Sara Evans: 10 Prime Hits

"Born to Fly," "A Little Bit Stronger" Among Staff Favorites

Sara Evans’ career is more than just a little bit stronger these days. Stronger, her first album of all-new material in six years, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country albums chart and the project’s first single, “A Little Bit Stronger,” is currently enjoying its second week atop the trade publication’s country songs chart.

Although her 2006 appearance on Dancing With the Stars brought her into millions of homes every week, the staff at has been following her career from the very beginning. Check out these 10 prime hits from Sara Evans.

“Born to Fly”
Evans’ bright personality shines through in this No. 1 hit from 2001. With her Midwestern roots, the Missouri native is well-cast as Dorothy in this The Wizard of Oz-inspired video. Growing up in the same neck of the woods, I could always relate to that youthful anticipation — just dying to see if the grass really is greener on the other side of the cornfield. The chorus still catches my attention, but I also like the poetry of this line, too: “I will plant my heart in the garden of my dreams, and I will grow up where I wander wild and free.” Evans crafted the song with two of Nashville’s most talented writers, Marcus Hummon and Darrell Scott. And she won her first (and so far, only) CMA Award for the colorful video. — Craig Shelburne

Remember that time you spoke up and were immediately shot down for being completely, utterly wrong, only to find out later that you were right the whole time? That is the sweet feeling of vindication — and “Cheatin'” is one of those rare songs that strikes the tone perfectly. Evans’ “I told you so” moment cracked the Top 10 in 2005 by mixing humor with resentment, just enough to let a short-sighted cheater know she is thoroughly enjoying his self-imposed misery. I love the sarcasm most of all. (“The TV picture comes and goes/Too bad you don’t have cable!” and “Yes, I’d be glad to take you back/Just as soon as I stop breathin’!”). And the video always makes me laugh when his mistress shows up, smiles and says “sorry” while a bunch of movers clean out his living room. You know what they say about karma, right? Maybe I’m just a spiteful person. Or maybe there’s a little piece in each of us that just wants us to shake our heads and laugh at all the cheaters. — Chris Parton

“I Could Not Ask for More”
If fans wanted more from Evans following her No. 1 hit, “Born to Fly,” she was quick to deliver. Her next single, the sweet cover of Edwin McCain’s “I Could Not Ask for More,” climbed all the way to No. 2 on Billboard’s country chart. Proving her popularity and staying power, Evans established herself as a female force on country radio. Her accompanying music video didn’t hurt either. Filmed in a windy, white-sand destination, Sara straddles her chair, seductively running her hands through her hair and making eyes with the camera. Her lovestruck fans could not ask for more. — Whitney Keyser

“I Keep Looking”
I’ve been known to quote country music from time to time. Or maybe all the time. But by far the lyric I quote more than any other is from “I Keep Looking.” There’s that line in the song about how “you got yin, you want yang.” And it seems like every day, someone you love is in that unsatisfied state of mind. She stays at home with the kids but wishes she had a “real job.” He wants to go to the movies with friends but needs to ace the test. So this song is a nice reminder that if you’re looking for something better, you’re not alone. And sometimes being in search of more yin can lead you to the yang. Plus, isn’t it cool that Evans can so easily throw a mention of Chinese philosophy into a country song like it’s no big deal? — Alison Bonaguro

“A Little Bit Stronger”
Aside from being one of those tunes that just buries itself in my head, “A Little Bit Stronger” has the added virtue of being completely universal yet intimately personal to Evans. Everyone has felt a pain that shook the foundation of their lives, but hers just happened to be extremely public. Usually, when you’re stuck in that moment of despair, hearing somebody say, “Don’t worry, time heals all wounds” actually feels like rubbing salt in that wound. But Evans doesn’t come across as patronizing. She’s lived it and genuinely seems stronger and happier for the struggle. The comeback song, penned by Luke Laird, Hillary Lindsey and Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, really found its mark with Evans, and it’s no wonder that it’s now the fifth No. 1 of her career. — Chris Parton

“No Place That Far”
She’s primarily known as a singer, but Evans has consistently demonstrated she’s a damn good songwriter, too. After none of her first four singles ever made it to the Top 40, it must have been particularly fulfilling when one of her original songs finally topped the chart in 1998. Written with Nashville veterans Tony Martin and Tom Shapiro, “No Place That Far” is exquisite in its lyrical simplicity as it underscores the notion that there are people we’ll always remember and somehow reconnect with. The melodic hook in the chorus reels you right in, too, especially with Vince Gill singing the high harmonies. — Calvin Gilbert

The relentlessly-upbeat chorus immediately grabbed me the first time I heard this one. Now whenever I happen to catch this 2003 single, the way she sings that one simple word — “Perfect” — gets wedged in my head. And I dig that fleeting rasp in her delivery. I get the feeling she’s a little tougher than she’s letting on here. Filmed in the desert with a bunch of dudes and a couple of cool-looking cars, she still keeps all eyes on her. Illustrating the low-maintenance theme of the song, she ditches the glamorous look (except for bright red lipstick) and boogies down in jeans and a T-shirt. — Craig Shelburne

“A Real Fine Place to Start”
You know the feeling you get when you’re falling in love for the first time? Absolutely everything seems right. That’s the same feeling I get whenever I hear “A Real Fine Place to Start.” While so many love songs tend to lean on the cheesy side, this tune (written by Radney Foster and George Ducas) encompasses all the sweet sentiments of being smitten without completely overdoing it. And Evans was surely “runnin’ down dreams” of her own as she achieved her fourth No. 1 single. — Stephanie Pendergrass

“Suds in the Bucket”
This is a country love tale with a twist. Here’s the familiar plot: Local girl falls for her local pickup-driving prince. Here’s the bombshell: They want out. Leaving only a note on the screen door and clothes on the line, she follows her adventurous spirit and takes off with him. Growing up in a small town, I couldn’t wait to see what lay beyond the golden waves of Illinois corn. Don’t get me wrong. I treasure my hometown, but after spending a summer in Nashville during my college years, I knew I had to go. Country listeners could relate, too — sending this ditty straight to the top of the charts in 2004, becoming her third No. 1 single. Though a man may not have led me here, I was head over heels for Music City. After all, it was only a matter of time. I was plenty old enough — and you can’t stop love. — Whitney Keyser

“Three Chords and the Truth”
For me, the best song that Sara Evans has ever written or sung (or both) remains “Three Chords and the Truth.” It only made it to No. 44 on the Billboard chart, but it remains for me one of the best songs ever. Period. The song, which Evans co-wrote with Aimee Mayo and Ron Harbin, was her second single from her 1997 debut album of the same name. Obviously, it was inspired by legendary songwriter Harlan Howard’s famous quote. It has been quoted in different forms, but once, when asked to define country music, he replied that country music is three chords and the truth. That works for me. The song’s narrator is running away from her home when a song comes on the radio. The lyrics in part read, “And I don’t know why, I don’t know how/But with his song he turned my life and this old car around/Just when I thought I was over you/He changed my life with three chords and the truth.” — Chet Flippo