I have interviewed Reba McEntire more than 20 times in my career and even talked to her on Thursday (3/24) about what she has coming up. In every interview, she is sweet, to the point, and wants to keep things focused on what’s next instead of what she has accomplished. But she’s accomplished a lot: she’s a country music icon and actress, and one of the few celebrities who needs just one name to be recognized: Reba.
During the interview on Thursday, I told her about this list and asked what her top five Reba songs were, her response as she used her fingers to count, “’ Fancy,’ ‘Is There Life Out There,’ ‘I’m A Survivor,’ ‘Can’t Even Get The Blues,’ ‘Take It Back,’ and ‘Why Haven’t I Heard From You,’ that’s six and ‘Georgia,’ (‘The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia’) ‘Georgia’ has to be in there too, that’s seven.”
And yes, “Fancy” would be her number one song. She offered, “I just love story songs.”
To celebrate her 67th birthday this week (3/28), we dove deep into Reba’s catalog to rate what we think are her 40 best songs.
Reba said of the song when it came out: "Originally Kenny Rogers and I were looking at doing this song as a duet, but we could never get it to sound just right because of the different ranges of our voices. Unfortunately, it just didn't work out. Later when I was working on a new CD, I remembered that song and called Kenny to see if he was recording it and if not, could I have it and he passed it along to me. We asked Vince Gill to sing the background harmonies on the song."
This song was released in January 1983 as the third single from the album Unlimited. The song was McEntire's second number one on the country chart.
A solid duet that both Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn featured as the title track to each artist's respective 1998 albums (If You See Him for Reba, and If You See Her for Brooks & Dunn). They were both released on June 2, 1998.
This tender song was released in June 1982 as the first single from the album Unlimited. The song reached #3 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart for the week of September 4, 1982.
This is the title track from Reba’s1984 album. This song was part of why she won her very first CMA Female Vocalist Award, which she also won from the CMA in 1985, 1986, and 1987.
This song was also the title track for a made-for-television movie “Forever Love,” which aired the same year, starring Reba and Tim Matheson.
So simple, yet so good. The song is a touching and emotional slow ballad, which describes how a woman tries to recover from a love affair, asking throughout the song, "what am I gonna do about you."
This song tells the story of a woman being the “last one to know” that her man is leaving. It was Reba’s ninth number one song.
This song’s video was filmed entirely in black-and-white, the video features Reba as the wife of a ranch owner, distraught as her marriage is collapsing while her husband spends most of his time taming a wild horse. After an argument with Reba, the husband packs his bags and leaves her, leaving her to tend to the ranch herself.
I personally saw Reba perform this song days after her band was killed in a plane crash in March of 1991. Dressed in street clothes, Reba sang this acapella. Her rendition of this Patsy Cline cover brought the stoic crowd to tears. I remember it like it was yesterday. Her cover of this song was also one of her first singles in Nashville. She released it in 1979.
This number one song (her eighth) tells the story of a woman who meets a man and falls in love, but she is already married and refuses to break her promise to her husband. She expresses regret that the man hadn't entered her life at a time when she could act on her love for him.
This song never topped the country chart, it stalled at number 2 on Billboard, but it remains to this day a sort of anthem for Reba. The beat and the song’s message are infectious. The song’s opening line is “Ain’t life wonderful when everything is right.”
An early release from Reba. She promoted the song by singing it on television shows in 1980 including “Hee Haw” and “Pop Goes The Country.” She also sang it at the 1980 Academy of Country Music Awards.
This tune is super catchy and it’s no wonder it was a chart-topper for the 1986 CMA Female Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year. The song is about a woman who marries a wealthy man and is at first enamored at the prospect of living a wealthy lifestyle and "having all the finer things." But she soon grows tired of not being truly loved by her husband.
The title track from the album with the same name with an album cover that Reba herself told me was inspired by Barbra Streisand's look. The music video premiered in early 1991. It depicts Reba performing the song in a smoky, deserted warehouse.
The title track of the somber album Reba recorded after the death of her entire band in a plane crash in 1991. The album is, as McEntire states in the album's notes, "a form of healing for all our broken hearts" and the songs were chosen to that effect.
The first big hit for Reba brings back memories for me personally of first seeing Reba in concert in 1983 at a state fair performance. It was Reba’s first number one song.
Such an uplifting song. It was previously recorded by Lee Greenwood for his 1986 album of the same name and by Marie Osmond on her 1985 album, There's No Stopping Your Heart. It was Reba's version that went to number one on the Billboard country charts.
Reba covered this classic that was first published in 1946. Her version went top five on the Billboard country charts, it was featured on her album Reba. It was on that same album that Reba covered Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.”
Proof that Reba has longevity as this song topped the Billboard Country charts in 2009. It was her 24th trip to the top of the charts. The song is also her longest-lasting number one at four weeks.
The guitar riff on this song is epic. The music video for "The Fear of Being Alone" was released in late 1996. It was filmed at Starstruck Studios and features Reba singing at a recording studio.
A classic Reba ballad. The song describes a woman who finds herself in a loveless relationship with her husband. She realizes a divorce is needed, but they are faced with a dilemma, as she states in the song, "he needs the kids and they need me."
The theme song to Reba’s CW TV show “Reba” that ran for six seasons. The song’s lyrics tell the story of a premature baby, who later becomes a single parent.
A number one song from the album with the same name. The album's phenomenal success proved to be a turning point in McEntire's career. It was her first platinum record and solidified her new superstardom when she was named the “Entertainer of the Year” by the CMA in autumn 1986.
McEntire debuted the song on the Academy of Country Music awards the week before its release to country radio. It is the first single from her twenty-fifth studio album, Keep On Loving You.
Reba chose to record this emotional song because it reminded her of her father. She had intended to record an acoustic version for her father's funeral, knowing that he was coming to the end of his life. Her father, Clark McEntire, died in October of 2014.
This song had originally been pitched to Barbara Mandrell, but McEntire ended up recording it. She had wanted to include Linda Davis, then a vocalist in her road band, as a duet partner. Reba's then-husband and manager, Narvel Blackstock, told her that MCA Records "would rather [she] record this with somebody more established," such as Wynonna Judd or Trisha Yearwood. Reba then submitted a demo to Judd and, after not hearing back from her, recorded the song with Davis. In 2021, Reba re-recorded the song with Dolly Parton.
Filmed over 2 days in a warehouse in Nashville, the video (filmed during a lightning storm; a tornado warning pushed shooting an extra day), begins with Reba wearing a black hooded cloak humming the song to herself while entering the warehouse as a train passes by. She is then seen in a dimly lit hallway with swinging lights hanging above her. After taking her things off, she takes out a box-cutter and opens boxes containing radios, which she puts on a rack filled with other radios.
A love song that gets right to the point. "I Don't Think Love Ought to Be That Way" was released in February 1981 as the third single from the album Feel the Fire. The song became a top 20 hit.
"Only in My Mind" was recorded at the MCA studio in Nashville, Tennessee. The song was the only track on Reba’s Have I Got a Deal for You album that was written by McEntire.
The music video premiered on CMT on March 23, 1994. It starts with Reba and her co-star boyfriend in a restaurant with a mariachi band playing in the background. The boyfriend asks her to “go away together,” and, after a ponderous think about it, she says “YES!!!” The boyfriend then says, “I’ll call you at the Hollywood Parlor, at 7.” The word “7” echos and the song begins. Sadly, he never calls her. Can you imagine ghosting Reba like that?
A solid looking-for-love kind of song. The lyrics of the chorus read, “Will the heart is a lonely hunter / With only one desire / To find some lasting comfort in the arms of a lovers fire / Driven by a desperate hunger / To the dark of the neon light / The heart is a lonely hunter /When there's no sign of a love in sight.”
A duet version of Kelly Clarkson’s “Because Of You” on the Reba: Duets album. The two, who would later be in-laws (although they are not in-laws anymore), would often sing it together on stage.
Another amazing song from the Reba: Duets album. "The Only Promise That Remains" is a duet recorded by Reba and Justin Timberlake. It was written and produced by Timberlake. McEntire and Timberlake met at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony in February 2007, where she asked him to be a part of the album.
A story song at its very best. A cover of an Everly Brothers song, Reba’s version hit number one on the country charts. McEntire’s video of the song featured 1980’s TV actor Bruce Boxleitner.
It’s a song with a title we can all relate to, and it’s a good question: why *do* we want what we know we can’t have? Reaching the top ten, the lyrics include: “Why we always looking / At what's just out of our grasp / Why do we want / What we know we can't have.”
This is a remake of the Vicki Lawrence song.... yeah *that* Vicki Lawrence that stars in the 1980s TV show “Mama’s Family.” Reba’s version is amazing and is featured on her For My Broken Heart album.
This song version ranks so high on our list of Reba songs because it is the first and to date, only time Reba and Dolly Parton teamed up musically. Their version of the song is spot on, and it is a pleasure hearing their two voices blend together so perfectly. It also adds to the emotion that the song’s subject matter and lyrics provide.
One of Reba’s early number one songs, “How Blue” was one of several new tracks released on McEntire's second MCA album, My Kind of Country, which mainly included traditional country songs. The song describes a woman who asks herself "how blue" or lonely she can feel until she has gotten over her lover, whom she had recently broken up with.
This is a no-brainer for being number one on the list. The song is epic, the video is epic, and Reba sings it to close out every one of her shows. "Fancy" is a song written and recorded by Bobbie Gentry in 1969. Reba said that over the years she has tried and tried to get together with Bobby Gentry, talk about the song and life, and as of 2022 has yet to do so.