Jason Aldean: 10 Prime Hits

From "Hicktown" to "Don't You Wanna Stay," Georgia Native Strikes the Right Emotional Notes

From the humble beginnings of “Hicktown” to the main stage of American Idol, Jason Aldean has gradually built his career with catchy country-rock songs that suit his Southern roots. The truth is, these 10 prime hits selected by the CMT.com staff explain why we want him to stay for more than a little while.

“Amarillo Sky”
I may not have grown up under the Amarillo sky, but the lyrics of this song ring so true to my middle Georgia roots. Yep, I’m a farmer’s daughter, and I have lived every line of this 2005 hit, taking sweet tea to my daddy in the middle of the afternoon so he could have a break from the scorching Georgia sun which had blistered every inch of him not covered in sweat-soaked clothes. They drove those old tractors that only had an umbrella to shade the heat that you could literally see radiating in the atmosphere. And to tell you the truth, it didn’t matter if it was 110 degrees or 10 degrees and snowing, he was still out there — every single day. Was it because the work needed to be done? Sure, but more so because it’s all he’s ever known. And it’s all his dad ever knew and his father before that. There are ties to the land and a pride you just can’t shake. Jason Aldean nailed it with this song. — Lacey Spears

“Big Green Tractor”
I’ll be honest. When I first heard Jason Aldean had released a single called “Big Green Tractor,” I laughed. Really? Another song about a tractor? But au contraire. As I began listening in my car, I realized this is about so much more than farm equipment. The lyrics are dripping with sexual undertones of a man stricken with a fervent fever for his lady. (“Climb up in my lap and drive if you want to. … We can go slow or make it go faster.”) Damn. By the time this song was over, I had just about wrecked my car. Perhaps this tune should have come with a warning label. — Whitney Self

“Don’t You Wanna Stay”
As a sucker for the big power ballads, this one grabbed me from the first time I heard it. Now that I’ve heard it countless times, I can appreciate the vocal nuances he and Kelly Clarkson offer. It’s not just all screaming — all the time. Plus, there just aren’t enough country songs about lust these days. It also prompted me to revisit Clarkson’s Breakaway album and made me remember why I’m such a fan of her music. She’s so in control of that stellar voice, I believe every word. — Craig Shelburne

You like the way that sounds? Why, yes, Jason Aldean, I do. When he asked that question at the beginning of his debut single, “Hicktown,” it was really hard to say no. Still is. Because this song not only paints a picture of small-town life with talk of truck pulls and going mudding, it calls out the brand names you’d be living with every day — Bronco, White Rain, Pall Malls, Amoco, Kraco. You add Laura Ingalls to that mix and I am in. Right out of the gate, this song established Aldean as someone who would celebrate that lifestyle with the spirit of a Southern rocker. — Alison Bonaguro

“Johnny Cash”
Think of the opening line to this song like a burnout from that Pontiac he’s ready to take off in. Channeling yet another Johnny — this time Paycheck — it pumps your adrenaline right away when Aldean gets fed up and quits his job, only to get more intense as he does the sensible thing and skips town to Las Vegas. I know angry driving is dangerous, and Aldean is not promoting it or anything, but add a few cop cars and this one is pretty much a theme song for World’s Wildest Police Chases. He’s so heated, he and his girlfriend don’t even have time to tell her mama they’re leaving. But not to worry, they’ll send a postcard after they get married by an Elvis impersonator. Rising to No. 6 on Billboard’s country songs chart, “Johnny Cash” fueled the fires of many a weekend warrior and dispelled any fears of a second-album flat tire on Aldean’s part. Just don’t expect a breezy Sunday drive dedicated to the memory of the Man in Black. This is more like a Friday night beer run in a Firebird. — Chris Parton

“Laughed Until We Cried”
Ordinarily, dewy-eyed nostalgia for one’s childhood and high school and young adult years is the province of artists such as Bruce Springsteen or Kenny Chesney, but Jason Aldean does an emotionally-appealing version of “Laughed Until We Cried.” It helps to start with a well-crafted song. “Laughed” was co-written by two of Nashville’s finest writers — Ashley Gorley and Kelley Lovelace. The latter has written such memorable songs as “He Didn’t Have to Be.” Gorley is known for such songs as “You’re Gonna Miss This.” With “Laughed Until We Cried,” the duo wrote a deceptively-simple lyric about the joys of recalling memories of family and friends. Aldean brings that feeling alive with, for him, a surprisingly gentle and expressive vocal. At the time this was released as his fifth single, he was best known for the full-blown country rocker “Hicktown,” but “Laughed Until We Cried” very effectively displays his vocal range. — Chet Flippo

“My Kinda Party”
One of Aldean’s greatest gifts is his ability to choose songs that become the soundtrack to the lives of country music fans. A prime example is his decision to cover Brantley Gilbert’s “My Kinda Party” and make it the title track of his latest album, which has sold more than 1 million in less than six months. The official video depicts Aldean and his band performing in a relatively small venue, but the song and Aldean’s performance are designed to energize crowds in arenas and amphitheaters. If you want to see and hear a different take on the song, check out a video of Aerosmith’s Joe Perry taking the guitar solos during Aldean’s performance on CMT’s Artists of the Year special . It’s a moment Aldean couldn’t have imagined when his debut album was released in 2005. — Calvin Gilbert

“She’s Country”
This number enthusiastically lists the traits of those down-home country girls — “from the songs she plays to the prayer she prays.” If you’ve ever been to a Jason Aldean concert, such country gals are everywhere. And if you haven’t, check out the performance video. It captures the live energy of his show, and I think it’s part of the reason his career exploded with this song. — Craig Shelburne

“The Truth”
What could be sexier than a tough guy showing his vulnerability? After suffering through a breakup, Aldean is left to sort through his emotions. We see him mail a letter at the beginning of the video, then leave town. Ultimately, he checks into a motel and sits outside during a thunderstorm. Not even the heavy rain and lightning can snap him out of the daze he’s left in as he pleads with his ex to tell their friends every possible scenario instead of the truth — that he’s still in love with her. For me, the most heartbreaking aspect of the song is that Aldean, who’s hit rock bottom, asks the very woman who broke his heart to now help him save face. This tune isn’t all gloom and despair though as it led to Aldean nabbing his fourth No. 1 single. — Stephanie Pendergrass

Being the first Jason Aldean song I ever learned to play on guitar, “Why” holds a special place in my heart. Playing in a lot of different venues growing up, it was requested more than almost any other song (especially by my mother). It was not until I grew older that I realized the significance this song had in my life. Growing up, I had a few special people who were always there for me, but I never fully embraced those relationships. I can see now that people like that are rare in this world. No matter what you say or how much you pull away, those people will be there for you when you need them the most. That support has shaped me into the person I am today, and it’s why I have even made it this far in life. For that, I am forever grateful. — Cameron Hail