Deana Carter’s debut LP was an edgy U.K.-only release for which she’d co-written every song, but when she reworked it for the U.S. country market, her goal was to find radio-friendly songs that meant something to her personally. What happened next was an unlikely debut single and smash hit – the nostalgic, bittersweet “Strawberry Wine,” written by Matraca Berg and Gary Harrison. A five-minute waltz-tempo tune about a teenager’s first sexual encounter – and first heartbreak – “Strawberry Wine” nevertheless turned Carter’s Did I Shave My Legs for This? into one of the biggest albums of the late Nineties, selling more than five million copies.
In the latest offering from the Forever Country cover series celebrating 50 years of the CMA Awards, Canadian-born singer-guitarist Lindsay Ell presents a solo, acoustic performance of the tune that spent two weeks at Number One in 1997. It would be named both Single and Song of the Year by the CMA.
“‘Strawberry Wine’ is [Matraca’s] story, it’s my story, it’s all the fans’ story,” Carter told Rolling Stone Country earlier this year. “We recorded it and they put the steel guitar on the front to countrify it a little bit. They wanted to take the bridge out and that was a huge fight because they thought it was too Beatles and too risky, but I wouldn’t budge. I was like, ‘If I’m going to have to sing outside songs then I’m going to find songs that mean something to me.'”
“Strawberry Wine” was also covered in 2006 by short-lived duo the Wreckers, for a compilation of CMA-winning songs released through Cracker Barrel stores.