10 Prime Hits: New Year’s Inspiration

Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw Offer Motivational Favorites

Here we are in 2012. Do you need some inspiration to keep your New Year’s resolutions? Try these 10 country hits. From Jason Aldean to Carrie Underwood, the following songs keep our CMT.com team motivated all year long.

Blake Shelton, “God Gave Me You”
New Year’s resolutions always seem to be about doing something good for yourself — lose weight, take up a hobby, travel to a far-off destination. However, Blake Shelton’s “God Gave Me You” reminds me that I’ve already got plenty. Many of us have been blessed with a steady and reassuring love like the one Shelton describes, and after the holidays it becomes more and more pronounced. Like the narrator in the song, nobody’s perfect, and sometimes we take that love for granted. So this year, my goal is to give back more than I get. After all, it is much better to give than to receive. — Chris Parton

Mary Chapin Carpenter, “I Feel Lucky,”
I don’t pay much attention to horoscopes, and neither did Mary Chapin Carpenter in her fun 1992 hit, “I Feel Lucky.” In the upbeat song, it only takes a minute for her finger to find a daily dose of destiny under her sign — and it tells her to get back under the covers. Instead she heads out for a lottery tickets and wins $11 million, baby! Woo hoo! The moral of the story? “The stars might lie but the numbers never do,” as she sings. That, and trust your instincts. — Craig Shelburne

Travis Tritt, “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive”
It may be a goofy thing, but I’ve just got to say, if I need a little motivation or if I’m having a bad day, no song cheers me up faster than Travis Tritt’s “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive.” Come on, who can’t resist belting out this hit from 2000? You can’t help but love a song that’s about simply having a good day — and one that’s “neither drink nor drug induced,” at that. Maybe it’s the howling and random yells, but to me, it’s hard to not find motivation when I hear someone so happy to be “just doin’ all right.” Truth be told, I’m pretty sure this song was instrumental in the blowing out of a pair of speakers in my old Jeep. — Bryan Rogala

Dolly Parton, “Light of a Clear Blue Morning”
When I’m seeking inspiration or words of advice, much like calling an old friend, I turn to my favorite music. One which never fails me is Dolly Parton and her liberating tune, “Light of a Clear Blue Morning.” Released in 1977, Parton wrote the song by remembering the moment she left her reluctant singing partner, Porter Wagoner. She told Rolling Stone in August of that year, “That [song] just told how I was feeling at the time, feeling like a captured eagle and an eagle is born to fly and now that I have won my freedom, like an eagle I am eager for the sky.” Each time I hear the lyrics that build up to the main chorus (“It’s been a long hard fight/But I see a brand new day a dawning”), it’s like I’m hearing them for the first time, prepared to embrace whatever challenge is headed my way. With such conviction in her voice, I can’t help but be a believer. We’re on this journey together, and we’re going to make it: “Everything’s gonna be all right/It’s gonna be OK.” — Whitney Self

Kenny Chesney, “Live a Little”
Here’s the problem with New Year’s resolutions: They aren’t fun. Go on a diet? Save money? Work out more? Drink less? No wonder we have trouble following through. If you want to actually achieve a goal this New Year, take advice from Kenny Chesney and “Live a Little.” In the third single from Hemingway’s Whiskey, he reminds us that sometimes the simpler things in life are some of the most important — “I need to live a little, have some fun/Take some time, waste it on number one/Find a girl that brings my whole world to a stop/Live a little, love a lot.” So in the middle of February, when you’re miserable from trying to stick to your resolutions, don’t fret. Turn up the Chesney, grab a drink and live a little. Trust me, it’s much more fun that way. — Bryan Rogala

Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dying”
There’s seldom a moment of genuine anticipation backstage at music industry events, but I remember Kix Brooks stopping the activities in the press room when Tim McGraw premiered “Live Like You Were Dying” in 2004 at the ACM Awards in Las Vegas. McGraw’s father, baseball great Tug McGraw, had died a few months earlier, and the rumor was that the song was about him. As it turned out, Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman didn’t write it about him, per se, but great songs usually provide universal truths. And within the scope of mainstream music, this was a profound commentary. Most of us tend to take life for granted, but the lyrics put things into sharp perspective as they tell the story of a man who has received some bad news — probably the worst — from his doctors. That news prompts him to live a better, more fulfilling life. Of course, it’s not essential to go skydiving or ride a bull, but those bold images underscore the importance of making the most of each and every day. At some point, it really will be our last. — Calvin Gilbert

Emerson Drive, “Moments”
I can’t even tell someone what this song is about. Because when I do, I always start to cry. Then it actually takes me longer than this four-minute song to explain everything that happens in the story. (“There’s this homeless guy, and he’s trying to talk to this other guy who lost his family because of his drinking, and now he’s trying to kill himself, and then … ) All you have to do is listen to understand what an impact you can have on someone just by hearing their stories. By the end of this No. 1 song from 2006, the homeless person has convinced the suicidal man not to take his life. We’ve all had our moments. And remembering those during the toughest times and the lowest lows is often the strongest antidote to weakness. — Alison Bonaguro

Jason Aldean, “My Kinda Party”
There is no question that 2011 was a huge year for Jason Aldean. With his souped-up country rock and rap infused music, you can’t help but want to get up and move! From the earlier songs (“Hicktown,” “She’s Country,” “Big Green Tractor” ) to his more recent “Dirt Road Anthem,” you can make a “run jams” playlist a country-mile long with his tunes alone. And with the New Year here, the resolutions of many (including me) involve fitness and exercise. So what better way to get your own party started than with “My Kinda Party”? — Lacey Spears

The Osborne Brothers, “Rocky Top”
No song on Earth gets me fired up like “Rocky Top.” As a diehard University of Tennessee fan, this song is forever-engrained in my DNA. In fact, when I was 12 years old, my father told me, “You’re not a real Vol until you learn all the words.” So that’s exactly what I did. And as a good Vol fan, I’ve tried to spread the love — requesting the Osborne Brothers’ hit at wedding receptions, having it as my ringtone and essentially singing along at the top of my lungs anytime it’s played during a UT sporting event. And although I was born and raised in Alabama, the chorus of this tune defines me and my love of the Big Orange: “Rocky top, you’ll always be/Home sweet home to me/Good ol’ rocky top/Rocky top Tennessee.” — Stephanie Pendergrass

Carrie Underwood, “So Small”
“That mountain you’ve been climbing is just a grain of sand.” Some days, that can feel like such an overwhelming truth. When you just can’t seem to make progress. And there is always more to do. But if you keep listening to this 2007 hit by Carrie Underwood, the first single she helped write, it becomes so inspirational. It’s about how love is what truly matters and that it makes everything else seem so small. So as I look into 2012, and think about the problems I may get lost in (like how in the world I will ever be able to pay for my daughter’s first year of college, let alone her second, third and fourth years), I need to stop worrying about all the wrong things and thinking about what I can’t change. — Alison Bonaguro