A Country Music Conversation: Sirius Top 1000 Country Songs of All Time, #840-#831

It’s easy to get musical whiplash during this section of the list!



Uncle Kracker, “Smile”

#6 | 2009

JK: They really put Uncle Kracker on here. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC:  This was remixed for country radio, which seems quaint now, given how it would be on the country side of things if it was released as is today. In either of its forms, “Smile” lacks a discernible melody, perhaps due to the inherent limitations of the vocalist.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

BF: Because if there’s one thing this list needed, it’s the line “You’re cooler than the flip side of my pillow”. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Patty Loveless, “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye”

#3 | 1994

KJC:  For most artists, this would be the career defining record.  It’s a testament to the strength of her work on Epic Records in the nineties that she’d release several more hits that are even better than this.  About Right

JK: In the hands of a lesser singer, this could easily have turned maudlin, but Loveless is at her empathetic and soulful best on this ballad. She’s woefully underrepresented on this list. About Right

BF: While there is much to appreciate about this song and performance, my favorite thing about it is how the narrator’s mother comes alive as a character. A beautifully vivid portrait of a mother’s selfless, enduring love. About Right


Don Gibson, “Sea of Heartbreak”

#2 | 1961

JK: It’s always great when country music sounds this plucky and spirited when singing about devastation. A classic. Too Low

KJC:  His vocal rises and falls to illustrate the choppy waters he’s navigating.  That’s the work of a true stylist. Too Low


Justin Moore, “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away”

#1 | 2011

KJC:  I like this well enough. The sentiment is understandable, given the personal details woven into the lyrics. That he runs out of people from his own life to mourn by the second verse indicates that he might have written this at too young of an age. I’d love to hear a rewrite of this down the road.  About Right

JK: Another of Moore’s pandering hits. I swear, his new album isn’t half bad, though. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Johnny Cash & Waylon Jennings, “There Ain’t No Good Chain Gang”

#2 | 1978

JK: When “Vocal Event” recordings actually felt like events. About Right

KJC:  It would be very difficult to mess up a collaboration like this. The song is so well chosen for them that it sounds like something they would’ve written together.  About Right


Brooks & Dunn, “Only in America”

#1 | 2001

KJC:  This release was timed well, as the song was sent to radio only a few weeks before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  That event gave the song added potency at the time, but also made it easy to overlook that it’s essentially a statement of gratitude from two lucky guys that didn’t know they were recording their big comeback album, either.  About Right

JK: It’s light years removed from “God Bless the USA,” but this single’s patriotism always felt more performative than sincere. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Lee Brice, “Parking Lot Party”

#11 | 2013

JK: Seriously, did Curb Records actually sponsor this list? I’m no conspiracy theorist, but how else account for Brice’s bizarre over-representation, and with this single, in particular. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC:  This is a remarkably subpar take on one of the most overdone themes in country music over the past ten years. I thought we had it bad in the nineties with the Bubba songs.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

BF: Some entries are on this list because they were performed by legendary talents. Some are there because they were huge chart hits. Some are there because they’re clever and memorable. And some are just…there. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Bill Anderson and the Po’ Boys, “Bright Lights and Country Music”

#11 | 1965

KJC:  Whisperin’ Bill is at his best as a singer when he keeps things understated.  He tries too hard on the twang at times here, which doesn’t play to his strengths. Way better than his disco record, though.  So Wrong (This Song)

JK: Unlike the preceding Lee Brice entry, if you’re going to include a single that missed the top 10, it needs to be on par with this one right here. Too High


Florida Georgia Line, “Round Here”

#3 | 2013

JK: The folks at Sirius XM believe this is a better and/or more important song than “When I Call You Name,” and we are not yet 20% through with this shit. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC:  if they have to be on the list, this is decent enough by their standards.  Too High

BF: It was only FGL’s third single release when it came out, and I was already sick of them. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Ronnie Milsap, “She Keeps the Home Fires Burning”

#1 | 1985

KJC:  A decent rewrite of “Daydreams About Night Things” that sounds like it could’ve been released in 1975, too. Too High

JK: This is the first of Milsap’s hits that I actively remember from my childhood, so it’s always held that sentimental charm for me, even if I recognize that it isn’t his best. About Right

BF: I never particularly cared for this song, mostly because I think the central hook is weak. So Wrong (This Song)

Previous: #850-841 | Next: #830-#821


  1. Favorites here include the Ronnie Milsap song (I actually prefer “Fires” to “Daydreams about Night Things”…this is one of my favorite Milsap songs), Don Gibson, Patty Loveless (that song is really, really tough to listen to for me, but it’s extremely well-done), and Bil Anderson. But, yeah…weird dichotomy. There’s 6-7 songs that work for me here, and then you round it out with Uncle Kracker, FGL, and “Parking Lot Party”. Just weird.

  2. Huh. “Home Fires Burning” is probably my favorite Milsap song.

    I never heard the Uncle Kracker song. I think that was probably after I discovered Sirius and stopped listening to terrestrial country radio. I am probably better off for it, or at least not missing anything special.

    Hook be damned, I knew with “Cruise” that FGL was going to be a disaster for the genre. None of their songs deserved to even be in the top 10,000.

    “I Drive Your Truck” was the only Lee Brice song I’ve ever heard that I remember that was any good at all. I saw the title “Parking Lot Party” and thought, “there’s no way a song with that title could be good.” Seeing the lyrics only cemented that notion.

    “Ain’t No Good Chain Gang” was one of my favorite superstar duets of that era, and there were some GREAT ones.

  3. Re. “Sea Of Heartbreak”: Yes, that one is a can’t-miss on the list of great C&W songs of all times–so much so that even roots-rockers cover it in reverence.

    Re. “There Ain’t No Good Chain Gang”: Another hard-to-screw-up one, because of the meeting of the minds between A Man Called Cash and A Man Called Hoss.

    But yes, I do agree that there are some really questionable choices here, with two Bromeister epics (“Round Here”; “Parking Lot Party”), and Kid Rock acolyte Uncle Kracker.

  4. FGL might be the worst thing that’s ever happened to country music. I also don’t like “Parking Lot Party,” or “Smile.” Otherwise, not bad. Patty’s song is the best of the 10.

  5. According to wiki and my memory, “Sea of Heartbreak” was also a pop hit in 1961. It made it to #2 on country charts and #21 on the pop. I first heard it on one of the NYC rock radio stations. i was surprised to see that one of the writers was Hal David who co-wrote it with Paul Hampton.

    I’m still a Milsap fan (saw him once at Westbury – he joked about driving the tour bus) but the Home Fires and Daydreams songs are not among my favorites. Also saw Patty Loveless (with Collin Raye) at Westbury. They were both great.

    I still enjoy “Only in America” (played it this morning) but the chorus seems a lot less relevant these last few years. Also played AJ’s song.

  6. “Smile” is a completely inoffensive single. It isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible. It’s the most forgettable of songs. It comes on the radio and you are like “Oh yeah this was a thing.” And then 2 songs later you forget it existed. It certainly isn’t on the level of the FGL song because those jamokes won’t go away.

    Justin Moore is a mechanized representation of what an executive thinks a “country” person is. His music all comes off as pandering to me and his persona of tough guy is so phony. Plus his lyrics pretty much all suck. Case in point his new song:

    “Tour was up, middle of June
    She was planning a welcome home barbeque
    Green bean casserole, Grandma’s recipe”

    Why do we need to know she was making a green bean casserole? Why do we need to know it was Grandma’s recipe? How is any of that germane to the story being told? It is a useless lyrics.

  7. Ugh. “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye” – at least Patty got to it before Martina McBride. But it really is not a good song. It’s schmaltz, and Patty was so much better than ballady schmaltz. “When Fallen Angels Fly” ought to have been a single. It would have flopped on country radio, but it would have been a non-hit hit with fans, kind of like “Go Rest High on that Mountain”.

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