A Country Music Conversation: Sirius Top 1000 Country Songs of All Time, #460-#451

We’re begging of you, please, don’t take this list too seriously.

 

#460

Jason Aldean, “Fly Over States”

#1 | 2012

KJC:  This needs to be here as a key representation of both Aldean’s career and the genre’s definitive shift to being about regional identity, instead of being about instrumentation and arrangement.  Still don’t care for it, though.  Too High

JK: One of Aldean’s singles that his apologists like to point to as an example of his capacity for depth, but, sorry not sorry, I just don’t hear it, and there are about 100 other guys who could sing it better, besides. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

ZK: A solid attempt at depth ruined by the choice to frame it all as reactionary anger of a lifestyle that city folks certainly couldn’t understand. It’s ironic how certain “outsiders” to the genre cast a condescending glance toward the genre, just as it’s ironic how certain country music fans adopt the same attitude toward those outsiders, when, truthfully, the best music the genre has to offer rises above those barriers and reveals a humanity to its characters and artists that portray them. A roundabout way of saying … a song for the top half? I think not. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

 

#459

Patty Loveless, “Blame it On Your Heart”

#1 | 1993

JK: I get that this and “I Try to Think About Elvis” are among the most fun singles of their era, but I would never have this as one of my choices to represent one of the most compelling catalogues in all of country music. I’d probably keep this one far lower on this list, but I’d be just as inclined to swap it out for “Chains,” “Don’t Toss Us Away,” “On Your Way Home,” or about a dozen others. Too High

ZK: I didn’t expect the entirety of Mountain Soul to pop up here, mind you. But I agree with Kevin that, while fun, this isn’t a Loveless song that justifies such a high ranking. Too High

KJC: A fun ditty that doesn’t come close to being one of the dozen or so Loveless tracks that could justify such a high ranking.  Too High

 

#458

Brad Paisley, “This is Country Music”

#2 | 2010

ZK: I believe Paisley is the sort of witty writer who could write country music’s “National Anthem,” if, for whatever reason, we ever needed to replace “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.” He just needs to try again, because this ain’t it. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC: No, it isn’t.  This was Paisley’s noble and vain attempt to keep the genre tethered to its roots, but the breakout artists of the decade that followed made sure that the cord was cut.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: I especially loved how Paisley dropped this line about mentioning cancer in a song, and then Martina McBride immediately was all, “OMG, you guys, I haven’t yet,” and released “I’m Gonna Love You Through It” within a matter of weeks. Both songs are just terrible. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

 

#457

Dolly Parton, “Jolene”

#1 | 1973

KJC:  This is Parton’s most recognizable and most treasured record these days.  I wouldn’t have quibbled with it being #1.  Too Low

JK: If you heard a blood-curdling scream of profanity from the direction of Kentucky, sorry, that was me. Too Low

ZK: Given how Dolly Parton is one legend who still draws considerable cultural attention today, I’m appalled at how low this is. It’s an excellent song in its own right, of course, which just makes this placement even more baffling. Too Low 

 

#456

Heartland, “I Loved Her First”

#1 | 2006

JK: Anyone who believes this maudlin and, frankly, creepy embodiment of those toxic Daddy-Daughter Purity Balls is better than “Jolene” needs to be fired out of a cannon straight into the sun. So Wrong (Belongs On A Watchlist)

ZK: When we say, “this act probably belongs here,” we don’t mean literally everyone who’s ever had a chart hit. This is a one-hit wonder band that went for an obvious song choice and somehow butchered it so badly in the framing. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

 

KJC:  A less noxious “Butterfly Kisses,” for what it’s worth.  This is another one of those big hits that could’ve appeared 500 entries ago, and I’d still be wrestling with whether or not it was Too High. 

 

#455

Don Williams, “I Believe in You”

#1 | 1980

ZK: Spoiler alert: Kip Moore’s “Somethin’ ‘Bout A Truck” and Brad Paisley’s “Ticks” are just ahead of this. It shouldn’t surprise you at this point, but … you know, fun facts and all. Too Low 

KJC: Too low. Too low. Dear God, dear God, it’s just Too Low. 

JK: Thanks to “Jolene,” this manages not to be the most indefensible placement in this batch. Which it would be otherwise. Too Low

 

#454

Hank Williams with His Drifting Cowboys, “Move it On Over”

#4 | 1947

KJC:  A honky tonk classic that helped launch Williams into superstardom.  This ranking is About Right.

JK: A classic track done right in this section. Imagine. About Right

ZK: I prefer Williams’ sad, poetic numbers, but this is an upbeat classic that, at least when weighing in cultural significance, could be even higher. Too Low 

 

#453

Rascal Flatts, “These Days”

#1 | 2002

JK: I don’t actively hate this the way I hate almost everything else they’ve ever released. Put it in the first 100 and call it a day. Too High

ZK: This is one of their best, but the only single I can see of theirs making the top half – and that’s if I’m a good mood and feeling generous – is “I’m Movin’ On.” It’s not here, so … Too High

KJC: I agree with Zack.  The one-two punch of “I’m Movin’ On” and “These Days” was enough for me to suspect that Rascal Flatts might become a favorite of mine.  Then I bought the Melt album and listened to it, and such silly thoughts never crossed my mind again.  Too High

 

#452

Alabama, “Take Me Down”

#1 | 1982

ZK: This is one of those songs that I’m surprised didn’t halt the band’s momentum earlier than, say, “The Cheap Seats” or “Tar Top” did. Not bad, but is it really worth the fuss? So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC: It didn’t get any bigger than Alabama in the early 80’s.  But you don’t need to include all of the hits from that time, Sirius.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: I honestly did not recall this one at all, which puts it slightly ahead of most of their other inclusions that I’ve wanted to axe from the list. And yet, this in no way belongs ahead of “Jolene” or “I Believe In You.” So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

 

#451

Miranda Lambert, “Over You”

#1 | 2012

KJC:  So it’s a Song of the Year winner penned by two superstars nearing their popularity peaks, and it went to #1 and it’s written from personal loss and it’s hard not to feel like a heel saying that it’s just not that good.  I understand its inclusion, but again, at least 500 slots too high.  Too High

JK: The worst song of Lambert’s entire career. The lyrics are beneath a songwriter of her caliber– those month rhymes are a fucking tragedy– and knowing a song’s backstory shouldn’t be a prerequesite for giving it depth it otherwise lacks on its own merits. She overcooks the vocal in a way she rarely does, and the production sounds like a Coldplay knockoff. “Vice” should be here, instead. So Wrong (This Song)

ZK: A powerful performance here covers up a poor songwriting effort. One of her most wildly overrated songs. So Wrong (This Song)

 

Previous: #470-#461 | Next:  #450-#441

 

10 Comments

  1. Re. “Jolene”: I think it’s safe to say that this is really the first of Dolly’s songs that found an audience beyond country, as it managed to get up to #60 on the Hot 100 in early 1974. And it certainly belongs here because it was the true start of her becoming an ambassador for the genre, even if some of the things she would eventually do would drive people to distraction.

    Re. “I Believe In You”: Another good one on the list, from the man known as the “Gentle Giant”. It may be of interest to note that both Eric Clapton and Pete Townsend (the latter of The Who) were fans of Don Williams’.

    Re. “Fly Over States” (@ ZK): The big problem I have with that song, and with Aldean overall, is that he seems to think that all city and coastal people hold rural and country people in contempt. There’s no question that some of them do. But Aldean himself seems to frame that very rural experience as a mere lifestyle, rather than what it actually is, a way of life; and I just wonder if he doesn’t recognize the difference between the two. He doesn’t seem to in that song (IMHO).

  2. Tough bunch of songs – I agree with most of the comments – I think Dolly’s “Jolene” should be slotted somewhere between 50 and 100, and that Hank’s “Move It On Over” is too low. It is hard to come up with Rascal Flatts and Jason Aldean songs that I don’t detest but the two songs here are are among those few – but both are way too high.

    I agree that there should be more Patty Loveless and much more Suzy Bogguss on this list – both are among my favorite female county artists.

    I also think that the Don Williams song probably belongs in the 101-200 slot somewhere.

    Alabama was a freight train that steamrolled the country charts and didn’t begin to lose momentum until after 1990. “Take Me Down” was their second biggest Billboard Top 100 pop chart hit. I didn’t really appreciate Alabama as much until the shlock that replaced it surfaced in the early 00s. Then I found myself wishing to hear more Alabama on the radio.

    Funny thing – a niece of mine, who knows I love country music, gave me Rascal Flatts Greatest Hits Volume 1 for Christmas back in 2008 – it is a two disc set (the second disk is three standard classic Christmas songs that are actually good), but the first disc is, well, Rascal Flatts. I listened to it once at the time and a few years ago when the niece was visiting, I played it again while she was here (she loved it). I have not played the first disc since then, but it probably was better than a lot of the bro-country that followed it.

  3. As far as me taking this list seriously, well, that ship sailed a looong time ago, though I have to admit it still irks me a bit at times, especially with this batch having some of the most maddening rankings yet. At this point, though, it’s mostly been amusing to see the ridiculous selections/rankings and to read you guys reactions.

    As already mentioned, the Dolly and Don Williams selections are waaay to low. One of Dolly’s most recognizable signature songs simply has no business being this low on the list, and I certainly wouldn’t have argued with “I Believe In You” being somewhere in the top 100. To read that both the atrocious “Ticks” and “Something Bout A Truck” made it ahead of these…I have no words. If it wasn’t clear before that this list was made with a bias towards modern country, it sure as heck is now.

    You guys pretty much nailed it with the comments on Jason Aldean’s “Fly Over States,” especially on how modern country has become more about regional identity and lifestyle rather than songs about everyday emotions, telling stories, memorable melodies, and having unique instrumentation from other genres. And especially yes to everything Zackary said!

    I always really enjoyed “Blame It On Your Heart,” but yeah, other songs from Patty deserve to be this high on the list, for sure. Songs of her’s I’d personally rank ahead of this one: “Lonely Too Long,” “Hurt Me Bad (In A Real Good Way),” “You Don’t Seem To Miss Me,” “You Don’t Even Know Who I Am,” “Nothin’ But The Wheel,” “You Can Feel Bad,” “To Have You Back Again,” and likely more, but those were off the top of my head.

    “These Days” is definitely one of the Flatts’ better singles, but yes, too high. I wouldn’t mind seeing them on the list as much if this were one of the only few songs that were here to represent them, along with “I’m Moving On” and another one of their tolerable early hits. My favorite song of theirs is actually one on the Melt album called “My Worst Fear.”

    For me, “Take Me Down” is enjoyable early 80’s pop country, but it’s too high and has no business being ranked ahead of the Parton and Williams songs.

    I disliked “This Is Country Music” the moment I first heard Brad do it on the CMA’s, and I swear I cringed all the way though the performance. Easily one of my least favorites from him, and he’s had plenty to choose from in the past decade and a half. Rememember “Who Needs Pictures” and “He Didn’t Have To Be”? THAT was country music. And good country music, at that.

    Ugghh, “I Loved Her First” has to be one of the most heavily overrated songs from mid 00’s soccer mom era. Somehow I knew it would manage to pop up somewhere on this list. If they were gonna include one hit wonder bands, I would’ve much rather seen Perfect Stranger’s “You Have The Right To Remain Silent” or The Buffalo Club’s “If She Don’t Love You.”

    The beautiful melody is what makes “Over You” still listenable for me, but yes, it definitely falls flat lyrically, and therefore it doesn’t quite hold up as well as it should’ve. Too high, indeed.

  4. Meh. I’d put “Move it On over” a little higher but not much. And “Jolene” would be too low if its ranking number were cut in half.

  5. Oh, Brad Paisley. After Part II he got to trying too hard and failing so miserably at it (with the exception of “Whiskey Lullaby”). Frankly, I would’ve liked to see “Too Country” in the place of this song.

    I am so very glad to see that I was not the only one creeped out by “I Loved Her First.” I thought it was every bit as bad as “Butterfly Kisses,” just in a different way that I can’t quite explain. (The mention of these songs reminds me yet again that I still have not yet gotten a good answer to my question of why “mama’s boy” is so often a pejorative while “daddy’s girl” is not.)

    Gotta beg to differ on the Alabama tune. That particular song’s always been a big favorite of mine. Pretty much every one of their singles from 1980-85 was golden for me, in fact, and for as big a fan as I am of the ’80s neotraditionalist movement and traditional country in general, that’s saying a lot.

  6. Brad pretty much lost me as a loyal fan by the third album, as well, though there are some good cuts on it like “The Best Thing I Had Goin'” “Hold Me In Your Arms (And Let Me Fall),” and his cover of “Is It Raining At Your House.” From that point on, he’s been very hit or miss for me with quite a few misses, especially on the novelties and songs like this one where he was so obviously pandering to the modern mainstream country audience. It’s too bad, because I remember how I used to be so enthusiastic about him, especially after I got his “Who Needs Pictures” album back in 2000.

    Pistolero, I’m also with you on “mama’s boy” vs. “daddy’s girl.” It’s also always annoyed me how the former is often seen as an insult/weakness while the latter is mostly okay. And this is coming from someone who considers herself a “daddy’s girl.”

  7. I had forgotten about the remake of “Is It Raining At Your House”! That one was pretty good. I think I have said this here before, but Brad Paisley strikes me as the 2000s version of Tracy Byrd — a pretty good voice completely wasted on novelty songs. Tracy is by far the better singer, though, IMO.

    I actually asked my wife the question about “mama’s boy” vs ” daddy’s girl,” and her answer of “sexism” was just so obvious that I thought, “Well, of course.” I don’t know why I never thought about that, but it’s still quite aggravating.

    Also, for anything by Don Williams to be ranked lower than something like “Ticks” is almost blasphemous. Look, I know novelty songs have their place, but I’m just not real keen on people making entire careers out of them.

  8. That’s actually a pretty good comparison, though some of Paisley’s novelties annoy me more than Tracy Byrd’s. You’re also totally right on Byrd being the better singer. I don’t mind a harmless novelty song every now and then, either, but an artist usually begins to lose me when they start going back to that well too many times. It’s even more frustrating when that artist has shown in the past that they’re capable of much better.

    I also have yet to hear any song by Don Williams that deserves to be ranked lower than “Ticks” or “Somethin’ Bout A Truck.”

    Oh, and Pistolero, I think your wife may be right, unfortunately.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.