed; I just have a deep respect.

Each McEntire album is a meticulous painting. Some are blue while others are red hot. Each is carefully curated, especially after she signed with MCA and took musical control of her career. She is known for her 26 Billboard No. 1 hits but there are so many hidden gems within these records…

Check out Nashville Noise for the full list!

ALBUM REVIEW: Reba McEntire, Self-Titled

I have been a Reba McEntire fan for nearly my entire life. You can read more about that musical journey here. When I began to collect records I knew I had to have every album she had released on vinyl, but there was one little hiccup.

Reba McEntire's, First AlbumFor the life of me, I could not find her 1977 Mercury self-titled debut. I searched everywhere from garage sales, record stores, and eBay. There is not a significant hit on this album nor did it even chart on Billboards Country Albums. I guess that means there are not many floating around.

Well, I finally found one in Oklahoma, the perfect place for one to be! We love our McEntires in the red dirt and have supported Reba since the beginning. I have now listened to it many times over and I don’t find it insignificant, but a foretelling of what was to come. This album is her humble beginnings.

Reba’s debut album takes a more traditional route compared to her later recordings. It might sound odd to some fans, but it firmly shows where her roots are planted. The album begins with the sweet, mid-tempo “Glad I waited Just For You.” I would say this is “bubblegum country” at it’s finest. One is then quickly taken into the first ballad of the album, “One to One.” This track is a highlight.

“One to One” echoes 70’s soft rock and shows Reba’s versatile vocals. Ballads are among some of my favorite Reba songs and nobody portrays pure love and pure heartbreak like she does. Although this song is not a “break-up” song, this album does give Reba much room to sing some heart-wrenching tunes.

Reba McEntireReba begins to show her emotional chops with songs like “I Was glad To Give My Everything to You,” “Take Your Love Away,” and a cover of Hot’s 1977 hit, “Angel in Your Arms.” One can clearly see where “For My Broken Heart,” “She Thinks His Name Was John,” and “Till You Love Me” come into play later in her career.

Sadly, this album only charted two songs, “I Don’t Want To Be A One Night Stand,” which came in at 88 on Billboards Country Singles chart, and “(There’s Nothing Like The Love) Between A Woman and A Man,” coming in at 86. Each of these songs is memorable, but not chart toppers for late 70’s country.

Lastly, two of the biggest gems are “Why Can’t He Be You” and “Invitation To The Blues.” The first was written by Hank Cochran and previously recorded by Patsy Cline. The later was written by Reba’s Oklahoma contemporary, Roger Miller. Reba’s version of “Why Can’t He Be You” is almost the exact same arrangement as Cline’s and although it still falls short of Cline’s greatness, it is remarkable. Reba’s version proves she had the performing chops in 1977 and it has shown a light to her later career. She was going to be a show stopper.

This album shows an Okie girl making it in the big music world. It’s merely her humble beginnings, just like her ones in the fields of Oklahoma. Although not considered a commercial hit, this album sets a precedent and lays a foundation for Reba’s career.

ALBUM REVIEW: Reba McEntire, Love Somebody

My parents divorced when I was 6 years old. I remember my friend’s parents were divorced and she would tell me about it, but I always knew that wouldn’t be me. My little 6-year-old world was in perfect formation and as hard as concrete.

Until my parents split later that next year.

Issues ensued with the split and 6, 7, 8, year old me had some pretty tough situations. This is when music became my pillar. It stabilized me and provided a channel for my emotions. It was always there and it never left. It was my distraction and safety.

We did not have a lot of money and often times our entertainment came in the form of renting movies from Blockbuster. Every now and then Blockbuster would have a sale with all their previously used VHS. My mom would pick out movies and buy them for me, usually for $5 or less. She knew I loved music and she purchased a Reba concert on VHS.

Now, this was not sitcom or even modern Reba. This was early 90’s Reba with red hair ratted to the ceiling, fringe, and too many costume changes to count. To say the least, I was mesmerized.

I watched that VHS many times. Recently, I found the same program on Youtube and I still have it memorized. So when I say that I am a life long Reba fan, I ain’t jokin’ ya’ll.

In that VHS, she opened with Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and sang all her classic songs including “Does He Love You,” “Walk On,” “Take it Back,” “Why Haven’t I Heard From You,” and “Fancy.” It was 90’s Reba at her best and she entertained me for hours on end.

Now let’s fast forward 20 years. A few weeks ago Reba released her 27th studio album entitled Love Somebody. Considering my long history with Reba, I always buy her albums the first day of release. I was really excited about this album since Reba has now moved to the new Nash Icon record label.

This album has everything I want as a Reba fan, but it has an even deeper message for me. I love the sassy tunes like “Going Out Like That,” “Livin’ Ain’t Killed Me Yet,” and “Until They Don’t Love You.” I love the breakup songs like “She Got Drunk Last Night,” “I’ll Go On,” and her duet with Jennifer Nettles, “Enough.” Then she gives us a great story song with “Love Land.” Nobody sings a breakup or story song with the same conviction and emotion as Reba.

“Enough” is a great sequel to Reba’s 1993 hit with Linda Davis, “Does He Love You.”  She also recalls and sings another song for her father who has now passed away, “Them Horses.” This is a very different viewpoint than “The Greatest Man I Never Knew.” These are amongst my top favorites.

Although there are two songs on this album that really speak to me both in the past and the present. They are songs of pure love, the title track, “Love Somebody,” and the Reba penned “Pray for Peace.”

That’s exactly how I survived all those years of emotional turmoil through the love of many, but most importantly, my mom. I never once saw her cry. She was a pillar of strength. She never showed me her weakness. She gave up so I could have when it came to clothes, toys, you name it.

She even gave up a couple books to buy me a handful of previously viewed VHS’.

Through her pain, she was able to love somebody and luckily that was me. It’s something I can never repay, but it’s a payment never expected. My mom loves me around the world and back, but secretly I love her around the moon and back.

Then there is “Pray for Peace.” I love Reba’s story for this song. It made me realize where I am now. I am at peace. At 25 I am at peace with my life, relationships, and my potential. I have many struggles I deal with daily, but I’ve made it this far and turning around isn’t even an option.

Through love, I gained peace.

Reba’s music provided a distraction and comfort for a troubled young boy. Her music has also provided commentary throughout my life. It’s a debt many of us owe so many artists who give us a piece of themselves. Thank you, Reba.

I witnessed my mom go down and rise back to the top. One thing I have learned through all of life is how you often get bucked off your horse and get dirt in your hair. You probably even gain a few bruises and have your pride hurt, but in the end, my mom is always a “Survivor.” Reba highlights this in many of her songs over the years and has recently brought this idea full circle for me.

Through her love, my mama taught me to never go out like and that there is always life out there, all with a backdrop of big red hair.

ALBUM REVIEW: Reba McEntire, For My Broken Heart

If you have read at least two of my blog posts, you will gather that I am from Oklahoma and I love Oklahoma artists. Some of the best musicians have red dirt in their veins. So It’s no wonder that I consider Reba one of the Queens of Country Music. I am extremely proud to call the same state she does home.

This is my second writing over a Reba record. I first wrote a review over her 1986 smash Whoever’s in New England. A classic album that is a must listen for any true country fan. Recently, I found her last album ever issued on vinyl, For My Broken Heart. 

This vinyl was only released through Columbia House. It came out in 1991 when vinyl was beginning to be phased out for cassette tapes and CDs. It is a very rare find, even on the internet. Discogs doesn’t have a single copy for sale, and the last copy on eBay went for $75. I assume you can see my excitement when I found it for $6 at a local record shop.

This is the first album Reba released after the death of over half her band in a plane accident. This album is dedicated to them, which speaks directly to its melancholy tone.

In fact, Reba writes in the liner notes, “It seems your current emotional status determines what music you’d like to hear…If for any reason you can relate to the emotion-packed inside these songs, I hope it’s a form of healing for all our broken hearts.”

For My Broken Heart does not contain any songs to the likes of “Fancy,” “Can’t Even Get The Blues,” or “Why Haven’t I Heard From You.” Instead, Reba opts for more ballad, storyline, emotional pieces.

The album opens with the title track “For My Broken Heart.” This has always been one of my favorite Reba ballads. It’s very symbolic for this album, especially the lyrics, “I guess the world didn’t stop for my broken heart.” Although she was feeling emotional pain, along with many of her staff, and the family and of those who had fallen, the world didn’t stop. The worst thing that could have happened is if the music had stopped.

The next songs tell narrative stories, something I believe Reba is a genius at performing and interpreting. These songs include “Bobby,” “He’s in Dallas,” “All Dressed Up (With Nowhere to Go),” “Buying her Roses,” and “The Greatest Man I Never Knew.”

One of the major staples of this album, which was also an eventual number one, is the powerful story of “Is There Life Out There.” Not only is this a story of a woman wondering what the world has to offer, but it is a message to those affected by the plane accident, prompting them to keep going, and that there is going to be more “out there.”

Then there is “The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia.” This has also been one of my long-time Reba favorites, although surprisingly it only charted at number 12. I feel this is the one song that was clearly recorded to be a commercial success, yet her songs of hope and broken hearts win the biggest spots on the charts.

This has now become one of my favorite Reba albums and, to be honest, initially, I was only interested in the collector’s aspect. Don’t get me wrong. I listen to each album I purchase, and I can’t think of a Reba album I don’t like. After listening to this album, I found a deeper connection woven within its lyrics and Reba’s timeless vocals. It’s an album of sorrow, but most of all, it is an album hope.

In 1985, Reba released an album, Have I Got a Deal For You. Although this album was made 5 or so years later, this album has become quite a deal for me, not only in what I paid but also in what I hear.

Anytime Reba’s dealing, I’m playing.

ALBUM REVIEW: Reba McEntire, Whoever’s in New England

This album is the benchmark of Reba McEntire’s Career. Her album Whoever’s in New England was her 10th studio album. It was her first to reach the top spot on the Billboard Country Album chart and later that year she won CMA’s Entertainer of the Year.

Now, before I fully indulge in this review I must reveal my bias. I am a HUGE Reba fan. I photo (2)always have been and always will be. I am extremely proud to say that she is from Oklahoma and I believe she is the queen of modern country music. I’ve seen her twice in concert, and plan on going every time she’s within a 100 mile or so radius from me.

Whoever’s in New England is the essence of what true country music should encompass, both in content and musically. The album is comprised of mostly sad songs, but also some jolly breakup songs as well. The content includes how the man went out on her, she’s gonna take him back, she’s leaving him, she’s rushing into a relationship, etc. The only thing she left out was the horses back home in Stringtown.

I’ve decided to do a track by track rundown of this record because I took notes on each song and they are all great.

Track 1: “Can’t Stop Now.” This song explains how Reba has rushed into a relationship and that now the “love we made has a life of its own.” The song is traditional 80’s country with a classic country twang. I don’t two-step well, but I would really like to give this track a try.

Track 2: “You Can Take The Wings off Me.” This song explains how one is losing their innocence and I will say no more. I look at Reba like I look at my mom.

Track 3: ” Whoever’s in New England.” Legendary. This song has been a long time favorite of mine. I can’t resist it. It crosses genres. My favorite line “When the icy wind blows through you remember that it’s me, that feels the cold most of all.” And, o my, that high note at the end, strums my heartstrings every time. This was the first song she made a video for. Recently in concert, she was showing a montage of her videos and she quipped, “Look at that hair!” Did I also mention this song went number one?

Track 4: “I’ll Believe it When I Feel It.” This is a nice soft country song that I would also like to two-step too. McEntire talks of a man leaving her and how her friends say she will have “it” again with another man, to which she replies, I’ll believe it when I see it. I love the drums during the chorus and their crescendo effect.

Track 5: “I’ve Seen Better Days.” This is a beautiful breakup song. She even says a rainy day with him holding her is better then what she is feeling now, a little ironic. McEntire provides a nice prayer at the end of the song.

Open. Flip. Side B.

Track 6: “Little Rock.” This is a happy little ditty about divorce. She talks about slipping off that “little rock” on her finger because “there’s more to life then what I got.” This song went number one. It portrays the character of a strong woman, willing to take her life back in her own hands, even if they don’t have any diamonds on them.

Track 7: “If You Only Knew.” This song takes on a different twist. It’s a breakup song but through the lens of friendship. McEntire explains how her friend comes to her, envious of her single life. She then reveals that it is not what it’s cracked up to be when you’re “always in control.” She encourages the young damsel to “put your anger down, turn around, and go back home.”

Track 8: “One Thin Dime.” This song is classic country. It is upbeat and talks about a breakup. Although, she is not bitter for she states how she will always be there and is one thin dime away. I’m assuming “one thin dime” refers to what they call pay phones. I’m still getting used to the rotary at my house.

Track 9: “Don’t Touch Me There.” This is a ballad about a person being slightly afraid to dive into a relationship. She says he can hold her hands, kiss her lips, wrap his arms around her, and run his fingers through her hair, but there’s just one place he cannot touch, her heart.

Track 10: “To Make That Same Mistake.” This is another fast two-step breakup song. It’s a great end to the album, considering it opened with rushing into a relationship and now she just hopes she can make that same mistake again, which would be falling in love. A great conclusion to a landmark country album.

There is one word I use to describe Reba’s voice: gold. Her voice has been never changing since the late 1970s. Her vocal ability is unparalleled with her contemporaries. I have personally witnessed this in her live performances. Her performances are high energy, with sprinkles of red dirt. She has made her state proud.

So I am still trying to figure out who exactly could hate this album. I mean even if you don’t like Reba, you have to admit it’s legendary. If not you can probably just move, to New England preferably.

The first Reba video…