The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 8: #60-#41

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 8: #60-#41

“Long Trip Alone”
Dierks Bentley
Peak: #10

In a perfect world, this would be this decade’s wedding standard. – Kevin Coyne

“Your Man”
Josh Turner
Peak: #1

Lush baritone against an effortlessly charismatic, enticing invitation to let Turner be “your man.” How can you resist? – Tara Seetharam

“The Lucky One”
Alison Krauss & Union Station
Peak: #46

I feel a real kinship toward the man being sung about in this song, which suggests that happiness is choosing to embrace what is there today instead of mourning what’s been left behind or bathing in regret over what never was or what may never be. Perhaps the narrator’s sadness isn’t because she can’t be with “The Lucky One,” but rather can’t be like him. – KC

“Nothin’ Better to Do”
LeAnn Rimes
Peak: #14

The little girl who made her name imitating Patsy Cline and chirping Dianne Warren tunes grew up to write and release this muddy, soulful tale of mischief and theft, the most all-around badass thing Bobbie Gentry or Miranda Lambert never thought up. – DM

“Like Red on a Rose”
Alan Jackson
Peak: #15

With producer Alison Krauss at the helm, Jackson unexpectedly croons his way through this slow-churning love song that, for all its rich professions of love, manages to retain his signature earnest simplicity. – TS

“Redneck Woman”
Gretchen Wilson
Peak: #1

More than just a single, Gretchen Wilson’s debut was a watershed in modern country music, an unexpected smash whose rowdy declaration of self-acceptance ushered in a movement of redneck pride amid the genre’s writers and artists, the output of which has been mostly quite crude. Of course, that movement resulted from a shallow reading of what made “Redneck Woman” appealing. At its heart, the song isn’t about a particular lifestyle being better or worse than any other one; it’s just about being able to love yourself, Walmart lingerie and all. – DM

“When It Rains”
Eli Young Band
Peak: #34

“When It Rains” is fun, unshakably catchy ear candy. The narrator prefers when it rains, because it guarantees that he’s not the only one who’s unhappy. How clever (and dark) is that? – LW

“Bring on the Rain”
Jo Dee Messina with Tim McGraw
Peak: #1

Usually we don’t appreciate our times of struggle until we look back on them and give them credit for our personal growth. Messina suggests here that we can appreciate them in the moment. – KC

“What the World Needs”
Wynonna Judd
Peak: #14

Sometimes a message is so meaningful on its own that it doesn’t need to be swathed in lyrical complexity. Judd’s case for what the world needs is heartfelt, honest and too accurate to feel clichéd, with dead-on lines like, “Rich, poor, don’t matter/We’re all the same/Everybody’s hungry in a different way.” – TS

Little Big Town
Peak: #9

One of the decade’s few examples of the hackneyed “country living” theme done gloriously right, with a lush, rustic sound, unstoppable hook and potent sensory details. And oh, the harmonies! – DM

“The Long Way Around”
Dixie Chicks
Peak: Did not chart

If “Not Ready to Make Nice” is the Chicks’ attempts to address “the incident” to the world, “The Long Way Around” is like their attempt to address it to themselves. Reflecting on the history of their lives and careers, they observe that they’ve always done things their own way, concluding that “the incident” is just one more manifestation of that spirit, and to change course to suit others’ expectations would be to lie to themselves. “Guess I could have made it easier on myself,” Natalie Maines concedes, “but I could never follow.” – DM

“Flies on the Butter (You Can’t Go Home Again)”
Wynonna Judd with Naomi Judd
Peak: #33

With the wistful “Flies on the Butter” The Judds reunite for a song that nostalgically hearkens to their beloved mother-daughter harmony. – LW

“Goodbye Earl”
Dixie Chicks
Peak: #13

Call it malicious wrongdoing or call it justice served – whatever it is, “Goodbye Earl” is an inventive, spunky black comedy of sorts about two best friends who take the domestic abuse justice system into their own hands. It’s no doubt controversial, but in the end, to take the song at face value is to overlook its hilarity (death by black-eyed peas? Really?). – TS

“What I Cannot Change”
LeAnn Rimes
Peak: Did not chart

An adaptation of the Serenity Prayer, “What I Cannot Change” is a gorgeous declaration of changing oneself rather than demanding change that cannot be controlled. Rimes wisely sings, “I will learn to let go what I cannot change/I will learn to forgive what I cannot change/I will learn to love what I cannot change/But I will change, I will change/Whatever I, whenever I can.” – LW

“Suds in the Bucket”
Sara Evans
Peak: #1

A vivid, delightful story of a girl who, via her pick-up-truck-clad Prince Charming, smashes out the walls of her small town, leaving a community in disarray, the suds in the bucket and the clothes hangin’ out on the line. Evans delivers the story with genuine, toe-tapping gusto. – TS

“Letters From Home”
John Michael Montgomery
Peak: #2

One of country music’s all-time great war songs, a beautifully human portrait of the men and women in the armed forces and the relationships they put on hold back home in order to do their jobs. – DM

“Like We Never Loved At All”
Faith Hill with Tim McGraw
Peak: #5

A song that so perfectly speaks to the disbelief you feel upon realization that someone who once made you whole is now becoming whole on his own. It’s a well-known sentiment, but Hill and McGraw are so effective at infusing the song with real feelings of hurt, despair and remnants of love that the pain seems to come alive. – TS

“Good Directions”
Billy Currington
Peak: #1

“Good Directions” shows that it’s country without loudly declaring it. This song with turnip greens and pork rinds is ridiculously charming, which is largely bolstered by Currington’s boyish delivery. – LW

“Wake Up Older”
Julie Roberts
Peak: #46

The three minutes and eight seconds in which the Julie Roberts hype matched reality. – KC

George Strait
Peak: #2

Strait tries in vain to untangle himself from an irresistible love interest in this song, and it’s just the kind of authentic, charming dance hall number that he knocks out of the park. – TS

– – –


  1. Two more Chicks songs. One has the feeling there’s more to come too. We’re going to get the Chicks good and hard, huh?

    Re: “Redneck Woman” ushering in an era of “mostly quite crude” songs. Crude is bad. Except, of course, when it’s not (see, e.g., “Sin Wagon”).

    Still don’t remember seeing “What I Really Meant to Say” but could have missed it.

  2. There should be more Chicks songs to come. One of the big stories to me this decade is how country radio ran off one of their biggest- and best- acts all because they made some off-hand comment about the President.

    It’s no surprise radio sided with the far more red state friendly Toby Keith in the battle, but it really feels like biting off the nose to spite the face

  3. Brian: “country radio ran off one of their biggest- and best- acts”

    Yes. I’m pretty sure it was country radio what done it.

  4. This has been my favorite 20 songs of the list so far. I agree with basically every song in this part of the list. Good to finally be seeing some LeAnn Rimes, I’m hoping to see “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way” in one of the next 40 positions. Also really glad to see “Long Trip Alone” and I agree with Kevin’s reasoning/comment on the song. Out of curiousity, will we be seeing all of the CU writers’ personal lists for best songs of the decade?

  5. cutting: The Chicks made a comment that was probably short-sighted but people have said much worse and not been called on it. They happened to do it at a bad time as well and they said it overseas.

    This came on the heels of Natalie Maines saying Toby’s song was “ignorant.”

    Country radio took both instances as some weird anti-American, or at least anti-Republican stance. A majority of stations went from playing the Chicks once an hour to maybe once a day, and some stations organized burning sessions to throw Dixie Chicks merchandise into.

    At that point they had no natural musical home and walked from country music. It wasn’t just them it affected to. Vince Gill defended them on the ACM awards that year and a few days later had to backtrack because he was getting hit with backlash.

    Watch their documentary Shut Up and Sing for more of a look at the whole issue.

  6. I enjoy reading these lists but I feel like its more a wavy line then a steady rise to the top. If there were no rank numbers attached to these songs, I’d have no idea where we were on the list based on my own quality perception. It’s probably impossible to truely rank singles because everyones personal tastes are different for there to ever be a real consensus, but still good job at attempting it.
    btw, if anyone wants a good scare this holiday season, check out another list, the top 10 most played songs on country radio in 2009. If that doesnt send shivers down your spine, you dont have a musical soul. lol

  7. Good points, Highwayman3.

    Canadian Boy, I’ll be looking for “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way” too… and some more Dixie Chicks, of course.

    My favorites from this batch are Alan Jackson’s “Like Red On a Rose”, Wynonna’s “What the World Needs Now” and Alison Krauss’ “The Lucky One”.

  8. Im on the CMA mailing list so they emailed me it, but here it is,
    Rank Artist Song
    1 Jason Aldean She’s Country
    2 Zac Brown Band Whatever It Is
    3 Darius Rucker It Won’t Be Like This For Long
    4 Keith Urban Sweet Thing
    5 Toby Keith God Love Her
    6 Dierks Bentley Sideways
    7 Lady Antebellum I Run To You
    8 Rodney Atkins It’s America
    9 Dierks Bentley Feel That Fire
    10 Zac Brown Band Chicken Fried

  9. Brian: “The Chicks made a comment that was probably short-sighted but people have said much worse and not been called on it”

    Me: I’m not interested in (or offended by) what Natalie Maines said. You wade into the political sphere – from the left or right – then be ready to accept that certain consequences will flow from that. Just ask Trig Palin.

  10. Its fine by me that the Dixie Chicks said that, because it essentially won them 5 Grammys in 2006. Plus, it was the kind of thing that many people would like to have said, but she just had the guts to say it.

    I love “Suds in the Bucket” – great to see it pretty high

  11. …aldean’s “she’s country” being the most played is kinda scary. i think i might start looking under my radio again, before i go to bed.

  12. great list so far!!!! I’m loving all the songs!!

    I feel that “What I Cannot Change” was excellent and should’ve been placed higher (like Top 20), but looking at all the other songs, it’s hard to not say it’s a pretty good placement.
    Glad to see some love for “Nothin’ better to do,” as well.

    I fully expect to (or hope to) see “I want to know what love is,” in at least the Top 20.

  13. This list keeps getting better and better – I’m loving all the Chicks songs, and Long Trip Alone is an old favourite I had forgotten about – Have to listen to it later.

  14. Great to see “Suds” do so well. I’m thinking with SITB, and “Cheatin'” Sara Evans may be the last (or most recent) female vocalist to score so high on the charts with Traditional sounding Country material, and she deserves some praise for that.

    I guess “Cheater Cheater” is as traditional as they come, but Joey Martin is part of a duo.

  15. It just occurred to me that I don’t think I saw “Top of the World” by the Chicks on the list (correct me if I’m wrong). For some reason I thought I did.

    Glad to see “Long Trip Alone”, “Nothin’ Better to Do”, “Like Red on a Rose”, “When It Rains”, “Boondocks”, and “Like We Never Loved at All” on the list.

  16. Waiting for Sugarland’s “Stay” and “Want To…” the longer I wait, I guess the better it is.

    Also waiting for more Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, and George Strait.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.