A Country Music Conversation: Sirius Top 1000 Country Songs of All Time, #530-#521

I’ve got eighteen curse words about the placement of #521, and a dozen of them are too explicit to print.

#530

Rodney Atkins, “If You’re Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)”

#1 | 2006

JK: A marginal talent who got real, real lucky with his first hit. Better produced than many of the chart-toppers of its era, if nothing else. Too High

KJC:  His signature song has earned its placement on the list. It’s just Too High.

ZK: Many of Atkins’ hits haven’t aged well, but this has always been an inspirational song with an actual kick to it. Too High 

 

#529

Willie Nelson, “The Party’s Over”

#24 | 1967

KJC:  One of the central flaws of this list is it picked a small handful of artists and told their entire story, which edged out compelling hits from artists not in that small handful.  This didn’t need to be here.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: I like this inclusion as a testament to Nelson’s stylistic diversity. But wow, is it over-ranked in relation to his other entries. Too High

ZK: As wonderfully written as anything else in his discography, which is why I’m sad it’s ruined by an awkward marriage of Nashville Sound production and Nelson’s delivery. Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy it’s here; I’m just glad the rest of his discography didn’t end up sounding like this. Too High? 

 

#528

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

#1 | 1984

JK: Another example of how the genre’s men used to be able to sing about lust without being gross or sleazy. Lord, have mercy, indeed. About Right

KJC: It doesn’t reach the dizzying heights of “Louisiana Saturday Night,” but few records do, anyway.  This record is evidence that McDaniel could’ve been a big hitmaker if he’d gotten his hands on the rights songs more often.  About Right

ZK: Because every genre has its share of good ass anthems. Too High

 

#527

Thomas Rhett, “It Goes Like This”

#2 | 2013

KJC: Fine, put it in the bottom one hundred.  Too High

JK: The only positive I can offer is that, when I first read the title, I had a moment of panic that it was going to be a spin on Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” and then a sense of relief that it was merely as run-of-the-mill bad as everything else in Rhett’s catalogue. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

ZK: It’s far from the worst song in his discography, but it was his first real “hit,” so … 

Damn you, nepotism. Oh, almost forgot the obligatory “Thomas Rhett can’t sing” comment. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

 

#526

Merle Haggard, “Ramblin’ Fever”

#2 | 1977

JK: Not my favorite Haggard entry, but it’s still far too good to be ranked one slot above anything by Thomas Rhett. Too High

KJC: Hard to argue against a Haggard inclusion, as I’m on the record in my belief that he’s the greatest male artist in country music history.  This one’s Too High, though. 

ZK: It’s a shame this only really cuts loose toward the end. Thematically, Haggard has more interesting songs in this vein in his discography. With 1000 selections, it probably deserves to be here, but it’s Too High. 

 

#525

Hank Williams, Jr., “All My Rowdy Friends are Coming Over Tonight”

#10 | 1984

KJC: This might be the exact moment where Williams Jr. transitioned from artist to personality, as the entire conceit of the song is play off the far superior “All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down.”  There’s none of the pathos of “Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound” here, but there’s a gloriously cheesy video that would make Robert Palmer blush.  That’s something, I guess. Too High

JK: A shockingly low placement, but I’ll concede my bias that this is one of the first country singles I remember loving as a kid. Too Low

ZK: Aside from a few singles, I will gladly get down with ’80s Hank Williams Jr. Too Low

 

#524

Kenny Chesney, “Living in Fast Forward”

#1 | 2006

JK: I cannot fathom thinking this is better than “Anything But Mine.” So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC:  Hi, I’m “Who You’d Be Today,” one of the finest singles in Chesney’s catalog and the single that preceded this one.  I’ve got a video that KJC still can’t get through without crying, too.  I should be here and not my follow-up.  So Wrong (This Song)

ZK: He’s still got some good selections left on this list, so we can most certainly fast forward through this one. So Wrong (This Song)

 

#523

Tompall Glaser, “Put Another Log On the Fire (Male Chauvinist National Anthem)”

#21 | 1975

KJC:  Funny and forward-thinking for its time, but way Too High.  

JK: More tongue-in-cheek than I remembered, but his version of “Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again” would be in my top 5 entries, and it isn’t on here at all, so… So Wrong (This Song)

ZK: It’s a self-aware lampoon with an undercooked composition, but as the only Glaser cut featured here? Nah, Sirius could have done better … which is a general observation, really. So Wrong (This Song)

 

#522

Keith Urban, “Better Life”

#1 | 2005

JK: The best of Urban’s uptempo cuts, with a terrific little guitjo figure and a narrative that actually speaks to the country tradition. No one of his era did this brand of pop-country better, and hits like this draw into sharp relief the bloated, overwrought self-importance of his more recent output. Too Low

KJC:  It still sounds fresh today, with that signature sound that nobody was able to match and that Urban himself hasn’t tried to live up to in many, many years. That being said, this sound was captured definitively by “Somebody Like You,” and this variation on it is just Too High.

ZK: 2000s Keith Urban is the equivalent of ear candy, and while I enjoy the bright-eyed optimism of this song, I’ve always considered it one of Urban’s more forgettable cuts. So “Wrong” (This Song)

 

#521

Kathy Mattea, “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses”

#1 | 1988

KJC:   This list should have five Kathy Mattea songs, minimum.  This is the only one.  For the record, it should be:  “Where’ve You Been” in the top 100, this one in the top 200, and then “Love at the Five and Dime,” “Walking Away a Winner,” and “Come From the Heart” at respectable positions on the rest of the list.  Mattea’s “Five and Dime” arguably kicked open the door for the wave of female artists that saddled country, folk, and seventies rock.  She’s a criminally underappreciated artist who deserved better than this one entry that is bafflingly Too Low. 

JK: Country music has always done right by truck drivers, and this is far and away the best song in that vein. That it’s only like my seventh or eighth favorite Mattea single is a testament to the depth of her underrated career. She’s a treasure, and the warmth in her delivery here simply never gets old. Too Low

ZK: Truthfully, I can’t get that mad at this list. It’s a bizarre hodgepodge of fun in its own weird way. Seeing this only top out here, though, is enough to make my blood boil. Too Low

 

Previous: #540-#531 | Next:  #520-#511

7 Comments

  1. Re. “The Party’s Over”: If I’m not mistaken, this was the catchphrase that Don Meredith borrowed when he did color commentary for the Monday Night Football telecasts on ABC (“Turn out the lights/the party’s over”). I agree that the song isn’t necessarily one of Willie’s best known things, for all the reasons stated–but I’ve heard far worse.

    Re. Kathy Mattea: Yes, having only a single entry onto the list for someone as vital as her is, at best, weird, and at worst manifestly unfair. She was part of that great 16-year period for female artists that arguably started with the release of the Trio (Dolly/Linda/Emmylou) album in 1987, and was kiboshed with the Chicks’ banishment in 2003.

  2. I agree w KJC that Kathy Mattea should have at least 5 songs on this list. Narrowing it down to 5 would be tough for me.

    Atkins’ Going Through Hell song is the only song of his I like.

  3. I actually kind of like Thomas Rhett, and do think his more recent work has made him a bit better of a vocalist, not anything great, but not anything awful.

    “It Goes Like This” is still pretty bad though

  4. Actually “Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again” would be Tompall & The Glaser Brothers, not Tompall as a solo artist. I think “Put Another Log On The Fire” belongs (it’s another tongue-in-cheek Shel Silverstein masterpiece)but it is a bit too high.

    Mel McDaniel actually recorded some pretty good material but at the wrong time for the market. “Love Lies” and “Hello Daddy, Good Morning Darling” were pretty good songs but neither made much of a dent on the charts.

    While I agree that this list has too little Kathy Mattea, I don’t agree that “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses” is the best of the trucking subgenre songs – it’s not even close – Dave Dudley alone has five or six songs that would bury this one, not to mention artists like Dick Curless, Red Simpson and Del Reeves (other than perhaps Dave Dudley I wouldn’t expect any of these names to show up on this list).

    Hank Jr’s pre-outlaw recordings are severely underrated

  5. I do enjoy the Mel McDaniel song. And I enjoy “Put Another Log on the Fire” I agree that Kathy Mattea should have many more songs on this list and Eighteen Wheels should be much higher!

  6. Wow..can’t believe Kathy Mattea has only one song on the list. What an absolute shame, but can’t say I’m too surprised with the treatment Suzy Bogguss got. They did pick a good one, though. I’ve loved “Eighteen Wheels” ever since I was little, and it’s definitely a classic. That gorgeous steel guitar solo at the end is the icing on the cake. It’s a crime that “Where’ve You Been” didn’t make it, and I second the mentions of “Love At The Five And Dime,” and “Walking Away A Winner.” Some of my other favorites are “Goin’ Gone,” “You’re The Power,” “The Battle Hymn Of Love,” “Whole Lotta Holes,” “Asking Us To Dance,” and “Standing Knee Deep In A River.”

    I actually really like the Willie Nelson song, and it’s pretty neat to hear him during his clean shaven, pre outlaw days with typical 60’s Nashville Sound production.

    “All My Rowdy Friends” is always fun, and I enjoy most 80’s Hank Jr., but I agree with Kevin that “All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down” is superior. In fact that’s probably my favorite Hank Jr. song, overall.

    I agree that this is probably the only Rodney Atkins song that really belongs here. Still, he was heavily overrated during the second half of the 00’s, imo. BTW, anyone recall or even heard “In A Heartbeat,” his actual debut single from 1997? It’s like hearing a completely different artist compared to what he mostly put out the next two decades. I love the Roy Orbison influence he had going then, and it’s too bad he didn’t stick with that sound.

    Never was a fan of the Kenny Chesney or Keith Urban songs and neither belong here, imo. Just more boring, forgettable mid 00’s country.

    Not a Thomas Rhett fan, but this is one of his more tolerable singles and not quite as poppy compared to most of what he’s released afterwards.

  7. “If Youre Goin Through hell” and “Eighteen Wheels” could both be in the top 100. WTH?! And I also would put a few other songs from Kathy here: “Five and Dime”, “Come From the Heart,” and how the hell do you completely leave out “Where’ve you been?”

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