A Chris Stapleton cover puts a George Jones hit back on the radar, while our favorite Garth Brooks single makes an appearance.
George Jones, “Tennessee Whiskey”
#2 | 1983
JK: Real talk: I don’t believe for a second that they would’ve remembered to include this if not for the ongoing success of Chris Stapleton’s cover version. Still, I’m glad it’s here. Too High
KJC: Kudos to Stapleton for reviving interest in this George Jones hit. I agree that its significance is overstated by this ranking. Too High
Garth Brooks, “Callin’ Baton Rouge”
#2 | 1994
KJC: The Garth Brooks phenomenon has never been better captured on record than it is on “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” a deliriously exciting piece of work that he never topped. Too Low
JK: This spirited cover is actually my pick for Brooks’ best single. It’s energetic and charismatic in ways that capture his unique showmanship without lapsing into camp or overwrought excess. Too Low
Easton Corbin, “Roll With it”
#1 | 2010
JK: For about six months, it seemed like Corbin was being positioned as the heir to George Strait’s spot on radio playlists after he aged out. Then the Bros came along and took him out at the knees. Not a major talent, but better than many of his contemporaries, for what that’s worth. About Right
KJC: I really thought this guy would stick around. I’d rank this a little lower, though. Too High
Mary Chapin Carpenter, “I Feel Lucky”
#4 | 1992
KJC: She’s significantly overlooked on this list. This belongs here for sure, but it should be joined by “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” and “Passionate Kisses.” Come On Come On was a landmark album. About Right
JK: What a crime it is that one of the sharpest singer-songwriters ever to call the country genre her home has been reduced to just this and “Down at the Twist and Shout” in two decades’ time. MCC should have at least four more entries on this countdown, though this one is About Right.
Zac Brown Band, “Free”
#1 | 2010
JK: I’ve gone to bat for these guys plenty over the years, but damned if I have any recollection of this single. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: Some artists just have more songs than they have ideas for songs. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
David Allan Coe, “The Ride”
#4 | 1983
KJC: Tim McGraw did his part to bring this one back to life. I’m glad they remembered this one. Too High
JK: I’m shocked that Coe was included for anything more than the one obvious choice that’s still to come. I’m not at all upset that this one is here, though. Too High
Little Texas, “Kick a Little”
#5 | 1994
JK: There’s not one Little Texas single that I wouldn’t trade wholesale for any hit by Diamond Rio, Shenandoah, Blackhawk, or Sawyer Brown. To say nothing of, say, The Mavericks. The way this song’s title just lingers at the end of the chorus is such piss-poor songwriting, too. A baffling choice and placement. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: “Kick a Little” has very little kick. I’d include a Little Texas record on the list for posterity’s sake, but not this one (and not the next one, either.) So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Carrie Underwood, “Last Name”
#1 | 2008
KJC: As derivative and pained as any Brad Paisley record from the same era. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: A single that has exactly one joke to tell, which Alan Jackson told better a generation prior without oversinging it. One of Underwood’s worst singles. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Brooks & Dunn, “Boot Scootin’ Boogie”
#1 | 1992
JK: As great as their debut album is, I have always just hated everything about this song. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: The song that launched a thousand line dance songs. It’s a classic that I don’t particularly care for. Too High
Brett Eldredge, “Mean to Me”
#4 | 2014
KJC: I guess it’s fine to include this as representative of Eldredge’s career. I guess. Too High
JK: Eldredge doesn’t even have that many hits to his name, but it feels like every last one of them made this list somehow, and I cannot fathom why. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
I certainly appreciate Chris Stapleton for bringing attention to “Tennessee Whiskey” and giving Dean Dillon a boost. That said, give me the versions by George Jones or David Allan Coe any day. Stapleton’s is a bit too blues rockish for my taste. Glad to see Jones’ version here, though I also question if it would even be here if it wasn’t for Stapleton.
Totally agree with you guys on “Callin’ Baton Rouge.” I absolutely love his energetic performance on this song, and it’s simply impossible for me to not be in a good mood when I hear it. It’s of my favorite Garth singles, as well, and it should’ve been one of his higher ranking singles.
Really glad to see Mary Chapin Carpenter represented here, and I’ve always liked “I Feel Lucky,” but did I just read that “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” didn’t make it? What an absolute shame but again, not surprised, sadly. I second the shout out to “Passionate Kisses,” as well. I’d also add “Never Had It So Good,” “Something Of A Dreamer,” “Quittin’ Time,” “Going Out Tonight,” and “I Take My Chances.” Nearly all of her singles are worthy, imo. What I still find amazing about the Come On, Come On album was that it spun off SEVEN singles. That is pretty much unheard of today, especially coming from a female artist.
Always really loved “Roll With It.” As you guys commented on the Best Singles of the Decade list, this is a summer song done right. It always reminds me of the kind of neo-traditional sound that we could still hear on the radio during the late 90’s and early 00’s. Oh, how I wish this sound stuck around instead of it being replaced by bro-country. Unfortunately, Easton himself tried to chase the bro trend a bit with his third album. Still really like his first two though, and I hope he’ll get back to that sound since he’s no longer on a major label. I never really got the George Strait comparisons, though. Sonically, some of his music is similar to Strait’s, but I always thought he had his own voice, and I can’t imagine Strait cutting songs like “A Little More Country Than That,” “All Over The Road,” and others.
I’m actually glad to see Little Texas here, though I would’ve included “What Might Have Been,” “Some Guys Have All The Love,” and “Amy’s Back In Austin” to represent them instead. Always did like “Kick A Little,” though. I remember always getting a kick (no pun intended) out of the music video with the tornado near the end when I was much younger.
I absolutely love early Brooks & Dunn and their first album, but “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” has been so overplayed over the years, it wouldn’t really make me too sad to never hear it again. Still love all of the other singles off that album, though.
Always thought “Free” was very overrated when it came out, and my opinion of it hasn’t changed today.
I’ll also take AJ’s “I Don’t Even Know Your Name” over Carrie’s song any day, though neither song would make my personal list.
I see Brett Eldredge is next to join the Overrepresented Artists Club.
I love ZBB’s “Free.” It has a great atmosphere to it.
August 04, 2008
Mary Chapin Carpenter – Best Country Singer/Songwriter
Are there any better country singer/songwriters than Mary Chapin Carpenter? I mean people who write great songs and can really sing. To me the latter requirement eliminates many outstanding songwriters from consideration.
First let’s start with some of her collaborations. With Don Schlitz she wrote “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her”, “I Feel Lucky”, “I Take My Chances” and “Not Too Much to Ask” (the last a duet with Joe Diffie). With John Jennings she penned “Going Out Tonight” and “Never had it So Good”. With Terri Clark she wrote “No Fear”, a hit for Terri.
Many of her best songs (she’s written 158 so far – see ASCAP search link) were solo efforts. She’s equally at home creating country rockers as well as ballads of love and other thought provoking subjects. Here are some of my favorites:
Down at the Twist and Shout, How Do, Girls with Guitars (a hit for Wynonna), Let Me Into Your Heart, The Hard Way, Shut Up and Kiss Me (sassy), Middle Ground (compare with the Dean Dillon, Bob McDill song “All the Good Ones Are Gone” sung by Pam Tillis), Read My Lips, Walking Through Fire, You Win Again and Down in Mary’s Land. Then there’s:
Houston – after Katrina, hope then disillusion
On with the Song – this isn’t for ones like “the decider”
I Am a Town – images of roadside stalls, billboards and trucks on cinderblocks
Stones in the Road – flew up from beneath our bicycle tires, an image that clicked with me the first time i heard it.
This Shirt – appreciated by someone who has some t-shirts over 20 years old
What If We Went to Italy – which also asks the question, what if the ancients were lazy like us?
When Halley Came to Jackson – what imagination – to write a song about Halley’s Comet
Where Time Stands Still – wistful
Why Walk When You can Fly – optimistic
Mary Chapin Carpenter – wonderful!
Favorite Brett Eldredge song: Raymond
“Callin’ Baton Rouge” was a note for note cover of the New Grass Revival’s 1989 recording, which charted in the top 40 (a major feat for a bluegrass act). Garth has the New Grass Revival back him on the track and he added an electric guitar and dobro master Jerry Douglas, so that his version is louder than (but not better than) the original New Grass Revival version. I would like to have seen Sirius give the nod to NGR.
Otherwise I largely agree with KJC & JK’s assessments
I thought I was the only one who thought “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” was way overrated
Paul interesting info on Callin’ Baton Rouge”. For year i kept thinking it was a remake but couldn’t place it. Now I know I wasn’t crazy
Actually, the song originally showed up on the Oak Ridge Boys album ROOM SERVICE, released in May 1978. The Oaks version is okay but lacks the excitement of the NGR version and the vocals are too far down in the mix. Dennis Linde, a highly successful Nashville-based country songwriter, wrote the song.
Re: “Callin’ Baton Rouge”
I love both the New Grass Revival and Garth Brooks versions of the single and spin both pretty regularly. I’d actually say it’s *both* acts’ best single. (Not so with the Oaks, version, obviously). For me, the difference is that I think Brooks is a better vocalist than John Cowan, though I’ll never begrudge anyone’s preference for the NGR version of the song.
I really like both versions of “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” as well. I actually remember hearing the New Grass Revival version on the radio when I was little, but then I never heard it again for a while. When I heard Garth’s a few years later, I knew I’d heard that song before!
I absolutely love seeing Easton Corbin on this list. His first two cds were amazing. I’d like to hear a lot more from him if he’s given up the Bro Country of his 3rd cd.
I like just about anything by Brooks and Dunn but will admit I get tired of hearing ‘Boot Scootin’ Boogie’ on the oldies channels.
I agree with Kevin that “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” and “Passionate Kisses” are my two favorite MCC songs, along with the unreleased “Goodbye Again”.
Carrie Underwood is a sweetheart and a very talented singer but I can’t remember the last time I heard a song of hers that I like. She tends to bellow and yell out her songs rather than sing them these days. I’m no longer a fan to be honest.
I liked DAC’s recording of “Tennessee Whiskey” the best, but better the Possum’s version than Stapleton’s. (Jamie, I absolutely agree with you on Stapleton’s version of that song.) I wouldn’t argue against another GJ song taking its place at all though.
“The Ride” is my favorite DAC song to this day. Does anyone know if “Midnight in Montgomery” shows up here?
COMPLETELY agreed on “Last Name.” AJ did it better, and that killer instrumental outro on Jackson’s song made it even better than it would have otherwise been.
And yes, there is a lot of Mary-Chapin Carpenter that is shamefully un-played. Does anyone remember “The Hard Way”? That was probably my favorite song of hers, at least single-wise.
Not real sure I’d have included ANY Little Texas, to be honest. I liked “Amy’s Back in Austin” a lot, and that was about it, but I’m not sure even that is Top-1000 worthy.
“Brand New Man” should have been in the place of “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” assuming the former isn’t already on here.
Most of these are too high or don’t belong at all. The exceptions are Callin Baton Rouge, which is a couple hundred too low, amd Tennessee Whiskey.
As for Last Name, I didn’t like it twenty years ago when Alan Jackson did it.
I disagree regarding “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” I love that song.
Pistolero, yes I remember “The Hard Way.” Another one of my favorites by MCC! Forgot to mention it in my list above.
I never got into MCC, who always struck me as a little shrewish as she preached about women’s rights. Boot Scoot is just boring. Little Texas is a nice band, but not essential. Ditto any of their singles.
I like “I Feel Lucky” a lot. It shows MCC’s funny side, which I enjoy. And, yes, I also like “The Hard Way.” My favorite MCC song is “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” though.