A Country Music Conversation: Sirius Top 1000 Country Songs of All Time, #850-#841

One of these songs resulted in a huge sales increase for a particular brand of tequila.


Merle Haggard, “It’s Been a Great Afternoon”

#2 | 1978

JK: I’m not mad this is here; I’m still annoyed that “The Way I Am” isn’t. About Right

KJC:  Haggard’s late seventies output is underrated and I’m happy that Sirius recognized its worth.  About Right


Cole Swindell, “Chillin’ It”

#1 | 2013

KJC:  I’m not sure if this was the exact moment when bro country became a parody of itself, but if it isn’t the crossing of that line, it certainly bordered it.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: Luke Bryan’s talentless merch guy recorded a prototypical bro-country song that sounded like it was mixed on circa 2001 Winamp. And of course it shot straight to #1. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong Here Or Anywhere)


Shelly West, “Jose Cuervo”

#1 | 1983

JK: I’m a sucker for a good, strong alto voice, and West sings this with self-deprecating humor. This one has held up remarkably well. Too Low

KJC: Shelly West deserves a spot on this list, with her signature song being the correct song to represent her.  About Right


Gretchen Wilson, “Here For the Party”

#3 | 2004

KJC:  It was established fairly quickly that “Redneck Woman” worked better as a single statement than it did as a career blueprint.  Inessential listening. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: Notable as one of Wilson’s few singles not to trade in either casual or overt contempt for other women; a one-trick pony whose one trick lost its luster almost immediately. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Kris Kristofferson, “Lovin’ Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)”

#26 (Pop) | 1971

JK: One of Kristofferson’s absolute best songs; the Tompall And the Glaser Brothers version would be in my top 10. Why they didn’t include that version is baffling. So Wrong (This Version of This Song)

KJC:  Hearing Kris Kristofferson sing always reminds me of what a wonderful songwriter he is.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Alabama, “Feels So Right”

#1 | 1981

KJC:  The multiplatinum era of country music truly started with Alabama, and they get less credit for that than they should.  That’s because expertly crafted pop country like this is valued less than country that’s got a foot in Hank territory or country that is barely masqueraded seventies rock.  Urban Cowboy might still be used as a pejorative, but this is a solid example of just how good it was at its best. About Right

JK: In making my peace with how often they’re on here, this is one of their singles I don’t have a specific gripe against, so… About Right


Keith Urban, “Sweet Thing”

#1 | 2008

JK: I’ve already gone to bat for uptempo Urban on this list and will do so several more times. But this single is the definition of inessential. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC:  Keith Urban won a Grammy for this frothy hit.  It’s the only one of his four victories for Best Male Country Vocal Performance that’s questionable.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Sammy Kershaw, “Love of My Life”

#2 | 1997

KJC:  A grown up love song, which was already a rarity by 1997.  A worthy inclusion in too lofty a position. Side note: “Matches” from the same album is one of his greatest singles, and deserved more success than it received.  Too High

JK: Kershaw’s phrasing owes an obvious debt to George Jones, which is a great thing, but his nasal timbre works better on some songs than others. This is one of the others. I’d replace it with the wry “Don’t Go Near the Water.” So Wrong (This Song)


Blake Shelton, “All About Tonight”

#1 | 2010

JK: As ever, I listen to a middling Blake Shelton single and wonder if Joe Nichols is sitting somewhere, quietly seething and wondering why not him. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC:  I used to call Brooks & Dunn the Mariah Carey of country music because they had so many #1 singles that were completely forgettable.  B&D might as well be the Beatles compared to Blake Shelton, who had a very long string of #1s that faded from memory before they even faded from the charts.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Buck Owens, “Cryin’ Time”

Did Not Chart | 1964

KJC:  This b-side to “I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail” earned its notoriety from the Grammy-winning Ray Charles cover that came a bit later.  Credit to Owens for writing a great song, but the Charles record works better as a country record and as a soul record. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK:  I’m a huge Buck Owens fan and believe he rarely gets his proper due, but I agree completely that Ray Charles’ version of this song is the one that belongs here. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

Previous: #860-#851  | Next: #840-#831


  1. I was never a fan of Sammy Kershaw, the balladeer (With the exception of One Day Left to Live.) “Love of my Life” does nothing for me.

    “Feels so Right” is way Too Low. It really shows how well Urban Country worked when it worked.

  2. No need to throw Mariah under th table here, especially when she has so many legit classics. “Vision of Love” is perhaps the most influential #1 of the past 30 years.

  3. I agree with KJC: Hearing Kris Kristofferson sing always reminds me of what a wonderful songwriter he is.

    Wonder who compiled this list. What criteria, if any, was used?

  4. Re. Gretchen Wilson and “Here For The Party”: It’s a bit of a shame that she became something of a one-trick (though not a one-hit) pony with the kinds of songs she chose to record (or her label chose to release as singles). But the shortness of her major success is what happens when one hitches their horse to the Big & Rich stagecoach called the Muzik Mafia, which, in 2004-2005, was arguably the precursor to Bro-Country. She certainly had songs on her albums that could very easily have expanded her range and her audience, such as “Rebel Child” (which, according to her, was influenced by Linda Ronstadt’s late 1970s sound; and I don’t think she was wrong when it came to that cut), but I guess the party-hearty anthems were the better immediate hits to her label.

  5. Alabama was too popular too fast for critics. But in country music, they really were the template for the later stadium-level success of Garth Brooks.

    Randy Owens should have written solo more often, because this was great. And the production was too – that key change! Too low. But I expect much of Alabama’s early 80’s ballads will fall into the “too low” or “unranked” category.

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