A Country Music Conversation: Sirius Top 1000 Country Songs of All Time, #910-#901

Many appeals to sentimentality this time around, some more mawkish than others.


The Judds, “Love Can Build a Bridge”

#5 | 1990

JK: Wynonna wrings pathos out of everything she sings, but she has a weakness for overly sentimental material. This is better than any of Martina McBride’s songs about children with wasting diseases, but I’ve still always found it mawkish. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC: The sentiment could be pablum in lesser hands, but when you’ve got Wynonna at the mic, it becomes celestial. Kudos to the tasteful production, too.  About Right


Carrie Underwood, “Jesus, Take the Wheel”

#1 | 2005

KJC:  Look, I was a fan from her American Idol audition. I love her sincerity.  She’s roughened up her edges in the years that have passed since, but her debut country single was a perfect match for that innocent sincerity.  About Right

JK: Whereas I found her Idol audition robotic and felt that characterized most of her vocal performances until her Blown Away era started to show real growth as an interpreter. Not that I think anyone could have saved this cloying, demo-baiting song that’s a deus ex machina away from being about vehicular manslaughter. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Tom T. Hall, “Ravishing Ruby”

#3 | 1973

JK: There’s a place for the pure escapism of a fun, throwaway single. And, while this isn’t a patch on “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town,” I’ve always rather liked it… But I wouldn’t have included it among the 1000 best country songs of all time. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC: I love the production of this record. It knows that they’ve got a personable songwriter that doesn’t have the vocal charisma to match, so the personality comes from the mariachi horns and steel drums.  I’m not exactly sure why it’s on this list, but it’s an entertaining 2 ½ minutes, I guess. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Tim McGraw, “My Little Girl”

#3 | 2006

KJC:  I can handle sappy and syrupy, but this one is just too much, even for me.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: McGraw has the most inconsistent ear for quality material of any artist of his generation, and he’s never been a strong enough singer to overcome his worst instincts. This song is straight up Karo Syrup, and my pancreas says no, thank you. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Alabama, “Close Enough to Perfect”

#1 | 1982

JK: I know it’s heresy, but I’ve never liked Alabama’s music: I don’t like The Eagles, so their chicken-fried cousins just never did it for me. But this is one of their hits that I think actually works, and it’s a great example of how country music used to write women who were believable as living, breathing humans. About Right

KJC:  Clear-eyed about his lady’s flaws but completely lacking in any condescension toward her, this is romantic without being cloying.  One of their better tracks. About Right


Toby Keith, “American Soldier”

#1 | 2003

KJC:   It’s no “Dress Blues,” but then again, Toby Keith is no Jason Isbell.  It sounds like an Army version of an eighties coffee commercial. He’s such a great singer, though.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: Like McGraw’s “If You’re Reading This” and Underwood’s “Just a Dream,” this is done no favors whatsoever by comparisons to the finest song written about the post-9/11 military campaigns. But, just from a composition standpoint, it does highlight Keith’s knack for structure and he sings the hell out of it, even if it was a fairly shameless bid to continue his “boot in your ass” Patriot Act. Too High


Emmylou Harris, “(You Never Can Tell) C’est La Vie”

#6 | 1977

JK: I love it when Emmylou Harris goes uptempo. And she is woefully underrepresented on this list with both spirited singles like this and exquisite ballads. About Right

KJC:  “Let’s do a cajun country Chuck Berry cover! That’ll work!”  Oh, how it does. About Right


Darius Rucker, “History in the Making”

#3 | 2009

KJC:  Hey, Hootie can sing.  Thankfully, he’s got better material to work with on this list. He doesn’t need to be on it seven times.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: Hootie & The Blowfish epitomized bland frat-boy rock; that Rucker could slide so easily into contemporary country a decade later with only minimal changes to his sound is a damning indictment of the state of country music in the late aughts. He has a great, great voice that deserves better than this nothing of a song. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Clay Walker, “Then What?”

# 2 | 1998

KJC:  Call it my nineties bias, but I think this is a fantastic record.  Walker’s a great singer, and the song is so well written. I can’t think of a better cautionary tale against adultery, at least one that doesn’t focus on the aftermath of having done it anyway.  Too Low

JK: I’m so happy that it isn’t just me! This single does a pop-country-via-the-Carribbean production better than anything Kenny Chesney has ever recorded. I loved it when it was in heavy rotation and love it still. Walker only has one single better than this one, and he was a great  singles artist. Too Low


Jason Aldean, “Burnin’ it Down”

#1 | 2014

JK: Aldean often records songs that cry out for an urgency he is utterly incapable of delivering. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC:  Not good enough. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

Previous: #920-#911  | Next: #900-#891


  1. “Close Enough To Perfect” is Too Low.
    Jason Aldean has done several songs that i’d never miss if I never heard them again and this is one of them.

    The Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood songs are About Right.

  2. Wait, what? “Burnin’ it Down” but not “The Truth” or “Amarillo Sky”?

    I hope at least one of those songs is higher up on this list.

  3. I actually believe both “The Truth” and “Amarillo Sky” are up further on the list…and honestly, they probably should be there. I’d even throw a bone to “Fly Over States” and “Night Train”…also, both songs that are on the list. But, the problem is…that’s four of between 15-20 Jason Aldeans songs that’s listed here, including one that’s in the top ten. Again, he’s one of the oughts/2010 artists that is just way overrepresented. And it doesn’t help that “Burnin It Down” is arguably one of the worst, a song that’s downright unpleasant to listen to for me.

    On a more positive note (and a decent transition since they are namechecked in “Burnin it Down), I am happy to see Alabama’s “Close Enough to Perfect” make the list. Alabama was my “gateway drug” to country music, and a lot of their stuff still holds up for me. But, I think they could’ve made a few better selections for them, particularly in the ballads category. I think “My Home’s In Alabama” and “Lady Down On Love” should absolutely have made the list, and I would be fine cutting one or two of their lesser choices for those songs (or cutting one or two of Jason Aldean’s songs…that might work even better).

  4. But, the problem is…that’s four of between 15-20 Jason Aldeans songs that’s listed here, including one that’s in the top ten. Again, he’s one of the oughts/2010 artists that is just way overrepresented. And it doesn’t help that “Burnin It Down” is arguably one of the worst

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    I always liked “Close Enough to Perfect” and was glad to see it here, but then you had to go mention “My Home’s In Alabama,” which is probably in my top-3 as far as songs from that band go. Like most lists of its type, this one’s been pretty lame. But it does make for some good discussion!

  5. I liked Alabama’s “Close Enough to Perfect” but the song that got me into their music and is still my favorite of theirs is “Old Flame”.

    “Then What” is one of favorite Walker songs.

    Never cared for Keith’s “American Soldier” or “Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue”. Left both off a post on soldier songs.

  6. I’ve always imagined someone screaming “Jesus, Take the Wheel” on Wheel of Fortune. That’s diminished this song for me.

    Toby’s quasi-jingoism at that point in time never bothered me. But you could keep this song out and upgrade “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” (if it even makes the list). I was that angry too back then.

  7. “Then What?” IS a fantastic record. 90s bias? So what. It was a great decade for country music.
    I’m with counsellor at law from below the Mason-Dixon line: the sort of patriotism evident in “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” is perfectly understandable (even for someone from Europe like me) and not at all out of place in a country song, especially in that era. The song itself is raw, honest and to the point. “American Soldier” is just pandering, pure and simple.

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