Just about every country fan knows Reba McEntire’s hits. “Fancy” and “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” are pretty much standards at this point. The country icon has been in the business for over 40 years and has released 33 studio albums. Not every song can be a single. As a result, some truly great songs fall through the cracks sometimes.
With that being said, let’s look over Reba McEntire’s decades-long catalog and pluck out some of the hidden gems.
Waitin’ for the Deal to Go Down (1990)
“Waitin’ for the Deal to Go Down” is on Reba McEntire’s 1990 album “Rumor Has It.” This is the same album that featured “Fancy,” one of her signature songs. “Rumor Has It,” was Reba’s first album that saw crossover success. Probably because it is full of killer songs. “Waitin’ for the Deal to Go Down,” is just one of many album cuts that could have been a hit.
It’s an up-tempo number about waiting on a man to finally pop the question. The lyrics focus on the feelings of uncertainty that come with a drawn-out relationship without an engagement or solid plans for the future. The last half of the chorus drives the point home. “Face to face you promise me forever/ But the ring’s still sitting in a store downtown/ And I’m still sitting here/ Waitin’ for the deal to go down.”
State of Grace (1996)
Nobody does inspirational country songs quite like Reba McEntire. She proves this on “State of Grace” from “What If It’s You,” from 1996. The song tells a story of a woman named Grace. She has been working hard at Walmart for years on end. One day, Grace decides that there’s more to life than toiling away at work. So, she quits her job, buys a truck and some maps, and hits the open road.
It’s a shame that this tune isn’t more popular. Not only is it a really good song but also, Reba closes it out with what might be the best inspirational quote ever, “There wouldn’t be a sky/ If the dreams we’d been given/ Weren’t supposed to fly.”
Where You End and I Begin (1999)
“So Good Together” was Reba McEntire’s final album of the nineties. She reigned supreme during the decade and this album was a solid way to cap it off. Like any of her albums, it contains several great songs. “Where You End and I Begin,” is a top-notch love song. It’s all about being so deeply in love with your partner that you get completely caught up in them.
There’s just so much passion in the song. If you have a playlist of love songs, this needs to be on it.
Rain Fallin’ – Early Reba McEntire (1979)
Today, Reba McEntire is known for her iconic 90s sound. It’s solid country music with a dash of pop production to make things shimmer. In her early albums, she didn’t have as much control over her sound. It was much more pop-heavy. However, songs like “Rain Fallin'” from the album “Out of a Dream” are still excellent.
In this sad song about being lonely on a rainy night, the world got a tiny glimpse of what Reba would one day become. She perfectly captures the sadness in the tune.
A Poor Man’s Roses (Or a Rich Man’s Gold) (1980)
Reba McEntire’s second album, “Feel the Fire,” featured great country songs. “A Poor Man’s Roses,” is a beautiful example of this. The steel guitar in the tune combined with Reba’s throwback style of singing makes this song feel both older than it is and timeless.
The lyrics are from the point of view of a woman who has to choose between being with a poor man or a rich man. The wealthier of the two is “callus and cold” and throws his money around to get what he wants. The other man loves her with all his heart even though he doesn’t have as much money. In the end, she chooses love over money, “And yet the hand that brings a rose tonight/ Is the hand that I will hold/ For the rose of love means more to me/ More than any rich man’s gold.”
I’m Not That Lonely Yet (1982)
Reba McEntire’s 1982 album “Unlimited” contained her first number-one hit singles. It also contained a gorgeous slow waltz called “I’m Not That Lonely Yet.” This song pure country. It features piano, acoustic guitar, and some great steel leads.
In the song, Reba sings about being broken-hearted going out dancing to forget her troubles. While she does enjoy dancing, that’s where her night ends. She won’t go home with her dance partner because she’s not that lonely yet.
Poison Sugar (1984) – Reba McEntire Finds Her Independence
Before releasing “Just a Little Love” in 1984, Reba McEntire moved from Mercury Records to MCA Nashville. The move allowed her to have more control over the production of her albums and the songs that went on them. The singles from the album charted well but, more importantly, this album sees Reba coming into her own. “Poison Sugar” is a rock-infused tune that is a great look into the early stages of the Reba we know today.
The song is about a man that they call Poison Sugar. He is the time to charm and woo a woman, take what he wants from her, and leave. It’s a great tune. Reba really shines when she lends her voice to rocking songs like this.
I Want to Hear It From You (1984)
Reba McEntire released two albums in 1984 through MCA Nashville. The first was “Just a Little Love” and the second was “My Kind of Country.” The latter performed much better. It featured two number-one hit singles. The album also features some killer songs that harkened back to classic country. “I Want to Hear It From You,” sounds like it could have been recorded by one of Reba’s predecessors. In fact, there is a little bit of Patsy Cline in her voice on this song. This similarity alone makes the fact that it has been so overlooked even more of a shame.
The outstanding fiddle work and walking bassline in the song take it back to the days of classic country. The lyrics of the song match the feel. It’s about wanting to hear the truth about her relationship first-hand instead of through the grapevine. The end of the chorus says it all, “If there’s no hope at all/ If my world must fall/ I want to hear it from you.”
Whose Heartache Is This Anyway (1985)
The album “Have I Got a Deal for You” sees Reba McEntire settling into that classic country sound. The whole album is packed with songs that sound like they could have been cut decades before the eighties. “Whose Heartache Is This Anyway,” is a sassy track that drips with fiddle and steel guitar.
The song is from the perspective of a woman at the end of her relationship. As they’re splitting up, her soon-to-be-ex is giving her advice. He wants to tell her about silver linings and how things will get better with time. Reba isn’t trying to hear it, though. “Cause I’m not in the mood for sympathy/ At least not from the one who’s leaving me/ So don’t try to make it easy/ Don’t search for words to say/ Whose heartache is this anyway.”
Daddy (1979) Reba McEntire’s First Solo-Written Song
Reba McEntire is a great singer but she doesn’t write many songs. She’s more comfortable behind a microphone or in a producer’s chair than she is with a pen and a pad. The song “Daddy,” off of her second album makes me wish she wrote more songs.
The song is a deeply personal ode to her father. It discusses the growth of his ranch, his rodeo career, and his aspirations for his children. If you’re a fan of Reba’s and know some of her story, this song hits pretty hard. If not, it’s still a beautiful tribute from a daughter to her father.