The Saving Country Music 2022 Song of the Year

We’ve already discussed them Single of the Year Nominee for 2022 and selected a winner. But now it’s time to get quiet and serious and talk about these songs that are so well composed that they have the ability to change our lives or our perspectives.

Picking the Saving Country Music Song of the Year winner was particularly agonizing here in 2022. There wasn’t just one strong field of first nomineesno fewer than four songs emerged as the frontrunners in the voting and discussion, with all of them receiving essentially similar counts in the comments here and on social media.

So in a sense we should ALL consider these four top contenders as winners as they are all so strong and any gap between them is razor thin. But to not entirely avoid the difficult decision of who should finish at the top, we’ll feature them all in place 4 through 1.


#4 Willi Carlisle – “Tulsa’s last wizard

Those who have seen this whimsical and captivating Arkansas folk-country storyteller in person will be struck by the natural showmanship he exudes, the magic of the old traditional songs and grand stories he unearths, and the allure of the people he creates composed original songs swear. Carlisle is like few things you will experience in music. His songs are heavily literary with rich characters, and his performance is deeply compelling. The soul and authenticity inherent in Willi Carlisle’s music is emblematic in the song “Tulsa’s Last Magician,” which was inspired after hanging out with a group of magicians in Florida and exploring the idea of ​​a decaying occupation.


#3 – Ian Noe – “Ballad of a Pensioner”

It would take a lifetime to compose a song like “Ballad of a Retired Man”. With Ian Noe it only lasted 30 years and his second record. “Ballad of a Retired Man” is a powerful moment that emerges from a simple, hand-plucked melody and background organ beneath a story that sees a Vietnam veteran and former road worker confront his fate in a way that makes us all ponder ours Mortality and the passage of time in an inevitably disturbing, yet oddly beautiful and inviting way.


#2 – Adeem The Artist – “In the Middle of a Heart”

We are all inculcated by our upbringing with a set of values ​​(or lack thereof) and a set of habits that, like a pebble thrown into still water, echo outward through the unfolding of our lives. The greatest virtue of “Middle of a Heart” is that Adeem leaves the moral of the song up to interpretation. Adeem tells the story, sketching the lines and inking the individual viewer’s personal lineage and upbringing. Adeem draws a perfect circle – or a bullseye, if you will – and then does his best not to stop any heart but transform through the work of the music.


Saving Country Music’s Song of the Year 2022

Tommy Prine – “Ships in Port”

In country and roots music, we often talk about pedigree because music so often becomes a family business for many of our most beloved artists and their worthy descendants. But we’ve rarely, if ever, had a closing, generational moment so encapsulated in one song like what John Prine’s son Tommy perfects on Ships in the Harbor.

Even more striking is that this is the very first song Tommy Prine has ever released professionally in his career. Can a debut single really count as the best written song of any given year? Apparently it can be, and it just has. And to be honest, you might have to go back several years to find a song with a comparable emotional impact for people who have the patience to listen, and all the way to the end of the song when the genius of the writing unfolds in full brilliance.

With a poetic grace that doesn’t need a famous name to be compelling, Tommy Prine exquisitely sums up how all of the happiness and grace in life – however pleasant – is invariably fleeting. From the warmth of seeing a bluebird perched on a fence to the unconditional love of a father, eventually it will go away due to the rhythms of life. As much as Ships in Port is a lament for the inevitability, it’s also a lesson in savoring life’s sweet moments while we’re in the middle of it.

One of the biggest indicators of great writing and a great song is how it means different things to different people. Tommy Prine wrote Ships in the Harbor specifically about his father’s death. However, when you listen to this song, it can feel like it was written specifically for the death of one of your parents or loved ones. A remarkable phenomenon has accompanied the release of this song. Whenever shared, listeners feel compelled to share their own stories of loss and how that song helped them process or accept it.

Tommy Prine is the youngest son of John Prine who passed away in 2020 at the age of 73. Tommy learned finger picking from his father and picked up a guitar for the first time at the age of 10. But it wasn’t his father’s music that inspired Tommy to explore singer/songwriter material at age 17. It was Jason Isbell’s opus southeast.

Tommy Prine has released a second single called “Turning Stones” and is expected to have a debut album in early 2023. But with one song, Tommy Prine has already achieved what many musicians and songwriters strive to achieve throughout their careers, to achieve such an indelible emotional connection with an audience that its impact lingers far beyond the present. His father has done this at multiple points throughout his career and now Tommy has done it to start his.


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