A Country Music Conversation: Sirius Top 1000 Country Songs of All Time, #880-#871

Musician Faith Hill arrives at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S. , February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Vince Gill sings with Dolly Parton and Patty Loveless, while Willie Nelson teams up with Julio Iglesias.



Gene Watson, “Love in the Hot Afternoon”

#3 | 1975

JK: I mean, country didn’t necessarily need its own “Afternoon Delight,” and who would’ve pegged Watson as the guy to deliver it? But it sure does work. About Right

KJC:  This has the type of PG-13 lyric that Conway Twitty would’ve killed, but Gene Watson acquits himself nicely.  A signature hit that belongs on this list. About Right


Eric Church, “Like Jesus Does”

#13 | 2013

KJC:  Another example of an obvious construct that for whatever reason hadn’t been used for a country hit, although several country songs have been built around forgiving like Jesus does.  The idea of a woman loving a man just as unconditionally could’ve come off as cloying in lesser hands, but Eric Church is very good at what he does. He’s over represented on this list, but this song is one of his better ones.  About Right

JK: A song that has a great construct that, for all of his legitimate talent, Church doesn’t quite execute as well as he could have. I don’t believe this one will endure as one of his signature hits. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Dolly Parton & Vince Gill, “I Will Always Love You”

#15 | 1995

JK: The song itself belongs on the list for its historical importance, of course, and Vince Gill is underrepresented on this list. But this version? Really? So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC:  This record exists because Dolly Parton wanted a hit at country radio.  She got it, although it didn’t top the charts like the last two times she released this song.  It’s unnecessary for this list, but it’s better than the Whorehouse version, at least.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Johnny Cash, “Guess Things Happen That Way”

#1 | 1958

KJC:  This doo-wop flavored number spent eight weeks at #1, which was Cash’s longest stay at the top.  I think that is what influenced its placement on this list, because of all of his big Sun and Columbia hits, this is the one hasn’t really stood the test of time. Ba doop, ba doop. So Wrong (This Song)

JK: He’s an icon, yes, but not an infallible one. I’d replace this with something by his daughter, who should have been included far more often. So Wrong (This Song)


Little Big Town, “Little White Church”

#6 | 2010

JK: Prior to the release of “Sober,” this ribald, bluesy romp was my pick for Little Big Town’s best single. It’s an ideal showcase for Karen Fairchild’s talents– her delivery on that final, “Ain’t gonna have your baby,” leaves a welt– and is perfectly produced. Too Low

KJC:  If the songs right after it had also done well, this would be seen today as the comeback hit for Little Big Town.  They’d have to wander in the wilderness a bit longer, but at least radio embraced this clever and entertaining record.  About Right


Willie Nelson & Julio Iglesias, “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”

#1 | 1984

KJC:  Like it or not, it’s a classic, and I won’t quibble with its placement here. I will forever associate it with the compact disc, as 1100 Bel Air Place was one of the first CDs my parents ever bought.  About Right

JK: I mean, it is what it is; any listener can decide whether it’s the kind of cheese that ages into something you’d still want to eat or the kind of cheese that you’d triple-bag before you throw it out. About Right


Keith Urban, “Days Go By”

#1 | 2004

JK: A prime example of how, in the early aughts, Urban still had great pop instincts that made for a brand of pop-country that few could replicate with the same skill or aplomb. A great single. Too Low

KJC:  One of his best uptempo ravers, turning his attention beyond romance and contemplating mortality in the enthusiastic way that only a young person can. About Right


Ray Price, “Release Me”

#6 | 1954

KJC:  The same parents that played Julio Iglesias in the car are also responsible for me thinking “Release Me” was an Engelbert Humperdinck original.  Hearing it as a twin fiddle weeper for the first time was a revelation. About Right

JK: Good God, I miss when this genre’s singers could actually sing. About Right


Faith Hill, “Mississippi Girl”

#1 | 2005

JK: Hill didn’t necessarily deserve criticism merely for her pop crossover aspirations, but her version of “Jenny From the Block” completely misses the point of that criticism– no one questioned how she parents her children, to pick the most egregious example– and utterly butchers its basic meter and syntax in ways that her performance fails to overcome. Illogical, defensive, and poorly written? Of course John Rich was the principal songwriter: He was a naked emperor from the get-go. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC:  Why Faith Hill felt she needed to atone for her pop success is beyond me, but women were shown the door so unceremoniously in the 2000s that I can understand her attempts to regroup.  I’m a big fan of the Fireflies album and I appreciate the earnestness of this record. About Right


Vince Gill, “When I Call Your Name”

#2 | 1990

KJC:  Vince Gill did such killer harmonies on big eighties hits for Rosanne Cash and Patty Loveless that it seemed only fair that the favor be returned.  This was already a great ballad, but it truly soars once the Loveless harmony kicks in. An all time classic that is surprisingly low on this list. Too Low

JK: An indefensible ranking. Imagine believing that both of Jana Kramer’s hits are better or more significant than this deserving genre standard. Too Goddamn Low

Previous: #890-#881  | Next: #870-#861


  1. I Will Always Love You is my favorite all time country song, but I agree, not this version. The original 1974 version is clearly the best, but I do urge people to see the live duet version with Brand C on youtube. It may be my next favorite

  2. Re. “Guess Things Happen That Way”–Actually, I think “Ballad Of A Teenage Queen” spent ten big weeks at #1 in 1957 for Mr. Cash, whereas this one spent eight (hardly chopped liver in terms of chart placement, though). And he does have better songs still to come on this list. Still, “Guess” was a sizable crossover hit, as were a lot of his songs. The Man In Black’s popularity was, and remains, universal.

    @ Tom P:

    I’m fairly sure you already know this, but “I Will Always Love You” almost got recorded by Elvis back in ’74…until The Colonel, being penny-wise and pound-foolish, demanded half the publishing rights to the song, leading Dolly to firmly but reluctantly say “NO”. Fortunately, of course, Dolly’s Trio pal Linda Ronstadt then recorded her country-rock version of the song for her 1975 album Prisoner In Disguise, giving the song its first real exposure on the pop music side of the fence.

  3. I have refrained from commenting on this list because of my sincerely held belief that the compilers at Sirius are completely clueless. “When I Call Your Name” easily belongs in the top 300, and possibly higher (and I am not much of a Vince Gill fan).

    Of this grouping I also think “Release Me” is much too low as well

  4. I’m only going to say that I just don’t think “I Will Always Love You” works as a duet. It was at its finest with just Dolly’s voice (And I wasn’t crazy about Whitney Houston’s version either)

    “When I Call Your Name” is too low, but at least it was there. I’ve skimmed through the list a few times online, and I’m amazed t what was left off…more on that as those artists come up (They will, as the greatest omission is a song whose group is represented a few times)

  5. I love the Dolly 74 and Linda 75 versions. However, my favorite rendition remains the Whitney Houston cover. I always loved her voice, and she took that song into the stratosphere. People always focus on the belting at the end, but she builds to it so brilliantly. A lot of vulnerability along the way.

  6. Whoa! “When I Call Your Name” is embarrassingly too low and the “I Will Always Love You” duet with Vince and Dolly has no business being on the list at all, let alone the ridiculousness of the two songs being in the same group of ten!

  7. I never did much like “I Will Always Love You” although I much prefer Dolly’s original version from 1974, since it was less overwrought that the versions that followed it. While Sirius has about the right number of Dolly Parton songs in their Top 1000, they missed out on some of her better songs in favor of glitz

  8. Don’t mean to disrespect an artist who has passed but I too did not care for Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You”. When I first heard it on the radio, I thought she was going to do a good job. It was soft and gentle, like it should’ve been. Then, here comes the foghorn and I changed the channel and never listened to her version again.

    The 90s skit show “In Living Color” did a skit with a product called ‘The Whitney Houston Car Alarm’ where she sang IWALY. It was hilarious.

    I also didn’t care for the Vince Gill duet. It was so unnecessary, as was Dolly’s remake in the 80s. Her original version is flawless IMO, and is the essential cut of the song.

  9. Regarding “I Will Always Love You” – I like Whitney but her version does not capture the lyrics. Its a goodbye song that is perfect in it’s original 1974 version. I can think of no other song that is more genuine of a goodbye than this. I agree with CAG – flawless

  10. Sans the Dolly Parton/Vince Gill cover (there’s a lot of weird covers on this list), and the Eric Church tune (never quite bought into the hype on him), this is probably one of the better groups I’ve come across, as far as deserving songs go. I won’t even address the ranking of “When I Call Your Name”, as everyone already has adequately done so. But, I enjoyed the Ray Price version of “Release Me”. I never realized that was done prior to the big Engelberg Humperdinck version, and I honestly enjoyed Price’s version a lot more.

    Also, I echo the Roseanne Cash love. She had an amazing run in the 1980s of recording excellent material, and should have been featured more on this list.

  11. Like KJC, I’m a big fan of “Fireflies”, but “Mississippi Girl” is just pandering, pure and simple. Wrong on all the levels. And “When I Call Your Name” at 871? … this list.

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