This list was an interesting trip down memory lane. This particular top twenty has my personal favorites from Brooks & Dunn, George Strait and Pam Tillis, alongside singles I’d completely forgotten about from Vince Gill, Clint Black and Diamond Rio. The breakthrough hits from Shania Twain, Bryan White and David Lee Murphy are here, along with the sole moments of glory from Perfect Stranger and James House.
If you’re wondering why the list looks a bit different, I’ve added download links if they’re available. Just click on the song title!
Top 20 Country Songs
August 12, 1995
“You Better Think Twice”
This year’s hall of fame inductee warns a woman of the man she’s falling in love with, and his cheating, heartless ways. B.
“Finish What We Started”
A pretty ballad that showcases their harmonies, it was a bit too sluggishly paced to rise any higher on the singles chart. But it’s a good record nonetheless. B+.
“Someone Else’s Star”
The Taylor Swift of the mid-nineties. Okay, that’s pushing it. But you could barely fit a needle between the emotional maturity levels of this and “Teardrops on My Guitar.” C.
He never got as bad as Doug Stone with the sappy love songs, mostly because his twang was too forceful and his writer’s mind too clever. But boy, did he come close a few times. B-.
“Walking to Jerusalem”
It borders on nonsensical, but he delivers it with such aplomb that rhyming Jerusalem with Methuselah seems strangely logical. A-
This is my favorite George Strait single ever. Quiet, adult and fully believable. A+
“Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)”
John Michael Montgomery
I thought this was really cool and funny when I was a freshman in high school. Now it just sounds corny. Whether that means I’m more mature now, or just more cynical, I’m not really sure. C.
David Lee Murphy
I went ahead and bought this one myself, a rare instance of a really good single from this era that I’d forgotten about but was happy to be reminded of. A
“She Ain’t Your Ordinary Girl”
Maybe she ain’t, but this is a very, very ordinary single. Let me add, however, that the album it launched has my favorite Alabama single, “It Works.” Just stickin’ with the ‘favorite’ theme I’ve got going here. C
“In Between Dances”
My favorite thing she’s ever sent to radio, a gorgeous waltz about the hesitation and cautious hope that create conflict within when one relationship has ended and another has yet to begin. If you don’t have it already, download it now. It’s awesome. A+.
Damn. I forgot how good this is. I was going to give it a B+ from memory, then after playing it through, it gave me goosebumps. When Reba nails a song, especially a heartbreak number, she’s without peer. A+
“Any Man of Mine”
One of the most important and paradigm-shifting singles in the history of country music, but I’m still leaving off the “+” because of the line dance chant tacked on in the end. A
“You Have the Right to Remain Silent”
Remember how I said “Lead On” was completely believable? This one is completely unbelievable, a ridiculous conversation that could only exist in a terrible country song. And wow, is this a terrible country song. If they ever play this in front of the Supreme Court, Miranda rights will be immediately revoked. F
“This is Me Missing You”
The only big solo hit of a truly great songwriter. If you ever see him on the street, thank him for this and for “Ain’t That Lonely Yet.” B+
“Bobbie Ann Mason”
A little silly, a little trite, a little like Joe Diffie at his dittiest. And it still makes me smile. B+
“Not On Your Love”
It lives up to its title. That’s all I’m gonna say. D
“You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone”
Brooks & Dunn
I recently fell in love with this song, and I’m so glad I heard it again after all those years. Now it’s my favorite thing they’ve ever done. A+
“I Don’t Even Know Your Name”
Alan’s funny saga about a man who drinks himself married to a waitress missing her front tooth. Hmm. I’m going out tonight. Maybe I won’t drink as much as I was planning to. Depends on the waitress. B+
“A Little Bit of You”
Lee Roy Parnell
Parnell is a slide guitar extraordinaire who made some surprisingly flavorless radio singles in his day. This is one of them. Sorry to say that none of his Arista work is available digitally, so you’ll have to take my word for it. B
“I Didn’t Know My Own Strength”
A peppy slice of sixties pop with a sprinkling of steel guitar to please the folks at country radio. This is also better than I remembered. Hopefully she’ll be back with new music soon. A-