A Country Music Conversation: Sirius Top 1000 Country Songs of All Time, #440-#431

Signature nineties hits from Tracy Lawrence, Collin Raye, and Sawyer Brown brighten up this batch.

 

#440

Tracy Lawrence, “Time Marches On”

#1 | 1996

ZK: My favorite Tracy Lawrence performance, highlighting, as Kevin notes below, the angst that comes with making the most of our time here and constantly feeling suffocated because of it. In reality, it’s a vicious cycle we have to try and enjoy, rather than fret over. About Right 

KJC: It’s below “Alibis” and “Sticks and Stones” on my list of personal Tracy Lawrence favorites, but this Bobby Braddock hit had the biggest impact back in the day.  What I love about this song is the pure banality of the lives being led by all four family members.  Life is…not that interesting, and then you die.  About Right

JK: I’m in full agreement on this one: Not my favorite Lawrence single, but that it’s all so purposefully ordinary is what elevates it. When American Beauty came out a few years later and people were acting like it was profound social commentary, I was like, “Tracy Lawrence covered all of this better, and in three and a half minutes.” In the grand scheme of things, though, I’d say this is just a skoch Too High.

 

#439

Henson Cargill, “Skip a Rope”

#1 |1967

KJC:  An underrated talent that was overshadowed by this, his first and biggest hit.   About Right

JK: Such a fantastic record that absolutely holds up. I also loved the version George Jones did on his Hits I Missed… And One I Didn’t project. About Right

ZK: I’m thrilled they included this socially conscious tune. An under the radar gem that deserves to be here, for sure. About Right 

 

#438

Brad Paisley, “Ticks”

#1 | 2007

JK: This is one of Paisley’s uptempo hits that I’ll still go to bat for. His performance is one long piss-take that shows that he’s fully aware of the absurdity, and that guitar lick that runs throughout is one of his best. That said, this one belongs in the 1000-950 range, not ahead of “Jolene.” Too High

ZK: I didn’t even think this was funny in grade school. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC:  This song is disgusting.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

 

#437

Alan Jackson, “Tall, Tall Trees”

#1 | 1995

ZK: Very few could do justice to this George Jones/Roger Miller tune, but Alan Jackson, like Jones, delivered his material with a warm simplicity that just worked. And he channeled Miller by downplaying the goofy lyrics with an effective sense of subtlety. I actually forgot how good this is, but it’s a bit too goofy for, you know, the top 500. Too High 

KJC:  Leave it to Alan Jackson to unearth a 1958 George Jones B-side that the legend wrote with Roger Miller, and turn it into one of his biggest hits. A wonderful bridge between past and present, that’s still a little Too High.

JK: A terrific cover, to be sure, but Jackson has so many entries on this list already, and I just can’t bring myself to commit to the idea that this single is one of the 1000 best or most significant songs in all of country music. I’d cut it, with at least a tinge of regret. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

 

#436

Lefty Frizzell, “If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time”

#1 | 1950

KJC:  As much as I love the Willie Nelson version, you can’t top the original.  Not enough Lefty on this list, and this entry is definitely Too Low.

JK: This is actually my favorite Frizzell cut, and I’d have it in my top 50, at the very least. Entirely Too Low.

ZK: I can’t quibble much with the placement, but there’s so much wrong with this. One, it’s the first time we’ve seen Lefty Frizzell’s name since the 900s … with “Long Black Veil,” mind you. Two, “Saginaw, Michigan” just … isn’t here at all. Three, I repeat, the placement is right, but this should have been the first Frizzell selection for this list, with those aforementioned tunes and “I Never Go Around Mirrors” somewhere in the top 100. About Right, But Still So Wrong

 

#435

Josh Turner, “Would You Go With Me”

#1 | 2006

JK: One of the few singles of Turner’s post- “Long Black Train” that truly plays to his strengths and artistic persona. A winner, but, big picture, it’s still Too High.

ZK: This feels like an easy choice to say is too high, but I’ve always loved how warm, wistful and unique the production job is here. It’s a simple little love song, but one of the best of its kind. I don’t know; blame it on nostalgia, but I think we took Josh Turner for granted in the 2000s, even if I wish more of his material felt as adventurous as this or, say, “Long Black Train.” About Right 

KJC:  This was Turner’s best single, and it is completely deserving of this ranking. About Right

 

#434

Collin Raye, “Love, Me”

#1 | 1991

ZK: Well, we already saw “Little Rock” on this list – which I wouldn’t have minded seeing here, mind you – but this is another Collin Raye single I don’t mind seeing here. Maybe it was just me revisiting it in a down year, but I liked it better then more than I ever did before. And the ending still got to me, even after all this time. Too High 

KJC: This one is still a sucker punch, almost thirty years after the first time I heard it.  As irritated as I am that the even better “Where’ve You Been” is absent entirely, I will not fault this ranking.  About Right

JK: In the same way that Martina McBride spent her career chasing another “Independence Day,” I always felt that Raye chased another song like this one and, give or take “Little Rock,” never found it. It skews maudlin, and Kevin’s exactly right that “Where’ve You Been” is the superior version of this song, but this is still well-written and thoughtfully performed. I’d bump it down a bit, though. Too High

 

#433

Little Big Town, “Pontoon”

#1 | 2012

KJC:  A career record that turned them into the dominant vocal group overnight, after years of toiling in the shadows of the lesser Rascal Flatts and Lady A.  It doesn’t belong quite this high, but it’s a keeper.  Too High

JK: I’d put it in the 900s somewhere for its impact overall and for how it was LBT’s years-overdue launch onto the A-list, but I honestly never thought much of it on its own merits. I’ll forever remain bitter that the perfect “Sober” wasn’t this big of a hit for them. Too High

ZK: Ugh … it should be here, but it’s more of a begrudging concession for a band with a history of inconsistent chart success. A roundabout way of saying there’s a good chunk of their early and current work that, in a just world, would be here instead. So Wrong (This Song)

 

#432

Mickey Gilley, “Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time”

#1 | 1976

JK: I mean, we’ve had to put up with Chase Rice for almost a decade now, so the sleaziness of this premise scans as… quaint? This is fine. It does not in any way belong in this section of the list. Too High

ZK: Innocuous, upbeat honky-tonk that really could have benefitted from a more effective singer – I’m talking charisma; not pure power. All of Gilley’s selections have felt a bit too high, but this is one I would have just outright swapped for something else. So Wrong (This Song)

KJC: My favorite story about this song has nothing to do with Gilley.  When K.T. Oslin was promoting “Younger Men,” a DJ refused to play it because he didn’t want to offend his male listeners.  K.T. asked if the DJ played this song.  When he confirmed, she responded, “don’t you think that song’s offensive to women?”  The DJ hung up on her.  Too High

 

#431

Sawyer Brown, “Some Girls Do”

#1 | 1992

ZK: At this point, we need a sixth rating: “Upbeat Ditty Is Fine, But Not Top 500 Worthy.” For now, Too High.

KJC: I’ll put the 1990-1993 run of Sawyer Brown singles up against any country band’s peak.  “Some Girls Do” is fantastic, and it’s still not in the top five of that run.  Too High

JK: They had such a brief run of true greatness, but they knocked it out of the park every single time during that run, especially in comparison to their dreadful, hacky late 80s output. This is easily the least single of their golden era, but I’d still have it on the list. Too High

 

Previous: #450-#441 | Next:  #430-#421

 

9 Comments

  1. Interesting set of songs. There is nothing on this list that I really dislike and much that I do like. Henson Cargill probably should have been a much bigger star than he turned out to be. He really was a good vocalist and he had some songs (“She Thinks I’m On That Train” and “Some Old California Memory”) that were big regional hits but didn’t break out nationally. I saw him several times on television shows and he did not seem to have a dynamic stage personality. I would have “Skip A Rope” about one hundred places higher on my list. Jimmy Dean had a really good recording on this song on one of his RCA albums.

    For some reason, most of my favorite Mickey Gilley songs were covers of older hits such as “Window Up Above” or “Room full of Roses”.

    Lefty Frizzell’s “If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time” would be somewhere in my top hundred (there would be several more Lefty songs in my top hundred)

  2. It is mind-boggling that whoever came up with this list actually thought that “Ticks” and “Pontoon” should be placed higher than “Jolene” and “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue”.

    It’s nice to see Josh Turner anywhere on this list. I agree with Zachery that I think a lot of people took Turner for granted. Such an amazing talent.

    It’s also nice to see Alan Jackson represented again, although it’s curious that the makers of this list did not notice that Jackson’s remake of “This Must Be Love” appears TWICE on this list (at 574 & 682). As much as I love Jackson, when you think of all the artists that didn’t have ONE song on the list, it’s quite a waste to have a song take up two places.

  3. Tracy Lawrence’s song is the start of this list, but I like them all, except “If Youve Got the Money.” Replace it with “Saginaw, Michigan as his only song on the list.

  4. “Time Marches On” is also not one of my top favorites from Tracy, but I do like it, and I remember thinking how cool and unique this song was back when it came out in the mid 90’s. I’d personally rank “Sticks And Stones,” “Alibis,” and several of his other 90’s hits higher, though. Love that vintage pic of Tracy, btw! That looks like him during the Sticks And Stones or Alibis era (1991-1993ish).

    Always really enjoyed “Tall Tall Trees” by AJ, and it brings back some really good childhood and elementary school memories (my 4th grade teacher was also a big country music fan, and I remember her mentioning this song when it was new). I’ve always been a sucker for those fun Cajun flavored ditties from the 90’s, as well. I have to agree with the majority, though, that I wouldn’t have it quite this high. There are several other Jackson singles I’ve would’ve put in this slot instead.

    Same pretty much goes for “Some Girls Do.” It’s another fun song that I’ve enjoyed since my childhood (I remember the video playing on CMT a lot back when it first came out), but once again there are several other Sawyer Brown songs I’d have in this spot instead (“All These Years,” “Cafe On The Corner,” “The Dirt Road,” etc.). This one would go somewhere on the back half of the list.

    Ahh…I still really love Collin Raye’s “Love, Me.” Just that opening guitar alone takes be back to my early childhood in the Fall of 1991 and Winter in early 1992. I actually remember hearing it for the first time while I was recording one of my many tapes off the radio at the time (Sadly, it was near the end of the tape, and it ended before the song finished, but no worries, I got it on a few other tapes after that. :) ) This is still one of my favorite songs from Collin, and actually, I love his entire debut album and think it’s very underrated. I’d say they got this one about right.

    I guess I’ll be in the minority on the Josh Turner song. It’s always been just “meh” to me, but that could be more due to radio running into the ground when it came out. I do like the arrangement and the warm feel of it, though. And I’m not quite as burned out on this one as I am with “Your Man,” which was even more overplayed and sung countless times on TV talent shows. For me, Josh Turner is one of those artists whose voice and overall style I really like, but found most of his albums to be inconsistent. My personal favorite from him is “As Fast As I Could,” which was never a single, but should’ve been, imo. Also love “Jacksonville” and “Unburn All Our Bridges” from his debut.

    I completely agree with Kevin’s comment on “Ticks,” and “Pontoon” quickly became annoying to me. One of the most overrated singles of the past decade, imo.

    Kevin, thank you for sharing that K.T. Oslin story! That was priceless. For the record, I have no problem with this song (it’s nothing compared to the worst of bro-country), but when it comes to Mickey Gilley I prefer most of his post Urban Cowboy material.

  5. Forgot to add, I can’t believe “Saginaw, Michigan” is not on here at all. That’s one of my all time favorite Lefty Frizzell songs, along with “Long Black Veil.” I definitely wouldn’t argue with both of them being in the top 100!

  6. Besides “Love, Me”, my favorite Collin Raye songs include “Someone You Used to Know”, “On the Verge”, “That’s My Story”, “Not That Different”. “The Time Machine”, “Little Rock”, “Anyone Else” and “A Mother and Father’s Prayer” with Melissa Manchester.
    CR is one of my favorite male vocalists. Saw him 4 times, most recently at the Nashville City Winery 2 years ago. He sounded great – no trouble hitting the high notes.

    Besides “Time Marches On”, my favorite Tracy Lawrence songs include “Is That a Tear”, “Paint Me a Birmingham, “How a Cowgirl Says Goodbye”, “Today’s Lonely Fool”, “Lessons Learned”, “Can’t Break It to My Heart”

    I like Josh Turner’s “Would You Go With Me” but my most frequently played JT song is “Why Don’t We Just Dance”.

  7. Re. “Ticks”: I can’t agree more; this doesn’t belong in any place other than a Hall of Infamy, especially when compared to “Jolene”; and Brad Paisley being a guitar “wizard” doesn’t impress me whatsoever.

    Re. “Skip A Rope”: This also made a sizeable impact crossing over onto the pop chart during the first two months of 1968 as well, peaking at a none-too-shabby #25 on the Hot 100.

  8. Bob – I REALLY love “Lessons Learned” by Tracy Lawrence. One of my favorite songs from that late 1999/early 2000 period. That always seems to be one of his more overlooked songs, too. Love most of the other TL songs you mentioned as well, along with “Texas Tornado,” “Somebody Paints The Wall,” “If You Loved Me,” “Stars Over Texas,” and “Better Man, Better Off.” He was one of the most consistent artists during the 90’s, imo. Even his early 00’s albums have a lot of hidden gems that were never released as singles (“Gettin’ Back Up,” “A Far Cry From You,” “From The Inside Out,” “The Man I Was”, etc.)

    I agree with most of your favorites from Collin Raye, as well, especially “On The Verge,” “Someone You Used To Know,” and “Anyone Else.” Also really like “Every Second,” “One Boy, One Girl” and “Couldn’t Last A Moment.”

  9. I didn’t always like “Skip A Rope,” but I came around to see it for the great song that it is. I really like Henson Cargill’s deep, rich voice. (Also, thanks to that album cover, I now want to hear his versions of “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” “Distant Drums,” “Saginaw, Michigan,” and “Green, Green Grass of Home.” One of the things I always thought was neat about country music in that era was how so many artists recorded a lot of the same songs. For the record, for my money, Merle’s version of GGGoH is the absolute best.)

    I agree with Kevin and Zack on “Ticks.” That’s really all I can say.

    I never was keen on “Tall, Tall Trees,” but quite frankly, it’s better than a lot of what we’ve seen so far, and well…at least it was from an era in which the mainstream stars of the day actually respected the greats that came before them and showed it with their music as opposed to just name-dropping them in songs that had jack and squat to do with anything those legends had ever done before.

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