A Country Music Conversation: Sirius Top 1000 Country Songs of All Time, #890-#881

Some odd choices for otherwise worthy artists here, as well as two of the best duets of all time.

#890

Kenny Rogers & Kim Carnes, “Don’t Fall in Love With a Dreamer”

#3 | 1980

JK:  Blasphemy, maybe, but I prefer this Rogers duet to “Islands in the Stream,” but I’m a sucker for a raspy voice like Carnes’ (or Bonnie Tyler’s, whose “It’s a Heartache” should be on this list). About Right

KJC:  One thing that this list has taught me is that this duet came out before “Bette Davis Eyes.” I always assumed it was a trendy collaboration inspired by Kim Carnes hitting it big for a brief spell.  What a sad song this is. I like my eighties pop country with a healthy dose of heartbreak. About Right

LW:  Their voices meld together so seamlessly and passionately! About Right

#889

Little Big Town, “Day Drinking”

#4 | 2014

KJC:  I don’t begrudge them their multiple Vocal Group wins, but this wasn’t exactly a highlight of their peak hitmaking years.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: Has any A-list act ever had such a hot-or-ice-cold track record at radio as LBT? This bald-faced “Pontoon” retread may have been one of their chart-toppers, but “Sober,” their best single by miles, is the one that should be on this list. So Wrong (This Song)

LW:  With so many great songs to choose from, once again, this song’s inclusion is a head scratcher.  How many different ways are there to say that? So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong) 

#888

Mel Tillis, “I Got the Hoss”

#3 | 1977

JK: Weird how the Sirius team who made this list knew that they should include Tillis and went out of their way to make strange choices like this one for him, but, once again, there is only one Connie Smith song. So Wrong (This Song)

KJC:  If we ever do this list, there will be exponentially more Tillis on it.  Whoever picked the entries for the elder Tillis wasn’t terribly familiar with his material.  So Wrong (This Song)

LW: There are so many better Tillis songs. So Wrong (This Song)

#887

Tim McGraw, “Felt Good On My Lips”

#1 | 2010

KJC:  This was when they started putting too much processing on Tim McGraw’s vocals.  This is a clever song that would’ve earned a place on this list if it had been delivered with an Everywhere – style production. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: Another #1 hit from this decade that I have no recollection of ever hearing and won’t remember in a week after listening to it for this feature. McGraw has so much material like this that’s utterly forgettable. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

LW: Oh boy! How is this song on any Best Of list?, even a list of 1000?  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

#886

Travis Tritt & Marty Stuart, “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’”

#2 | 1991

JK: I made an iPod playlist last winter of my picks for the best country singles of the 90s, and I had this killer duet in my top 50. It’s the sound of two friends just shooting the shit and having an amazing time doing so. Too Low

KJC:  One of the best collaborations of the nineties.  You can hear the camaraderie on the record. I think I’d even bump it up a little.  Too Low

LW: Such a great sing-along duet and kind of a nineties classic!  Too Low

#885

Buck Owens, “Sam’s Place”

#1 | 1967

KJC:  Conspiracy theory alert: Paul Simon heard this on an AM radio station while touring the American south and cribbed “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” from it.  About Right

JK: Oh my God, I’d never made that connection before, but that’s perfect. Not my favorite Buck, but I’m happy this one is here. Too High

 

#884

Alan Jackson, “She’s Got the Rhythm (and I Got the Blues)”

#1 | 1992

JK: I don’t recall hearing this hit as a recurrent after its run to the top, and that’s a shame: It’s among the most clever songs in Jackson’s catalogue! About Right

KJC:  Co-written by Randy Travis, this is one of those obvious constructs that makes you wonder how nobody thought of it before. His deadpan “Yee-haw” is still my favorite moment of this vintage hit.  About Right

#883

Florida Georgia Line, “Sippin’ On Fire”

#3 | 2015

KJC:  I think I’ll take the ambien listening experience of Lady Antebellum over suffering through Florida Georgia Line. This record is actively painful to listen to. The way they drag out the “ers” in the chorus hurts my ears.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: I will grant them the construction of the hook on “Cruise.” But, my God, the rest of their catalogue is just grim. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

LW: I am disgusted!  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

#882

Alabama, “High Cotton”

#1 | 1989

JK: When I said a couple of entries back that I never cared for Alabama, this was one of the singles I was thinking of. The production is so cornpone that it approaches camp. But I know the cheese stands alone on this one. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC:  Southern Star was one of the best Alabama albums, and it helped to update their sound to the more traditional style that was in favor in the late eighties and early nineties. “High Cotton” is one of the album’s better tracks, and one of the band’s better singles overall.  About Right

LW: I knew the chorus of this song even before I knew anything about country music.  This slice of life sing along is a classic in my mind. Too Low

#881

Lee Brice, “A Woman Like You”

#1 | 2011

KJC:  A pretty good single with the attention to detail that a believable love song needs.  This won’t date horribly like so many other songs from this time period. About Right

JK: I don’t actively hate this, so that puts it ahead of many other hits of its era. Not something I’d personally go to bat for, but there are far more offensive choices still to come… Too High

 

Previous: #900-#891  | Next: #880-#871

10 Comments

  1. I love me some “High Cotton” (sorry JK), and think it should be higher, at least as far as their choices for Alabama go. Kevin brought up an interesting point about the album, “Southern Star”, being a change in direction. IIRC, I think they switched from their long-time producer who did most of their 80s albums, Harold Shedd, and then changed to Barry Beck/Josh Leo for this album. It really is a good album, and the production changes definitely freshened up their sound for a few years.

    There are actually some nice choices here (Buck Owens, Alan Jackson, Tritt/Marty, Lee Brice) interchanged with some obvious clunkers. Regarding FGL, they are going to be listed a lot more (and all of the choices to me are awful, sans “Dirt”, which is more mediocre and probably shouldn’t be here either) The only thing I will say is their track record of hilarious awfulness (seriously, I’ve laughed at loud at how bad some of their songs are)) may be unmatched in country music history. It amazes me that somebody sat down and wrote something as absurd as “Sun Daze” or “H.O.L.Y”. I have no idea where the winds of change will take country music, or how much worse it can get…but I truly believe that the day will come where people are going to look back, and laugh like hell that Florida Georgia Line was ever actually popular.

  2. “High Cotton” Should be a little higher, but this isn’t unreasonable.
    “She’s got the Rhythm” isn’t bad, and probably ranked about right. Ditto “Day Drinkin.”
    FGL simply doesn’t belong anywhere on this list.

  3. @ PSU Mike:

    Re. FGL’s awfulness: Sad to say, the guy who signed them, Scott Borchetta, either has a tin ear or is comfortable with processed Autotune stuff. Forty or fifty years ago, i doubt their junk would get aired; but that was back when there were actual gatekeepers at the labels. Now, it’s all about what makes the most money. And as the great American writer Upton Sinclair once opined: “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it.”

  4. @ Erik

    I like the Sinclair quote. Kind of makes me think of the scene in “A Hard Day’s Night” where George Harrison belittles the people who want to put him on that tv show, and they try and tell him what’s hip.

    In the last 30 or 35 years, the best comparison I could actually make to Florida Georgia Line was maybe Sawyer Brown back when they popped in the mid 80s. They were definitely style over substance when they came out, as evidenced by their crazy music videos at the time (which are hilarious to watch today, from a trainwreck perspective). But 2 things happened:

    1. They stopped getting airplay with their songs, and even in their 80s period, were no where near the automatic add at radio FGL is. But, if you look at their chart history…they got to a point where they struggled getting to the top 40.
    2. That lack of success caused them to work with Mac McNally, which made them write/record music of actual depth. That led to some better material, and a period where they were pretty big in terms of commercial success in the early 90s.

    But, without the latter (them not getting airplay)…Sawyer Brown may have never made that choice. And as long as people keep buying their music/radio keeps promoting it…we will never know if FGL has anything better up their sleeve. My guess, given their track record…is they really don’t. But, we’ll never know as long as they keep making money…and that runs into the gatekeeper point that you made.

  5. @ PSU Mike:

    I definitely agree that FGL likely has nothing better in the tank. And I totally agree that as long as they keep raking in the Benjamins for Borchetta, nothing better in the tank is what country listeners are going to get from those two zanies.

  6. I’m absolutely thrilled that “Don’t Fall In Love With A Dreamer” made the list. It’s one of my favorite Kenny Rogers songs – and I have a lot of his that I love. I won’t even complain about it’s low ranking on the list.

    A lot of people may not know that Kim Carnes and her husband Dave Ellingson wrote the entire Gideon album for Kenny. Kenny wanted a concept album about a modern day cowboy. He had met the couple when they all were members of The New Christy Minstrels in the 60s- a folk group if you can believe it.

    Kim had recorded a demo of “Dreamer” with another male singer. When they presented the songs to Kenny, he stopped the tape machine after the song was finished and said to Kim “if I decide to record this, will you sing this with me?” The rest is history.

    At the time it peaked at #4 on the Hot 100 in 1980, it was Kenny’s highest ranking pop hit right after “Coward Of The County” (#3 also in 1980). Of course “Lady” would out-do both of those by the end of the year when it peaked at #1 for six weeks.

    Kenny once joked that when he and Kim sang together, it sounded like they were both hemorrhaging. But the two of them have recorded other songs together – “What About Me” and “I Prefer The Moonlight” to name a couple. “Dreamer” was their biggest hit together, though.

  7. Like Brice’s “A woman Like You”. My first new car was a ’72 Nova and my wife did Iyengar Yoga for 10 years under the tutelage of Nashville’s Aretha McKinney at 12 South Yoga. Don’t care about the football, golf, cold beer and dirt bike references but the “not one throw pillow on the bed” was a good one.

    Also like Alabama’s “High Cotton” and KR’s Dreamer song. Agree with other commenters re fgl.

  8. We get it. Connie Smith got screwed.

    Most of the songs aren’t too shabby. “Felt Good on my Lips” isn’t great but it is inoffensive. “Sippin on Fire” tries too hard but like most FGL songs, it is catchy. Just not Country.

  9. Ah, Mel Tillis. “Good Woman Blues” had better be higher on this list.

    Florida-Georgia Line shouldn’t be on this list at all. The fact that they have recording careers at all is a horrible indictment of the 2010s state of Music Row.

    Between “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin'” and “This One’s Gonna Hurt You,” I bet a Travis Tritt-Marty Stuart duet album back then would have been one for the ages. I always wondered why they didn’t do it.

  10. Thematically, “High Cotton” was a lesser remake of “Song of the South” – a paean to the South (and big government!) from the same album.

    I love Alabama, but this was lazy. In their defense, maybe it was pre-emptive to keep anyone else from getting “Song of the South II”.

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