A Country Music Conversation: Sirius Top 1000 Country Songs of All Time, #120-#111

Remind me why we’re doing this again?

 

#120

Loretta Lynn, “You Ain’t Woman Enough”

#2 | 1966

JK: It’s not represented correctly in Loretta’s overall catalogue, but, through some kind of happy accident, this classic ended up ranked About Right in the grand scheme of things.

ZK: Yeah, I’m honestly fine with this just outside of the top 100, but to have it ranked above “Don’t Come a Drinkin'” or “After the Fire is Gone” is damn-near criminal. And Lynn only has two entries in the top 100, y’all. Two! About Right 

KJC: This was arguably the first “Loretta Lynn” Loretta Lynn song, and at the time of its release, it was easily her biggest hit. It’s ranked correctly here.  About Right

 

#119

Kenny Rogers, “Lady”

#1 | 1980

ZK: I feel like “sweet, sugary goodness” is a description I’ve copied and pasted for a few of Rogers’ entries, and, like, same here. But as Jonathan notes below, ain’t no way this belongs just outside of the top 100 or above Rogers’ career-best work. Too High

KJC: This was the apex of his country-pop superstardom, topping both the country and pop charts and powering its parent album to the top of the overall albums chart, a feat that wouldn’t be matched by another country artist until Garth Brooks in 1991.  But it hasn’t held up as well as his other classic hits.  Too High

JK: God, did they make an utter mess of Rogers’ work. This has to be included on impact, of course, but ahead of “Ruby” and “Lucille”? Come on. Too High

 

#118

Johnny Paycheck, “She’s All I Got”

#2 | 1971

KJC:  As much as I love the Tracy Byrd cover, it lacks the sheer desperation of Paycheck’s original. You can’t help but believe him when he wails, “Please don’t take her love away from me.”  About Right

JK: Paycheck has two hits that I’d have in my top 100, and I’d also say that this one is About Right. 

ZK: My vote for one of the most joyously catchy songs in country music, I’m fine with this placement. About Right 

 

#117

Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood, “Remind Me”

#1 | 2011

JK: No, I’d rather not. Neither of these two should be represented by this song at all, let alone here. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

ZK: Oh yeah, the song where they scream the title a bunch of times as a way of communicating “depth.” This was 10 years ago? Man, I feel old. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC: It is an insult to the catalogs of both artists to include this tepid duet at all, let alone as Underwood’s highest entry.  You could replace this with any one of their CMA comedy duets and it would be an improvement.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

 

#116

Hank Williams, “Cold, Cold Heart”

#1 | 1951

ZK: We’re certainly not done with Williams for this list, but this is a classic that – perhaps predictably so, given this list – feels wildly underranked. Too Low

KJC: This is one of the Williams classics that has entered the larger popular culture.  I’m baffled that it isn’t in the top 100.  Too Low

JK: It seems like people either wildly overrate or just as wildly underrate Hank Sr. I’m closer to the former camp than the latter, and I’d have this classic in the top 50. Too Low

 

#115

Trisha Yearwood, “She’s in Love With the Boy”

#1 | 1991

KJC: On principle, I want to push back on the idea that Trisha Yearwood doesn’t have a song in the Top 100. But for all the comparisons made to Linda Ronstadt, Yearwood’s truly carried on the legacy of Emmylou Harris, another artist who made consistently excellent albums but doesn’t have that one huge signature hit. Rank her as an artist and she’d be in the top twenty, easily. But this entry is About Right

JK: As badly as Sirius screwed over the women of the 90s on this list, I’m not necessarily mad at this ranking on principle as something of a course correction. And Yearwood’s opening salvo is obviously a contemporary classic. But it’s, what, her fifteenth-best single? About Right

ZK: *Looks at Kevin with a certain glance for that Emmylou Harris comment when “Boulder to Birmingham” exists*

Anyway, I could make the case for “The Song Remembers When” being in the top 100, and as we reach this part of the list, this is where the rankings may get contentious. But I could make a case for this as one of the best of the ’90s, so I’m OK with seeing it about here. About Right 

 

#114

Billy Currington, “Good Directions”

#1 | 2006

JK: A massive hit I’ve never cared for. I’d have “Love Done Gone” ranked about here, though. Too High

ZK: Billy Currington surprisingly has some top-tier quality cuts, and this is one of them. He’s got the laid-back charm and easy-going charisma to sell this, which is why makes sense that Luke Bryan helped pen this … even if he never came close to this song’s quality with his own material. Too High 

KJC:  I’ve always found this record adorable.  His vocal style is perfect for this type of story song. But as charming as the record is, it’s still ranked considerably Too High

 

#113

Johnny Cash, “Tennessee Flat Top Box”

#11 | 1961

ZK: Going to echo my colleagues below when I say to include the Rosanne Cash version. Her take on this hit is why the original got a second life anyway, though it’s a good song no matter how you cut it. So Wrong (This Version of This Song) 

KJC: Swap it out for the Rosanne Cash cover, which is superior in every way.  So Wrong (This Song)

JK: A Cash inclusion I’m happy to see. Granted, I’d drop this version back about 500 spots and have Rosanne’s rendition here, instead. But still. Too High

 

#112

George Strait, “I Cross My Heart”

#1 |1992

KJC:  There’s a reason that Pure Country is Strait’s highest-selling studio album, and this wedding song standard is it.  One of his finest moments on record, “I Cross My Heart” kicked off the nineties Strait rennaisance.  About Right

JK: Ahead of “Amarillo By Morning”?!? This is just deranged. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

ZK: I get that it was a huge hit that likely helped extend Strait’s unrivaled commercial run, but that it’s a movie soundtrack hit is evident by how faceless it is. I feel like we’re back to the John Michael Montgomery selections. Too High 

 

#111

Patsy Cline, “Sweet Dreams”

#5 | 1963

JK: Cline’s phrasing on this one is just so exquisite– even for her– that it elevates one of the less interesting songs among her catalogue. Still, this one is ranked About Right

ZK: I think Cline is one of very few artists this list came kinda-sorta close to getting halfway right in terms of representation. I’d swap this with “She’s Got You,” as Kevin notes below, but this took me by surprise in a good way. Too High 

KJC: It’s a gorgeous performance, but not correctly ranked among Cline classics.  Swap it with “She’s Got You” at #235 and all is well with the world.  Too High

 

Previous: #130-#121 | Next: #110-#101

7 Comments

  1. Tough group of songs to assess. I always felt that Paycheck’s best work came on Aubrey Mayhew’s Little Darlin’ label, but these were not huge hits so songs like “A-11”, “Lovin’ Machine” and darker ballads such as “You’ll Recover In Time” never got close to making this list. I think “She’s All I Got” is placed about right in the grand scheme of things, but it isn’t close to being his best work.

    I agree that the Paisley/Underwood collaboration does not belong on this list

    It’s hard to know what to make of “Tennessee Flat Top Box”. I like both versions (and Johnny’s version was on one of the earliest albums I purchased back in 1969 so his version has always been embedded in my brain) but I am not sure either version belongs this high on the list – I’d have Johnny’s version around #800 (maybe co-listed with his daughter’s version).

    The Patsy and Loretta songs are about right.

    Kenny Rogers’ “Lady” is much too high. If I included it at all (and I am not sure that I would) it would be in the high 900s. Ditto for Strait’s “I Cross my Heart” an awfully bland ballad.

  2. Re. “She’s All I’ve Got”: This was also a pop hit at the same time as JP’s, for Virginia-born R&B singer Swamp Dogg (Jerry Williams Jr.). Also, during the mid-to-late 1960’s, Johnny Paycheck was a fixture at a number of C&W nightclubs here in Southern California, including The Aces in the City of Industry, which is fifteen miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

    Re. “Lady”: Well, like so many of his time, Kenny’s “crossover” proclivities tended to drive hard-core traditionalists to distraction. The fact that this overt R&B/pop ballad (which Lionel Richie, I believe, both wrote and produced for KR) stayed at #1 on the Hot 100 for six weeks, however, is proof that he knew how to play both sides of the fence.

    Re. “She’s In Love With The Boy”: At least at the time, while this song was quite infectious, it wasn’t quite enough for me to take Trisha seriously. It took another two years, with The Song Remembers When for that to happen. Still, it’s understandable that it should have been one of the big breakthrough songs for any female artist in country music during the 1990’s.

  3. “She’s in Love with the Boy” is a little low for one reason. Not that the song is top 100 caliber, but for its impact. There have been very few songs that teens could look at at say “this song gets me.” It was almost cultureal. For that reason alone (which I’m probably not explaining well) this song should probably be in the 80’s

    Roseanne Cash’s version of “Tennessee Flat Top Box” is a classic version. It’s was one of the first songs i ever remember loving (I was boen in 1974 but have since fallen in love with a lot of muisc thst was “before my time.” this should be in the top 50.

    “Cold Cold Heart” is about Right where it is. Maybe a little higher, but..Hank, Sr. has my 1 and 2 songs if i were to make a list like this.

  4. Re Patsy Cline I agree with KJC and ZK’s proposed swap of “She’s Got You” and “Sweet Dreams”. My 10 favorite Patsy Cline songs (all ballads) has She’s Got You – written by Hank Cochran – at #1 and Sweet Dreams – written by Don Gibson – at #6.

    I started listening to radio on a regular basis in 1957 on NYC rock stations which partially explains why I never heard a PC song til 1977 when i read a Time Magazine article on Linda Ronstadt that mentioned Patsy Cline. Linda “goes up against the memory of Patsy Cline’s recording of Willie Nelson’s Crazy. Cline’s version was said to be definitive. It pales next to Ronstadt’s …” I think Patsy’s is as good as Ronstadt’s. I wonder what songwriter Willie Nelson thinks – and what Eric North thinks.

  5. @ Bob re. “Crazy” (Patsy’s and Linda’s):

    If anyone was going to match Patsy’s classic 1961 recording, it might as well have been by Linda, whose approach to this kind of “torch” singing was very much influenced by Patsy (as can also be gauged by her 1971 cover of “I Fall To Pieces”). And as for Willie…well, I don’t think he’d argue with either legendary lady’s version, as he likely made a couple of bucks off both versions (to say the least).

  6. It’s funny, I purchased Ronstadt’s version of “Crazy” on a 45 rpm when it came out and for a number of years I preferred Linda’s version of the song, but over the last thirty years I’ve swung back to preferring Patsy’s version. Both versions are indeed excellent

  7. I’ve always really enjoyed Strait’s love ballads, and “I Cross My Heart” is still one of my all time favorites. I love everything about it from George’s vocals, the melody and lyrics, and that gorgeous steel solo. And yeah, I still can’t help but get teary eyed whenever he sings this at the end of Pure Country. Not sure if I’d have it ahead of “Amarillo By Morning” but it’s about right otherwise.

    While I also love Johnny’s original version of “Tennessee Flat Top Box,” I agree that his daughter’s version should be the higher ranked version, and it’s a shame that her version didn’t make it. Every time Johnny’s version comes on my ipod or on Spotify, I always think it’s gonna be Rosanne’s version and vice versa. Either way, I’ve always loved the guitar parts in this song alone.

    “Sweet Dreams” is one of my many favorites from Patsy, and it was one of those few 60’s country songs that was still getting recurrent airplay for us in early 1991. Love those iconic opening strings. I’d have to agree with the panel though, that “He’s Got You” belongs right around here or higher.

    “She’s All I Got” is one of my favorites from Paycheck, and I got to discover it thanks to Tracy Byrd’s cover. When Byrd’s version was new and it came on the radio in the car, my mom would suddenly start singing along, and I remember being surprised and wondering how she already knew that song when it was “new” to me, lol. Surprisingly, they got this one about right.

    As much as I love Trisha and still like “She’s In Love With The Boy,” I have to admit that it was another song that I eventually got tired of thanks to it being overplayed. When my dad had Sirius radio installed in his car around 2004, this was one of the only Trisha songs I’d hear over and over and never once heard “The Song Remembers When” or many of her other hits. In a way, when I look back at the repetitive playlist they had back then, it’s not too surprising how many songs were forgotten for this list, while some are ranked ridiculously high. That being said, I still recognize this as a great song (I’m not really tired of it anymore) and the impact it had. I just wish TSRW and others from Trisha that are even better got the same recognition.

    I have to go with Jonathan more on “Good Directions” in that it never did much for me either and also prefer “Love Done Gone,” but I agree with Kevin that Billy has the charm in his vocals to pull this one off. Btw, it’s hard to believe that there was a time when Luke Bryan wrote songs that were actually this country sounding.

    I actually kind of liked “Remind Me” when it came out, but yeah, them both screaming out the title at the end definitely doesn’t wear well after too many repeated listens. Still, I’ll take it over much of Paisley’s other recent stuff. I agree that it doesn’t really belong here at all, though.

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