Best Country Singles of 2008, Part 1: #40-#31

Starting today, the Country Universe staff will be revealing our Top 40 Singles of 2008.   This list has been compiled through a combination of four individual Top 20 lists by Leeann, Blake, Dan and myself, wherein a certain number of “points” was delegated to a single each time it was mentioned on one of the lists.

The final list reflects the total number of points that each single received between the four lists. Those lists will be revealed along with other individual writer content next week as part of our continuing coverage of the Best of 2008.


Trisha Yearwood, “They Call it Falling For a Reason”

This song really sounds like it could fit perfectly with Yearwood’s music of the ‘90s. The production is both modest and interesting at the same time. Furthermore, the lyrics are light without seeming inane. As we will lament about many singles on this list, it’s a shame that this one didn’t chart better for Yearwood.  – LW


Sarah Buxton, “Space”

When Sarah Buxton’s voice is matched with a soaring melody, good things are bound to happen.   Here, she tears apart the standard breakup line, “I just need space”, thoroughly eviscerating the man foolish enough to ask for it.  – KJC


Jewel, “Stronger Woman”

Back when Jewel ruled pop radio, she did so with  smart and empowering female anthems.    Her introduction to country radio is cut from the same cloth, and let’s be honest: such material hasn’t been any more common on the country dial than it has been on pop radio this decade.  – KJC


Jeremy McComb, “This Town Needs a Bar”

Liz Rose is best known as Taylor Swift’s right-hand woman; this time she teams with Jimmy Yeary on a testimony to tear-in-your-beer therapy. McComb, one of the most promising newcomers of the year, dreams of disappearing amidst a barroom’s dark, smoky atmosphere. The absence of both a hometown saloon and his faithful sweetheart is a double blow.    -BB



Donna Fargo, “We Can Do Better in America”

Fargo co-wrote this inspiring call for American greatness with the author of her classic single, “You Can’t Be a Beacon (If Your Light Don’t Shine).”   For those of us who view the story of America as a country slowly moving over time toward its lofty ideals, this is the patriotic anthem we’ve been waiting for.  – KJC


Elizabeth Cook, “Sunday Morning”

Cook mines an abstract Velvet Underground song and halfway convinces you it was always meant to be a quiet country reflection. The production and vocal are a bit too buoyant to fully convey the song’s weariness, but they do flesh out its gentle message of hope, and that’s not too bad, either.  – DM


Patty Loveless, “Crazy Arms”

On Sleepless Nights, Patty Loveless linked country music’s past and present with brilliant ease. She borrows this Ray Price shuffle, slows the pace, and then proceeds to wail away with a convincing desperation.  Her nerves are frayed, her heart is cracked, but her voice is a mournful siren that emits the strength she takes to the struggle. – BB


Keith Anderson, “I Still Miss You”

The essential truths about the process of grief.    You try everything you can to try and move on, but the pain of loss seeps through everything that you do.   – KJC


Allison Moorer, “Mockingbird”

The title track (and lone original) on her homage to female singer-songwriters, “Mockingbird” is a simple, subtle portrait of isolation, and ultimately defiance.  Moorer’s soulful alto, one of the most underrated treasures of modern music, is her only friend as she suffers a ceaseless case of the blues.  -BB


Steve Earle featuring Allison Moorer, “Days Aren’t Long Enough”

This is a simple love song that’s done right. It’s romantic without being over the top. The fact that Earle sings with his wife, the talented Allison Moorer, makes the collaboration that much sweeter.  – LW


  1. Surprised to see the Yearwood song so low on the list. I thought it should be ranked a little higher. Also surprised, in a good way, to see Sarah Buxton’s “Space” make the list. I love this song! It’s one of my favorite songs from her!

  2. Just curious as to the criteria you used to come up with the ranking. Consensus of the staff writers?

    One thing I love about this site, besides the incredible wealth of information and diversity of opinion represented here, is the great appreciation that is usually shown for my favorite artist Patty Loveless, and her latest masterpiece Sleepless Nights.

    I am pleased that her haunting and enchanting rendition of “Crazy Arms” made the list, but am surprised it didn’t rank a lot higher. Even the video for this great song peaked at #12 on GAC’s video countdown, although I admit you have given Crazy Arms far more respect than country radio has.

    Blake, wonderful little synopsis of Crazy Arms you wrote there…

    But it will be interesting to see what you folks like better than Patty’s Crazy Arms…I am hoping that one of your choices will be her version of Why Baby Why, though I would have put Crazy Arms ahead of WBW.

    Sorry for sounding like a broken record singing Patty’s praises and all, but I know of no other artist today who recieves so little recognition for so much talent, like some twisted, bizzaro inverse ratio or something.

    Yeah, I do have an agenda, and it is obvious..And to a degree, I feel like I’m preaching to the choir here. But is so good to have such a receptive forum, given “country” radio and TV’s (and the marketplace’s ) shameful neglect of Patty Loveless, who is a national treasure in our midst.

  3. I’m so behind on compiling my Songs and Albums of the Year… I always find songs so hard to make a list of, because I get to the end and find I missed something.

    I’m going to check out a couple of songs from this list. I enjoy your Year-End lists, because I always find something I missed over the year.

  4. I’m surprised the Trisha tune didn’t make further up your chart, but I trust her real masterpiece from this year – ‘This Is Me You’re Talking To’ will find its rightful spot at the summit.

    Great compilation so far, I can’t wait for the rest …

  5. OK, I just re-read the introduction and now understand the criteria the staff used in your selections..Very interesting.

    Sorry I missed it before and for the redundant question.

    Looking forward to the unfolding of the remainder of the countdown, the four lists, and the continuing discussion!

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