A Country Music Conversation: Sirius Top 1000 Country Songs of All Time, #900-#891

This part of the list kicks off with an antidote for the heat waves hitting across America.

#900

Johnny Horton, “When it’s Springtime in Alaska (It’s 40 Below)”

#1 | 1959

JK: One of the more shocking aspects of this list is that all three of Horton’s #1 hits were included, and they’re ranked in the correct relative order. I’ve always felt that the narrative of this one was a bit undercooked, relying on its distinctive title to do a lot of the heavy lifting, but it’s still a classic record. About Right

KJC: Johnny Horton was a mainstay on our car stereo growing up, but this one was never in the rotation for some reason. Shame. It’s a good one.  Check out the understated cover by Johnny & June, too. About Right

#899

Joe Diffie, “John Deere Green”

#5 | 1993

KJC:  Great storyline, and probably the birthplace of his Joe Ditty moniker, for better or for worse.  It still makes me smile today. About Right

JK: Diffie’s usually a fine vocalist, but he leans way too hard into camp on this performance, turning what should’ve been a fun novelty single into something that I’ve always found condescending to its characters. Compare this to Mark Chesnutt’s performance on “Bubba Shot the Jukebox” to illustrate the difference and why it matters. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

#898

The Band Perry, “Done”

#8 | 2013

JK: I included this on my ballot for our 2013 best-of feature, and I don’t regret it. If anything, this country-meets-early-aughts-dancepunk single still sounds ahead of the curve in terms of its production, which makes The Band Perry’s decision to record some truly awful EDM all the more baffling. About Right

KJC:   The Band Perry were at least interesting with their choices, but I’m ready to start calling things out for being too highly ranked.  Too High

#897

Vern Gosdin, “If You’re Gonna Do Me Wrong (Do it Right)”

#5 | 1983

KJC:  This is pure, beer-sippin’ country the way it’s meant to be sung. Bonus points for the haunting album artwork. About Right

JK:  It isn’t the most clever wordplay in country music history, but Gosdin’s voice could elevate damn near anything he sang. This one earned him a Grammy nomination, and rightfully so, and his two signature hits are still to come on this list. About Right

#896

Dierks Bentley, “How am I Doin’”

#4 | 2004

JK: I’ll go to bat for Bentley– well, outside of his just awful Black era, that is– but there’s no way on God’s green Earth that this single is better than “I Never Go Around Mirrors.” I mean, come the entire way on. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC:  I can get on board with a bucketload of Bentley, but this bucket’s got a hole in it.  So Wrong (This Song)

#895

George Strait, “Easy Come, Easy Go”

#1 | 1993

KJC:   Should’ve been higher. Could’ve been lower.  Easy come, easy go. Too Low

JK: When we did our “Best Singles of the 90s” countdown for Slant, our editor found it odd that I wanted to make sure that I got the order of Madonna’s singles right on my ballot. Whoever ranked this list had no such concerns whatsoever when it came to George Strait. “Easy Come, Easy Go” is one of the best of his 90s run of #1s. Too Low

#894

Tyler Farr, “Whiskey in My Water”

#11 | 2013

JK: A referendum on how low the bar for quality songwriting has been re-set in this decade. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC:  No.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

#893

Carrie Underwood with Randy Travis, “I Told You So”

#2 | 2009

KJC:  I like the contrast of their two voices, but having just the original on the list would suffice. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: I appreciate that Underwood chose to cover this song, but I’ve never bought her performance on the recorded version, which goes for full-bore bombast on a song better served by nuance. Travis’ original recipe should be here, instead. So Wrong (This Song)


#892

Willie Nelson, “Nothing I Can Do About it Now”

# 1 | 1989

KJC:  Weird how 1990 became such a dividing line.  It’s hard to believe Nelson could go from having a #1 single to close out the eighties as the top singles artist, and then disappear from the dial completely.  Good on Sirius XM for remembering this gem from the tail end of Nelson’s impressive run at country radio. About Right

JK: Nelson has so many iconic singles that this, his final #1 hit, is often forgotten. I’m glad to see it included here, and it’s ranked in the correct relation to his other entries. About Right

#891

Lady Antebellum, “Our Kind of Love”

#1 | 2010

JK: We’re barely 100 entries through this list, and I’ve run out of ways to describe how soul-crushingly dull Lady Antebellum is. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC:  I’m with Jonathan. They’re just so boring. Their logo is more creative than anything they’ve ever recorded. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

Previous: #910-#901  | Next: #890-#881

5 Comments

  1. 3 things that jump out to me, regarding this section of this list:

    1. I like me some Joe Diffie, but like a lot of the artists listed…they just didn’t include his more serious work. “Home” and “Ships That Don’t Come in” should absolutely be on this list over what they ended up choosing. I liked “John Deere Green” as a kid, but even as far as novelty songs go…I’d sooner go with “If The Devil Danced in Empty Pockets” than what was chosen for this list (Sans “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox, a ridiculous classic that I completely support being here.)

    2. As much as “The Band Perry” is kinda considered a joke now due their public meltdown…I agree that I thought they were a pretty fresh act when they came out. This, “Better Dig Two”, and “If I Die Young” honestly do deserve to be on a legitimate list. It makes their current status even sadder, when you realize the potential they threw away.

    3. Love the Vern Gosdin choice, and agree that “Easy Come, Easy Go” should be much higher. That song is probably in my top 5 Strait tunes.

  2. Much like Tracy Byrd, Joe Diffie had a fine voice that was utterly wasted on novelty songs. I probably would have replaced JDG with “Ships That Don’t Come In.” I always thought the latter was a tremendously underrated song.

    Is Horton’s “Whispering Pines” on this list? Because that’s a great, great song. I was always amused at people who referred to “When It’s Springtime in Alaska…” as a novelty song, though. I mean, the dude gets knifed to death at the end. Doesn’t get much more serious than that.

  3. Re. “Done” by The Band Perry: They do very well with traditionalist material like “If I Die Young” or “Better Dig Too”. When it comes to “Done”, however, they come undone, in my opinion. Kim Perry tries to “rock out” on that song, and her voice has none of the heft necessary for the genre like, say, Linda Ronstadt or Pat Benatar. And that final “Unh!” at the end bu her is absolutely repellent to my ears.

  4. I agree with PSU Mike re Joe Diffie’s “Ships That Don’t Come In” and “If the Devil Danced in Empty Pockets”. Also liked Diff’s duet w Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Not Too Much to Ask”.

    My most frequently played Band Perry song in my i-tunes library is “Double Heart”. “Better Dig Two” is a distant 2nd.

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