Solid moments from Rascal Flatts and Barbara Mandrell during this section, as well as bona fide classics from Reba McEntire and Marty Robbins.
Doug Stone, “In a Different Light”
#1 | 1991
JK: It’s all starting to become a blur: Have we gotten to “I’d Be Better Off (in a Pine Box)” already? Because that one is Stone’s bid for country immortality, whereas the rest of his output makes this diabetic’s pancreas hurt. I’d love to hear Miranda Lambert cover The Bangles’ song of the same title, though. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: Add it to the travesties of this list, because they left off “I’d Be Better Off (in a Pine Box)” completely. All we get is cheesy romantic Doug Stone and, a bit later one, uptempo ditty Doug Stone. “Pine Box” is a serious omission. So Wrong (This Song)
Rascal Flatts, “Fast Cars and Freedom”
#1 | 2005
KJC: I favor their ballads, and even among them, remarkably few. This is one of their biggest and most tolerable hits, so I won’t quibble with its appearance. Still, it is definitely: Too High
JK: One of the few singles of theirs that doesn’t make me cringe from its opening notes. So it can stay. Too High
Barbara Mandrell, “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed”
#1 | 1978
JK: I’m not a big Mandrell fan, but this is my favorite single of hers. It avoids both the high camp and R&B affectations of some of her other hits. About Right
KJC: One of the few female artists in country music history where my appreciation for their work is significantly outpaced by their actual success. This is as good as any record to represent her. I like it a lot better than her other two entries, one of which is still to come. About Right
Johnny Paycheck, “Slide Off of Your Satin Sheets”
#7 | 1977
KJC: I dare say Paycheck is over-represented on this list with four entries, given how titans like Porter Wagoner and Charley Pride have four or less solo entries among the top 1000. This was the one to drop. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: Huh. I didn’t know this particular Paycheck single. Not going to be rushing to add it to my library after this, either. A strange inclusion, especially this high up. Give me “A Mighty Thin Line Between Love & Hate,” instead. So Wrong (This Song)
Brad Paisley, “Then”
#1 | 2009
JK: Of the two of us on this feature, I’m the Paisley apologist. But this song is mawkish and awkwardly written. Pass. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: Dude has seventeen songs on this list. Seventeen! So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Reba McEntire, “Is There Life Out There”
#1 | 1992
KJC : I think that For My Broken Heart is one of the finest country albums in history, so I’m very happy to see it represented on this list twice. I love the way the guitar elevates the tension of the song’s trapped housewife, as if it’s trying to work up its nerve to break out just like she is. An absolute classic. Too Low
JK: Not necessarily the obvious pick, but this is my choice for McEntire’s best single from the 90s. Which is saying quite a lot, considering what a consistently great era that was for her. Too Low
Lee Brice, “Hard to Love”
#4 | 2012
JK: Maddeningly repetitive, and overplayed to death as a recurrent around these parts. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: Hard to love, indeed. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
George Strait, “I Can Still Make Cheyenne”
#4 | 1996
KJC: Love this song, and I give them credit again for not making their George Strait choices by how high they charted. This is better than the majority of his 40 plus #1 hits. About Right
JK: Invites comparisons to “Amarillo By Morning” that do it no favors. Not a bad single, but not one of Strait’s strongest. Again, I prefer his 80s and aughts work to his 90s run. Too High
Marty Robbins, “My Woman, My Woman, My Wife”
#1 | 1970
JK: The titular phrase scans super awkwardly, especially today, but this remains a hell of a song otherwise. And Robbins, one of the best-of-the-best vocalists in country history, sings it with stirring conviction. About Right
KJC: I’d have found room for even more than the seven solid entries from Marty Robbins on this list. This is my favorite of his later run of hits. It’s a beautiful tribute to his wife. About Right
Steve Azar, “I Don’t Have to Be Me (‘Til Monday)”
#2 | 2001
KJC: I am all for lesser artists having representation on this list, but this was a forgettable single by a one hit wonder that doesn’t add meaningfully to the country music story. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: I always liked the concept behind this song a lot better than its actual execution, and the Lonestar-aping production is representative of its era in the worst ways. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
I’m a fan of the Strait and McEntire entries (side note: why have they never recorded a duet together?!?!), though I would have preferred seeing For My Broken Heart represented by “The Night the Lights…” and “The Greatest Man I Never Knew” instead of “Lights” and “Is There Life Out There”. When CMT honored Reba a number of years back, Wynonna’s performance of “Is There Life Out There” was my favorite performance of the night, however.
As for Paisley, with all his entries left to come, I’m disappointed that his best have already appeared (Letter to Me, Whiskey Lullaby) or will not (Welcome to the Future, American Saturday Night).
“Is There Life Out There” is my favorite out of this batch. Such a great song overall, plus it always takes me back to my button collecting days when I was little (unrelated to the song, I know, but thought I’d share). I totally agree with you guys about the For My Broken Heart album. I’m disappointed to learn that the title track didn’t make the list, though. That’s another one of my top favorite songs from Reba.
Have to disagree with you guys about “In A Different Light.” I’ve always enjoyed most of Doug Stone’s romantic ballads, and this one is no exception. “Too Busy Being In Love” is my favorite of his love songs. “Pine Box” definitely should’ve made it on here, though. Sad how that song seems more forgotten today. I’m guessing the other Stone entry is “Why Didn’t I Think Of That,” since that’s the only other song of his that radio would still touch going into the 2000’s before they stopped playing him completely.
I’ve really come to enjoy a lot of Barbara Mandrell’s contemporary country from the late 70’s and 80’s. My mom is also a fan of hers so I’ve always had a soft spot for her music. “Sleeping Single In A Double Bed” is a great choice to represent her on this list.
Always really liked “I Can Still Make Cheyanne.” The fiddle on this song alone makes it worthy, imo. I’ve also been on board with the majority of the Strait selections, so far.
“Then” has to be one of the most boring and most overrated songs in recent history. I just don’t get its popularity, at all. I’m also annoyed to learn that Brad has seventeen songs on the list. I really liked him during his first three albums, but starting in the mid 00’s, he’s become very hit or miss for me. So like Billy Currington, I’m getting tired of seeing him on here with one of his lesser singles. And I’m betting that “Who Needs Pictures” (still one of the best things he’s ever recorded, imo) is not even on here, too.
I’m also fine with “Fast Cars And Freedom” being here to represent RF. One of their better songs. Actually, I’m ok with almost anything from their first three albums representing them if they have to be on the list.
Also surprised to see the Steve Azar song on here. It’s a lightweight song for sure, but I’ve always enjoyed it nonetheless. I actually quite like the album it came off of too, so it’s too bad he ended up being a one hit wonder.
Lee Brice is joining Billy Currington, Chris Young, Brad Paisley, FGL, Jason Aldean, and others in the overrepresented artists club.
Agree w Jamie re Doug Stone’s Different Light and Too Busy Being in Love, the latter written by Gary Burr & Victoria Shaw. I’ve seen Burr & wife Georgia Middleman on stage-it the past 3 or 4 Wednesdays.
Besides the Monday song i Always liked Steve Azar’s Waitin’ on Joe. i like the video with Morgan Freeman.
I never heard the Marty Robbins song before. Great song. I see that it was released in January of 1970 and the army didn’t release me until the end of March that year. Love the song and so does my wife.
Overall a fairly good group. I disagree with “Then” being invluded. Ditto the Paycheck and Mandrell songs. ‘my Woman…” is a classic.
Generally agreed on Doug Stone. I was also a very big fan of “Warning Labels.”
The Strait song has always been one of my favorites; I actually think it compares quite favorably to ABM, but I fully admit my Strait fanboy bias. I think a case could be made that “I Can Still Make Cheyenne,” “The Cowboy Rides Away,” and “Amarillo By Morning” all tell parts of the same rodeo cowboy’s story.
I used to love Marty Robbins in general, but beyond Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs, not much of his stuff has aged well for me.
I have to admit that Strait’s nineties era is my favorite!
I like Doug Stone’s sappy love songs, particularly “Too Busy Being in Love” and “I Never Knew Love.” My favorite song of his is “Millionaire” though, which isn’t a sappy love song and I don’t even know if it was a single or not.
Cannot say that any of these songs would represent a top four favorite song for any of these artists, although it was nearly impossible for George Strait or Marty Robbins to issue something that wasn’t at least good.
The Reba entry is okay but I would consider it about 100 places “Too High”
Seeing like half of our regular commenter crew turn out to be secret Doug Stone fans is blowing my entire mind!
Jonathan! You’ve given me my laugh of the day!!
Same here, lol!
…you just got to love (pine box) doug! and strait portraying that cowboy, who’s trying to fight the sudden numb by telling himself back in his truck “…with a little luck he could still get there in time…” – material for a whole book packed in one line. it doesn’t get much better than that in a cowboy song.