Various Artists

Classic Country: God, Family, Country

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God, Family, Country not only describes the music included on this 2004 Time-Life compilation, but also serves to define the very cornerstones of American country music. It's hard to imagine, after all, a contemporary rock or rap artist touting patriotic elegies, musing on the joys of family life, or revealing his or her personal relationship with Jesus. Lee Greenwood, on the other hand, sings his perennial classic, "God Bless the U.S.A.," without a trace of self-consciousness, while Aaron Tippin turns "You've Got to Stand for Something" into an anthem to be embraced without reservation. The Raybon Brothers sing unabashedly about a father's love of his daughter in "Butterfly Kisses," and Randy Travis indulges in a bit of hero worship in "He Walked On Water." Even though most of these songs come from the '90s, the worldview reflected here comes from a quieter, simpler time. Families still eat Sunday dinner together, earn their bread by the sweat of their brow, and keep a Bible on the table in the sitting room. In fact, when the listener travels even further back in time to Loretta Lynn's "Coal Miner's Daughter," Dolly Parton's "Coat of Many Colors," and George Jones' "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," he or she will find the exact same worldview. Country music fans looking for the perfect disc for Fourth of July family gatherings will appreciate God, Family, Country's 20 well-chosen songs.

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