During the month of May, Sirius XM Radio tackled the ambitious task of ranking the 1000 Greatest Country Songs of All Time…with, shall we say, some very interesting results.
In the coming weeks, we are going to discuss the entire list in detail, providing commentary and one of five ratings for each track:
- TOO HIGH: A worthy entry to the list, but is ranked too high in relation to its worth
- ABOUT RIGHT: A worthy entry to the list, and is ranked about right in relation to its worth
- TOO LOW: A worthy entry to the list, but is ranked too low in relation to its worth
- SO WRONG (THIS SONG): An entry that has no place on this list but could be replaced by a worthy song from the same artist
- SO WRONG (DOESN’T BELONG): An entry that has no place on this list and cannot be replaced by a better entry from the same artist
Please join us in the comment thread to share your thoughts as we go along.
Doug Supernaw, “I Don’t Call Him Daddy”
#1 | 1993
Kevin John Coyne: Doug Supernaw was C-list at best during the nineties boom, but he released a handful of great tracks, and this one was his best. It improves significantly on the Kenny Rogers original. About Right.
Jonathan Keefe: Songs like this can so easily skew maudlin, but “I Don’t Call Him Daddy” strikes the right tone. There are plenty of songs on this list that I’m mad about, but this isn’t one of them. About Right.
Patty Loveless, “Timber, I’m Falling in Love”
#1 | 1989
JK: Loveless is woefully under-represented on this list. While I enjoy this single, either “Hurt Me Bad (In a Real Good Way),” “You Don’t Even Know Who I Am,” or especially “Here I Am” would be better choices for her and better choices than a hell of a lot that’s still to come. So Wrong (This Song)
KJC: It took three albums for MCA-era Patty Loveless to hit the big time. This breezy, joyous song would be a disaster in lesser hands, but her pleading vocal keeps one foot in traditional country while the pop-flavored arrangement provides contrast to her pure mountain voice. About Right.
Keith Anderson, “Pickin’ Wildflowers”
#8 | 2004
KJC: Granted, it barely made the list, but I’ve never understood the fuss over this song and would’ve left it off entirely. If Anderson needed to be represented, it should have been with “XXL” or “I Still Miss You.” So Wrong (This Song)
JK: I love a good hard-rock influence in a country single. This single is just loud for the sake of being loud. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
David Lee Murphy, “Party Crowd”
#6 | 1995
JK: “Dust on the Bottle” is an obvious all-timer, and we’ll get to it in due time. That’s plenty of representation for Murphy. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: His best song is further up the list, and David Lee Murphy definitely doesn’t need two entries in the top 1000. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Brantley Gilbert, “One Hell of an Amen”
#5 | 2014
KJC: There is a lot of recency bias on this list, and the inclusion of this mediocre track is the first of many unfortunate examples. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: Gilbert has a fiercely devoted fanbase, and I have never once understood his appeal. This isn’t a well-written song, thought it’s often touted as one of his best, and his mouthful-of-fiberglass voice doesn’t make it any better on its own merits or more essential an addition to the country music canon. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Lefty Frizzell, “I Never Go Around Mirrors”
#25 | 1974
JK: An absolute classic whose low ranking here is indicative of how this list went wrong almost immediately. Too Low.
KJC: One of the most jarring things about a list like this is when a stone cold classic is surrounded by much lesser songs from recent times. Then again, on a list where Lefty Frizzell only has one more entry than David Frizzell, the problems go beyond ranking. Too Low
George Strait, “It Ain’t Cool to be Crazy About You”
#1 | 1986
KJC: The first of 25 entries from George Strait on this list. They did a pretty good job of picking his best tracks, but this one is definitely superfluous. So Wrong (This Song)
JK: Heresy to say aloud, but I think 25 entries for Strait is completely excessive, and I have no idea how someone would make a case for this song in comparison to about 20 of the others that were chosen or about 20 other Strait songs that weren’t. So Wrong (This Song)
Eric Church, “Give Me Back My Hometown”
#4 | 2014
JK: There’s a mean streak of entitlement in the lyrics of this song that has never sat well with me, though I’m definitely a fan of Church’s, and he’s represented by better material farther up the list. A much higher spot for him should’ve gone to “Creepin’.” So Wrong (This Song)
KJC: I understand the instinct to hold on to Eric Church for dear life if you’re trying to make a case for today’s country music holding up against the genre’s storied history. They did a terrible job picking which songs to include from him. This is the best of the five songs he has on the list, and it’s somehow ranked the lowest. Too Low
Porter Wagoner, “The Cold Hard Facts of Life”
#2 | 1967
KJC: They just don’t write murder ballads like they used to. All of Wagoner’s five entries are worthy. I’d argue this particular one deserved a higher ranking than it got. And that album cover! Too Low
JK: I agree that the five songs chosen for Wagoner are good picks. If I’m thinking about the full history of the genre, I might bump this one up a little bit higher, but not by a whole lot. About Right.
Rodney Atkins, “Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy)”
#1 | 2007
JK: A baffling and indefensible choice for a discussion about the 1000 greatest songs in country music history. I can see a case being made for exactly one of Atkins’ singles, and I’m honestly annoyed that I wasted 4 minutes listening to this again. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: The toxic masculinity of recent country music is on full display on this list, and this is one of the more egregious examples. The first of six insufferable entries from Atkins. Yes, that’s right. One more than Porter Wagoner and twice as many as Lefty Frizzell. Buckle up. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)