A Country Music Conversation: Sirius Top 1000 Country Songs of All Time, #100-#91

Now that we’re in the top hundred, all of the entries are brilliant classics worthy of….oh, who are we kidding?

 

#100

Chris Young, “I’m Comin’ Over”

#2 | 2015

JK: Leave it to this trash Sirius list to try to canonize Young’s squandered potential like this. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

ZK: And I’m going to bed. 

No, you know what? This dude had so much potential for more, and other than maybe Trace Adkins, I’m not sure I’ve heard a better voice used to sing such utterly forgettable and/or terrible material. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC: This is a fine enough single, but there’s no need for one Chris Young record in the top 100, let alone two.  Too High

 

#99

Lonestar, “Amazed”

#1 | 1999

KJC:  I guess I’m becoming the “defend the country pop power ballad” guy! I think that this is an extraordinary record with a powerful hook that is sung absolutely beautifully.  That it managed to be the first record since “Islands in the Stream” to top the pop and country charts doesn’t surprise me.  I wouldn’t go any higher than this, and I’d ultimately choose “Breathe” or “You’re Still the One” as the highest-ranked crossover love song of the late nineties, but overall, this is About Right for me. 

JK: On which a middling band attempts to get in on the pop-diva crossover action of the Shania / Faith / LeAnn axis. Richie MacDonald is, mercifully, a better singer than Gary LeVox: Can you imagine the utter horror of Rascal Flatts, the heirs apparent to this kind of pop-country bombast, trying to sell this exact song? Keep it somewhere back in the 900s because it was #1 for a billion years, but it’s just a disaster of a song on its own merits. Too High

ZK: Sure, we need to connect the thread between Dan + Shay, Rascal Flatts, Lonestar and whatever came before them, I guess. Too High  

 

#98

Willie Nelson, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”

#1   | 1975

JK: I still don’t think the genre ever figured out exactly what to make of this brilliant single, Nelson’s finest and most idiosyncratic moment on record. This Too Low ranking reflects that.

ZK: That this very old song still managed to work within the context of a murderous concept album … it’s undoubtedly Willie Nelson’s song, right down to the sparse accompaniment that only highlights Nelson’s offbeat desperation. Too Low

KJC:  Willie has three solo records and two duets with Waylon in the top 100.  It’s hard to argue against any of them, but I don’t think they got the order right.  I’d swap this with his #13 entry. Too Low

 

#97

Blake Shelton, “Honey Bee”

#1 | 2011

ZK: Granted, Shelton is capable of elevating mere filler material, and this was a big hit for reasons that basically had nothing to do with the song in question or its quality. And that’s evident, given that I can’t think of anything more to say about this. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC: What is the signature Blake Shelton hit, anyway? Because both of his top 100 entries are wildly overranked.  Too High

JK: I L’ed for real OL. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

 

#96

Alabama, “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)”

#1 | 1984

KJC:  Ridiculously catchy, but also quite formulaic.  I’d push this down quite a bit.  They don’t need two records in the top 100.  Too High

JK: Do you, though? It’s Alabama at the cheesiest of their production, and it’s just far, far too repetitive. It still scores massive recurrent play, so instead of cutting it altogether, I’ll just settle for saying it’s far Too High.

ZK: Alabama at their hookiest is pure ear-candy, and I got nothing bad to say about this one. I just want to see it maybe a few hundred spots back. Too High 

 

#95

Hank Williams with His Drifting Cowboys, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”

B-Side | 1949

JK: Cool, cool. After “Coat of Many Colors,” this would be my #2, and look at what the fuck they ranked ahead of it. Too Low

ZK: Honestly thought I could retire the Too Low rankings now that we’re in the final stretch. And then this happens. I’m so tired I could cry, and have. Too Low

KJC: I mean, all four of Hank’s top 100 entries belong there, so it’s not a huge deal to me that they didn’t rank them in the ideal order. So Too Low, but not a travesty in the grand scheme of things. It’s like the best B-side in history. 

 

#94

Kenny Chesney, “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”

#11 | 1999

ZK: What would possibly make me wish for Kenny Chesney beach fodder again? Kenny Chesney singing about country living – that’s what. Too High 

KJC:  Radio didn’t fully embrace it, but believe it or not, this was the record that pushed Kenny Chesney to multiplatinum sales.  I actually give him credit for not going back to this well again. It’s his “Indian Outlaw”, I suppose.  Too High

JK: It. Wasn’t. Even. That. Big. Of. A. Hit. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

 

 

#93

Tennessee Ernie Ford, “Sixteen Tons”

#1 | 1955

KJC: This could be anywhere in the top hundred and it would be About Right

JK: The first time I remember hearing this? It was in the textbook we used in my second-grade music class in public school, and our class sang about the company store like we had any clue what that was in 1988. But I’ve loved this one since then. About Right, but bordering on Too Low.

ZK: Somewhere between a classic and a forgotten gem. Nothing sells mental anguish quite like that booming baritone. About Right 

 

#92

Bellamy Brothers, “Let Your Love Flow”

#21  | 1976

JK: Given the amount of recurrent play this one received, I’m stunned to see that chart peak. It’s their best single, which means it should’ve been back in the 700s somewhere, not ahead of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” Too High

ZK: I’m as baffled to see this here as I was to see “Old Hippie” within Rolling Stone’s top 100. That was their best single, and even then, I wouldn’t have it in this top 100. So Wrong (This Song)

KJC: This was a pop hit that crossed over a bit to country, and its inclusion makes about as much sense as it would to include Exile’s “Kiss You All Over” or Conway Twitty’s “It’s Only Make Believe.” I’d leave it off, and throw in “Old Hippie” in the lower half of the list instead.  So Wrong (This Song)

#91

Charley Pride, “Is Anybody Going to San Antone”

#1 | 1970

ZK: There’s only one Pride song left after this, and you know what it is. Agree with my colleagues that he’s missing several below the top 100, but as far as what’s in it, About Right 

KJC: Too many Charley Pride classics are MIA, but at least they included two of his best in the top 100.  About Right

JK: I still think they totally screwed up Pride’s entries, but this one, in the grand scheme of things, strikes me as About Right. 

 

Previous: #110-#101 | Next: #90-#81

8 Comments

  1. I largely agree with consensus comments, although I have ‘Blue Eyes Crying in The Rain in my personal list, so I agree it’s TOO LOW, albeit just barely.

    My personal list has “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” at #2

    Speaking of B sides – “Silver Wings’ & “Today I Started Loving you Again” (Merle Haggard), “Together Again” (Buck Owens) and “For The Good Times” (Ray Price) – were all B-sides.

    As for Charley Pride, his trio of “poor boy” songs belong in the top 100, as well as the expected two songs.

  2. ..100 is a reasonably big number, when it comes to a musical ranking. however, i can’t think of any reason to start counting down the final 100 of this particular one with “i’m coming over”. it wouldn’t have made it into my first 5.000 country songs. then again, different opinions make a market. i ain’t buying this one though. fun fact: where i come from “i’m coming over” used to be shouted regularly by mums and it rarely meant good news for the ones hearing it.

    the german cover of “let your love flow”, sung by jürgen drews, is regularly ranked as the top german schlager (hit song) of all time. the bellamy’s orinial may even be ranked to low given its global popularity and impact.

    the ode to tractors actually was quite an important hit for kenny chesney. for the rest of us it wasn’t much more than embarrassing,to say the least.

    there should definetly be a spot among the top 100 for “amazed”. possibly their finest hour. having said that, i still enjoy their song about detroit made dinosaurs from the same album too, when i hear it.

  3. I probably first heard 16 tons on Ford’s TV show. Still like it.

    I was a big fan of Lonestar (saw them at Bloomsburg with Jamie O’Neal and at Westbury) but was never crazy about “Amazed”.

    Hank Williams would probably be regarded as a great song writer but I never liked him at as a vocalist. On “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” I would rather listen to the B.J. Thomas cover.

    Liked the entries from Pride, Nelson & Alabama but the last is too high.

  4. No song on this list deserves to be in the same breath as “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” which is my #2 all time, behind another Hank Sr. song.

  5. Lonely Grill was one of those late nineties albums that produced one great single after another. It reminds me of Jo Dee Messina’s I’m Alright. I don’t think that either act successfully replicated what they pulled off with their one mega-hit album, even though both had many hits afterward.

  6. I’m with bob. Hank is sort of the Bob Dylan of country. Fabulous writer, not all that great a singer. At least Hank’s voice is listenable.

    Pretty much agree with the panel otherwise, although Blue Eyes is a bit too high for me.

  7. Re. “I’m Comin’ Over”: This sounds like a redneck stalker’s anthem; take that for what you will.

    Re. “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain”: Given that this song also crossed over to be a #20 hit on the Hot 100 in late 1975, it showed that Willie started to have a sizeable appeal, and it was the beginning of his becoming one of the country genre’s true ambassadors (IMHO).

    Re. “Sixteen Tons”: With about as minimalist an arrangement as one could get from that time period, this was a monstrous hit across the board; and I would argue that it prefigured, by just a few months, the same approach Elvis would take with “Heartbreak Hotel”.

  8. Like Kevin, I also like all of Lonestar’s singles from Lonely Grill. “Amazed” became my least favorite of them all though, because it was just so overplayed. It does deserve a spot here since it was so big, but it’s a bit too high for me. My personal favorite is “Smile,” which sadly seems to be one of the many forgotten hits from the late 90’s/early 00’s.

    “Sixteen Tons” is a true classic and I’m fine with it being anywhere in the top 100. It’s another one I learned to really appreciate thanks my step dad, and I still remember him enthusiastically singing and snapping his finger along to it one time while he was driving us to Pennsylvania. I was also recently watching the 1990 CMA’s, and I loved the surprise tribute they did for Tennessee Ernie Ford as he was chosen that year for the Hall Of Fame. That and plus seeing his genuinely shocked and grateful reaction made me really long for the times when those award shows (and mainstream country in general) showed more respect for the genre’s legends.

    “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain” is one of my all time favorites from Willie. It’s amazing how a song with such a stripped down arrangement can still sound so great and timeless today.

    “Is Anybody Going To San Antone” is one of the three Charley Pride songs I heard back to back on one of my parents’ old 8-track tapes when I was a kid, along with “Kiss An Angel Good Morning” and “I’m Just Me.”. Of course, I already knew of “Angel” but had not heard the other two until then. They quickly became favorites of mine, as well, and I always thought the fiddle introduction in this song was pretty neat. Charley definitely deserved better representation on this list.

    I actually don’t mind seeing “Let Your Love Flow” on the list and it’s another 70’s pop country tune I’ve always liked, but it’s definitely too high. For a song that came out in 1976, it had such an amazingly long recurrent life on one of our stations with it still being played up into the mid 00’s. I’ve always liked most of the Bellamy Brothers’ singles from their 80’s prime, since my step dad bought a greatest hits album from them when I was little. My all time favorite, though, is “When I’m Away From You,” which was still being played as a recurrent for us in early 1991, and is on one of my favorite tapes from that time.

    “If You’re Gonna Play In Texas” is one of Alabama’s overplayed 80’s uptempo numbers, but I’ve always really liked this particular one since I was little. Still a fun listen today, but it shouldn’t be in the top 100.

    Sigh…I’m soooo tired of seeing both Kenny Chesney and Chris Young on this list. With Young, it’s the same old story: a great traditional country voice being wasted on a bland pop country tune. Seriously, did some of his super fans somehow have a hand in compiling this list?

    As for Chesney, yeah I reckon this song is fun to hear when you’re at the county fair or at the Texas Roadhouse (I’ve heard it on both occasions), but top 100? Come on, Sirius. And it’s also frustrated me that this had to be the most remembered single from Everywhere We Go, when I actually quite like all the other three singles, especially the underrated “What I Need To Do.”

    “Honey Bee” has to be one of the single most overrated songs from the past decade, if not the entire history of the genre.

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