The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 9: #40-#21
“This Is Me You’re Talking To”
Flawless. Proof positive that the nineties formula at its best is better than anything on naughties radio. Perhaps they can’t play it too much for that reason. It’s not good for business to park a new Lexus in a used car lot of Ford Pintos. – Kevin Coyne
“Famous in a Small Town”
This is one of those slice-of-life songs that anyone from a small town can easily relate to. What sets it above the pack of songs of that ilk is the witty nugget of truth that “everybody dies famous in a small town.” The Springsteen-esque vibe of the production is pretty cool, too. – Leeann Ward
Peak: Did not chart
A sweet homage to the purest form of love – the kind that always gives and never asks back – sung by one of the purest voices in country music. The combination is magic. – Tara Seetharam
“Songs About Rain”
A somewhat corny song about a man seeking musical escape is raised to the classic country rafters by Allan’s miserable snarl of a vocal. – Dan Milliken
“Jesus, Take the Wheel”
On the surface, it’s a story of a woman who finds herself at a personal crossroad and looks to Jesus to take control. But at its core, “Jesus, Take the Wheel” is a sweeping plea for salvation that’s accessible to anyone who subscribes to this belief, in any situation. And that’s the beauty of the song: it trades self-righteousness for compassion, largely due to Underwood’s fervent yet humble performance. – TS
“What You Give Away”
Vince Gill with Sheryl Crow
In this anthem of giving, Vince Gill sings, “The measure of a man is one who lends a hand.” He clearly believes the platitude to be true, as thoroughly demonstrated by his own various charitable endeavors. With a swelling gospel choir and soulful harmony contribution by Sheryl Crow, Gill inspires us to think of others, because it’s all in “what we give away.” – LW
This is a beautifully simplistic song that serves as a lyrical photo album of memories for the Jacksons. It richly chronicles the various stages of their relationship and lets us all in on the memories in the process. – LW
Peak: Did not chart
The 2005 film Transamerica digs into the heart of a transsexual woman’s identity struggle as she nears her final operation. Parton’s Oscar-nominated contribution to the film digs into the heart of the identity struggles within us all, recognizing that we are all fundamentally trying to “figure out where all [our] pieces fit” in some way or another. A country-folk classic. – DM
“Monday Morning Church”
The woman who holds the keys to his salvation is buried in the cold, hard ground. One suspects that his heart would feel just as empty in a Sunday morning church, so deep is his grief. – KC
“Born to Fly”
This isn’t so much a tale of a restless soul as it is an encapsulation of every emotion a restless soul feels. Evans is buoyantly impatient from start to finish, and it’s just one of those rare performances where the spirit of the character transcends the song. – TS
Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson
Peak: #55 (Australia)
The husband-wife duo showcases their easy harmony in this swampy song of hopelessness. While its mood is decidedly dark, it’s still a sonic treat. – LW
“Gunpowder & Lead”
Lambert follows in the footsteps of “Goodbye Earl” and “Independence Day” with this vengeful anthem of female liberation, but it’s far from derivative. With palpable ferocity, the song focuses on a single moment of raw determination, building from an eerily collected verse to an explosive chorus that surges with sheer, rocking energy. – TS
“Bless the Broken Road”
A gorgeous expression of a grand, yet powerfully simplistic view on love – that God designs the journey of two soul mates. I can’t find many words that speak to the innate personal connection I’ve formed with this song, but perhaps my favorite line sums up its lyrical poignancy: “now I’m just rolling home into my lover’s arms” is as best a description of the ease of true love as I’ve ever heard. – TS
Desperate housewife indeed. The walls are closing in on this one, as she’s isolated from the rest of society in her suburban prison. No wonder she winds up in front of her high school twenty years after graduation, whispering to all of the girls with their future still ahead of them: “Run. Run. Run.” – KC
“Somebody Like You”
Over the last decade, Urban has been arguably the best source of complication in any broad-strokes argument decrying the artistic quality of country-pop. This star-making signature hit introduced a sound so infectious – with singing so passionate, riffs so face-melting – that even the most rigid traditionalists could be heard muttering concessions that Nashville had a superlative talent on its hands. – DM
Old Crow Medicine Show
Peak: Did not chart
Old Crow Medicine Show’s first album is full of melodically memorable hooks, but none more so than their signature song, “Wagon Wheel”, which was originally started by Bob Dylan and later filled in by OCMS’s lead singer, Ketch Secor. – LW
A chance encounter with a homeless man turns into a stirring, pivotal reflection on the events that truly define our lives. Few third-person narratives this decade have drawn characters of such tangible spirit. – DM
“I Don’t Paint Myself into Corners”
“In the light of truth, it wasn’t you. It was me.” So goes this reclaiming of one’s own identity, which shifts the responsibility of happiness from the other who always disappoints to the self who finds freedom in letting the other go. Yearwood’s masterful performance parallels this journey of personal growth, with the first declaration barely a whisper and the final a full-throated wail. – KC
“You’ll Think of Me”
Urban nurses a broken heart by reveling in the idea that his ex will eventually regret letting him go. He nails the sharp mix of emotions that accompanies this mindset, with a performance that’s both peaceful and biting, dejected and vindictive. – TS
“Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)”
The story behind the song is heart-wrenching. Radney Foster penned it for his young son who moved to Paris with his ex-wife, and recorded it on a tape that his son played every night before he went to bed. Yet it works just as well as a maternal tuck-in from far away, which Natalie Maines is able to credibly emote despite the fact that she and her fellow Chicks took their kids on the road with them. – KC
– – –
- The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 1: #201-#181
- The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 2: #180-#161
- The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 3: #160-#141
- The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 4: #140-#121
- The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 6: #100-#81
- The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 9: #40-#21
Have we seen “What I Really Meant to Say”?
Hmm…I’m surprised “This Is Me You’re Talking To” isn’t higher. I would have put it in the top 20. Great list overall, though
I have a nasty feeling that Lori McKenna’s “Unglamorous” isn’t going to be in the top 200 anywhere, and that’s terribly disappointing.
But I’ve been loving the countdown so far and more or less agree with the placings of most of these. And there’s a ton of songs that I’ve never heard and that I need to find. Thanks for t\is!
SD, I agree with you on Lori’s “Unglamorous” it derserves a spot here that radio never gave it.
Also, Patty’s “Crazy Arms”..I know there is debate about whether it was actually a single, but her version was certainly one of the best songs of the decade. ;)
Even my picky tastes enjoy a lot of the songs on this list, most notably “Moments”. My only quibble is that “Famous in a Small Town” made it so high, especially above “This Is Me You’re Talking To”.
I may have just missed it, but did Keith’s Tonight I Wanna Cry make the list already?
I’m pretty sure it has. But I haven’t seen “Everybody” (not that I think it’ll make the top 20), or “I Told You So”.
Jon – yes. It came in at #120.
I love the write up for “This Is Me You’re Talking To”. Perfect.
I was surprised that “Songs About Rain” peaked at 12. For some reason I thought it was a #1.
Nice to see “Monday Morning Church” and “Stealing Kisses”.
And although I know they have their fans, for some reason “Moments” and “Bless the Broken Road” have just never done it for me.
Looking forward to the Top 20!
Treacle – We haven’t seen “What I Really Meant to Say.”
Too bad on “What I Really Meant to Say”. And I don’t think I’ve seen (and won’t see) “Georgia” by Carolyn Dawn Johnson or “Angels in Waiting” by Tammy Cochran. They – and Cyndi Thomson – all released very good albums in the early 00’s. And those songs are all among the 200 best in the 00’s as well.
Great list guys! Can’t wait for the penultimate one. Thanks for doing this list.
“I Dont Paint Myself Into Corners” is my favorite song of the decade. Lyrically beautiful, vocally amazing.
I really liked “Angels in Waiting” as well. Whatever happened to Ms. Cochran?
great, great, great! :)
Thought “Talking To” would’ve placed higher.
Has “I’m Movin’ On” been mentioned yet? I think that song is the best Rascal Flatts song yet, along with “Broken Road.”
I love “Famous in a Small Town” and its one of my favorite music videos
I wish I knew Diamond. That album by Tammy Cochran was fantastic – no filler at all. And Carolyn Dawn Johnson’s album around the same time was really good too. Then they just disappeared.
Tammy Cochran released a very good independent album this year, 30Something And Single.
Yes, Tammy Cochran’s still plugging away.
All right! Sarah Siskind is one of my favoritest writers, nice to see her getting some love here.
How can you not have Live Like You Were Dying or Angry All The Time on there. That makes your complete list look lost.
Kerosense and Me and Charlie Talking are Miranda’s best singles :\
“Bless the Broken Road” (Rascal Flatts) <<< This is my fav country songs, of all time!
Nice selection also here, other than the #41-#60 list.
A lot of well known names here such as Rascal Flatts, Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood and others!