Picture it: Atlanta.1997.A gay country bar called Hoedowns (because you can’t keep a good hoe down). A young man in his 20s turned to country music for inspiration and guidance as he traversed the highs and lows of coming of age and coming out. As young gays do, we seek solace and answers from the strong women of our day.

The ’90s decade heralded a bevvy of contemporary country female vocalists — Faith, Shania, Wynnona, Martina, Reba — but one stood out for me. Trisha. Oh, how I loved her voice, her song choices, her heartbreaks, her humility, her humor. I saw her at least five times in the ’90s including the Closing Ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games.

Since 2007, she’s taken a break from recording and touring and focused more on her family, both Yearwood and the Brooks clans, and turned her attention to cooking and Food Network stardom. In early 2014, she surprisingly announced her ‘Just Because’ tour — why tour? ‘Just because,‘ she’ll tell you. I love her so much I traveled all the way to Texas to see her perform at the Moody Theater and home of Austin City Limits Live.

This performance had a few stand-out moments but none stood out more than her cover (or as she put it, karaoke) of Linda Ronstadt’s ‘Blue Bayou.’ It shattered me. Trisha is best when the music stops and she just sings. I also love that she sang ‘Little Hercules’ from the Everybody Knows album. It’s one of those songs that gets you by when you’re young and lost. I also enjoyed ‘Cowboys are My Weakness’ from her last album and her impromptu of ‘The Nightingale’ which she sang one verse in a cappella at the request of a super fan up front. ‘On a Bus to St. Cloud’ and ‘I Don’t Paint Myself Into Corners’ rounded out her nearly two hour show before closing with a cover of James Browns’ ‘It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World.’ After tonight’s show I’d have to argue it’s Trisha’s world.

She always jokes that of the 120-130 songs recorded over her career, only 2-3 of them two were not completely depressing. I made sure both were included in my top 50 Trisha picks.Can you pick them out?
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