The country superstar, 45, whose 'Two Lanes of Freedom' is out Feb. 5, tells EW how Santana, Sir Mix-A-Lot, and Hank Williams have shaped him.

By Grady Smith
Updated February 01, 2013 at 05:00 AM EST

The first album I bought with my own money
I think it was Elvis’ If I Can Dream — he was on the cover, and it had his name in these little lightbulbs. Back when I was a kid, he was huge. In fact, my wife’s [Faith Hill] first concert was Elvis. She saw him in Jackson, Mississippi, and the next night he was playing in Monroe, Louisiana, where I grew up. My mom had gotten tickets, but I got the mumps and couldn’t go. So my wife always beats me on the first-concert deal. [Laughs] My fallback first, since I didn’t get to go to that one, was Ted Nugent’s Wango Tango tour.

The song that reminds me of my first crush
”You’re in My Heart,” by Rod Stewart. It had to be around sixth grade, I had this crush on this girl in my class through the summer, and every time I heard that song I was heartsick.

The first song I ever sang in public
”This Little Light of Mine.” I sang it with a kid named Joey, I remember. I was probably 4, 5 years old. It was in Jigger, Louisiana, in a white Pentecostal church in the middle of a cotton field. I mean, it was literally the littlest town in Louisiana — when you think about O Brother, Where Art Thou?, it was that kind of place.

The song I wish I had written
Hank Williams’ ”I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” It’s probably my favorite of all time. The melody and the lyrics are so haunting. No matter who sings it — even if someone just speaks the words — you feel exactly what the writer felt and meant in that song.

The album that reminds me of home
Alabama’s Mountain Music. I listened to it relentlessly. My friend Jonathan Sims’ dad had a pickup truck, and we used to all load into the back of this pickup truck and go to Lake D’Arbonne in Louisiana. We had a little jam box that ran on batteries, and we would play that album over and over. After swimming all day in the lake on hot summer days, we’d get in the back of the truck in the evening, and everybody is just about to fall asleep, and the jam box is cranking that Alabama album — we must have done that every day for an entire summer.

My go-to karaoke jam
Oh, gosh, I don’t karaoke too much. I would probably go with ”I like big butts and I cannot lie” [a.k.a. Sir Mix-A-Lot’s ”Baby Got Back”]. I always think I know the words to it until I start, and then I never remember.

The song that reminds me of my wife
”Samba Pa Ti” — it’s a Santana song. Why? I can’t tell you. [Laughs]

My guilty pleasure
Air Supply. Or REO Speedwagon, one or the other. Well, I’ll probably be a little cooler with REO Speedwagon. REO was so big when we were in high school, and it’s just one of those albums that defines that time in my life. I love ”Keep on Loving You.” That was one of the big high school anthems, and I still love listening to it today. You’re stuck in the ’70s and ’80s with all my songs!

The band I’m obsessed with right now
I got hung up on fun.’s new record [Some Nights]. I really liked that whole album, and of course I love the song that everyone’s sick of now, ”We Are Young,” but ”Some Nights” is good too. They’re really talented.

The song I’d like played at my funeral
”Another One Bites the Dust,” by Queen. I mean, I’m from Louisiana! So funerals are like parties.