The themes of love and loss have permeated country music for as long as it’s been in existence. This second-to-last batch of great nineties hits contains songs that are direct descendants of well-known classics like “Can the Circle Be Unbroken” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”, along with a Shania Twain hit that would have made Roba Stanley smile.
400 Greatest Singles of the Nineties:
Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)
1991 | Peak: #2
From the first forceful guitar strum on, this kiss-off number somehow manages to seem unusually cool and collected in its own aggression. You get the impression that Tritt’s character has been anticipating this moment, and has already made up his mind that he’s going to relish every second of it. – Dan Milliken
I’ve Come to Expect it From You
1990 | Peak: #1
This is about as dark and bitter as George Strait gets. It’s a coat that he wears well. – Kevin Coyne
House of Cards
Mary Chapin Carpenter
1995 | Peak: #21
No neighborhood or family is without its secrets, and the more time we spend trying to hide them, the worse they become. “House of Cards” is a plea: forget appearances. Just take care of each other. – DM
Love Without End, Amen
1990 | Peak: #1
A song about a father’s eternal love for his children, powered by a fundamental Christian truth. Once again, a grand message is told through relatable anecdotes, by one of the best storytellers in country music. – Tara Seetharam
State of Mind
1993 | Peak: #2
A tribute to the power of a melody, done so tastefully that you could almost miss the depth of its hook: “Ain’t it funny how a melody can…completely change your state of mind?” I rarely go a day without wondering the same thing. – TS
Burn One Down
1992 | Peak: #4
Black bids his final farewell to an unworthy lover. Steeped in traditionalism, this record could stand as a classic on its sound alone, but its lyrics are masterfully bitter. – TS
1992 | Peak: #2
Couched in a beautiful, though sing-able melody, “Seminole Wind” is a gorgeous song that pays tribute to the hardships of Native Americans. While the sound is unique, with its mix of strong piano and fiddle, it’s an example of the diversity that nineties country music enjoyed. Likewise, it’s one of the finer instances of intelligence that was often displayed in that era. – LW
Sticks and Stones
1991 | Peak: #1
This is the more subdued version of this decade’s “Give It Away.” Lawrence hands over all of the material possessions that they had acquired together, because “sticks and stones” are worthless without the love that they lost in the acquisition of them. – LW
Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?
1995 | Peak: #11
To simply label this as one of Twain’s “countriest” records is to miss the massive slab of personality she throws into it. The snappy performance, the ridiculous, rhyming names and the terrifically cheesy bridge (“So next time you’re lonely/Don’t call on me/Try the operator/Maybe she’ll be free)? All signature Twain. – TS
1991 | Peak: #2
While one of Sawyer Brown’s signature songs is quite possibly the most inspiring father-son song of country music, there is a strength of love that is ever-present in it. In its quiet way, it powerfully depicts a relationship of a family history of support and understanding. – LW
1994 | Peak: #2
A recovering alcoholic makes a candid phone call to the one he had to leave at home. Getting sober was only the beginning; now he has to pick up the pieces of the life he let fall to shambles. A lesser song would have resolved the situation tidily; “Little Rock” wisely abstains, leaving a realistic sense of ambiguity about whether the man is truly fit to rekindle the relationship. – DM
Any Man of Mine
1995 | Peak: #1
A landmark moment, both for Twain and country music. The combination of arena-stomping verses and honky-tonking choruses was a musical revelation, while the thematic demand that men continually work to deserve their women’s affections helped contribute to a major shift in the female point-of-view presented in mainstream country. – DM
1992 | Peak: #35
Ah, to cover an Elvis Presley song is a pretty daunting task. So, it’s no small feat to be one of the few to record a version to rival a Presley recording. – LW
Straight Tequila Night
1991 | Peak: #1
About a bar regular who’s infamous for nursing her broken heart with hard stuff and subsequently taking out her frustrations on interested suitors. Where did these songs go? – DM
1998 | Peak: #1
A big heap of stars-in-your-eyes-head-in-the-clouds-Taylor-Swift-on-Ecstasy drivel. In other words: the perfect soundtrack to new love. – DM
1993 | Peak: #2
The hard truth: sometimes you’ve got to give up winning the argument in order to avoid losing the love. – DM
Come Some Rainy Day
1997 | Peak: #14
The current of time flows forcefully in one direction, yet it’s only the most vulnerable of memories that are strong enough to swim against it.- KC
1991 | Peak: #1
Tritt tackles this confession of a song with rousing, ferocious conviction so intense that you can almost feel the narrator’s tipping point as he comes to terms with his emotions. One hell of a power ballad. – TS
1991 | Peak: #1
“Love, Me” is like one of those tearjerker movies that gets you every time, no matter how many times you see it. For you, it might be Titanic or Terms of Endearment. For me, it’s Toy Story 3. This one is a sucker punch to the gut, as only the very saddest movies and the very saddest country songs can be. – KC
Please Remember Me
1999 | Peak: #1
The original recording by Rodney Crowell was great in its own right. But McGraw took it to new heights, thanks in no small part to Patty Loveless lifting him up with her harmony vocal. This is a selfish man making a supreme act of selflessness. – KC
Things I Wish I’d Said
1991 | Peak: #72
It’s not a secret that Rodney Crowell endured a tumultuous relationship with his father. As one of Crowell’s forgotten gems, “Things I Wish I’d Said”, is a cathartic autobiographical reflection of healing between parent and child. – LW
1991 | Peak: #8
A mother pushes her daughter into prostitution, seeing it as the only way for her daughter to have any hope of escaping poverty. The daughter does, and speaks out confidently against those who judge her and her mothers’ decisions. It was a great song when Bobbie Gentry did it; when flamboyant Reba happened upon it, it became its own kind of anthem. – DM
A Night to Remember
1999 | Peak: #6
He’s reeling from a tough week, ready to let loose and have “a night to remember.” But all is not as it seems. No spoilers here – you’ve got to enjoy a good country music twist where you can find one – but Diffie has never met better material. It’s enough to make you annoyed with “Pickup Man” all over again. – DM
Song For the Life
1995 | Peak: #6
Alan Jackson is a masterful interpreter just as Rodney Crowell’s composition is masterfully written. It’s certainly not unheard of, but it’s rare that a single without a catchy chorus is a hit. The quiet and reflective “Song for the Life”, however, is effectively poignant with no bells and whistles to overshadow the intimacy of the performance and lyrics. – LW
In Between Dances
1995 | Peak: #3
Pam Tillis was one of the women who helped bridge the gap between the victim queens that came before her and the Rah! Rah! Girl Power! ladies who came after, and she did it with songs like this. Here, her heart is on the mend, and a potential suitor is circling. Is he a knight in shining armor, or a vulture who senses weakness? Doesn’t really matter. She’s taking a breather for now, and will proceed cautiously from here. The hurt is palpable, but so is the strength that lies underneath it. – KC
400 Greatest Singles of the Nineties (2010 Edition)
#400- #376 | #375- #351 | #350 – #326 | #325 – #301
#300 – #276 | #275 – #251 | #250 – #226 | #225 – #201
#200 – #176 | #175 – #151 | #150 – #126 | #125 – #101
#100 – #76 | #75 – #51 | #50 – #26 | #25 – #1
I’m completely adoring this list and always looking forward to the next instalment! It’s nice to see Shania Twain’s earlier singles here; she was the artist who first got me into country music, since hearing her CD for the first time at the age of four (it was a staple in my mum’s car). Bring on the top 25!
I *love* “Any Man Of Mine”. So. Much. It’s just such a fun song, and the lyrical content brought the ‘girl power’ earlier and in a far more convincing way than the Spice Girls ever did. It’s not my favourite Shania song, but it’s definitely my favourite Shania *country* song. Being from Europe, the versions I know of Shania songs that I remember more fondly than this were definitely nowhere near being country.
On an unrelated note, all the 90’s country hairstyles I’ve seen on the women in this feature makes my eye twitch.
i LOVE the Carpenter track: biting, real, and honest. (as she always is)
The Wynonna track ranks among one of my favorites of her catelog.
I once said that only Reba McEntire could take a song about a mother thrusting her daughter into prostitution and turn it into an anthem for strong women who have achieved high levels of success, despite the means she used to get there.
I am excited and nervous about the Top 25, I CAN’T WAIT!! I think I might have one song in mind that might be on the Top 25, unless it wasn’t already on the previous #400-51 slots.
I was also surprised to see Faith Hill’s “This Kiss,” it’s very singalongable… And better than most of the ‘I’ve just fallen in love, and it’s AMAZING’ songs from the past 2 decades.
Happy to see “Seminole Wind”, “Anymore”, “Little Rock”, “Fancy”, etc. etc. etc. Also “Nobody Wins” especially through MCC’s harmony vocals.
These are some of my favorite Shania songs. Both cleverly written and full of personality, and I love the fiddle-laden two-step arrangements of both songs.
Also love “In Between Dances.” That’s one of Pam’s best, which says a lot. The song’s litling waltz-like arrangement fits perfectly with the symbolic scene that the song describes. It’s all tied together with Pam’s gorgeous voice.
Wow I’m a bit surprised to see Faith Hill’s “This Kiss” up so high. It’s not my favorite single from her but I will agree it’s very sing along-able.
The Shania songs that are included in this part of the countdown are hands down my favorites from her. I love the personality and spunk she puts into both “Any Man of Mine” and “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” They are instant classics!
How did “Fancy” not go number one? I think that’s Reba’s signature song and I still can’t believe it peaked at number 8!
I can’t believe this series is already almost done! Can’t wait to see the final installment!
Love the John Anderson and Collin Raye songs. I wish Collin was doing more than being the fruit of the loom singing voice.
Alan Jackson “Song for Life” is one of my favorites. I also love Alison Krauss’ version from her debut album 1987’s “Too Late To Cry.” Though the song was a little heavy for a 14 year old. Even then, her voice was still amazing.
Can’t wait for the top 25!
I hear “Seminole Wind” every so often on our country station out here in L.A., and yes, I do think it deserves a placement anywhere on this list, being one of those songs that talks about the true natives of America and what has happened to them.
Re. “Suspicious Minds”–I do like Dwight Yoakam’s version of it well enough, but I don’t know that he captures this song’s duality of love and extreme paranoia in quite the way that Elvis did. In fact, I’ve come to believe that the way Elvis did the song he was quite literally singing for his life, which may very well have been the case. I think Dwight himself would acknowledge this too.
Re. “Fancy”–I know that Reba has a lot of fans who are fans of this song, but I have to confess my preference for Bobbie Gentry’s original 1969 version, precisely because it is far less flamboyant and much earthier; in fact, you wouldn’t be laughed out of town if you actually thought Bobbie sounded a bit like Dusty Springfield on her 1969 album DUSTY IN MEMPHIS–because she kind of does, unintentionally (IMHO).
Can’t believe Fancy aint in the top ten!!!!!!!!
I was beginning to think that Collin Raye had been overlooked. I think he only had one song among the first 350. I tried to check but when you click on “view older posts” it comes back to the same screen. Try again and you get an error message.
Besides Collin, I like Radney’s “Nobody Wins”, Wynonna’s “Come Some Rainy Day and Pam T’s “In Between Dances” best in this group.
Well, I’m nostalgic for the 90s all over again. All excellent songs.
I’m actually not terribly surprised to see “This Kiss” so high on the list. It perfectly captures the excitement of having just fallen in love.
Seeing all these great songs on here just makes me all the more eager to see what song is number one!
I thought this was where Check Yes or No would appear on the list, but the waiting continues. I believe that This Kiss by Faith and Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under are both worthy songs to make the list in its entirety/ However, I think I would have dropped them anywhere from 30 to 35 spaces on the list.
GREAT JIB so far though guys and gals. 90’s country is my favorite decade of country music with its unique blends of the traditional, neo-traditional and pop-country sounds.
I’m crossing my hands for “From This Moment” to be in the top 25. Well, there’s nothing bad in wishing, isn’t it?
Great List! As usual :)
Other than “House of Cards” and “Fancy” (I muich preferred the original version), I liked all twenty-five of these songs
I’m not nostalgic for the nineties, but they were far better than the 00s