Yesterday’s Songs: July 4, 1998

Four years after the first list, some of the names have changed and so have the sounds. Notice the crossover flavor of this list? We’ve still got one foot in country music but it’s standing on a banana peel.

Top 20 Country Songs
July 4, 1998

“I Said a Prayer”
Pam Tillis

Pam rocked the top twenty for the last time, introducing the world to songwriter Leslie Satcher in the process. One of her catchiest hits. B+

“If You Ever Have Forever in Mind”
Vince Gill

All smooth style and jazzy charm. Vince takes his time and reels us in. B

“Happy Girl”
Martina McBride

Bright, bubbly, smartly written. A tad overproduced, but not a single note oversung. B

“Just to Hear You Say That You Love Me”
Faith Hill featuring Tim McGraw

Their voices blend together nicely, but there’s no disguising the fact that this is just an “It’s Your Love” retread. C+

“One of These Days”
Tim McGraw

A man looks back on his childhood as a bully, his teenage youth as a heartbreaker, and comes to realize he can turn himself around and rise above his mistakes. Tim found this on the same Marcus Hummon CD that also contained the future Rascal Flatts smash “Bless the Broken Road.” Leave it to Tim to pick the odder, deeper song and make it a smash hit. A

“Texas Size Heartache”
Joe Diffie

It may sound like dull radio filler today, but check out the pop-flavored songs in the rest of the top twenty and you’ll understand how refreshing that fiddle and pure country voice sounded in comparison. B-

“There’s Your Trouble”
Dixie Chicks

Sure, it was their first #1 hit, but this remains a silly ditty that was a carbon copy of “I Can Love You Better”, the silly ditty that preceded it. C

“From This Moment On”
Shania Twain & Bryan White

I love this song. The pop version, that is, where the sexiest woman in country music history is flying solo instead of singing with a prepubescent twelve year-old boy. C-

“There Goes My Baby”
Trisha Yearwood

The album it came from is the weakest of her career, but you never would’ve guessed from this killer lead single, which has one of Yearwood’s most powerful vocal performances. She’s a friggin’ sixties girl group unto herself. A

“To Make You Feel My Love”
Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks covers Billy Joel covering Bob Dylan. Three legends connected to one hell of a boring record. C

“Now That I Found You”
Terri Clark

Terri goes folkie, with mixed results. It’s a pretty enough song, but it doesn’t play to her strengths at all. B-

“A Man Holdin’ On (To a Woman Lettin’ Go)”
Ty Herndon

Sex. Marriage. Death. Typical three-act country song, nicely sung but not very memorable. B-

“It Would Be You”
Gary Allan

Nine years ago, it was still early enough to expect Gary Allan to become the superstar his talents warranted. Today, looking back on how great he’s been all along, it’s just a baffling mystery. A-

“I Do [Cherish You]”
Mark Wills

You know it’s bad when you don’t remember if this was a country song that a pop act covered or the other way around. Does it really matter? D

“I Can Still Feel You”
Collin Raye

One of his most intense hits, with an infectious groove that still sounds great today. B+

LeAnn Rimes

Putting aside the fact that she was fifteen at the time she was demanding commitment, this was one of the first contemporary things that she did without sounding like a kid playing dress-up. B+

“I Just Want to Dance With You”
George Strait

It’s trite as all get out, but give the man props: he whistles! B+

“That’s Why I’m Here”
Kenny Chesney

There was a period where Kenny Chesney was essentially Tim McGraw’s understudy. One of the lessons he learned that he doesn’t get enough credit for was to pick fantastic songs and stay out of the way. Even today, this stands among his greatest singles. A

“The Shoes You’re Wearing”
Clint Black

Black has always seemed to fancy himself a hillbilly philosopher. Sometimes he actually is one. B+

“If You See Him/If You See Her”
Reba McEntire/Brooks & Dunn

Marketing before material, superstars over substance, big production over smart songwriting. They took care of the tour, the unprecedented two-label marketing, and matching album titles and release dates, but forgot to take care of the music. D


  1. I really like this feature and I think you’re right on with most of your grades, but I’ve always liked “If You See Him/If You See Her.” At the very least, it’s not the worst song on this list, s the grade would suggest.

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