The Judds’ Best Lyrics
With a string of No. 1 singles, many of which are already country standards, the Judds — mother Naomi and daughter Wynonna — have become one of the most successful duos in country music history. Their familial ties, their gift for shimmering harmony and their knack for finding songs to which listeners can easily relate — in effect making them part of the extended Judd family — are but a few of the reasons these and other Judds tracks have withstood the test of time. In celebration of the April 10 premiere of ‘The Judds’ reality show on the OWN network, The Boot presents our picks for the 10 best lyrics in songs by the dynamite duo.
10. ‘Guardian Angels’
“When I’m really tired and I don’t know what to do / Fanny whispers ‘Just do your best, we’re awful proud of you.’”
Their lovely, ethereal vocals help paint vivid pictures from the past, while offering solace and encouragement for the present. Naomi was a co-writer on this tune and later turned it into a beautiful picture book for children.
9. ‘Dream Chaser’
“Dreams as big as the trees are tall, I knew I’d have nothing or I’d have it all.”
A beautiful tune whose title would also inspire the name of the Judds’ bus, this song not only encapsulated the dreams of a mother and daughter from Kentucky, but was (and is) positive affirmation for anyone pursuing their closely-held dreams and desires.
Listen to ‘Dream Chaser’
8. ‘That’s What Makes You Strong’
“That’s what lets us smile in our final hour / That’s what moves our souls, and that’s what makes us sing.”
One of four new Judds tunes included on a 2000 bonus disc with Wynonna’s ‘New Day Dawning,’ this Jesse Winchester-penned beauty, recently covered by bluegrass singer Claire Lynch, is an irony-filled meditation on life and love’s most maddening — and comforting — catch-22 situations.
Listen to ‘That’s What Makes You Strong’
7. ‘Have Mercy’
“I called you up on the telephone / I could hear you was playing Haggard and Jones / I knew right then that there was something wrong / There’s only one reason you play cheatin’ songs.”
Wynonna and Naomi obviously had fun recording and performing this country smash, and three decades later it still sounds fresh and exciting. There’s also a killer piano solo, and some of Wy’s most inspired hoots and hollers.
6. ‘Why Not Me’
“You’ve been searchin’ from here to Singapore / Ain’t it time that you noticed the girl next door / Baby, why not me.”
Buoyed by one of Wynonna’s most confident yet vulnerable vocal performances, the title track of the duo’s first full-length album helped earn them the CMA’s Horizon Award in 1984.
5. ‘Maybe Your Baby’s Got the Blues’
“Women like men to make the first move / And touch her like he used to.”
This heartfelt advice to men everywhere also spotlights one of the most enchanting melodies to which the duo ever harmonized. Women may claim men never listen, but it’s easy to take this advice to heart when it’s wrapped in such a beautiful package.
4. ‘Grandpa (Tell Me ’bout the Good Ol’ Days)’
“Did lovers really fall in love to stay, stand beside each other come what may / Is a promise really something people kept, not just something they would say?”
Bittersweet and nostalgic, this delicately delivered tune was released at a time when everything the Judds did turned to gold (or platinum). While they no doubt were enjoying the ride, they were also likely taking these lyrics to heart.
3. ‘Young Love (Strong Love)’
“From that day on you couldn’t keep them apart / They were side by side and heart to heart.”
One of the most romantic and gorgeous songs the Judds ever recorded, the story ends happily but it’s still hard not to shed a little tear each time you hear it. While the harmonies are there, this one hinted at the powerhouse Wynonna would become when she stepped out on her own.
2. ‘Mama He’s Crazy’
“Mama, you’ve always said, ‘better look before you leap’ / Maybe so, but here I go lettin’ my heart lead me.”
The first of the duo’s 14 No. 1 hits, fans were instantly captivated by the mother-daughter duo, thanks in part to the intimate, conversational tone of what would become one of the pair’s signature songs.
Listen to ‘Mama He’s Crazy’
1. ‘Love Can Build a Bridge’
“I would swim out to save you, in your sea of broken dreams / When all your hopes are sinking, let me show you what love means.”
If the Judds have an anthem, this is it. A Top 5 hit for the duo, the transcendent lyrics helped it become a worldwide smash as a version recorded by Cher, Chrissie Hynde, Neneh Cherry and Eric Clapton reached No. 1 in the UK and was also a hit in several other countries. The Judds shot the first-ever 3-D music video for the song, yet it’s the simple, hopeful lyrics that shine brightest.