Original Songwriter Demos

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For fans who assume that a hit country song just “somehow” gets recorded and released by an artist, this two-disc, 20-song set of songwriter demos should fill in the gaps. While Garth Brooks’ passionate delivery of his signature hits “If Tomorrow Never Comes” and “The Dance” brought an urgency and authority to the tunes, the poignant lyrics of both songs hold up just as well in their unadorned form, enhanced only by an acoustic guitar and at times subpar songwriter vocals. Conversely, the original vocal recordings of “How Do I Live” (Trisha Yearwood/LeAnn Rimes) and “The House That Built Me” (Miranda Lambert) nearly stand up to the finished work of the artists who made them famous. The differences in the songs’ raw forms and finished products range from barely noticeable to complete revisions. Carrie Underwood merely edited out a profane word on her version of “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” and Brooks & Dunn deleted verses from their hit “Ain’t Nothing ’Bout You,” while Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s 1997 duet “It’s Your Love” was originally performed only by a female. The disc offers 20 years of the inspiration behind some of country’s hit songs.

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