It’s long been known that Vince Gill is a giant figure in country music – hell, music in general for that matter – but he was officially given the title Friday night (September 16) in the latest installment of CMT: Giants.
The homage saw his friends, colleagues, and family play tribute to his cherished discography as well as a career retrospective that put his enormous legacy in perspective. The trip down memory lane for Gill prompted us here at American Songwriter to do the same. Below, we’re going through just 8 of a book’s worth of iconic Gill tracks that are loved by the country community and the world over.
1. “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away” (from I Still Believe in You)
“Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away” is a particularly catchy gem from Gill’s catalog. Released in 1992, the track is a waltzing appeal to his lover to keep their relationship intact. Despite being a little beat down in the lyrics, the rest of the song is infectiously upbeat. With Gill’s soaring vocals and that incredible melody, it is hard to shake this one once you’ve gotten a taste.
2. “One More Last Chance” (from I Still Believe In You)
Taken from the same album as “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away,” comes this bluegrass-infused track about a wife who has had just about enough of him coming home drunk. In an effort to get a little TLC she hides his glasses and his car keys, but she made the fateful mistake of forgetting his “old John Deere.” Playfully disparaging and a foot-stomper to boot, there is a good reason “One More Last Chance” has endured as one of Gill’s top tracks.
3. “It’s Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day…” (from The Notorious Cherry Bombs)
Country supergroup, The Cherry Bombs, reunited in 2003 and deemed themselves a bit more “notorious” than their previous iteration. In the group, Gill joined forces with his long-time friend and colleague, Rodney Crowell, among others to record their first official album as a band. Though their one album didn’t see the same success he was enjoying as a solo artist, the Cherry Bombs are still a notable stop along our journey through Gill’s career.
As for which song to highlight, we’re choosing “It’s Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day…” If there is one thing we love, it’s a bit of a sly number that appeals to our most unabashed natures and this track is surely that and then some. The video is something to behold as well.
4. “Pretty Little Adriana” (from High Lonesome Sound)
Slowing things down, “Pretty Little Adriana” was inspired by a murder of a 12-year-old girl named Adriane Dickerson, who was shot outside of a Nashville supermarket in 1995. Gill writes with a deep tact from the parent’s perspective while his warm vocals shoulder the emotional weight. As evident by the first three songs on this list, it’s certain that Gill knows how to write a track that gets the blood pumping but he has his fair share of somber notes as well.
5. “When I Call Your Name” (from When I Call Your Name)
Keeping things the same tempo, “When I Call Your Name” sees Gill in a similarly dejected state. The song is a certified crooner. It doesn’t get more classic country than this. Singing, A note on the table that told me goodbye / It said you’d grown weary of living a lie / Oh, your love has ended but mine still remains / But nobody answers when I call your name, Gill paints a lonesome picture that is perfect for those quiet nights when you need a little reassurance that someone out there is alone with you.
6. “I Can’t Tell You Why” (from Common Thread: The Songs of The Eagles)
To represent Gill’s time with that little underground band he likes to hang out with from time to time, you know – The Eagles – we’re looking at his cover of “I Can’t Tell You Why” from the 1993 tribute album, Common Thread: The Songs of The Eagles. Gill’s version of the ballad is a standout from the record and sees the vocalist infusing a good amount of R&B into the track via a Hammond B-3 organ and a saxophone solo. Gill makes the track his own while hanging on to what made it a classic in the first place.
7. “Whenever You Come Around” (from When Love Finds You)
Another slow-burning chart-topper, “Whenever You Come Around,” is an unrequited love tale of the highest caliber. Beautifully written and impeccably delivered, this track has made its way around the country circuit since its release, notably with a cover by Willie Nelson for his Band of Brothers album.
8. “Go Rest High On That Mountain” (from When Love Finds You)
Few songs cut right to the heart quite in the way that “Go Rest High On That Mountain” does. This heartbreaking ode to a departed loved one was started by Gill after the passing of his friend and fellow country singer, Keith Whitley. He finished up the song after his brother passed away four years later. With harmonies by Ricky Skaggs and Patty Loveless, this song is truly an unparalleled tearjerker.
Photo by Catherine Powell / Essential Broadcast Media