A Country Music Conversation: Sirius Top 1000 Country Songs of All Time, #990-#981

The conversation continues, with Leeann Ward and Ben Foster joining in!


Johnny Lee, “Pickin’ Up Strangers”

#3 | 1981

KJC: Still coasting on his Urban Cowboy success, this meandering song about stranger danger doesn’t go anywhere. I’m baffled by this inclusion.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: When Chris Young sang about a jukebox with a little Johnny Lee on, he wasn’t singing about this song. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

LW: It’s pleasant enough, but not memorable enough to warrant a spot on a Top 1,000 list of the best country songs, even at this low ranking.  Too High   

BF: Dull, repetitive and instantly forgettable. It’s a chore to try to listen all the way through without letting your mind wander. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Bill Anderson, “Po’ Folks”

#9 | 1961

JK: I’ve never been able to get past the disconnect between the cornpone production and the actually well-written song itself. A “YMMV” type pick that I would have passed on. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

LW: Everything about this song is charming! It belongs on this list somewhere.  About Right

BF: The harmonica is a bit annoying, but I love how everything about the lyric and performance feels so authentic and believable. It’s as if the listener is placed right in the middle of the narrator’s childhood surroundings. About Right

KJC: Put aside the cheesy instrumentation, and what’s left is a startlingly vivid portrait of poverty.  About Right


Hunter Hayes, “I Want Crazy”

#2 | 2013

LW:  Another song that I assumed everyone would just eventually forget. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

BF: Mildly pleasant, but still nothing more than radio filler. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC: Kidz Bop Keith Urban had a lot of promise that he never really delivered on. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: I could maybe endorse a Kidz Bop Keith Urban. Hayes always sounded more like a Kidz Bop Gary LeVox. He’s a talented instrumentalist to be sure, but he’s a wretched singer and marginal songwriter. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Conway Twitty, “I’d Just Love to Lay You Down”

#1 | 1980

BF: This is Conway’s sweet spot, and he sells this song as only he can. It’s sexy, but also feels sincere and romantic. Too Low

KJC: Now we’re talking. Twitty’s tale of seduction is really a tribute to a middle aged mom from her loyal husband.  One of his best. About Right.

JK: Iconic. Twitty in peak bumpkin lothario mode, and no one has ever pulled that off even a fraction as well. Too Low.

LW: This song pulls off smoldering attraction without making me feel icky better than any country song that I can think of. Too Low


Garth Brooks, “Papa Loved Mama”

#3 | 1992

KJC: Remember when radio wouldn’t play those Martina McBride and Dixie Chicks records that had abused wives killing their husbands? This tale of a trucker mowing down his cheating wife went top three! There are much better Garth tracks from this era.  So Wrong (This Song)

JK: Garth sells it because he’s Garth and that’s what he does. But he hasn’t always had good instincts on what he chooses to sell in the first place. He has another 20 (!) singles on this list, so I’d cut this one altogether. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

LW: This isn’t even  on my list of best murder songs, let alone best country songs. Also, for years, I had no idea what he was saying when he’s singing “men.”  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

BF: It’s a fun road tune, which is its only real selling point. There’s nothing particularly interesting or compelling about its bare-boned story. Maybe it’s because the song focuses too much on the characters’ actions and not enough on the emotions driving those actions. At any rate, these themes have been done far, far better in country music. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Toby Keith, “Who’s Your Daddy?”

#1 | 2002

JK: Songs that rely on catch phrases for hooks are instantly dated, and this one is no exception. He has plenty of other singles ahead that actually highlight his talents, and there’s too much else missing from this list for something like “Who’s Your Daddy?” to be here. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

LW: This isn’t even one of his good bravado songs and it’s certainly not worthy of any Best Of list! So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

BF: Not even tolerable, let alone great. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC: Nineties Toby >>>> Two Thousands Toby.  Utter dreck from a time when Keith was a borderline novelty act.  So Wrong (This Song)


Mel Tillis and the Statesiders, “Stomp Them Grapes”

#3 | 1974

LW: This just sounds like an album filler song, even if it was a hit. So Wrong (Not This Song)

BF: I like a good drinking song, but I’ve never really been able to get into this one. So Wrong (This Song)

KJC:  A good enough drinking song. Nice and country. This list doesn’t have nearly enough Tillis, but there were stronger hits to choose from. So Wrong (This Song)

JK: This list doesn’t have enough of either Tillis! Even still, I wouldn’t have picked this single for the elder. So Wrong (This Song)


Emerson Drive, “I Should Be Sleeping”

#4 | 2001

BF: I think the song is likeable and fun, but still can’t wrap my mind around the decision to include it. It was a mid-level hit by a group that is mostly forgotten. If Emerson Drive needs to be on this list (And do they…really?), it should have been with “Moments”. So Wrong (This Song)

KJC: I refuse to believe that it wasn’t “Moments” that was supposed to be on this list, and some intern made a clerical error.  So Wrong (This Song)

JK: Songs that butcher the natural meter of language get under my skin, and the fact that the chorus of this single is basically a bunch of over-emphasized “ing” conjugations strung together means I’d banish it altogether. I guess “Moments” is fine, but I wouldn’t go to bat for that one, either. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

LW: This is a catchy enough song, but it’s not memorable  enough to be remembered for a Best Of list, which is one of the large problems with this list. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Eddy Raven, “I Got Mexico”

#1 | 1984

KJC: Okay, I’ll go to bat for this one. Raven’s biggest hit has an awesome contrast going on with a lyric that insists he’s happy and healthy, and a weathered vocal that suggests misery and debauchery. About Right

JK: Finally, another choice that makes sense to me, both in terms of its overall inclusion and placement. About Right

LW: If nothing else, this melody is a classic. About Right

BF: A solid example of how a song can be fun without completely sacrificing substance. About Right


George Strait, “Living and Living Well”

#1 | 2002

JK: I had absolutely no recollection of this single before I went back to listen to it again for this feature, and I doubt I’ll remember it again in a week’s time. So Wrong (This Song)

LW: As much as I love King George, when he’s dull, he’s very dull. So Wrong (This Song)

BF: Definitely Strait on an off day. The hook and melody are weak, and the lyric has nothing clever or substantial to say. So Wrong (This Song)

KJC: I love me some George Strait.  He takes up nearly two shelves on my CD rack.  But goodness, no. This isn’t one of his essential tunes. So Wrong (This Song)

Previous: #1000-#991  | Next: #980-#971


  1. I gotta give them credit for including “Po’ Folks” on the list…that’s always been a favorite of mine. For the most part, I agree with the points everyone’s making…the one minor exception is the Mel Tillis song. I’m not familiar with most of his work, other than the big hits, and I’m sure he’s got more substantial work in his catalogue. But, I listened to “Stomp Them Grapes” for the first time, and the hook never left my head upon that first listen. That, and the fact that it has a pretty country production goes a long way for me, so I’d consider going to bat for it more than some of the stuff that’s going to appear later.

  2. I love “Moments” (Sam & Annie Tate and Dave Berg) but it’s the only Emerson Drive song I play with any frequency. “I Should Be Sleeping” doesn’t do much for me at all.

  3. “Pickin up Strangers” just doenst belong. give me “Lookin for Love” or “The Yellow Rose of Texas” anyday.

    “I’d Love to Lay You Down” is MUCH too low. I’d put in the top 150-200, maybe even the top 100

  4. “As much as I love King George, when he’s dull, he’s very dull.” Truer words have rarely been spoken.
    That Eddy Raven song is one of those I forget they exist, but always turn up the sound on when they come on.
    Hunter Hayes, ick.

  5. Funny how radio now has no problem playing Lambert’s or Underwood’s latest tune of killing off husbands, boyfriends, or fathers. If a modern male artist released a “Papa Loved Mama” song, he would be #MeToo(ed) so fast.

    “Papa Loved Mama” is an all-time classic. It is like “Goodbye Earl.” Just a groovy tune that begs to be repeated.

    “I Got Mexico” should be much higher.

    “Who’s Is Your Daddy” is a fine novelty song. Toby is always engaged in his songs. And that is half the battle.

  6. Johnny Lee has never done a thing for me. Frankly, I think “Cherokee Fiddle” is the only song from his that should be on this list, and even that’s borderline.

    I remember hearing Rascal Flats’ debut and thinking it was absolutely horrid. Hunter Hayes makes Rascal Flatts sound like Hank Thompson. I don’t deny he’s talented, but what he has done with his mainstream career is a horrible waste of said talent.

    I don’t mind the Strait song. At least it’s not “How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls.” Damning with faint praise, I know…

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