400 Greatest Singles of the Nineties: #350-326

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July 11, 2010

A few should’ve been hits are mixed in with genuine smashes as the countdown continues.

400 Greatest Singles of the Nineties: #350-#326

#350
How Do I Live
Trisha Yearwood
1997  |  Peak: #2

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When Yearwood and LeAnn Rimes released dueling versions of this song in 1997, it was apparently a wake up call to country listeners: “Hey, wait a minute. Trisha Yearwood is an amazing singer!”  She elevates “How Do I Live” beyond its movie theme nature by adding layers of subtlety and nuance to the typical Diane Warren template. – Kevin Coyne

#349
Boot Scootin’ Boogie
Brooks & Dunn
1992  |  Peak: #1

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I don’t claim to have any real knowledge of what it’s like to spend a night at the liveliest of honky-tonks, but I’ll be darned if this song doesn’t make me feel like I do. Because “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” isn’t really about a specific place where people go, and it isn’t even about the boogie itself; it’s about the universal thrill of busting out of the work week, kicking back and dancing your troubles away. From start to finish, Brooks & Dunn’s performance is a twangy blast of exhilaration, and that’s a feeling we can all relate to – outlaws, in-laws, crooks and straights alike. - Tara Seetharam

#348
Don’t Take Her She’s All I Got
Tracy Byrd
1997  |  Peak: #4

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Just a damn catchy trad country sing-a-long. It was good fun when Johnny Paycheck had the original hit with it, and lost none of its steam when Tracy Byrd resurrected it for a new audience twenty-six years later. – Dan Milliken

#347
Walkaway Joe
Trisha Yearwood with Don Henley
1992  |  Peak: #2

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Yearwood’s sad appraisal of a youthful infatuation feels almost like a parable in its scope and execution. You know the story’s ending from the very beginning, but you wait to hear it unfold anyway, possibly just so you can reflect on similar mistakes you wish you had seen coming. That might be why none of the characters in this song – Momma, Girl, Walkaway Joe – are given real names; as in any parable, they’re archetypes for us to see through as we try to rectify our own pasts and futures. – DM

#346
Ain’t Got Nothin’ On Us
John Michael Montgomery
1996  |  Peak: #15

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Montgomery is mostly known for his sappy, country-pop love songs. This is a love song, but the bluesy little number is more understated than his typical fare. - Leeann Ward

#345
I’ll Go On Loving You
Alan Jackson
1998  |  Peak: #3

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Jackson’s rarely more impressive than when he ventures out of his comfort zone. His bold choice to bring the recitation back to country radio made for one of his strongest singles from the latter half of the decade. – KC

#344
The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia
Reba McEntire
1992  |  Peak: #12

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Reba sings the heck out of this epic tale of murder. The performance and accompanying production are both spooky and fun. - LW

#343
What About the Love We Made
Shelby Lynne
1995  |  Peak: #45

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Guilt trips on divorcing parents aren’t laid much thicker than this, at least without Tammy Wynette at the mic. Needless to say, Lynne sings the fire out of it.- KC

#342
It’s Only Love
Randy Scruggs with Mary Chapin Carpenter
1998  |  Peak: #67

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Carpenter’s got it right; When it comes to love, “there’s no choice but to surrender.” The lyrics are just this side of saccharine, but the jaunty production is irresistible. - LW

#341
Gone as a Girl Can Get
George Strait
1992  |  Peak: #5

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Due to an awesomely relaxed production that allows guitars and fiddles to shine without overwhelming the track, this is about the coolest  Strait hit there is. She’s not just kind of gone, “she’s about as gone as a girl can get.” - LW

#340
Daddy Never Was the Cadillac Kind
Confederate Railroad
1994  |  Peak: #9

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Our generation needed its own spin on “Coat of Many Colors”, and this gem from Confederate Railroad delivered the goods. – KC

#339
Tryin’ to Get Over You
Vince Gill
1994  |  Peak: #1

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It’s possible to attribute a morbid message to this song if you take the lyrics literally, but I think the focus was meant to be on the effects of an undying love rather than on a man who wants to die. Gill colors his performance with layers of aching, relentless pain so tangible that the emotion practically jumps off the track. - TS

#338
A Man Ain’t Made of Stone
Randy Travis
1999  |  Peak: #16

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Men get a lot of flack for having it better than women, but one disadvantage that they have is that they’re expected to control their emotions, especially any signs of weakness. The catch is that they’re also expected to be sensitive at the right moments, which is a difficult balance for anyone to try to strike. It takes his woman leaving him for this man to lose his emotional resolve, which, incidentally, is  what it seems the woman needed from him all along. - LW

#337
The Beaches of Cheyenne
Garth Brooks
1996  |  Peak: #1

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Another Garth Brooks epic, this time delving into the realm of ghosts with loaded regrets. Musically, a great example of Brooks’ arena-country style done right. – DM

#336
Take it Easy
Travis Tritt
1994  |  Peak: #21

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As a part of country music’s tribute to The Eagles, Tritt delivers a solid cover of “Take It Easy”, which turns out to have more body than the original. - LW

#335
Tell Me About It
Tanya Tucker and Delbert McClinton
1993  |  Peak: #4

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There’s no twang here, but the rocking guitar groove is addictive. Moreover, Tucker’s and McClinton’s rough-edged voices  have a familial-like sound. - LW

#334
Unanswered Prayers
Garth Brooks
1990  |  Peak: #1

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Through a snapshot of a run-in with an old flame, Brooks illustrates that God’s blessings aren’t always what we expect them to be, and his approach is near perfect – relatable, thoughtful and authentic. - TS

#333
She Can’t Save Him
Lisa Brokop
1995  |  Peak: #55

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A frank portrait of a woman wrestling with the fact that she can’t help her substance-abusing husband until he helps himself. The gorgeous bridge brings the song to life, using imagery to depict the couple’s relationship. - TS

#332
I’ve Got That Old Feeling
Alison Krauss
1991  |  Peak: Did Not Chart

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Even as a young bluegrass prodigy, Krauss did most of her best work while fixated on painful goodbyes. In this case, the goodbye hasn’t even happened yet, but it’s all the more painful because she has the experience to sense it coming. – DM

#331
High On a Mountain Top
Marty Stuart
1992  |  Peak: #24

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Stuart spends his life climbing his way to the top, leaving behind the ones who helped get him there along the way.  With a little help from a wailing Pam Tillis on harmony, he realizes it’s lonesome up there all by himself. – KC

#330
You Can Depend On Me
Restless Heart
1991  |  Peak: #3

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Restless Heart had some likable soft jams in their 80′s hey-day, but were never better than when they got their bluegrass-pop on with this awesome campfire anthem. – DM

#329
If You Came Back From Heaven
Lorrie Morgan
1994  |  Peak: #51

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Morgan writes and performs a fascinating composition in which she wonders how the reality would play out if her fantasy came true, and her late husband returned to her arms.  Among the questions she’d ask him: “Did you feel my body when I held your pillow tight?” – KC

#328
That Summer
Garth Brooks
1993  |  Peak: #1

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Brooks manages to make a tawdry love affair sound steamy without seeming dirty. - LW

#327
XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl)
Trisha Yearwood
1994  |  Peak: #1

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An all American girl grows up to become a woman who’s trying to “make it in her daddy’s world.” No more frivolous dressing up; it’s real life now. - LW

#326
Getcha Some
Toby Keith
1998  |  Peak: #18

Listen

In the 2000s, Toby Keith has carefully crafted his image as a patriotic chest-thumper. In the nineties, however, his music seems more relaxed, as is the case with this delightful chronicle of a developing relationship. - LW

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  1. Amazed to see Lisa Brokop on here, love her just recently completed collecting all her records. Gotta say this is her best single she ever did as well, love “West Of Crazy” as well but this one is better. Surprised Reba never released her cover of it.

  2. BobNo Gravatar says:

    I share Jordan Stacey’s amazement about Lisa Brokop being on this list. I have all her cds and I’ve seen her 3 times at the Bluebird cafe in the last year and a half. She recently recorded a new album with her husband Paul Jefferson and they sound great together. They will be known as “The Jeffersons”. Don’t know when the album will be released.

    Haven’t heard the Tanya Tucker Delbert McClinton duet but I’ve been a big fan of Delbert’s music for the past dozen years or so.

  3. JoJoNo Gravatar says:

    This is really cool! No idea what #1 will be, but I am thinking “Strawberry Wine” is going to be in the top 10. Anyone agree?

  4. AaronNo Gravatar says:

    Another great list of songs! Keeps bringing back soo many memories!

  5. Cutting the TreacleNo Gravatar says:

    Like a box of cheap firecrackers – lots of duds. Getcha’ Some, That Summer, If You Came Back From Heaven (which is a pretty ballsy song when you think about – she drives him to drink himself to death and then piggybacks on his post-death commercial success), Daddy Never Was the Cadillac Kind.

  6. Erik NorthNo Gravatar says:

    Nice to see Trisha on here with three different songs. “How Do I Live?”, incidentally, is Trisha’s biggest hit on the Billboard Hot 100 (it got to a respectable #23 there). It’s a pity, though, that those three songs aren’t played with the same kind of frequency as “She’s In Love With The Boy” still is.

    I could do without Travis Tritt’s version of “Take It Easy”, however; and apart from Trishs’s version of “New Kid In Town”, that pretty much goes for everything else on COMMON THREADS, regardless of the fact that it caused Hell to freeze over.

  7. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Treacle,
    That’s a pretty horrible thing to say, even for you.

    Eric,
    I’ve never been much of an Eagles fan. Their harmonies are good, but always too slick/polished for me. So, I prefer the tribute album to most of their originals, which is certainly not a common opinion. I have a friend who is horrified, actualy.

  8. Cutting the TreacleNo Gravatar says:

    Leeann: “That’s a pretty horrible thing to say, even for you”

    Me: Well I’m a very horrible person, so “pretty horrible” is a step in the right direction.

    I recall reading a story somewhere about how Lorrie Morgan and her kids tried to break into Sammy Kershaw’s house by ramming through the door with a log. I believed it then, and I believe it now. I grew up with people like Lorrie Morgan – she can sing like an angel in the church choir on Sunday morning. But she’ll make you miserable as hell the rest of the week.

  9. ScottNo Gravatar says:

    “Daddy Never Was…” should be much higher, as should “Unanswered Prayers” and “Xxx’s and OOO’s” Don’t mean to disagree so much, because its otheerwise a great list so far

  10. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar says:

    Treacle,

    The comments that you’re making are not consistent with our commenting policy and completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand, besides being ignorant and disrespectful. All future comments of the same nature will be deleted.

  11. Erik NorthNo Gravatar says:

    @ Leann Ward:

    To each his/her own with respect to COMMON THREADS. I guess we respectfully disagree here. No hard feelings whatsoever.

  12. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    None here either, Eric.:)

  13. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar says:

    Common Thread was my introduction to many of those Eagles songs. I can say without hesitation that I’d rather listen to Trisha Yearwood’s “New Kid in Town” than the original any day. She nails that one.

  14. I don’t think I’d call ‘Don’t Take Her (She’s All I’ve Got’ “good fun”, exactly.

  15. Michael A.No Gravatar says:

    “The Night the Lights…” would have ranked much higher on my personal list, but it’s hard to argue with this batch. Nice reminder of the Tracy Byrd, Randy Travis and Confederate Railroad numbers. My favorite Vince Gill song changes often, but at times it has been “Tryin’ To Get Over You”. And I love the Common Thread album. I didn’t grow up on the originals, I grew up on these covers and the disc still gets spun at least once every few months at my house. Excellent writeup for “Walkaway Joe”, Dan.

  16. Cutting the TreacleNo Gravatar says:

    KJC: “The comments that you’re making are not consistent with our commenting policy and completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand”

    Me: My comments were relevant to whether or not a song should be identified as one of the top 400 songs of the 90′s. And if that song is autobiographical, then a comment about the subject and singer of the song is a fair one.

  17. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Not the cruelly subjective one that you made with no qualification that it was your opinion, at least. You stated it as fact, which is irresponsible. You have absolutely no proof to back up your speculation. Her relationship with Sammy Kershaw, in fact, is not an indicator of her relationship with Keith Whitley, which by most official reports, was a loving one. I know you think of your comments as “cutting through the treacle” and all, but it really seems that you’re simply stirring up trouble much of the time. What happened to Whitley is no laughing matter and it’s intolerable that you would treat it with such callousness. The people that were left behind were severely hurt, including Lorrie Morgan. And if you had any compassion (and, yes, I know that you’ll proudly brag that you don’t), you’d understand that, perhaps, Morgan’s subsequent failed relationships may have had something to do with her husband’s tragic death, which would leave anyone in emotional turmoil. Instead, you assume that she drove Whitley to drink.

    In all reality, you’re free to comment within the parameters of our comment policy. If you don’t agree with them, so be it. I don’t think it’s up for debate at this point.\

  18. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar says:

    The song was autobiographical. “Driving him to drink” was not in the autobiography, or any other biography, for that matter. And clearly Sammy Kershaw and her kids have nothing to do with the song.

    The reason we have parameters is because threads like this – about 25 different country songs from the nineties – get hijacked by attention-seekers who want to provoke, and a good discussion gets sidelined in the process.

    I agree with everything Leeann said. Stick within the boundaries of the comment policy or your comments will be blocked.

  19. Cory DeSteinNo Gravatar says:

    Being……younger..I heard the Trisha Yearwood version of “New Kid In Town” before the Eagles, and when I finally did hear their version I really disliked it. And I do like quite a few of their tracks, but maybe I was just used to Trisha, or maybe if was just one of their poorer tracks.

    Im happy to see, and agree with the placement of XXXs and OOOs and How Do I Live, but Walkaway Joe for me always has been and always will be a top 10 favorite. Im always amazed that she could take a 4 minute ballad, with no big build up or catchy lines and drive it nearly to the top of the charts! The good ole days!

  20. Steve from BostonNo Gravatar says:

    Re. the Eagles vs the Common Thread Country artists, I gotta say I enjoy the remakes as well as the originals. I’m not one to deride the Eagles’ influence on Country music, (or Linda Ronstadt’s for that matter) Sure, they’re not hard-core Country, but to my ears much of their stuff sounds more Country than the Nashville Pop that dominates the airwaves today. Heck I hear more steel and Country harmonies in Peaceful Easy Feeling than I do in much of what passes for Country nowadays.

    Anyway, I do like the remakes but the fact that great Country artists like Clint Black, Trisha Yearwood, and Travis Tritt paid tribute to the Eagles with this album speaks for itself. And it’s good to see Travis and Trisha on your list in this context.

  21. Dayne ShudaNo Gravatar says:

    I loved the songs released in the ’90s. To me the decade was wonderful for country music. There were so many great songs released that had a story to tell and did it with catchy lyrics and a steel guitar.

    Tryin’ To Get Over You, XXX’s and OOO’s, The Beaches of Cheyenne, and Daddy Never Was The Cadillac Kind are still some of my favorites.

    I’ll be checking back in as the list counts down.

    Great jobs, Guys.

  22. BobNo Gravatar says:

    I agree with Steve from Boston regarding “Common Thread” and the original songs by the Eagles. I love them both. My wife and I saw the Eagles over 30 years ago. It was a great show although we had the nosebleed seats at the Nassau Coliseum. I’d like to see a similar album covering the songs of the Everly Brothers. Besides the songs obvious to those of us old enough to remember the brothers (they’re both over 70 now), how about James Otto on “Up in Mabel’s Room”?

  23. NicolasNo Gravatar says:

    @JoJo: I agree, I think it would be a crime for “Strawberry Wine” not to be near the top. For me, its the most iconic song in country music. Nothing else gets to me quite like that one.

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