The list comes to a close with ten classic records from some of the era’s most commercially and critically successful stars.
It’s easy to be cynical about country radio these days, but unlike most of the songs on the lists we compile now, 1993’s best singles got a lot of airplay. All but one of our top ten entries reached the top five of the singles chart. If we could get a success rate today that was anywhere near that, it might be safe to turn on the radio again!
Enjoy the end to this list, and us writers will enjoy that rare downtime that comes between finishing the publication of one of these lists and starting another one!
“Nothin’ But the Wheel”
Written by John Scott Sherrill
#3 – BF | #7 – KJC | #24 – SG
Loveless’ brokenhearted narrator takes to the midnight highway with only the mournful sounds of fiddle and steel for company, sadly aware that she is not being missed at home. In a catalog rich with beautiful ballads, this is one of the finest. – Ben Foster
As if narrowing down your five favorite albums or your five favorite songs isn’t difficult enough, lets make things even more difficult by trying to narrow down our favorite song from our favorite albums. Don’t worry, however, if you can’t choose five.
- Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson, “One More Year” (Rattlin’ Bones)
- Shovels and Rope, “Birmingham” (Oh Be Joyful)
- Dixie Chicks, “Long Time Gone” (Home)
- Johnny Cash, “Cocaine Blues” (Folsom Prison Blues)
- Old Crow Medicine Show, “Wagon Wheel” (O.C.M.S.)
As we enter the top half of the list, signature hits by some of the era’s biggest stars rub elbows with a pair of breakthrough singles and an overlooked release by a future superstar. You’ll also find out, in case you’ve been wondering for the past 22 years, just what Dwight Yoakam sneers at the end of one of his classic records.
Written by Casey Kelly and Bob Regan
#13 – LW | #22 – JK | #28 – KJC | #30 – BF
Cheating songs that successfully make us feel compassion for the other woman are a rarity, but “Soon” manages to make us root for the woman who finds herself in a losing cycle, one that she finally finds the strength to stop. Tanya Tucker’s sympathetic performance and the song’s soothing melody invite us to feel compassion for the woman in a scenario that is usually black and white. – Leeann Ward
Our Best Singles of 1993 list continues with a collection of #1 hits, breakthrough hits, and should’ve been hits. Kicking things off is the debut single from one of the decade’s most successful vocal groups.
“Goodbye Says it All”
Written by Bobby Fischer, Charlie Black and Johnny MacRae
#9 – SG | #31 – BF
BlackHawk enjoyed a nice run of hits from their debut album, including this kiss-off song. Lead singer Henry Paul was best known for his work in the Southern Rock band The Outlaws, but his distinctive voice adapted well to mainstream country, too. “Goodbye” showed off the great harmonies from the trio (Paul, Dave Robbins and the late Van Stephenson), and it also proved the adage that nothing good has ever written been down in lipstick (Patty Loveless’ “She Drew a Broken Heart” is Exhibit B). – Sam Gazdziak
Angels and Alcohol
Alan Jackson is known as reliably country and not one to chase trends, but rather, somebody who holds steady as a standard-bearer for modern traditional country music. Even so, in an effort not to become stagnant, he has kept us intrigued by also taking some detours into other genres along the way, which have included adult contemporary, bluegrass, orchestral Christmas and two gospel albums.
With these career detours notwithstanding, we still reflexively know that when he announces that he’s releasing a country album, it’s guaranteed to be exactly that, which is what we get with Angels and Alcohol.
How strong a year for country music was 1993? Well, if our Best Albums list revealed how many great artists were overlooked, our Best Singles list reveals why there is so little room at the inn.
Out of the forty singles ranked among our best, all but five reached the top twenty of the Billboard country singles chart. Ten of them made it all the way to #1, and another nine of them stopped at #2. Country radio in 1993 was good.
Our list kicks off today with the first ten entries of the top forty. We’ll reveal ten more every day until we get to the top of the list on Tuesday. Under each entry, you’ll see each single’s peak position on the Billboard chart and the individual ranking for each writer who included it on their own top forty list.
“On the Road”
Lee Roy Parnell
Written by Bob McDill
#11 – KJC | #28 – JK
In one of his finest moments, Lee Roy Parnell weaves the stories of a frustrated housewife, high school underachiever, and retired couple into a seamless narrative of finding both escape and salvation on the road. His signature slide guitar licks provide an undercurrent of tension that heightens the intensity of the storylines as they unfold. – Kevin John Coyne
In tribute to my wonderful old dog who will be turning 14 in October, here are five of my favorite dog songs.
- Tom T. Hall, “Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine”
- Pirates of the Mississippi, “feed Jake”
- Hank Williams, “Move It on Over”
- Blake Shelton, “Ol’ Red”
- The Be Good Tanyas, “Dog Song, aka., Sleep Dog Lullaby”
Written by Brandy Clark, Jessie Jo Dillon, and Jennifer Nettles
A remarkable performance elevates an unremarkable song.
If “Sugar” given a perfunctory performance by a lesser vocalist, I might not enjoy it at all. It’s a bit fluffy, especially for a Brandy Clark co-write. The chorus is a tad repetitive, and I’m tempted to poke a stick at its use of the “sugar and spice and everything nice” cliché.
It would be futile of us to ignore the recent sad news of Miranda Lambert’s and Blake Shelton’s divorce announcement, since it is a reality. We, however, have no desire to participate in the speculation or sensationalism of the news. Instead, it seems most appropriate to put some focus back on the music right about now.
It’s no secret that Miranda Lambert is one of the few mainstream country artists that I enjoy anymore. As I contemplated this FSBFA, I wondered if she would have 25 songs that would warrant such a feature on her, since she’s only released five albums so far. It turns out that, as is the case with every FSBFA feature, not only are there 25 Lambert songs that I love, the 25 slots felt limited, as I had to leave many songs off the list.
So, here are 25 of my favorite Lambert songs in ranked order, including a song from The Pistol Annies and four duets from albums that aren’t her own. As always, we invite you to share your favorite Miranda Lambert songs in the comments.
Lambert brilliantly reflects on how the bathroom sink represents so much vulnerability and reflection for a woman. From the insecurities reflected in the mirror above the sink to keeping the sink clean from the makeup required to feel accepted in a day and all points in between, “Bathroom sink” is ultimately summed up by its killer line, “It’s amazing the amount of rejection that I see in my reflection.”
Later today, we will publish our latest edition of Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists. The newest entry in our long running series is written by Leeann Ward and will focus on Miranda Lambert.
To whet our appetites, today’s top five asks you to list your five favorite tracks from the award-winning artist.
Here’s my list:
- Mama’s Broken Heart
- Little Red Wagon
- Gunpowder & Lead
- Guilty in Here
- Two Rings Shy