George Jones & Tammy Wynette, “Two Story House”
#2 | 1980
KJC: It’s essentially an uptown rewrite of “Golden Ring,” but these were the types of duets that George & Tammy did best. About Right
JK: I’m definitely on board with the inclusion of this duet and agree with its placement relative to the other two George & Tammy classics on down the line, but “Near You” is conspicuous in its absence and would get my vote before “Two Story House.” About Right
LW: This is a George and Tammy classic that deserves to be represented on such a vast list. About Right
Alan Jackson, “I’ll Go On Loving You”
#3 | 1998
JK: The first of a staggering 22 citations for Jackson on this list is one that should certainly have been cut in favor of artists who aren’t nearly so well-represented or are altogether missing. It’s a fine enough single, but it doesn’t add to the country music canon or to Jackson’s immense legacy. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
LW: This was a style and content detour for Jackson who was someone who could be relied upon to record reliably safe for work country music. It’s a steamy love song that might even have made Conway Twitty blush a little. With that said, I’m glad he took that chance , but I don’t know that it’s memorable enough. So Wrong (This Song)
KJC: I’m impressed by this inclusion, as it’s among my highest tier of Alan Jackson tracks. It is difficult enough to write a seductive song, let alone one that is set many years into a marriage and is largely spoken word. It’s an underrated classic. About Right
Gary Allan, “Tough Little Boys”
#1 | 2003
JK: It’s one of Allan’s biggest radio hits, yes, but it’s a cloying song that’s well beneath his artistic peaks. “Smoke Rings in the Dark” is the obvious replacement here. So Wrong (This Song)
LW: I must concur with Jonathan. Not only is this song cloying, it’s also so boring. So Wrong (This Song)
KJC: I agree that there should be more Gary Allan, and those missing tracks belong higher on this list than “Tough Little Boys.” But in this era of toxic masculinity run amok, I appreciate “Tough Little Boys” even more now than I did then. “I never cried when Old Yeller died, at least not in front of my friends” is such a great line. About Right
Faron Young, “Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young”
#1 | 1955
LW: I have known this hit, but it is not one that sticks with me after I’ve heard it. I wonder if I would have felt differently about it if it was in my era? Either way, it does not transcend time for me. Too High
JK: Young has three singles listed here, and I think they’re ranked in the correct relative order for him, even if this one should be bumped up quite a bit to make room for “If You Ain’t Lovin’ (You Ain’t Livin’)” and “I Miss You Already.” Too Low
KJC: If they’d had enough courage to properly finish the chorus with “leave a good body” instead of “leave a good memory,” I’d be more on board with this inclusion. So Wrong (This Song)
Tracy Lawrence, “If the World Had a Front Porch”
#2 | 1995
LW: This is a nice little idealistic sing-along song, but it’s more like a ditty than a classic. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: I’m always bored by the romanticizing of idyllic days gone by that never actually existed. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: Lawrence is adequately– or too generously– represented further up the list. There’s at least one other of his hits that I’d cut before this one, so this bit of well-done nostalgia can stay. Too High
Martina McBride, “This One’s For the Girls”
#3 | 2003
KJC: It’s her signature song from her early 21st century domination as the genre’s leading lady, so I have no qualms with its inclusion. About Right
JK: I mean, at least they went with one of her adult contemporary crossover singles instead of one her gauzy anthems about things everyone agrees are bad? “Whatever You Say” is her second-best career single and should be listed, instead. So Wrong (This Song)
LW: I’ll admit it! I loved and related to this song as a college student, but it doesn’t hold up so well now that I’m older than I like to acknowledge and definitely no longer a “girl.” So Wrong (This Song)
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, “The Last Thing On My Mind”
#7 | 1967
JK: Porter and Dolly are more important to the story of country music from a narrative perspective than for the quality of their singles, which was inconsistent, at best. Their first hit duet was a great one, though. About Right
LW:Give me any Dolly and Porter song! About Right
KJC: Their first single was their best, with its barely concealed disregard for the feelings of the one being left. Too Low
George Strait, “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind”
#1 | 1984
LW: This is not one of my favorite Strait songs, but it’s no doubt a classic. About Right
KJC: My rule of thumb for this list with an artist as prolific as Strait is simple: “Would it be included on a single disc Greatest Hits?” Such a collection would be incomplete without this one. About Right
JK: The first of Strait’s entries on this countdown that I agree with, though I’d say it’s superior to many of his singles yet to come. Too Low
John Conlee, “Common Man”
#1 | 1983
KJC: I thought Conlee was a bigger artist than he apparently was, because his Greatest Hits was in equal rotation with the best of Conway Twitty and Tammy Wynette in my parents’ car growing up. This is a great song and I’m happy that it’s included. About Right
JK: I’m partial to Conlee because he’s local; this list includes four of his hit singles, which feels fair to me. About Right
LW: This is a classic earworm! About Right
Tom T. Hall, “Homecoming”
#5 | 1969
JK: Not necessarily one of Hall’s biggest hits or more memorable compositions. I’m surprised it made the cut, given the recency bias of the list, and it wouldn’t have been one that I would have included, either. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
LW: Considering Tom T. Hall’s legendary songwriter status, this song is baffling to me, since it seems to go nowhere with it’s detailed randomness. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: Hall is slightly overrepresented on this list, and this is the song that should go. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
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While i’m not a huge Gary Allan fan, i do like “Tough Little Boys”. Over the years, I’ve liked a lot of sappy songs – and I’m sure some are not considered to be clever, well written, etc. One of my earliest efforts at blogging was a post in Sept of ’08 called “Sappy Songs”. Two years ago I followed with a post called “More Sap”.
I like MM’s “This One’s for the Girls” but my most frequently played song of hers in my i-tunes library is “All the Things We’ve Never Done” (more sap?), an album track from her Wild Angels cd, penned by Craig Bickhardt & Jeff Pennig.
I really like that Martina McBride song too. That’s my favorite album of hers!
“Homecoming” probably does not have the same relevance now that it had several decades ago, since the lifestyle of its protagonist no longer exists, but I regard it as one of Tom T Hall’s true masterpieces, a slice of life (as it were). As such I think the song is much too low.
Gary Allan is one of my favorite artists, but “Tough Little Boys” is easily one of the worst songs he’s ever recorded.
I’m with Kevin, in that I liked that they went with “I’ll Go on Loving You” for Alan Jackson. There’s songs on this list that I would’ve cut from him, but that one’s a stark departure for his usual sound, and it works for me.
I’m not that passionate against anything in this round, but I would probably drop “This One’s for the Girls” for one of Martina’s better “belting” tunes, like “Whatever You Say” or “Where Would You Be”, or even something more subtle off of her earlier albums, like “Wrong Again”. But, could be much, much worse.
I agree with Paul on “Homecoming”, it is one of my more favored Tom T Hall songs. Maybe not as relevant today but I enjoy the story. I’d love to know more about the people in the song so for me it works. I’d probably say too low but about right would be ok as well.
No to Tom Hall and Faron Young?! OK, then.
Toxic masculinity? Ha! It is largely a fictional invention, a meaningless buzzword. If anything, masculinity is under attack as the traditional portrayal of manhood is ruthlessly dismissed as fathers are continually undercut and not regarded as important. Please, your average sitcom dad is a bumbling moron. No Sheriff Andy left in this world.
Homecoming is a great song