Jo Dee Messina
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The Best Jo Dee Messina Songs

October 10, 2023 12:40 pm GMT
Last Edited January 8, 2024 9:12 am GMT

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When you think of ‘90s country, Jo Dee Messina will surely make your list.

A radio staple, the powerhouse soundtracked small-town living with her songs about ambition, womanhood and heartache. While her star burned bright and fast -- she was phased out of rotation like so many other women of the era -- her legacy lives on through her eight studio records and a collection of chart-burning singles.

Follow us as we guide you through Messina’s 15 most essential songs, from her biggest hits to finest deep cuts.

15

Bring On The Rain (Featuring Tim McGraw)

Messina can sing a ballad with the best of them.

Tears staining her cheeks, she accepts the sadness flooding her life; “A single battle lost, but not the war,” she sings, before reminding herself that “tomorrow is another day.”

She resigns to the present, even if that means more rain. “I’m thirsty anyway,” she admits. Through such pain, she emerges far stronger than she ever was once before.

14
Curb Records | 1998

Bye-Bye

She put her heart and soul on the line, only to have both ripped to shreds.

On 'Bye-Bye', Jo Dee's done waiting around for a man who’s only “skating around the truth” about their on-again, off-again relationship. So, she hightails it out of town, literally and figuratively.

“I’ll catch ya later!” she waves. Goodbye has never tasted so sweet.

13
Curb Records | 1998

Stand Beside Me

“He left me crying one Sunday night outside of Boulder”, Messina opens the heart-rending 'Stand Beside Me' with a wallop of a lyric.

The story, as it goes, finds Messina not allowing heartache to define her life; she knows what she wants, and she’s out to get it.

True to her heart, she’s learned a thing or two about love and won’t accept anything less than what she deserves. That’s power.

12
Dreambound | 2014

Not Dead Yet

With her last studio record, 2014’s Me, Messina made a hellraising declaration with album opener ‘Not Dead Yet.’

Over a pounding backbeat, the singer makes it known that she has more fire in her belly, and she won’t let anything stop her from doing what needs doing. The hook rings out like an alarm; “I’m a little out of breath, but baby, I’m not dead yet”.

“I feel I’ve just begun”, she sings. She might be weary (“I’ve been through hell!” she caterwauls), yet she doesn’t let it slow her down.

11
Curb | 1996

Someone Else's Life

On Delicious Surprise, Messina shares two stories about young women who finally reclaim their lives.

With the drudge of a 9 to 5 weighing them down, they finally decide it’s time for a little shakeup and wave their crushing careers goodbye; “She's gonna start living / It's time to start living”, she sings.

Lauralee and Maryanne eye Buenos Aires as a potential escape, even confessing they’re gonna cash out their IRA. That’s a bold move, yet the song’s message about actually living remains.

10
Curb Records | 1998

I'm Alright

The title track to her 1998 album, ‘I’m Alright’ looks back on the past with a renewed wisdom only time allows.

Set as a meet-up between friends, Messina shoots the breeze about what it means to grow up, move on and come into your own. “Got a good ole friend here with me tonight, and I guess I’m doing alright”, she nods.

A bittersweetness hangs thick like grapes on the vine, with Messina simply going along for the ride.

9
Curb Records | 1998

Because You Love Me

Messina's voice smolders on ‘Because You Love Me’.

What begins as a twinking piano ballad erupts into a fireworks display, crescendoing just as the emotions pop; “You showed me the way, and I know now how good it can be”, she swoons.

Sticky-sweet and sentimental, the sweeping ode to love is among Messina’s finest and most moving performances. It’s enough to stop you in your tracks.

8
Curb | 1996

You're Not In Kansas Anymore

Opening her 1996 self-titled album, ‘You’re Not in Kansas Anymore’ tells the tale of a young man who leaves behind “a Mayberry kind of town” for the bright lights of Los Angeles.

“He never liked overalls or hauling hay till sundown", sings Messina, acting as narrator. Before long, she's changing her tune to offer advice about what it means to live in such a bustling city.

Among her most infectious moments, Messina colors her performance with character, the song lingering with you long after it’s ended.

7

Burn

‘Burn,’ the title cut to her 2000 album, encourages the listener to burn bright in their lives. “Laugh for me, cry for me / Pray for me, fly for me / Live for me, die for us”, she sings on the bridge.

Whatever it is you want to do -- be a poet, an actor, a soldier, a doctor -- do so with everything you’ve got in your heart. “Bring to life your fantasies,” she advises. In doing so, life will be even sweeter than you realized.

6

That's the Way

Jangly and groovy, ‘That’s the Way’ sees Messina accepting what is, rather than toiling over failed dreams and other sucker punches.

Such is the way of life, an unexpected highway of twists, turns, and abrupt left turns; "You gotta bend when the wind blows,” she sings.

You can never anticipate what’s coming your way, but you can control how you react to it. “You live, you learn / You crash and burn / It’s hit or miss”, she adds. “And that’s the way it is”.

5
Dreambound | 2014

A Woman's Rant

Elsewhere on Me, Messina lets all her frustrations rip from her lungs.

She’s had it up to here, so she doesn’t mince her words; “I’m taking care of everyone / My head’s in a spin,” she snarls. “I’ve tried but I just don’t remember signing up for this.”

A style reminiscent of ‘Sin Wagon’ by The Chicks, the song allows Messina to boldly and unapologetically let the emotions (anger, annoyance, everything else) flow from her fingertips.

It’s a real coming-to-Jesus moment. “I’m gonna have a talk with Eve,” she sings. “What was she thinking?” That’s a question for the ages.

4
Curb Records | 1998

Even God Must Get the Blues

Over a mournful piano, Messina observes the tragedies blasted on the evening news and printed in the local newspaper.

“When the rain falls down from heaven, it must be the angels cryin' for all the sorrow in the world tonight,” she laments.

The teary ballad brims with sorrow, permeating from Messina’s tender vocal performance. Even the guitars seem to cry.

3
Curb | 1996

He'd Never Seen Julie Cry

A delicate performance, ‘He’d Never Seen Julie Cry’ is a story-song about a rough ‘n tumble man who falls deeply and madly in love.

“He never thought that love would hit him like a train comin' out of the dark”, sings Messina.

In her usual musical style, the song fits snuggly on Messina’s self-titled album as a surefire standout that also showcases her storytelling capabilities. Whether she’s reaching for the rafters or pulling in the reins, it’s a knockout.

2
Curb Records | 1998

Lesson in Leavin'

The redhead is a spitfire through and through. That’s not more evident than on this I’m Alright smash hit.

“You’re a fool-hearted man,” she sings. Her heart shattered, Messina hopes to be around when karma comes knockin’, so she can watch it “knock you down".

No longer will she bite her tongue; instead, she manifests the most epic revenge.

1
Curb | 1996

Heads Carolina, Tails California

Messina’s itching to get out of dodge, even if that means she’s gotta hop on a Greyhound bus. “Where? It don’t matter,” she sings.

Leaving it up to chance, she flips a coin to decide her fate. She searches for a way out of a one-horse town, and as long as her lover is by her side, she’s quite alright.

The open road calls her name, and she’s more than willing to follow wherever it leads.

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