Justin Moore may be playing sold-out shows these days, but back in the ’90s, he was just a kid listening to honky-tonk ballads on the Arkansas airwaves. Born in 1986, Moore found his inspiration in the likes of George Strait, Alan Jackson, and John Anderson, among others.
With his current single, “We Didn’t Have Much,” climbing the chart (more on that next week), we asked Justin to Pick the Playlist by selecting five of his favorite songs from his formative years.
1. ‘Guitars, Cadillacs’ – Dwight Yoakam
There’s probably not a more upbeat, straight honky-tonk track than Dwight Yoakam’s “Guitars, Cadillacs.” But behind Yoakam’s fun-loving edge, he hides an emotional beat of a man using music and a party lifestyle to mask the heartbreak he feels inside. Yoakam wrote and recorded the song for his 1986 debut album, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. But country music fans were still listening to the tune well into the ’90s. It’s now celebrating its 35 anniversary, and “hillbilly music” is just as catchy as ever.
“I’m a big Dwight Yoakam fan,” said Justin Moore to Outsider. “I could put five of his songs on there probably.”
2. ‘She Used to Be Mine’ – Brooks & Dunn
Now for a song that Justin Moore absolutely loves. No greatest hits compilation of Brooks & Dunn would be complete without “She Used to Be Mine” on the list. Perfect for those wistful nights of regret, the tune’s melody is tender and downbeat. Ronnie Dunn penned the mournful tune for the duo’s second album, Hard Workin’ Man, in 1993.
“She Used to Be Mine” debuted at No. 60 on the charts. But it didn’t stay there for long, earning the legendary duo an early No. 1 hit.
3. ‘Baby’s Gotten Good at Goodbye’ – George Strait
Who doesn’t love 1980’s George Strait? And Justin Moore’s third pick is another tearjerker as only the King of Country Music could do. Recorded in 1988 for Strait’s ninth studio album, Beyond the Blue Neon, “Baby’s Gotten Good At Goodbye” became an anthem for heartbreak for years to come.
The tune even inspired a young Justin Moore to try out singing for himself. As they say, one legend inspires the next. “Because that’s one of the earlier songs I remember singing,” said Justin. “I could put all George Strait songs [on the playlist] too.”
4. ‘Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow’ – Alan Jackson
The best songs feel like they could be about us, the listeners. That’s how Justin Moore feels when he listens to the honky-tonk anthem, “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow.” When Alan Jackson recorded the tune in 1989, he was singing about his own journey through country music stardom. But he could have just as easily been describing Moore, and other artists who have risen through the ranks in the years after him.
“I loved ‘Chasing That Neon Rainbow’ for obvious reasons, and I’m now doing this for a living,” Moore said.
5. ‘Straight Tequila Nights’ – John Anderson
“I would say ‘Straight Tequila Night’ is another one of my favorites,” Moore said.
Us, too, Justin. Us, too. John Anderson channels everything that was special about the heartbreak ballads of the 1990s. Recorded for his 1992 album, Seminole Wind, the song perfectly captures the spirit of country music during that era. With a soft melody and Anderson’s vocals, the tune remains a classic today.