It’ll take ten rounds with Jose Cuervo and two piña coladas to cope with the absolute travesty at #297.
Don Gibson, “I Can’t Stop Loving You”
#7 | 1958
JK: I can’t decide if I’m more put off by this shameful ranking or the fact that “Blue, Blue Day” isn’t on here at all. Too Low
ZK: On historical weight alone, it’s the definitive version of this song. Simply put, Too Low
KJC: As partial as I am to the Ray Charles version, there’s no denying that Gibson’s record is an all-time country classic. Too Low
Kenny Chesney, “The Good Stuff”
#1 | 2002
KJC: One of his best story songs, truth be told. The construct of a widowed bartender telling the full story, start to finish, of his marriage to a newlywed who just wanted to drink off his first big fight with his wife, allows it to be a heartfelt memorial for the widowed and a cautionary tale for the newlywed. About Right
JK: It absolutely is not. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
ZK: Not good enough stuff to justify it being this high. I actually do kind of like this, but I don’t think it’s essential. So Wrong (Doesn’t Song)
Garth Brooks, “Two Piña Coladas”
#1 | 1998
JK: Actually a better beachcomber country single than 99% of Kenny Chesney’s, but the ranking here suggests 20 or so piña coladas, not two. Too High
ZK: “So braaaang meeee … one reason why this is here.” – Me, noting this as So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: A Jimmy Buffett impression by a country legend who is already represented on this list with much better material. This is filler for the list like it was filler for Sevens. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Dolly Parton, “Coat of Many Colors”
#4 | 1971
ZK: YOU PEOPLE REALLY HAVE THIS IN BETWEEN TWO LAME-ASS DRINKING SONGS AND THOUGHT THAT WAS OK?!? Can’t Further Comment (Because I Blew A Gasket)
KJC: This is Dolly Parton’s masterpiece among her masterpieces. As perfect a country song as has ever been written and recorded. I’m with Jonathan on its proper ranking. Too Low
JK: This would literally be my #1. Not much else to say. Too Low
Tracy Byrd, “Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo”
#1 | 2002
KJC: Byrd went full Joe Ditty for a bit there. At least they didn’t include “Drinkin’ Bone.” So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: My. God. Too Fucking High
ZK: Still blowing a gasket. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Trisha Yearwood with Don Henley, “Walkaway Joe”
#2 | 1992
JK: Trisha Yearwood herself would tell you this is not better than “Coat Of Many Colors” because she actually knows the story of country music, unlike whoever made this list. Seriously: The power of this list’s ineptitude that it actually managed to make me angry to see a highly-ranked Trisha Yearwood song. Too High
ZK: I don’t know, maybe it’s just because I’m still getting over all of that above me and that this is actually one of my favorite Yearwood songs, but I’m feeling generous with my ranking. Don’t want to take actual great stuff for granted at this point. Too High
KJC: It’s interesting that Hearts in Armor was initially seen as something of a disappointment commercially, given that its first two singles have truly endured. “Wrong Side of Memphis” should be the one in this slot. This belongs lower. Too High
Buck Owens and His Buckaroos, “Together Again”
#1 | 1964
ZK: I get that there are some legitimately excellent songs worthy of being in the top 100 as it is, and that we’re going to have to retire the “Too Low” ranking at some point. But then I remind myself that we’re eventually going to see “Dirt Road Anthem” in the top 10 and get all mad again seeing this here. Too Low
KJC: Arguably the best Buck Owens hit, even if it didn’t get covered by the Beatles. Too Low
JK: Oh my God, this is another top 20 record. Too Low
Josh Turner, “Why Don’t We Just Dance”
#1 | 2009
KJC: A charming record that would’ve sounded great three hundred entries ago. Too High
JK: Turner’s third-best single (“Long Black Train” should be ranked around here), and absolutely not with this ranking. Too High
ZK: I love Turner’s ballads and his darker material. “Pallbearer” is a hell of an album cut. His upbeat material could be a bit too dry at times, but this isn’t the case here. I just wouldn’t have it this high, and he’s really poorly represented if we’re going with his singles. Too High
David Lee Murphy, “Dust On the Bottle”
#1 | 1995
JK: But for three of the songs we’ve already seen in this batch of ten, I’d actually say that this is ranked About Right
ZK: One more reason not to like the bro-country era: It put up this false notion that songs couldn’t be both smart and fun. I’m glad we had this for a counterargument decades earlier. About Right
KJC: Yeah. This is fine. About Right
Vince Gill, “Tryin’ to Get Over You”
#1 | 1994
ZK: After reading Kevin’s blurb … wait, “Go Rest High On That Mountain” isn’t here?!? No. Boot this out, substitute that in and bump it, like, two hundred spots or so higher. So Wrong (This Song)
KJC: A gorgeous ballad that rightfully topped the singles charts. I wouldn’t quibble with its inclusion, but I don’t quite understand the thinking that puts this so much higher than “When I Call Your Name,” let alone makes the claim that this is the most significant Vince Gill record of all time. Where are “Look at Us” and “Go Rest High On That Mountain?” Too High
JK: In what world is this like 500 spots superior to “When I Call Your Name?” That classic should be ranked here or higher, and, as lovely as the melody of this one is, it wouldn’t make my t1000. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Previous: #310-#301 | Next: #290-#281
Re. “Together Again”: Well, it is one of many that Buck Owens will be remembered for, even among non-country fans. And Emmylou Harris made it a hit all over again in the late 1970’s, so he didn’t lose either way.
Re. “Walkaway Joe”: I have to admit that I still wasn’t wild about Trisha with this singler, even if she snagged Don Henley to help her out; it wouldn’t be until The Song Remembers When that I really started noticing her. But that’s not a knock against her; she remains one of the best of her time. It is still a shame that she never got to record with her spiritual role model Linda Ronstadt, however.
I feel this list was put together largely by weighted algorithm; they started with a straight-up list of what gets requested / played on their marquee country channel, realized that neither Dolly Parton nor George Jones featured highly enough to make it anything more than a laughingstock, and began hooking in and weighting traditionalist data sources to make up for it.
The key here is that there is no competent curation; there is no thumb on the scale. Nobody is making judgment calls — at least, nobody who has any business making judgment calls in this genre. By providing examples, particularly from further up the list, I would step on the conversation even more than I already have.
…so I’ll confine myself to “Go Rest High”.
The song peaked at only #14 the year it was released, with its slow tempo, funerary nature, and earnestly religious lyrics likely working against it in various markets. I don’t recall that I even *heard* the song on the radio at the time, whereas I could have recited the lyrics to “Time Marches On” or “Any Man of Mine” from memory.
Yet the CMA voters nominated this song that didn’t even crack the top 10 for “Song of the Year” above innumerable better-performing singles, and awarded it above “Time Marches On” and “Any Man of Mine”, both of which utterly crushed on the radio.
You might blame Shania Twain’s midriff for her snub, but I don’t recall that we ever saw Tracy Lawrence’s midriff. “Time Marches On” was a very good song, important in its way, and IMHO deserves its position somewhere on this list. The CMA voters, however, recognized “Go Rest High” as an earnest expression of grief and hope from one of the best artists of their generation, a song with meaning and importance that must be recognized even if it wasn’t so conventionally popular as its competition.
The CMA voters’ thumb on the scale was a defensible choice when they made it; the lasting reputation of the song has made it more defensible — if not quite *obvious* — in retrospect.
I’d be mildly surprised to find the song missing from a top 200 list. That they couldn’t find a space for it among 1000 slots… well, it takes a dumb algorithm and a human who doesn’t know any better to end up with something that bone-headed.
Agree about Don Gibson songs – “Blue Blue Day” belongs here and “Sea of Heartbreak” belonged much higher than the mid-800s, and “I Can’t Stop Loving You” belongs at least a hundred slots higher.
I’m not much of a Dolly Parton fan but if “Coat of Many Colors” isn’t a top thirty song, then nothing belongs in the top thirty. This is Dolly’s quintessential masterpiece, bar none.
Hard to believe but “Together Again” was the B-side of “My Heart Skips A Beat”. The song reached #1 on Billboard and top ten status on both Cash Box and Record World. Buck & Emmylou would have a top ten record in 1979 with “Play Together Again, Again”
Other than “Dust On The Bottle” nothing else here really caught my fancy
Just when you think it can’t get any worse. Dolly’s song should be in everyone’s top 100, I’d go with top 25 for me, a perfect country song. And it’s between 2 stupid alcohol songs. It’s like an intentional slap in the face to traditional country fans. Unbelievable. I’ll finish this post for now and maybe comment on the rest of it later.
Okay, composed myself. I just noticed ZK’s blown gasket, so I wasn’t the only one hacked off about Coat. Okay, I Can’t Stop Loving You is top 100. So is Together Again, which I think is Buck’s best. So is Go Rest High, and it’s not on here? Wow. Everything else is okay here, maybe a little lower would be more accurate. Ain’t none of them better than Sea of Heartbreak though.
Top 300 seems like a good spot, so here’s my top 10:
1. He Stopped Loving Her Today
2. Forever and Ever, Amen
4. When I Call Your Name
5. Guitars and Cadillacs
6. On the Road Again
7. She’s Actin’ Single, I’m Drinkin’ Doubles
8. Behind Closed Doors
9. A Broken Wing
10. I Saw the Light
There’s actually some really good songs here, but it’s the rankings that are mainly the problem.
How sad it is to see a standard like “I Can’t Stop Loving You” this low. This song was always one of my mom’s favorites, both the Don Gibson and Ray Charles versions. I actually became a Don Gibson fan thanks to a tape of his that she bought in 1992. Also very sad to learn that “Blue, Blue Day” didn’t make it. And yet “Dirt Road Friggin’ Anthem” is in the top friggin’ 10?!! Seriously, it’s almost enough to make me want to stop reading this list. (But y’all know I won’t, cause I enjoy reading your comments too much ;) ).
Seriously, are they going to include every novelty song or ditty that Tracy Byrd or Mark Chesnutt did? Man, did they do these two otherwise great artists wrong on this list. As one of the very few T-Byrd fans here, it’s getting pretty tiring having to mention all the good songs he did record every time one of his dumb ditties shows up. It’s actually getting to be quite a troubling trend I’ve noticed when it comes to many 90’s country males with the silly novelties being remembered more than the really good stuff (In Byrd’s case, much of his really good stuff either remained buried as album tracks or didn’t get as high on the charts.) Btw, nice pic of Tracy from his “Holdin’ Heaven” video, one of his ditties I actually wouldn’t have minded seeing on the lower part of the list.
Speaking of “The Good Stuff,” I’m with Jonathan on Kenny’s song of that name. I just never got what the fuss was all about when it came to that song. I much prefer Vern Gosdin’s “Chisled In Stone” which pretty much has the same kind of story, and it’s such a shame that it’s ranked near the bottom while Kenny’s song is this high. In fact, there was a poster on one of the old message boards I used to read back in the early-mid 00’s who would always compare the two songs to show how fluffier modern country had become.
“Coat Of Many Colors” is easily a top 50-top 25 record, at least, and I wouldn’t argue with Jonathan and Kevin putting it at number one. I never get tired of hearing this song, and it’s simply a perfect song that gives us a glimpse of Dolly’s humble beginnings. To see it sandwiched between two silly non essential drinking songs is definitely a slap in the face.
“Two Pina Coladas” is certainly better than anything Kenny put out during his Jimmy Buffett wannabe phase (doesn’t hurt that it was co-written by Shawn Camp), but it’s still nowhere near one of Garth’s best, and it’s yet another ditty that radio ran into the ground over the years.
I actually really love “Walkaway Joe,” and it’s one of my all time favorite Trisha songs. This is yet another song that instantly takes me back to my childhood, and I still absolutely love that dobro solo. But as thrilled as I am to see it here, it definitely shouldn’t be ahead of the Dolly or Don Gibson cuts.
Same with “Tryin’ To Get Over You.” Though I’ve always loved this song, and am glad to see it included, it’s not better than the other two Gill classics mentioned by the panel.
I fully agree with Zackary on “Dust On The Bottle.” I’ve noticed that this song is seemingly a go to song for many of the bros to cover, and I can’t help but wish their own songs were as enjoyable or as memorable as Murphy’s.
I liked “Why Don’t We Just Dance” when first it came out, but again, it was just played to death like most ditties tend to be. I’m with Zackary on generally preferring Josh Turner’s ballads over his uptempos (Though I still really think “As Fast As I Could” from the same album was a huge missed opportunity, and is one of my all time favorites of his).
I agree with all on Buck Owens’ “Together Again.” Yet another shameful ranking.
I’ll do my top ten later but only “Forever and Ever, Amen” and “Crazy” from Steve’s top ten will be in my top ten list
…by placing “coat of many colors” at no. 297 this ranking excercise has lost all credibility. pointless from here on.
Just want to say that it’s been great seeing some new names popping up in these threads alongside our regular commenters: I’m really enjoying these discussions and seeing the different perspectives.
Country music is about human lives and emotions. The good, the bad, family, drikning, fun and everything in between. It is simply supposed to be about real life, good and bad.
Coat of Many Colors represents the BEST part of what we can be. Should EASILY be somewhere in the top 10
Several bad rankings here, but by far the most appaling is that Coat of Many Colors” should be in at least the top 50.