The Best Terri Clark Songs: Powerful, Witty Country Essentials

The country star crafted her own boot-stomping niche in the crowded ’90s neotraditionalist space.

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Cover: Paul Natkin/WireImage

With songs that never stray into redundancy or sentimentality and a strong, flexible voice that is as effective on anthemic party songs as it is heartfelt ballads, Terri Clark crafted her own boot-stomping niche in the crowded ’90s neotraditionalist space – one that she maintains today, playing steadily in honky-tonks and arenas alike.

Clark is Canadian, and as country as they come: her grandparents were singers too, and opened for George Jones and Johnny Cash among others. She paid her dues singing covers on Lower Broadway for years until songwriter and producer-turned-Mercury Records VP Keith Stegall signed her to a record deal in 1994; numerous hard-swinging country hits followed, as well as three platinum-certified albums that cemented Clark as ’90s country royalty as well as one more crucial example of the era’s women-friendly culture at country radio. Her success above the border has also led to more recognition of the Canuck country scene: She received the Canadian Country Music Association’s President’s Award in 2004, and has won three Juno Awards.

Order Terri Clark’s Greatest Hits now.

With over two decades worth of records and a glut of classics to choose from, here are some of Terri Clark’s best songs.

20. “A Little Gasoline” (2000)

This leaving song, co-written by Roger Miller’s son Dean and the SteelDrivers’ co-founder Tammy Rogers, is straight country from subject to execution. Clark got in the car and hit the road in catchy and decidedly sing-a-long-ready fashion – and fans loved it, taking the song to No. 13 on Billboard’s country chart.

Terri Clark - A Little Gasoline

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19. “No Fear” (2000)

Co-written by Terri Clark with the legendary Mary Chapin Carpenter, this self-actualizing single fit well with the era’s too-briefly ascendant women-centric country culture. Though it didn’t quite hit at radio the way some similarly empowering tracks did, the song is an engaging ode to overcoming from a singer at the height of her vocal and songwriting powers. “I want peace, love and understanding/A stogie and an ice cold beer,” Clark sings in such a way that it’s almost impossible not to feel the same.

18. “If I Were You” (1995)

“You” was the rare solo outing for Terri Clark as a songwriter, and one of just a few lovelorn ballads in her catalog of charting singles. Essentially a sympathetic ode to envy, the song finds Clark skirting ’90s shlock with a heavy dose of pedal steel and convincing pathos. It was the third top-ten hit off her self-titled debut, reaching No. 8 on Billboard’s country chart.

17. “In My Next Life” (2007)

This Terri Clark single apparently didn’t get high enough on the chart to prompt the release of its parent album, which remains in the vault. Which is a shame, because her ability to sell a sassy song about living it up while you can is as strong as ever. Body shots get name-checked in this one, as do cigarettes and bad boys – all things Clark says she’ll avoid next time around (although as much fun as she’s having, it’s hard to believe her).

16. “Now That I Found You” (1998)

Not connected to the Foundations classic with which it mostly shares a name, this swooning love song finds Terri Clark delving uncharacteristically deep into the era’s pop sounds, echoing the balladry of boy bands and pop divas alike. “Found You” was one of the biggest hits of Clark’s career, reaching No. 2 on Billboard’s country chart, and was shortly thereafter covered by two different pop vocal groups. Pedal steel is, again, deployed to keep it firmly country, and Clark offers a compelling, sweet performance as evidence that she had much more to offer than just honky-tonk sass.

Terri Clark - Now That I Found You (Official Video)

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15. “Suddenly Single” (1995)

Terri Clark’s debut includes the rare redemptive cheating song, where the victim actually comes out ahead of the man slipping off his golden ring for a night’s dalliances. “For the rest of his life, she’ll haunt his dreams” – there might not be a better comeuppance for lack of fidelity. It’s got all the soaring balladry and emotion of the most iconic country cheating songs, but with a more satisfying resolution.

14. “A Million Ways To Run” (2009)

One of Terri Clark’s most personal songs, written after she’d taken four years off from touring, gotten married and divorced in quick succession, and gotten sober, “Run” is a rare window into the singer-songwriter’s psyche. Starting in an AA meeting and expanding into a recognition of different kinds of addiction and self-destruction, the song, which Clark wrote alone, is ultimately about finding peace and groundedness in community.

13. “She Didn’t Have Time” (2005)

A little bit of Hallmark-ready melodrama in a classic story song package, “Time” is made classic by its sympathetic single mom narrator and some potent details (“He said goodbye…like she’d been some casual friend”). One of her last country chart entries, the compelling power ballad has a happy ending delivered sweetly and sensitively – an emotional gauntlet you’ll be content to get lost in.

12. “Catch 22” (1995)

Terri Clark has occasionally dabbled in social and political commentary, but perhaps nowhere as effectively as in this album cut off of her debut, which she co-wrote. The opening verse effectively outlines the plight of the working man (and woman), and the way that hard work so often backfires: “You’re damned if you don’t and even if you do,” she sings, reframing the cliche around farmers and factory workers as well as lovers.

11. “Neon Flame” (1996)

It’s hard to resist Terri Clark when she’s gone full honky-tonk, and this danceable album cut teems with dark bar references, swinging pedal steel and jangling piano. She’s at her mightiest vocally here on her sophomore album, slip-sliding and occasionally soaring through the melody to great effect. Perhaps too country to have been pushed to radio, the album cut remains a potent example of Clark’s ability to charm on and off of Music Row.

10. “Honky Tonk Song” (2005)

Originally meant to be the title track off Life Goes On, this rabble-rousing song about itself is exactly what its title would suggest: a twangy party-ready song that name-checks any number of classic country tropes in a fresh, fun way. Terri Clark plays up the humor and whimsy of this self-aware track, bending and stretching its notes with ease on a song ostensibly for sad people that almost certainly won’t fail to make you smile.

9. “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” (1996)

Terri Clark took a stab at the song that Linda Ronstadt turned into a classic almost two decades prior, and the result more than stood on its own, with Clark taking it to No. 5 on Billboard’s country chart (Ronstadt’s version stalled at No. 46). In place of Ronstadt’s rockish affect, Clark offers full-on twang, and skirting a true yodel as she hits every note with ease and attitude.

Terri Clark - Poor, Poor Pitiful Me (Official Video)

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8. “Better With My Boots On” (2014)

This song, one of Terri Clark’s later outings, offers punchy country rock that would fit in perfectly on the radio if they had given it a shot. She co-wrote this one about digging her heels in wearing (what else) cowboy boots with anthemic flair: “Best $100 I ever spent,” she sings, shrouding heartbreak in protective footwear. Almost 20 years into her career, she still sounds ready to rock a stadium without breaking a sweat.

7. “I Just Wanna Be Mad” (2002)

Here, Terri Clark sings a backhanded love song about what it takes to make long-term relationships work, and how you can be furious at someone and love them dearly at the same time. The song was the first single off her fifth album Pain to Kill, and marked a shift: Clark did not co-write it nor did she have credits on most of the album, which was a departure from her consistent co-writes on previous releases. It sounds completely in line, though, with the candid, smart tone of her songwriting, all real talk and earnest emotion at once.

Terri Clark - I Just Wanna Be Mad

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6. “Cure For The Common Heartache” (1998)

This heartbreak waltz is as traditional as it gets, complete with enthralling high harmonies courtesy of Alison Krauss and a murder’s row on the co-writing credits, including veteran writer Leslie Satcher and singer-songwriter Melba Montgomery. It might have easily been released when Montgomery was just starting out in the early ’60s, but still doesn’t sound overly nostalgic – just potent and evocative, like the very best of the genre.

5. “Girls Lie Too” (2004)

More than a little saucy – like, say, the Hooters wings that get namechecked in the lyrics – “Girls Lie Too” has a sharp conceit and a bright, radio-friendly sheen. “Size don’t matter anyway,” she sings with a wink. “We like your friends and we love your mom…” The song pushed country music’s often tightly-sealed envelope all the way to No. 1 on Billboard’s country chart, marking Terri Clark’s second time riding a sassy sing-a-long to the top.

Terri Clark - Girls Lie Too (Closed Captioned)

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4. “I Wanna Do It All” (2003)

An exuberant anthem for embracing possibilities (and rejecting the doldrums of 9-5 work), this song finds Terri Clark working in the rock-tinged, arena-ready lane paved by fellow Canadian country star Shania Twain. Bright and fun, the passport-stamping tune will have anyone (and in particular, women) believing that they can actually have it all. One of her last major hits, the song reached No. 3 on Billboard’s country charts and helped prove that Clark’s impact would not be limited to the ’90s.

3. “When Boy Meets Girl” (1995)

Just Terri Clark’s second single, this song about young love has a hard twang and easy assurance worthy of any Music Row veteran. The singer co-wrote the track with the same collaborators found across much of her self-titled debut: Tom Shapiro (“Ain’t Nothin’ Bout You,” “Never Give Up On a Good Thing”) and Chris Waters. Full of both fiddle and cowbell, the knowing, playful song fits perfectly in line with coming-of-age classics like Trisha Yearwood’s “She’s In Love WIth The Boy” and Sara Evans’ “Suds In The Bucket.”

2. “You’re Easy On The Eyes” (1998)

The first of Terri Clark’s two Billboard Country No. 1 songs, “Eyes” was written by Clark with her by then long-favored collaborators, Tom Shapiro and Chris Waters. The song is an upbeat kiss-off to some n’er-do-well ex, full of classic ’90s country touches and catchy riffs – it’s two-steppable, but has a groove that translates outside of the honky-tonks too.

1. “Better Things To Do” (1995)

Terri Clark’s debut single immediately set her apart, both with its humor and wit and with her low, rich, powerful delivery. She co-wrote the song, setting a high bar for herself as both writer and singer. “Better Things,” the rare happy break-up song, landed at No. 3 on Billboard’s country chart.

Terri Clark - Better Things To Do

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Order Terri Clark’s Greatest Hits now.



  1. David Stith

    April 30, 2024 at 11:39 pm

    One of my favorites is missing (Better Than I Was).

  2. Tyla

    May 1, 2024 at 1:07 am

    1) A little Gasoline
    2) Suddenly Single
    3) No Fear
    4) Better than you
    5) When Boy Meets Girl

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