A Country Music Conversation: Sirius Top 1000 Country Songs of All Time, #50-#41

A few more “about right” rankings than usual in this set.

#50

Tim McGraw with Faith Hill, “It’s Your Love”

#1 | 1997

JK: The only one of their collaborations I’d personally include is their cover of “Angry All the Time,” and, even then, I’d be tempted to swap it out for the Bruce Robison – Kelly Willis original. Its status as a wedding staple is recognition enough for this sap. So Wrong (This Song)

ZK: Absolutely not. A huge hit, yes, but also one that helped usher in a wave of sappy, adult-contemporary fluff into the format. They got this formula right once – with “I Need You,” and even that’s a stretch – but no way is this a top 100 song in country music history. Too High

KJC: Tim and Faith make up one of the rare superstar duet teams where the whole is more than the sum of its parts.  Faith’s deep and rich vocals give substantial support to Tim’s comparatively thin and reedy voice.  This isn’t my favorite of their collaborations, but it’s certainly the biggest and most significant.  I’d definitely include it, but it’s at least a hundred slots Too High

 

#49

Dave Dudley, “Six Days On the Road”

#2 | 1963

ZK: The Steve Earle version is the definitive version, at least to me, and a ton of fun, too. But I wouldn’t have this in the top 100. Too High

KJC: A trucker’s anthem that broke into the mainstream, this is a smart and welcome inclusion.  Is it really a top 50 record, though?  Too High

JK: I’m with Zack on preferring the Steve Earle version, but I’m not mad that they remembered this. I am, however, baffled by this ranking that is far Too High.

 

#48

The Chicks, “Cowboy Take Me Away”

#1 | 1999

KJC:  So here’s the deal.  Among their radio singles, I think the best ones were from Home.  If we’re going to talk about their signature song, it would be “Wide Open Spaces” from the early days, “Not Ready to Make Nice” from the later days.  But “Cowboy Takes Me Away” is pretty much perfect to represent the band at their commercial high point when they were radio darlings, and it captures their sound and perspective as well as anything they’ve ever done.  About Right

JK: This one absolutely belongs on this list; of the singles from their first two albums, I’d have this one ranked behind “Wide Open Spaces,” “You Were Mine,” and “Goodbye Earl,” to say nothing of the singles from Home. I’m happy they cracked the top 50 of the list, but, for this particular song, this ranking is Too High, great as this single is.

ZK: This is where I get nitpicky and say that, yes, this belongs, but perhaps in the 90s or so. For what it’s worth, with that huge, expressive chorus, it’s their best hook, next to “Wide Open Spaces.” Too High

 

#47

Hank Williams, “Hey Good Lookin’”

#1 | 1951

JK: In an absolute sense, of course this is About Right. But, again, they really FUBAR’ed their Hank Sr. rankings.

ZK: One of Williams’ most iconic upbeats, and where I can’t quibble much with the placement.  About Right

KJC:  The reality is that you can drop in any one of a dozen Hank Williams songs here and it would be About Right

 

#46

Reba McEntire, “Fancy”

#8 | 1991

ZK: It does feel like a slap in the face to make Reba’s two biggest entries covers – “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” and “The Fear of Being Alone,” anyone? – but this absolutely belongs, if only because it’s a perfect fusion of Bobbie Gentry’s storytelling wit and Reba’s penchant for dramatic flair. You don’t just need great songs at this point – you need iconic moments, and I have no arguments with the placement. About Right 

KJC: Reba’s signature song, and yes, I’m in the “Reba did it better” camp.  About Right

JK: I’m firmly in the Bobbie Gentry camp on “Fancy” and would honestly have her sultrier take ranked around here, with Reba’s more torrid rendition ranked back in the 200s or so. Both are fantastic records that highlight how a well-written song can stand up to such wildly different interpretations. I love both versions, but I’ll say this is Too High for Reba’s, and I’ll apologize later to my uncle who’s done this as his signature drag number for decades.

 

#45

Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson, “Good Hearted Woman”

#1 | 1975

KJC:  And now the best of the Waylon & Willie duets, which is also ranked About Right.  Can we keep this streak going, Sirius?

JK: Love it. Love that they managed to rank it correctly, too. About Right

ZK: Well, hot damn. Three About Rights in a row. We’re bound for a disaster soon. At any rate, another buddy anthem that lives by that hook. About Right 

 

#44

Zac Brown Band, “Colder Weather”

#1 | 2010

JK: One of their two or three best singles, so it’s not ranked super incorrectly in the context of their own work. But this feels like pretty obvious recency bias: ZBB at their best should have a couple of entries in the top 500. Not anything in the top 50. Too High

ZK: OK, definitely not a disaster, and this is one of very few No. 1 country singles within the past 15 or so years I think deserves to one day be known as a classic. It’s the band at its performance peak with a genuinely excellent song, and one I wouldn’t quibble with seeing somewhere in the 200s or 100s. Too High

KJC:  No, we cannot keep this streak going, apparently.  This is a great record, but come on. Even “Chicken Fried” would make more sense at #44 than “Colder Weather,” and “Chicken Fried” wouldn’t make a finger-lick of sense at #44.  Too High

 

#43

Charley Pride, “Kiss an Angel Good Morning”

#1 | 1971

ZK: The obvious choice for Pride’s highest-ranked song, but certainly not the wrong one – in choice or in placement, for that matter. About Right 

KJC: My gut tells me this should be higher, but my mind says, “Kevin, you could name 42 records that could be above this, even if Sirius couldn’t.”  About Right

JK: A record that, 50 years on, is still just impossibly charming. This is definitely About Right

 

#42

Darius Rucker, “Wagon Wheel”

#1 | 2013

KJC:  I love that Darius Rucker made this underground hit a massive radio smash, and his performance radiates joy.  Too High, but I’m not mad about it.

JK: As a day one adopter of Old Crow Medicine Show, I’ll forever go to bat for their original recording and will argue that they have at least three other songs that should’ve made this list. Rucker sings this with enthusiasm, but I hate the shrill attempts at backing vocals from Lady LookWeHaveBlackFriends. They ruin this cover for me; I’d probably include it in the 900s on impact and have the OCMS version somewhere in the top 200. Too High

ZK: I mean, I can point out how the Old Crow Medicine Show version is the superior one, but this was the smash hit version that’s basically become the “Free Bird” of country music over time. A good song is a good song, but not one I’d have this high, even when only focusing on impact. Too High

 

#41

George Strait, “All My Ex’s Live in Texas”

#1 | 1987

JK: This is where I expected “Amarillo by Morning,” not this fun but wildly over ranked hit. Too High

ZK: George Strait at his most charming and playful, and this is absolutely a fun, tongue-in-cheek tune. But you know what’s coming next here… Too High 

KJC:  Yes, it belongs on the list.  But if you’re going to rank a Strait song this high, it should be “Amarillo By Morning” or “I Cross My Heart.”  Too High

Previous: #60-#51 | Next: #40-#31

 

11 Comments

  1. Interesting list – Dave Dudley’s version of “Six Days on the Road” is placed about right – I have it at #34 on my all-time list. The song was incredibly important, kicking off a decade’s worth of trucking hits by various artists and a decade which saw Dudley himself have twenty top ten singles, only half of which were about truck driving and truck drivers. Most people have never heard the original hit version since it’s success on an independent label caused Mercury to sign Dudley, where they promptly had Dave re-record the song in a stereo version that is quite similar to, but not identical to, the Golden Wing recording . The Mercury version had a long run as a recurrent

    I basically agree with the consensus comments on the rest of the songs, but I prefer Jeremy McCombs version of “Wagon Wheels” followed by the Old Crow version. McCombs recording from about fourteen years ago got some limited airplay here in Central Florida but did not chart. The Old Crow got to be a favorite among bluegrass audiences but the only airplay it received (that I know of) was on stations having bluegrass or Americana programing – usually a couple of hours time slot on a PBS station

    I love “Kiss An Angel Good Morning” and on my personal list I have it just outside the top 100 with three of his other singles inside the top 100

  2. Let me say I adore Reba as a vocalist and performer, but she is an example of these lists that t think, if they have a list they HAVE to include a song by longtime artists. If we were going back to the top 100 women of country I 100% agree that Reba should be in the top 10. However, when you look at all the songs in the history of country music there is no way possible her remake of “Fancy” would be anywhere near the top 100. I would put it in the mid 300’s or so. The reason for my comments is just to make a point that JUST because your a big star does not mean your individual songs have to rank high. I just get a bit frustrated when list do checkboxes as opposed to just the song.

  3. I feel that the two covers should be down the list because Reba has classic great songs of her own that deserve to be here. “Is There Life Out There” not only is a great song and well remembered but moved the public into going back to school. I’d argue “The Greatest Man” deserves to be high on this list, it means so much to so many people and has a great story about fathers who showed love but never said it and the effects of that. My final pick would be “Does He Love You”. It’s one of the few duets between two woman. It’s very original. It’s dramatic and theatric and hits all the right notes. I totally disagree that Reba doesn’t have many songs that deserve to be on list like these.

  4. Re. “Six Days On The Road”: Much like Hank Snow’s 1950 uber-classic “I’m Movin’ On”, this is one of those songs that any country act worth their salt, and a few rock and roll groups as well, would do. It’s only right that it should be up in the Top 100 (IMHO).

    Re. “Fancy”: I know Reba has a ton of fans here, but I think her vocals on this song sound, for lack of a better term, kind of hammy in comparison to Bobbie Gentry’s on her 1969 original (where she sounded uncannily like Dusty Springfield on “Son Of A Preacher Man”). To be fair, however, I have heard a hell of a lot worse.

    Re. “Kiss An Angel Good Morning”: While it isn’t the only song Charley Pride will ever be known for by any stretch of the imagination, it was the one that arguably helped seal his reputation as a consummate representative of the genre. This also got up to #21 on the Hot 100 (incredibly, his only Hot 100 crossover hit!).

    Re. “Hey Good Lookin'”: Another one of Hank Sr.’s mega-great candidates for the perfect C&W song. It also found its way into rock circles twenty-three years after Hank’s recording when the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, with assistance from Linda Ronstadt, put their spin on it for their 1974 album Symphonion Dream.

  5. “Cowboyy Take me Away” is a great song, but not top-50 Great. I say the same for “Fancy,” “Colder Weather,” and Amarillo By Morning.”

  6. Wow, folks…only four more of these entries. At this point, being done with this thing has got to be like counting down to Christmas when you’re a kid.

    I’ve stopped paying too much to the list itself, but I will throw some support to “Colder Weather”. I think that song is one of the few that’s been released in the last decade (along with “The House That Built Me”, and maybe a couple others that don’t come to mind right now) that might warrant the “instant classic” label. That song blew me away the first time I heard it, and I think it’s going to be well-respected years down the line, even as Zac Brown and his group trends towards irrevelancy. I have no idea whether it’s the number 42 song of all time, but…I wouldn’t bat an eyelash seeing it in the top 100.

  7. “It’s Your Love” is a bit sappy, but I’ve always really liked it anyway, especially the beautiful steel solo. I’m with Kevin in that it does belong on the list, but not quite this high.

    “Cowboy Take Me Away” is one of my top favorite Chicks songs of all time, so I have no problem with this ranking. I’ve always really loved its beautiful melody, the harmonies, and the gorgeous fiddle and steel playing throughout. It’s an essential tune from the late 90/s/early 00’s era for me.

    Sawyer Brown’s version of “Six Days On The Road” is the first one I ever heard, but I’ve really gotten to liking the version by Dave Dudley a lot, too. Love the early 60’s style twangy guitar and Dudley’s vocals! A pretty fun song, overall. I’ve always been kinda fascinated by the trucker lifestyle, and for me, this is one of the most essential of the country trucking songs besides “Eighteen Wheels and A Dozen Roses.”

    Yeah, we all knew what was gonna be Charley Pride’s highest ranked song. I’ve loved “Kiss An Angel Good Morning” ever since I got it on one of my tapes from the radio in early 1991. It’s simply another song that never gets old and never loses its charm no matter how many times you’ve heard it. This was also one of my step dad’s all time favorite songs, and he was a big fan of Charley Pride, as well.

    “All My Exes Live In Texas” is still fun, playful, and charming for sure, but no way should it be Strait’s highest ranked song, nor is it close to being his best song of all time. I’m with Kevin on “Amarillo” or “I Cross My Heart” belonging here instead.

    I’ve never been much of a Zac Brown Band fan, but I really do like “Colder Weather,” and I agree with PSU Mike and others that’s it’s one of the VERY few songs from the last decade or so that I’d be comfortable being labeled as a classic. By the time that song came out, it already seemed like it had been forever since we had a good Winter country song on the radio, and it pretty much did the job of filling that void at the time. I’ve always loved the imagery in the lyrics, the melody, and that it sounded like something that could’ve been released a decade earlier. Unfortunately, listening to it again is also a sad reminder of how much the band has been wasting their talent and potential in the more recent years. The only other song of theirs I still truly like is “Cold Hearted” from that same album.

    Again, I can’t argue with the iconic status of “Fancy” and the popularity of her two famous covers, but I’m with Trouble_with_the_truth in that Reba deserves more recognition for her original songs. Besides the other songs already mentioned, I also would’ve loved seeing “For My Broken Heart” on the list, as well as others like “Somebody Should Leave,” “Rumor Has It,” “You Lie,” and “Fallin’ Out Of Love” which I don’t recall seeing.

    I’ll admit I let out a groan when I saw the picture used for this batch and thought “Darius Rucker again?!” However, this is one of his better and more memorable efforts from his country career, though I agree with Jonathan that Hillary Scott’s backup vocals kind of ruin it for me. Not to mention, I’ve kinda gotten sick of it by now. I also still generally prefer the Old Crow Medicine Show version, as well.

  8. It’s Your Love is pure sap. Rhyming “to me” and “through me”? I guess I was doing that when I was 10. Truly a disgrace to be in the top 100. 6 Days is fine but several hundred spots high. Cowboy….I’m conflicted. Sure is good. Maybe not top 100 good. Maybe it is. Hey Good Lookin’ might be a bit high, but no worries. Fancy is fine, but Is There Life Out There might be a bit better. Good Hearted Woman is a rockin’ good time and about right.

    Colder Weather is fine but I agree with the group consensus it’s too high. Kiss An Angel is about right. Wagon Wheel is great, but Old Crow did it better, so it’s a bit high. All My Exes is great, but a cute rhyme isn’t enough to warrant top 50.

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