CMA Flashback: Single of the Year (2017 Edition)

Because country music is a radio-driven format, it has usually allowed for a large number of artists to have success at any given time.  The nature of the other CMA Awards categories leave them dominated by the genre’s biggest stars, so it is the Single of the Year category that best tells the story of country music over the past fifty years. Here’s a look back at CMA Single of the Year, starting with this year’s nominees.

2017

“Better Man,” Little Big Town

“Blue Ain’t Your Color,” Keith Urban

“Body Like a Back Road,” Sam Hunt

“Dirt on My Boots,” Jon Pardi

“Tin Man,” Miranda Lambert

 

Jon Pardi scores his first nomination for Single of the Year for “Dirt On My Boots.” Sam Hunt returns to the category for a second time, nominated for the single that has been #1 for most of 2017. Keith Urban rounds out the trio of nominees who haven’t won yet, earning his third nod this year. Little Big Town is also enjoying their third nomination, and they’ve won both times they’ve previously been nominated.  A victory for “Better Man” would make them the first artist in CMA history to win Single of the Year three times. Finally, Miranda Lambert moves into fourth place among most nominations in this category. “Tin Man” is her sixth, a distinction she shares with fellow previous winners George Jones and Willie Nelson.

2016

“Die a Happy Man,” Thomas Rhett

“Humble and Kind,” Tim McGraw

“My Church,” Maren Morris

“Nobody to Blame,” Chris Stapleton

“Record Year,” Eric Church

Thomas Rhett was nominated against four artists who scored more nominations than him across the ballot, but he triumphed with his love song written for his wife.

Little Big Town Girl Crush

2015

“American Kids, “Kenny Chesney

“Girl Crush,” Little Big Town

“I Don’t Dance,” Lee Brice

“Take Your Time,” Sam Hunt

“Talladega,” Eric Church

Little Big Town became the second band to repeat in this category with their sleeper hit, “Girl Crush.”

Miranda Lambert Automatic

2014

“Automatic,” Miranda Lambert

“Drunk on a Plane,” Dierks Bentley

“Give Me Back My Hometown,” Eric Church

“Meanwhile Back at Mama’s,” Tim McGraw with Faith Hill

“Mine Would Be You,” Blake Shelton

Miranda Lambert finally won this category with her fifth nomination, taking home the trophy for the lead single off of her Album of the Year winner, Platinum.

Florida Georgia Line Cruise

2013

“Cruise,” Florida Georgia Line

“Highway Don’t Care,” Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban

“Mama’s Broken Heart,” Miranda Lambert

“Merry Go ‘Round,” Kacey Musgraves

“Wagon Wheel,” Darius Rucker

Florida Georgia Line broke the record for the most weeks at #1 on the Billboard country singles chart, thanks largely to new rules that allowed for pop airplay to count toward the chart. It helped power them to a Single of the Year win.

LBT pontoon

2012

“Dirt Road Anthem,” Jason Aldean

“God Gave Me You,” Blake Shelton

“Home,” Dierks Bentley

“Pontoon,” Little Big Town

“Springsteen,” Eric Church

Little Big Town’s remarkable run at the country music award shows began in 2012 at the CMA Awards, and they won in this category for the song that launched them to a new level of success.

Band Perry If I Die Young single

2011

“Colder Weather,” Zac Brown Band

“Don’t You Wanna Stay,” Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson

“Honey Bee,” Blake Shelton

“If I Die Young,” The Band Perry

“A Little Bit Stronger,” Sara Evans

The Band Perry took home the Single of the Year award for “If I Die Young,” which also earned a Song of the Year trophy for their lead singer.

Need You Now Single

2010

“Hillbilly Bone,” Blake Shelton with Trace Adkins

“The House That Built Me,” Miranda Lambert

“A Little More Country Than That,” Easton Corbin

“Need You Now,” Lady Antebellum

“White Liar,” Miranda Lambert

Lady Antebellum made history in 2010, becoming the first group to win in this category twice and the first artist to ever win the award two years in a row.

lady-antebellum-i-run-to-you

2009

“Chicken Fried,” Zac Brown Band

“I Run to You,” Lady Antebellum

“In Color,”  Jamey Johnson

“People are Crazy,” Billy Currington

“Then,” Brad Paisley

Lady Antebellum was the surprise winner, beating out critical darling Jamey Johnson with their mid-tempo ode to love and devotion.

george-strait-troubadour

2008

“Don’t Blink,” Kenny Chesney

“Gunpowder & Lead,” Miranda Lambert

“I Saw God Today,” George Strait

“Stay,” Sugarland

“You’re Gonna Miss This,” Trace Adkins

George Strait managed to win both Single and Album in 2008. “I Saw God Today” was his second single to win in this category, following 1996’s “Check Yes or No.”

Carrie_Underwood-_Before_He_Cheats

2007

“Anyway,” Martina McBride

“Before He Cheats,” Carrie Underwood

“Lost in This Moment,” Big & Rich

“Ticks,” Brad Paisley

“Wrapped,” George Strait

Not only was “Before He Cheats” the biggest country single of the year, it added a new dimension to Carrie Underwood’s musical personality.  The crossover success was an added bonus.

brooks-dunn-believe

2006

“Believe,” Brooks & Dunn

“Better Life,” Keith Urban

“Jesus, Take the Wheel,” Carrie Underwood

“Summertime,”  Kenny Chesney

“When I Get Where I’m Going,” Brad Paisley featuring Dolly Parton

Two up-tempo radio records competed against three spiritual hits, and the least compelling of those spiritual songs won. “Believe” was a surprise winner, also garnering Song and Music Video trophies for the duo. They again won Vocal Duo, bringing their total to four for the night.

lee-ann-womack-theres-more-where-that-came-from

2005

“Alcohol,” Brad Paisley

“As Good As I Once Was,” Toby Keith

“Baby Girl,” Sugarland

“Bless the Broken Road,” Rascal Flatts

“I May Hate Myself In The Morning,” Lee Ann Womack

Womack won for her retro comeback hit. over four top five hits that also powered their parent albums past platinum.

tim-mcgraw-live-like-you-were-dying

2004

“I Love This Bar,” Toby Keith

“Live Like You Were Dying,” Tim McGraw

“Redneck Woman,” Gretchen Wilson

“Remember When,” Alan Jackson

“Whiskey Lullaby,” Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss

Tim McGraw is among the artists most nominated in this category, but “Live Like You Were Dying” remains his only victory to date.

johnny-cash-hurt

2003

“Beer For My Horses,” Toby Keith & Willie Nelson

“Celebrity,” Brad Paisley

“Have You Forgotten?” Darryl Worley

“Hurt,” Johnny Cash

“Three Wooden Crosses” – Randy Travis

Cash died only a month before the 2003 CMAs, and while he’d already been nominated before his death, voters were filling out their ballots after he died and he ended up sweeping the show. This was the second posthumous victory in this category, following Keith Whitley in 1989.

11 Alan Drive

2002

“Blessed,” Martina McBride

“Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue (The Angry American),” Toby Keith

“Drive (For Daddy Gene),” Alan Jackson

“I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishing Song),” Brad Paisley

“Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” Alan Jackson

Alan Jackson dominated the 2002 CMA Awards, winning Single and Song of the Year for the 9/11 ballad that he debuted on the show one year earlier.

soundtrack-o-brother-where-art-thou

2001

“Ain’t Nothin’ Bout You,” Brooks & Dunn

“Born to Fly,” Sara Evans

“I am a Man of Constant Sorrow,” Soggy Bottom Boys

“I’m Already There,” Lonestar

“One More Day,” Diamond Rio

Radio didn’t play it much, but record buyers still pushed the album past seven million in sales, helping the Soggy Bottom Boys win over four #1 airplay hits.

lee-ann-womack-i-hope-you-dance

2000

“Breathe,” Faith Hill

“Buy Me a Rose,” Kenny Rogers

“He Didn’t Have to Be,” Brad Paisley

“How Do You Like Me Now?!” Toby Keith

“I Hope You Dance,” Lee Ann Womack featuring Sons of the Desert

Womack’s first win in this category remains her signature song, an inspirational country hit that also found great success on adult contemporary radio.

dixie-chicks-wide-open-spaces-single

1999

“Amazed,” Lonestar

“Choices,” George Jones

“Don’t Laugh at Me,” Mark Wills

“Please Remember Me,” Tim McGraw

“Wide Open Spaces,” Dixie Chicks

“Wide Open Spaces” was the single that moved the Dixie Chicks from rising stars to superstars, and its win was accompanied by their second consecutive Vocal Group trophy.

steve-wariner-holes-in-the-floor-of-heaven

1998

“A Broken Wing,” Martina McBride

“Holes in the Floor of Heaven,” Steve Wariner

“I Just Want to Dance With You,” George Strait

“This Kiss,” Faith Hill

“You Don’t Seem to Miss Me,” Patty Loveless with George Jones

Steve Wariner was a country star for fifteen years when he finally won his first major industry awards, taking home Single and Song honors at the 1998 CMA show for his tearjerker ballad.

deana-catrter-strawberry-wine

1997

“All the Good Ones are Gone,” Pam Tillis

“Carried Away,” George Strait

“It’s Your Love,” Tim McGraw with Faith Hill

“One Night at a Time,” George Strait

“Strawberry Wine,” Deana Carter

Deana Carter’s debut single won over a category full of established stars, and it also picked up Song honors for co-writers Matraca Berg and Gary Harrison.

george-strait-strait-out-of-the-box

1996

“Blue,” LeAnn Rimes

“Check Yes or No,” George Strait

“Go Rest High on That Mountain,” Vince Gill

“My Maria,” Brooks & Dunn

“Time Marches On,” Tracy Lawrence

“It’s been a long time since I climbed up those stairs,” a surprised George Strait exclaimed upon winning this award. He went home with Male Vocalist and Album honors the same night.

alison-krauss-when-you-say-nothing-at-all

1995

“Any Man of Mine,” Shania Twain

“Baby Likes to Rock It,” The Tractors

“Gone Country,” Alan Jackson

“The Keeper of the Stars,” Tracy Byrd

“When You Say Nothing at All,” Alison Krauss & Union Station

Alison Krauss swept the CMA Awards in 1995, thanks to her hit cover of Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing at All.”

john-michael-montgomery-kickin-it-up

1994

“Does He Love You,” Reba McEntire & Linda Davis

“Don’t Take the Girl,” Tim McGraw

“He Thinks He’ll Keep Her,” Mary Chapin Carpenter

“How Can I Help You Say Goodbye,” Patty Loveless

“I Swear,” John Michael Montgomery

“I Swear” was an instant wedding standard upon its release, and helped cement John Michael Montgomery’s reputation as country music’s love song balladeer.

alan-jackson-chattahoochee

1993

“Ain’t That Lonely Yet,” Dwight Yoakam

“Chattahoochee,” Alan Jackson

“Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away,” Vince Gill

“I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair,” George Jones & Friends

“Two Sparrows in a Hurricane,” Tanya Tucker

Alan Jackson’s Single of the Year win in 1993 was accompanied by a Song trophy for “Chattachoochee,” but he had to wait until 1994 to collect it, thanks to an oddity in the latter category that allowed songs to be nominated two years in a row.

billy-ray-cyrus-achy-breaky-heart

1992

“Achy Breaky Heart,” Billy Ray Cyrus

“I Feel Lucky,” Mary Chapin Carpenter

“Look at Us,” Vince Gill

“Love, Me,” Collin Raye

“Maybe it Was Memphis,” Pam Tillis

The Cyrus Virus was in full effect in 1992, and even CMA voters caught it, giving Billy Ray Cyrus the victory for Single of the Year over formidable competition.

garth-brooks-friends-in-low-places

1991

“Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” Alan Jackson

“Don’t Tell Me What to Do,” Pam Tillis

“Friends in Low Places,” Garth Brooks

“Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares),” Travis Tritt

“Pocket Full of Gold,” Vince Gill

Garth Brooks won his only Single of the Year trophy from the CMA Awards for what is certainly his biggest hit.

vince-gill-when-i-call-your-name

1990

“The Dance,” Garth Brooks

“Here in the Real World,” Alan Jackson

“Killin’ Time,” Clint Black

“When I Call Your Name,” Vince Gill

“Where’ve You Been,” Kathy Mattea

Vince Gill’s long run of CMA trophies began with his 1990 victory for Single of the Year for “When I Call Your Name.” It went on to win Song of the Year in 1991.

keith-whitley-dont-close-your-eyes

1989

“After All This Time,” Rodney Crowell

“Better Man,” Clint Black

“Chiseled in Stone,” Vern Gosdin

“I’ll Leave This World Loving You,” Ricky Van Shelton

“I’m No Stranger to the Rain,” Keith Whitley

Whitley won posthumously for his haunting ballad, and his death shone an entirely new light on his performance.

kathy-mattea-eighteen-wheels-and-a-dozen-roses

1988

“Do Ya,” K.T. Oslin

“Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses,” Kathy Mattea

“I Told You So,” Randy Travis

“Somebody Lied,” Ricky Van Shelton

“Tennessee Flat-Top Box,” Rosanne Cash

While it was “80’s Ladies” that won the Song of the Year trophy, that wasn’t nominated for Single of the Year. Kathy Mattea took it home for her biggest hit, which spent two weeks at #1, a chart rarity at the time.

randy-travis-forever-and-ever-amen

1987

“All My Ex’s Live in Texas,” George Strait

“Can’t Stop My Heart From Loving You,” The O’Kanes

“Forever and Ever, Amen,” Randy Travis

“The Right Left Hand,” George Jones

“Walk the Way the Wind Blows,” Kathy Mattea

Randy Travis won with the record that made him a superstar, a song that became universally well known without ever crossing over to pop radio.

dan-seals-wont-be-blue-anymore

1986

“Bop,” Dan Seals

“Grandpa (Tell Me ’Bout the Good Old Days),” The Judds

“Nobody in His Right Mind Would’ve Left Her,” George Strait

“On the Other Hand,” Randy Travis

“Whoever’s in New England,” Reba McEntire

In a category stacked high with New Traditionalists, Dan Seals took home the trophy for his fifties-flavored dance number.

the-judds-why-not-me

1985

“Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On,” Mel McDaniel

“Country Boy,” Ricky Skaggs

“Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind,” George Strait

“Highwayman,” Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson & Johnny Cash

“Why Not Me,” The Judds

The Judds became the second professional duo to win this award with their victory for “Why Not Me,” and started the trend of same gender duos that dominated in the eighties and nineties.

anne-murray-a-little-good-news

1984

“Holding Her and Loving You,” Earl Thomas Conley

“A Little Good News,” Anne Murray

“Islands in the Stream,” Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers

“Mama He’s Crazy,” The Judds

“To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”, Julio Iglesias & Willie Nelson

“A Little Good News” was very good news for Anne Murray, who had been nominated for years without ever winning a CMA Award. It also served as the title track for her Album of the Year winner the same evening.

john-anderson-wild-blue

1983

“Heartbroke,” Ricky Skaggs

“I Always Get Lucky With You,”  George Jones

“I.O.U.,” Lee Greenwood

“Pancho and Lefty,” Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard

“Swingin’,” John Anderson

John Anderson’s biggest hit until his early nineties revival, “Swingin'” is very representative of the Urban Cowboy sound of the time, even if Anderson himself was not.

willie-nelson-always-on-my-mind

1982

“Always On My Mind,” Willie Nelson

“Crying My Heart Out Over You,” Ricky Skaggs

“I’m Gonna Hire a Wino (To Decorate Our Home),” David Frizzell

“It Turns Me Inside Out,” Lee Greenwood

“Love in the First Degree,” Alabama

Willie Nelson had the biggest hit of his career with “Always On My Mind,” a single that sold more than two million copies and dominated multiple radio formats for the better part of a year.

oak-ridge-boys-elvira

1981

“Elvira,” The Oak Ridge Boys

“I Believe in You,” Don Williams

“I Was Country (When Country Wasn’t Cool),” Barbara Mandrell

“Old Flame,” Alabama

“Somebody’s Knockin’,” Terri Gibbs

“Elvira” encapsulated the Oak Ridge Boys sound and helped them become top-sellers for most of the eighties.

george-jones-i-am-what-i-am

1980

“All the Gold in California,” Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers

“Coward of the County,” Kenny Rogers

“Good Ole Boys Like Me,” Don Williams

“He Stopped Loving Her Today,” George Jones

“In America,” Charlie Daniels Band

George Jones enjoyed new career heights with “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” which is always included in the upper rankings in lists of the greatest country songs of all-time.

the-charlie-daniels-band-devil-went-down-to-georgia

1979

“Amanda,” Waylon Jennings

“The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” Charlie Daniels Band

“The Gambler,” Kenny Rogers

“If Loving You is Wrong (I Don’t Want to be Right),” Barbara Mandrell

“You Needed Me,”Anne Murray

“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” captured the imagination of record buyers and helped cement the popularity of Southern Rocker Charlie Daniels and his band.

the-kendalls-heavens-just-a-sin-away

1978

“Blue Bayou,” Linda Ronstadt

“Heaven’s Just a Sin Away,” The Kendalls

“Here You Come Again,” Dolly Parton

“Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys,” Waylon & Willie

“Take This Job and Shove It,” Johnny Paycheck

The Kendalls, a father and daughter duo, found great success with their cleverly written moral dilemma.

kenny-rogers-lucille

1977

“It Was Almost Like a Song,” Ronnie Milsap

“Luchenbach, Texas,” Waylon Jennings

“Lucille,” Kenny Rogers

“Margaritaville,” Jimmy Buffett

“Southern Nights,” Glen Campbell

“Lucille” became the big breakthrough Kenny Rogers had been waiting for, and he helped make it happen by suggesting a lyrical change in the second verse that stops the affair before it can happen.

waylon-jennings-live

1976

“The Blind Man in the Bleachers,” Kenny Starr

“Convoy,” C.W. McCall

“The Door is Always Open,” Dave & Sugar

“Good Hearted Woman,” Waylon & Willie

“Teddy Bear,” Red Sovine

Waylon Jennings had recorded “Good Hearted Woman” years earlier, but it was with his live version with Willie Nelson that the song found its greatest popularity.

freddy-fender-before-the-next-teardrop-falls

1975

“Before the Next Teardrop Falls,” Freddy Fender

“(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” B.J. Thomas

“I’m Not Lisa,” Jessi Colter

“Rhinestone Cowboy,” Glen Campbell

“Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” John Denver

Freddy Fender’s beautiful bilingual hit won over a collection of remarkably popular records that dominated country and pop radio that year.

cal-smith-country-bumpkin

1974

“As Soon As I Hang Up the Phone” – Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn

“Country Bumpkin” – Cal Smith

“If You Love Me (Let Me Know)” – Olivia Newton-John

“The Most Beautiful Girl” – Charlie Rich

“The Streak” – Ray Stevens

Cal Smith won for his tender tale of a young lady’s life through courtship, motherhood, and death.

charlie-rich-behind-closed-doors

1973

“Behind Closed Doors,” Charlie Rich

“The Lord Knows I’m Drinking,” Cal Smith

“Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine,” Tom T. Hall

“Satin Sheets,” Jeanne Pruett

“Why Me Lord,” Kris Kristofferson

Charlie Rich was very popular at the award shows in the mid-seventies, and it all started on the strength of his winning hit, “Behind Closed Doors.”

donna-fargo-the-happiest-girl-in-the-whole-usa

1972

“Four in the Morning,” Faron Young

“The Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.,” Donna Fargo

“Kiss an Angel Good Morning,” – Charley Pride

“One’s on the Way,” Loretta Lynn

“To Get to You,” Jerry Wallace

Donna Fargo’s hit is a sweet pop confection, but there’s a forward-thinking layer of gender equity underneath all of that sugary goodness.

sammi-smith-help-me-make-it-through-the-night

1971

“Amos Moses,” Jerry Reed

“Easy Loving,” Freddie Hart

“Help Me Make it Through the Night,” Sammi Smith

“Rose Garden,” Lynn Anderson

“When You’re Hot, You’re Hot,” Jerry Reed

This Kris Kristofferson-penned smash was recorded by several men before it was transformed by having a woman sing it, turning it into a song of empowerment that was revolutionary for country radio at the time.

merle-haggard-okie-from-muskogee

1970

“Fightin’ Side of Me,” Merle Haggard

“Hello Darlin’,” Conway Twitty

“I’m So Afraid of Losing You,” Charley Pride

“My Woman, My Woman, My Wife,” Marty Robbins

“Okie From Muskogee,” Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard’s small town answer to the era’s counterculture resonated far more deeply than even Haggard intended for it to, capturing a moment of time in America’s history from a perspective that wasn’t usually heard.

johnny-cash-a-boy-named-sue

1969

“All I Have to Offer You is Me,” Charley Pride

“A Boy Named Sue,” Johnny Cash

“Daddy Sang Bass,” Johnny Cash

“Galveston,” Glen Campbell

“The Games People Play,” Freddy Weller

 “A Boy Named Sue” is a bonafide classic, recorded live in front of San Quentin inmates.  It’s a credit to Cash’s delivery that such a dark and disturbing storyline can be played so well for laughs.

jeannie-c-riley-harper-valley-pta

1968

“By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” Glen Campbell

“D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” Tammy Wynette

“Folsom Prison Blues (live),” Johnny Cash

“Harper Valley P.T.A.,” Jeannie C. Riley

“Honey,” Bobby Goldsboro

There’s a raw energy to the Riley hit that still packs a punch, long after miniskirts have raised their last eyebrow and Peyton Place left the airwaves.

jack-greene-there-goes-my-everything

1967

“Danny Boy,” Ray Price

“The Fugitive,” Merle Haggard

“It’s Such a Pretty World Today,” Wynn Stewart

“Ode to Billy Joe,” Bobbie Gentry

“There Goes My Everything,” Jack Greene

Jack Greene’s victory at the first CMA awards established a trend that would often be repeated in this category: acknowledging the A-list hit of a B-list star.

Facts & Feats

Multiple Wins:

  • (2) –Johnny Cash, Alan Jackson, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Willie Nelson, George Strait, Lee Ann Womack

Most Nominations:

  • (9) – George Strait
  • (8) – Brad Paisley
  • (7) – Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw
  • (6) – George Jones, Miranda Lambert, Willie Nelson
  • (5) – Johnny Cash, Vince Gill, Waylon Jennings, Toby Keith, Kenny Rogers
  • (4) – Glen Campbell, Eric Church, Merle Haggard, Faith Hill, Blake Shelton, Randy Travis

Most Nominations Without a Win:

  • (8) – Brad Paisley
  • (5) – Toby Keith
  • (4) – Eric Church, Faith Hill, Blake Shelton

9 Comments

  1. Wow at these nomination totals in this category:

    Garth Brooks – 2
    Shania Twain – 1
    Dixie Chicks – 1

    Blake Shelton has more than any of those superstars.

  2. I thought Emerson Drive got screwed in 2007 by not getting a nomination. “Moments”, written by Sam & Annie Tate and Dave Berg, was released on Nov 27, 2006 (too late for the 2006 CMAs). Maybe the release date contributed to being overlooked?

    Three Wooden Crosses should have won in 2003. Maybe it would have if Johnny Cash hadn’t died before the show.

    A few others:

    “People Are Crazy” would have been my choice in 2009, “One More Day” in 2001, “All the Good Ones Are Gone” in ’97, “Time Marches On” in ’96 (did it influence Kacey Musgraves “Merry Go Round”?) and “I Feel Lucky” in ’92 .

  3. Like with Album Of The Year, I cannot believe that Dolly Parton has never won this category. And what’s more insulting is that among the three times she’s nominated, none are for songs she’s written herself.

  4. Dolly’s best songs were her least commercial so her lack of success in this category does not surprise me

    I would have picked Johnny Bush’s “Undo The Right” as the best single of 1968 but it wasn’t even nominated nor was Johnny Darrell’s “Why You Been Gone So Long”, the best single of 1969, nominated either

    Billie Jo Spears should have picked up a nomination in 1975 for “Blanket On The Ground”

  5. How in the world did Achy Breaky Heart beat out “Love Me” or “Maybe It Was Memphis”? What a tragedy that was.

  6. Re. “A Boy Named Sue”–I think the reason such a song as that can be played for laughs (and sometimes be misinterpreted for being a novelty record), is because it is so ironic and true to life (credit Shel Silverstein in that regard, since he wrote it), and because the Man In Black’s integrity makes it stick. His persona and his reputation were and are as such that, if country music had anything close to an ambassador, it’d be him (IMHO).

  7. This is an amazing list. I became a country fan in the early 70s, while in my early teens. This prompts some wonderful memories of great artists at the time. Charlie Rich. Donna Fargo. Sammi Smith. And you see artists that were dominant in their day who deserved to be, like Vince Gill and Randy Travis. Yet, as amazing as what is here is what is not here. I am stunned, for example, to see that Dolly Parton’s Jolene was not nominated (unless I missed it). Further, I agree, how does a single like Maybe it Was Memphis not win, hands down, hook-line and sinker?? No disrespect to Billy Rae Cyrus, at all, yet Pam Tillis’s single is one that should rank in the top ten country singles of all time. And, unless I missed it, Glenn Campbell’s Wichita Lineman? Yet, there are some great nominations here and some great wins. In that repect, I am thrilled to see that Lee Ann Womack won two of them. (Should have been three, with Last Call – but I just throw that in there gratuitously because I love it and melted through the floor when I heard her sing it in person. Should have won though still!) Thanks for posting this list for comment. This was fun.

  8. In addition to Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” how is it possible that these all-time country classics somehow did not merit CMA recognition in this category?

    Take Me Home, Country Roads — John Denver
    Stand by Your Man — Tammy Wynette
    Coal Miner’s Daughter — Loretta Lynn
    Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue — Crystal Gayle

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