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Top 10 Country Music Songs for Summer 2009

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While summer doesn't officially start until the 21st of June, as soon as Memorial Day arrives, people start packing up their picnic baskets and blankets, and after grabbing their oversized inner tubes, they and head down to the river for a day of tubing, great food, and of course, all their favorite country music as the soundtrack of their summer season. Here are ten current country music hits that will be blasting from speakers throughout the summer of 2009.

10. "Bonfire" - Craig Morgan

Craig Morgan - 'That's Why'
BNA Nashville
Mix a little of Jason Aldean's "Country Girl," Craig Morgan's own "Red Neck Yacht Club" and Rascal Flatts' "Bob That Head" and you get Craig Morgan's "Bonfire." This is definitely a country rocker, with plenty of screaming guitars, but the added banjo keeps it from going too rock. This is a perfect song for a party on the beach.

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** Note: Our review of That's Why is of the original release. The label re-released the album, pulling off two songs, and inserting "Bonfire" and one other track.

9. "Barefoot & Crazy" - Jack Ingram

Summer just oozes out of this song, as the guitar riff plays, and Jack Ingram adds his vocals, telling us the story of a couple heading out of town to spend the weekend together, swimming, singing, loving, and when the weekend's over, they wish they could do it all again. Doesn't that just paint a perfect picture of summer? "Barefoot & Crazy" is from Jack Ingram's upcoming release, due out later in 2009.

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8. "Out Last Night" - Kenny Chesney

Kenny Chesney - 'Greatest Hits 2'
BNA Nashville
When friends get together to go out drinking, sometimes crazy things happen. That's the theme of this guitar-driven track from Kenny Chesney's Greatest Hits 2 CD. Whether Kenny is trying to pick up a girl by saying that he's Brad Pitt's brother, or talking about some girls singing "I Got You" by Sonny and Cher, you know that a good time is being had by all. The sound on this song hearkens back to some of Kenny's earlier hits, like "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" or "She's Got It All," rather than his more recent island-themed work.

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7. "Boots On" - Randy Houser

Randy Houser - "Anything Goes"
Universal South
The intro to "Boots On" is very rock 'n roll, with slide guitar, but once Randy starts singing, you can hear the country rock style, similar to Jason Aldean. This song is pure party, and sure to get people up on their feet at any summer party.

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6. "15 Minutes" - Rodney Atkins

Rodney Atkins - 'It's America'
Curb Records
"15 Minutes" is a steel-soaked, honky tonkin', morsel of goodness that is sure to get people two-steppin' their way across the dance floor. Rodney Atkins sings about giving up smoking, drinking and women, and it was the "worst 15 minutes of his life." This is a trip back to the country music of yesteryear, and traditional country fans are sure to be smiling at the result. Add the crowd participation towards the end of the song which makes for a true party favorite.

5. "Alright" - Darius Rucker

Darius Rucker - Learn to Live
Capitol Nashville
If you like your country with a touch of R&B, this is the song for you. The prominent steel guitar and driving percussion frame Darius Rucker's punchy vocals, as he sings, "Don't need no concert in the city. I've got a stereo and the best of Patsy Cline." If this song doesn't get your toes-a-tappin', you better check your pulse. It's one that is sure to be on replay on many a country fan's CD player this summer.

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4. "Indian Summer" - Brooks & Dunn

Brooks & Dunn infuse this mid-tempo song with a great groove which includes a combination of instruments, including an organ, acoustic guitar, a strong drumline and some killer vocals from Ronnie Dunn. The relationship begins as the girl in the song admires the athletic boy, who scores the last touchdown, winning the game for their team. They come together as a couple, but as the autumn leaves fall, the romance ends.

I haven't found anywhere to download the track, but there is a full streaming version of "Indian Summer" on YouTube.

3. "Small Town U.S.A." - Justin Moore

Justin Moore - "Small Town USA"
The Valory Music
This is a nice little mid-tempo tune that talks about life in a small blue collar town. This is something many country fans can relate to. The song is very guitar-driven, and Justin sounds like he's performing an acoustic show, as he tells of the pleasures of a Saturday night and a six pack of lite and a little Hank Jr., making everything just right.

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2. "Summer Nights" - Rascal Flatts

Rascal Flatts 'Unstoppable'
Lyric Street Records
"Summer Nights" has a live feel to it, with crowd sounds in the background. The guitar riff sounds similar to the chords played in one of Rascal Flatts' older songs, "This Everyday Love." This is a great tune if you like country pop-style music. A crowd favorite at live shows, this song is sure to be played a lot at country fan's gatherings all summer long.

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1. "Living for the Night" - George Strait

George Strait - "Living for the Night"
MCA Nashville
While you generally think of up-tempo songs as the ones that are most popular during the summer, you gotta slow things down sometimes. This song is one that George Strait actually co-wrote with his son, Bubba, and Dean Dillon, who has written scads of hits for Strait over the years. The gently strumming acoustic guitar gives way to a sorrowful lap steel, then later in the song, a beautiful tinkling mandolin. The song tells the story of a man who is having a hard time with a breakup, and he chooses to live for the night, rather than face the day.

I haven't found a place that lets you download this track yet, but Universal Music Nashville offers "Living for the Night" as a streaming track.
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