The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 4: #140-#121

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 4: #140-#121

140 Bon Jovi Nice Day

“Who Says You Can’t Go Home”
Bon Jovi featuring Jennifer Nettles
Peak: #1

Packed as country music has been lately with rocked-up little singalongs, perhaps it was only natural that one of the leading bands in rocked-up little singalongs should cross over for a bit to show everybody how it’s done. It was newcomer Nettles, though, who stole this show, driving Bon Jovi’s ditty home with an infectiously joyful performance. – Dan Milliken

139 Johnny Cash V

“God’s Gonna Cut You Down”
Johnny Cash
Peak: Did not chart

The arrangement is cool enough, but it’s Cash’s stoic, slicing vocal performance that makes his version of this song so memorable. – Tara Seetharam

138 Vince Next Big

“Young Man’s Town”
Vince Gill
Peak: #44

Vince Gill, one of the most gracious and graceful artists in country music, is surely qualified to sing this gentle warning to his fellow artists who are being replaced by younger faces. He humbly advises, “Just teach ’em what you know an’ pass it on down.” There’s no doubt that this song was just as much for him as it was for others. – Leeann Ward

137 Brooks Dunn Deluxe

Brooks & Dunn
Peak: #8

This song is no doubt a bit much for some, but that’s kind of what makes it work. It’s a shameless, deep profession of faith, brought to life by a simple yet profound story. – TS

136 Gretchen Here

“When I Think About Cheatin'”
Gretchen Wilson
Peak: #4

I love me some “Redneck Woman” bravado, but Wilson is most effective at traditional ballads like this one, on which she aptly blends tenderness and tenacity. – TS

177 Sara Fine

Sara Evans
Peak: #37

Released at an unfortunate time, “Coalmine” likely never reached its potential as a radio hit. An unshakably fun song, it did not focus on the trials of coalmines, but rather the steamy relationship of a hardworking coalmine worker: “Gonna keep him busy ‘til it’s time/That he goes back to that coalmine.” – LW

135 Tim McGraw Live

“Drugs or Jesus”
Tim McGraw
Peak: #14

McGraw rejects society’s tendency to judge and divide people solely by the face of their conduct, making the provocative observation that we use drugs and religion to address the same core needs. – DM

134 Dolly Halos

“Hello God”
Dolly Parton
Peak: #60

A pleading, conflicted, beautifully honest prayer of a song. – TS

Dixie Chicks Home high quality

Dixie Chicks
Peak: #2

Amazing how a Fleetwood Mac cover provides one of the purest country moments on a pretty pure country album to start with. As a vocal group, I don’t think they ever sounded better than they do on this track. – Kevin Coyne

131 Lonestar Greatest Hits

“Walking in Memphis”
Peak: #8

Speaking of surprisingly great covers of pop songs, Richie McDonald’s performance of this Marc Cohn hit is so commanding and soulful that it makes the original – which was already solid – sound like a demo. Arguably Lonestar’s finest moment. – DM

188 Sara Restless

“Backseat of a Greyhound Bus”
Sara Evans
Peak: #16

Redemption comes not from the forgiveness of the judgmental town that has banished this single mom-to-be, but from the pure and selfless love that she has for her newborn child. – KC

129 Faith Hill Breathe hi res

“If My Heart Had Wings”
Faith Hill
Peak: #3

One of those rare country songs that demands you turn the radio up and roll the windows down. Unless it’s winter. Then just rock out with the windows closed. – KC

128 George Strait Just

“Give It Away”
George Strait
Peak: #1

Jamey Johnson wrote it, but George Strait sings the fire out of it. Instead of quibbling over who gets what, the woman just says, “give it away.” She’s so done with their relationship that she has no use for anything connected with it. Now, that’s a bitter ending if there ever was one. – LW

127 Brooks Dunn Red Dirt

“Red Dirt Road”
Brooks & Dunn
Peak: #1

Want to make your nostalgic country-rock song stick out from the pack? Two tips: 1) Fill it with memorable details that tell an actual story – bonus points if you can rhyme a main character’s name with “blackberries.” 2) Have Ronnie Dunn sing it. – DM

126 Craig Morgan Little

Craig Morgan
Peak: #11

I come from a family of matriarchs who are far stronger than the men who put up the appearances of being tough. I’ve seen this exact scenario play out more than once, and it’s spot-on. – KC

125 Kenny Sun Goes

“I Go Back”
Kenny Chesney
Peak: #2

A Chesney-style reminder that one of music’s best and most powerful qualities is its reminiscent, transcendental nature. – TS

124 Kid Rock Cocky

Kid Rock with Sheryl Crow
Peak: #21

Kid Rock does such a good job of writing a pure country song that it sounds like a cover of a classic than a Kid Rock original. – LW

123 Rodney Outsider

“Dancin’ Circles ‘Round the Sun (Epictetus Speaks)”
Rodney Crowell
Peak: Did not chart

Who needs self-help books when you can just listen to Rodney Crowell? The bouncy “Dancin’ Circles ‘Round the Sun” is surely a more fun way to get your positive fix. – LW

Kenny Lucky

“Down the Road”
Kenny Chesney with Mac McAnally
Peak: #1

I don’t know if it’s the layered textures of Chesney’s and McAnally’s voices, or the way each artist is a poignant storyteller in his own right, or the simplistic, bittersweet story of giving a child away – but something about this song touches me deep inside. – TS

121 John Anderson Easy

“A Woman Knows”
John Anderson
Peak: Did not chart

“A Woman Knows” is a first-rate cheating song. While everything seems perfect on the surface, Anderson suggests that a woman knows when it’s not quite right. He sings this song as a man who knows it just as well as the woman.

– – –


  1. Real mixed feelings about this part of the countdown, happy that one of my favorites “Coalmine” makes the list, but it’s still a little dissapointing when one’s favorites don’t break that magic #100 psychological barrier. ;)

  2. Glad to see “Coalmine” on the list – That is just a great counry song, and Sara sounds so good on it. I’m pleasantly surprised to see “Backseat of the grayhound bus”, since it’s a beautiful, but underrated song. The bit about “If my heart had wings” totally made lol.

  3. Hmmmmm… a mostly good batch although I am surprised at a few of the choices (Craig Morgan’s rather bland “Tough”, Chesney’s two entries and Hill’s somewhat weak effort.

    Still… very happy to see Kid Rock’s “Picture”, Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” and Tim McGraw’s underrated “Drugs or Jesus”.

  4. “Kid Rock does such a good job of writing a pure country song that it sounds like a cover of a classic than a Kid Rock original. – LW”

    It is amazing, thoughts exactly.

  5. TS: “[‘Believe’ is] a shameless, deep profession of faith, brought to life by a simple yet profound story.”

    Is it really “shameless”? The song has a great chorus that is probably lost on many folks. But the verses are pretty boring.

  6. DM on “Walking in Memphis”: “Richie McDonald’s performance . . . makes the original – which was already solid – sound like a demo. Arguably Lonestar’s finest moment”

    Me: I weep. But in their defense, Lonestar was Rascal Flatts first. So they have that to remember.

  7. “Lonestar was Rascal Flatts first.”

    There is truth to this, but I’d take McDonald as a vocalist over Gary LeVox any day. Plus I don’t know that Lonestar ever released anything quite as stink-bad as “Bob That Head” et al (although in fairness, they also never found anything as good as the Flatts’ best songs).

  8. Over the last few years, I’ve seen a lot of shots taken at Lonestar and Richie McDonald. But unlike a lot of country stars, Richie had no need of pro-tools. Saw him and Jamie “There is No Arizona” O’Neal at the Bloomsburg Fair a few weeks after 9/11 and both were outstanding. Traditional country fans may not like Lonestar’s material but the man sure can sing.

  9. I’m enjoying this list! It’s a nice trip back through the decade.

    Glad to see “Tough” made the list. I, too, thought it was bland it first, but eventually the emotion of the sound got to me, and now it gets me every time.

    and “If My Heart Had Wings”

    wasn’t too crazy over “Down the road,” I like “I Go Back,” though

  11. I got out my Sara cd “Real Fine Place” to check out “Coalmine” which I had forgotten about. The song was written by Roxie Dean, Ron Harbin and former Lonestar lead singer Richie McDonald. It’s one of his 137 songwriting credits on BMI.

  12. I guess I dont mind seeing “Coalmine” on the list, but if a song like that is on the list then I feel every single this decade from Patty Loveless,Trisha Yearwood,Lee Ann Womack and the Dixie Chicks should all make the list. The song itself wasnt as memorable as the awful performance Evans gave it at the award shows

  13. Cory I agree that Sara blew it on the ACM performance of Coalmine, (still glad she took home top female vocalist that year, at last) But I’ve seen her do this song at least five times in concert and she nails it consistently, and with some added flourishes that aren’t on the record. Great song, great singer, great single, shoulda done better on country radio.

    But I’m with ya in wanting a lot of Trisha and Patty on this list. ;)

  14. I saw Sara Evans’ live and she did a great job with “Coalmine,” and its my favorite song from my favorite country artist – love that it made the listing =)

    “Backseat of a Greyhound Bus” is also a great song; I dearly love Sara Evans’ voice

  15. Yes, but my point was the two popular singers. To mention the co-writers wouldn’t really make sense in the context of my write-up.

  16. Point taken, I guess, but on the other hand, Jamey Johnson’s going to have to have a lot of hits and sell a lot of records to get up into Bill Anderson territory ;-).

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