Mathew Shafer was just a regular Michigan kid. That is until he decided to go to a party where his brother was DJing against another artist. From that day on, everything would change for him. You see, the kid his older brother happened to be competing against on that faithful day, was none other than Robert James Ritchie, who would later become known as Kid Rock.
Young Shafer struck up a friendship with the then-unknown Kid Rock. The two stayed in touch, and Kid Rock eventually asked Shafer to become a DJ in his band Twisted Brown Trucker.
But what are the Best Uncle Kracker Songs of All Time? Well, you’re about to find out, but before that…
Kracker and Kid
He had his start in the studio as a featured backing vocalist on Kid Rock’s “Early Mornin’ Stoned Pimp.” By this time, he had already begun performing at live shows. Shortly thereafter, he began working on solo material but did not pay it serious attention due to being a turntablist for Kid Rock.
After the success of Kid Rock’s multi-platinum monster album The History of Rock, Shafer decided to get serious about his writing. This culminated in a debut album by a new guy called Uncle Knacker, titled Double Wide.
Making his way…
Double Wide ended up peaking at #7 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and Uncle Kracker became a sensation. Since then, he has had a string of successful albums, which have all produced hit singles.
However, his debut remains the most successful Uncle Kracker album. It was certified double platinum less than a year after its release in November of 2001.
Now that’s all been covered, here are my picks for the best songs by Uncle Kracker ever, starting with…
Top 10 Best Uncle Kracker Songs of All Time
Album: Midnight Special
Uncle Kracker’s 2012 album, Midnight Special, was the first not to be produced by Kid Rock. Many speculated as to whether this was an effort on Kracker’s part to somehow prove himself. I think it was just a good dose of healthy experimentation, which led to a renewal in Uncle’s sound.
One of the highlights of the album is this song. There’s a reference to country singer Don Williams, which should come as no surprise to people who have a good ear for influences. All I can say is, well-done Uncle, you’ve taken from good stock.
The song has a good mid-tempo groove with a beautiful instrument setup. The piano has a particularly nice sound during the verses, and there’s a clean Fender on there as well. Together they make this track about living the good life sound amazing.
Album: Midnight Special
As far as closing numbers go, it is going to be hard for Uncle Kracker to top this one from his fifth studio album. And not just in terms of the song. But, also in terms of the star power, he brought to the table for “It Is What It Is.”
Lyrically, the song revolves around the age-old theme that we are all our own persons. Just as you know that someone else cannot understand your experiences and thoughts, you must understand and accept that you are equally incapable of such understanding.
This is why we take the time to get to know one another. And also acknowledge each other’s struggles and victories.
After writing “It Is What It Is”…
Uncle Kracker spent some time pondering the idea of turning it into a duet. This, no doubt, very quickly inspired him to invite the country singer, Sonia Leigh, to sing the song with him. Not long before, he had a successful tour with Sonia.
So, when “It Is What It Is” came along, the idea probably seemed like a no-brainer. This easily ranks as one of Uncle Kracker’s most beautiful songs. Furthermore, it’s one of the best Uncle Kracker songs of all time.
Album: Midnight Special
2012’s Midnight Special was the first Uncle Kracker country album. He drew strong influence from the genre, and this shined through in all his records. However, this was his first dive into the deep end, so to speak.
The album has been described by one critic as a great set of songs to listen to on a lazy afternoon day-drinking with your buddies. There are one or two breaks in the motif, though. And one of those is “When I Close My Eyes.”
The lighthearted and almost carefree tone, usually present in Uncle’s voice, is replaced by a much more serious and uncertain-sounding guy. Someone coming to terms with the bitter reality of being unable to forget a love lost.
The performance on the record is no doubt what helped this song crawl into people’s hearts. But, go and watch some live vids on YouTube, or better yet, go and see him play this live and you’ll see how he’s sharpened it to a razor’s edge of tearjerking beauty.
Lyrically he nailed this one as well. All in all, it’s one of the best Uncle Kracker love songs he has ever released.
Album: Midnight Special
“Nobody’s Sad On A Saturday Night” had many good omens in its creation and promotion. So many that it was almost impossible for this song not to be one of Uncle Kracker’s biggest hits.
It was co-written by Uncle Kracker, JT Harding, and Shane McAnally, who was noted for having tremendous success with Kenny Chesney’s “Somewhere With You” and Jake Owen’s “Alone With You.” This powerhouse was bound to produce something amazing.
The song speaks to living in the moment and finding a silver lining. Because, when you stop and think about it, there are just as many reasons to be happy as there are to be sad. Choose to be happy and spontaneous, and you’ll find such things drifting your way as if you’re a magnet.
If the song still doesn’t convince you…
Go and watch the music video. Do you see those people dressed like cowboys? They can’t possibly be anything other than hired professionals, right? Wrong! Those scenes happened entirely out of spontaneous behavior by total strangers. Uncle Kracker told the tale in an interview with CMT:
“The coolest part was when we were filming, there were these two couples that came up, they were dressed in creased starched Wranglers and cowboy hats, and they just started dancing out of the blue. It was awesome.”
If you grew up in a small or medium-sized town anywhere in the United States, this song is likely to feel like it’s been written just for you. That’s what makes this song so magical and what makes Uncle Kracker such a great writer.
Uncle Kracker was born in Mississippi but was raised in Harrison Township in Michigan. He’s always retained a fondness for the place he comes from and is very proud to admit his attachment to his roots.
Here’s where the magical part of “My Hometown” comes in. As a touring musician traveling across the United States, Uncle Kracker visited hundreds of small towns that have people who feel just like he does about the little slice that they call home.
A song was born…
He mentions the different accents, different industries, and different weather, but regardless, everyone is just trying to live their lives, pay their bills, give their kids a better life, and have some good times.
Being able to notice and grab hold of such a universal theme and turn it into a great song is a skill that Knacker has honed and refined. Ask any artist; the best songs are the ones that make every person in the crowd go, “This is my song, I’m sure it’s about me!”
“My Hometown” is sure to accomplish that at every live performance at a venue that isn’t in a major city. Consequently, it is one of the most popular Uncle Kracker songs for a great many people.
Album: Happy Hour
Written by Matthew Shafer, Brett James, J. T. Harding, and Robert J. Ritchie, “Good To Be Me” is the kind of song its name suggests. This is a feel-good smasher through and through.
The song rides on a very laid-back country-rock beat. This is perfect for the chilled vocals that Uncle Kracker delivers on the recording. This song speaks to not having a care in the world and somehow getting a bit of a natural buzz or high going from it. Most people call this contentment or happiness. But, Uncle Kracker is more colorful in his speech as you will note from the lyrics.
It is good to be…
This song is for an early evening with clear skies and friends whom you just love being around. That is illustrated in the fact that the single version of this song features one of Kracker’s long-time friends and fellow musician, Kid Rock.
If you’re still a bit stumped on this one, just go and watch the awesome music video, which also features Kid Rock. You’ll see Uncle Kracker showing what you’re meant to do – cruisin’ and chillin’. Uncle Kracker once described “Good To Be Me” as, “…in a nutshell, it’s my DNA.”
Released as the second single from the Happy Hour it peaked at #13 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart and #28 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
Album: Happy Hour
To many folks, “Smile” is the song that got them to seriously pay attention to Uncle Kracker. Sure, he had tremendous success before, but nothing like this. This is a feel-good track but on a much deeper and more emotional, almost vulnerable level. It’s a song that you need to take your time with. Otherwise, you’re going to miss the true essence of its heartfelt content.
Uncle Kracker co-wrote the song with Matthew Shafer, Blair Daly, J. T. Harding, and Jeremy Bose. It also features the pop-rock singer Rae Rae on backing vocals. Furthermore, this song was featured in the 2011 comedy film “Bucky Larson Born To Be A Star.”
“Smile” is one of Uncle Kracker’s greatest hits. Furthermore, it was his first track as a solo artist to make it onto the US Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #31. It also reached #2 on the Billboard Adult Top 40 chart and #3 on Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.
In Canada, “Smile” was a top 50 hit, while in Australia, it made it to #3. According to Uncle Kracker, “Smile” is the most positive song he’s ever written. That it might be, But, without question, it’s one of the best Uncle Kracker songs of all time.
Album: No Stranger To Shame
We’ve all heard the age-old saying, “Money doesn’t buy happiness.” That is repeated here in a new and fresh form by an artist who is in the middle of the greatest success of his life.
“In A Little While” was co-written by Uncle Kracker and Mike Bradford. And, like many of Uncle Kracker’s songs, it revolves around an individual who is living the good life and yet cannot seem to find contentment.
This, he slowly realizes, is because, despite all the wealth and success, he has allowed it to change his behavior to the extent where nothing seems genuine to him anymore. He feels like a phony, despite having very real success. This highlights the true value of honest human connections.
An honest look…
Despite the seemingly dark tone of the content, “In A Little While” doesn’t have a cynical outlook on the so-called “Hollywood lifestyle.” Instead, it merely seeks to deliver some honest social commentary from an enlightened individual.
This song was one of two singles spawned from the album, No Stranger To Shame. The song reached #59 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and #26 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
Album: No Stranger To Shame
This was originally recorded by actor and swamp singer John Henry Kurtz in 1972. It was then passed on to soul singer Dobie Gray, who probably had no idea that it would become what is probably his biggest hit to date.
It would seem the song was always determined to do great things. And, becoming a top-five hit in 1973 wasn’t nearly close enough to satisfy its appetite.
When Uncle Kracker and the producers of his second record got their hands on “Drift Away,” they turned it into a Hit Machine. The new version still featured Gray on vocals for some backing parts as well as a verse.
“Drift Away” reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was in the year-end top twenty, just like the original version 30 years earlier. The song also managed to reach #25 in New Zealand. Its most remarkable achievement is probably reaching #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart and staying there for a record 28 weeks.
This became a record, and the record stood for fifteen years before being broken by Maroon 5. So, it is fair to say it’s one of the most successful Uncle Kracker songs ever.
Album: Double Wide
When it comes to writing good songs, many will tell you that for lyrics, there’s a very simple recipe that works – the vaguer, the better. A song with multiple interpretations will have a wider audience. And, if you can add a catchy hook to those lyrics, you’ll have a good shot at a hit.
“Follow Me” has been the subject of both praise and controversy. Strangely, in a way, that’s the best kind of exposure a tune can get. And that is likely a large part of its massive success. That being said, if it wasn’t a good song, it would not have done anything in the first place.
The song was written with Michael Bradford, a musician who Kracker knew from playing in Kid Rock’s band. Kid Rock also co-produced “Follow Me.”
So, what is it about?
Fans have debated heavily over this one, and that’s it’s again; the vaguer, the better. Some say it’s about infidelity. Others are certain that it refers to drug and alcohol abuse, among other things.
When asked about this duality amongst fans and whether the song was about one or the other, Uncle Kracker said, “Kinda both.”
He further went on to state…
“That the song is like a dirty picture that was painted with a pretty brush.” When you listen to the beautiful arrangement and contrast it with the lyrics, this analogy makes perfect sense.
“Follow Me” is arguably Uncle Kracker’s biggest hit. It managed to top the chart in multiple countries, including Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, and Sweden. In the US, it climbed to #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.
It also entered the top ten in Norway, Switzerland, and the UK. As well as entering the top 40 in numerous other territories. “Follow Me” has earned platinum certification in Australia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Searching for Spectacular Songs?
We can help. Take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Fleetwood Mac Songs, the Best Breaking Benjamin Songs of All Time, the Best Chicago Songs of All Time, the Best Maroon 5 Songs of All Time, and the Best 90s Love Songs for more great song ideas.
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Best Uncle Kracker Songs of All Time – Conclusion
So, there you have them, the best songs ever by Uncle Kracker, in my humble opinion. Are there any that you think I’ve missed? If so, leave them in the comments below.
Until next time, happy listening!