This entry includes the sole appearances of Connie Smith and Lee Roy Parnell on this list.
Tim McGraw, “Grown Men Don’t Cry”
#1 | 2001
JK: McGraw has wildly inconsistent instincts when it comes to his song choices. This is far from one of his worst offenders– several of those are still to come as we count down this list, because of course they are– but that’s not an endorsement. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: I go back and forth on the judgment of the single mother in the first verse, which still makes me cringe. Part of me thinks it’s an excellent documentation of how we’ve abandoned any sense of shared responsibility as a society, and the other part just thinks it’s jarringly nasty and should be removed. But that second verse about his workaholic father gets me every time, and it’s truly a showcase for how a great singer is defined by their ability to interpret material, and not just their vocal range. About Right
Willie Nelson, “Uncloudy Day”
#4 | 1976
KJC: Willie is one of those icons that is going to be well represented on a list like this, and given his deep catalog of hits, they didn’t need to include this top five hit because of its chart placement. It clearly got the nod because of its stunning quality. About Right
JK: A fascinating pick. Given what else was chosen for this list, I cannot fathom how or why this gospel single made the cut, but it’s a terrific recording… even if it isn’t on the level of the transcendent version by The Staple Singers from two decades prior. About Right
Randy Travis, “Too Gone Too Long”
#1 | 1987
JK: Travis’ 80s output is well-represented on this list, as it should be. But I’d swap out the least of his #1s from that decade for “Hard Rock Bottom Of Your Heart” or “Three Wooden Crosses.” So Wrong (This Song)
KJC: Definitely not enough nineties Travis on this list, but I’d add those songs without removing this one. About Right
Miranda Lambert, “Famous in a Small Town”
#14 | 2007
KJC: Born and raised in New York City, most of these references to small town life are lost on me. So kudos to Lambert for her skills as a songwriter, as the lyrics resonate with me anyway. About Right
JK: I wanted to pull a couplet to highlight all of the things Lambert gets so perfectly as a songwriter, but I honestly couldn’t narrow down my choices to less than three-fourths of the entire song. That this wasn’t a #1 hit remains a shame. Too Low
Connie Smith, “Cincinnati, Ohio”
#4 | 1967
JK: So much about this list makes me angry. That Connie Smith– who, if I can only pick one, is who I’d pick for the best female vocalist in the history of country music– is represented only once, in the mid-900s, is what makes me the angriest. “Once A Day,” which is an iconic single of historic significance within the genre, is an indefensible omission, as is the hard-up “Ain’t Had No Lovin’.” Too Low
KJC: The good folks at Sirius XM should’ve hired Robert K. Oermann to consult on this list. Too Low
Alan Jackson, “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow”
#2 | 1990
KJC: It’s very difficult to make songs about singing songs for a living fully resonate. This was an early indication of Jackson’s prowess as a songwriter, and his unique ability to make the specific universal. About Right
JK: Jackson’s warmth as a performer was evident right from the get-go; his performance on this single radiates gratitude and humility. About Right
Jason Aldean with Luke Bryan and Eric Church, “The Only Way I Know”
#5 | 2012
JK: I had no recollection of this single at all, like so many of the other A-list collaborations from the last decade that have been forgettable non-events. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: Hey, good job making distinctive vocalists like Luke Bryan and Eric Church sound as faceless and generic as Jason Aldean! So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Lee Roy Parnell, “What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am”
#2 | 1992
KJC: I’m just happy to see Lee Roy Parnell included. I’d add “Love Without Mercy,” “On the Road,” and especially “I’m Holdin’ My Own” to this list, but that’s my own nineties bias creeping through. About Right
JK: “On the Road” should have been included, as well, but I’ve always preferred this single from Parnell. About Right
George Strait, “Here For a Good Time”
#2 | 2011
JK: I always liked how Strait’s age colored his performance on this song. By a younger artist, I don’t think it would have resonated as strongly as it does. I wouldn’t say it’s an essential single by any means, but it’s not an egregious choice. Too High
KJC: I appreciate their willingness to include Strait’s underrated work from this decade. But this inclusion just reminds me of “Drinkin’ Man” from the same album, one of his career best performances. So Wrong (This Song)
Lefty Frizzell, “The Long Black Veil”
#6 | 1959
KJC: This placement has the creators of this list begging for a haunting of their own. It would’ve been better to leave it off completely than to place it at #951. Too Low
JK: The idea that there are nine hundred and fifty singles better and/or more important to the history of country music than “The Long Black Veil” is indicative of everything wrong with this list, and I’m already so tired of it. Too Low
Well this group makes me give up on the whole Sirius effort. Prior bad choices were debatable but only one Connie Smith song being this low and the ridiculous placement of “Long Black Veil” makes me question who and how they built this list.
Like “Too Gone, Too Long” and the 2 JK mentioned, Hard Rock Bottom & 3 Wooden Crosses.
I’m not a big fan of ML but I did like “Famous” – it’s one of only 5 ML songs in my i-tunes library.
I am a fan of Lee Roy Parnell. I like the Fool song, Love w/o Mercy, Holdin My Own and On the Road among others. I was surprised to find that he co-wrote (w Tony Haselden) Collin Raye’s “That’s My Story”. (I still have my “That’s My Story and I’m Stickin to It” T-shirt that i bought at a Cracker Barrel about a dozen years ago.) Saw Lee Roy at the Franklin Theatre a few years ago and he still sounded great.
“Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow” is Much too low. The only LRP song I’d put on this list is “I’m Holdin my Own” How can you not include “Once A Day?”
“Long Black Veil” is much too low.
“The Only Way I Know” is catchy but insignificant. It shouldn’t be on the list.
“Neon Rainbow” should be higher.
“Famous” like most Miranda songs isn’t as good as it thinks it is.
I don’t see the need for cringe over the single mom section in the McGraw song. Most of those mothers did make poor decisions especially the mothers that the song is referring to. It is just a fact. Additionally, it adds extra emotional impact to the song.
Wow I had only glanced at the list quickly when it was released but I hadn’t noticed that “Once A Day” wasn’t included…like that negates the whole list to me. Such a great and important song in country’s history and they didn’t even have it.
To have only one Connie song is also a slap in the face.