A Country Music Conversation: Sirius Top 1000 Country Songs of All Time, #570-#561

As the list continues, a caveat:  Country Universe reader Lisa J. listened to a recent rebroadcast of the list, and Sirius made some changes to it, most of them in the top forty.  For clarity’s sake, we’re going to stick to the original incarnation of the list, but we will do a wrap-up post at the end that notes the changes, and give our take on whether they’re for better or worse.  Thanks, Lisa J.!

Now, on to the next decade of the longest millennia in recorded history….



Little Big Town, “Boondocks”

#9 | 2005

JK: Contemporary pop-country at its absolute finest: All four of Little Big Town’s exceptional singers get a chance to shine, the production is crisp without being too-polished, and the song has an actual melody. Pity that the group has moved away from all three of those things with their last two albums. They have a couple of singles that I think are even better, but “Boondocks” remains a high point in LBT’s career. Too Low

KJC:  Who can say why “Pontoon” made them the top vocal group for a few years, while “Boondocks” wasn’t enough to sustain them after it hit?  Everything that makes Little Big Town a compelling vocal group is on on dazzling display here.  About Right

ZK: On “Boondocks,” Little Big Town broke away from the conventional, polished tones of their debut album in favor of Southern Gothic swamp. I remain a fan to this day, but I hope they revisit this sound soon. Heck, they’re already working with Jay Joyce. About Right 



Merle Haggard and the Strangers, “Swinging Doors”

#5 | 1966

KJC:  A honky tonk classic from early in Haggard’s career.  You really can’t go wrong with Haggard.  About Right

JK: I do wish some of his late-career work was included on this list, but “Swinging Doors” is a stone classic. About Right

ZK: Its placement is right, which speaks to the strength of Haggard’s discography. About Right 



George Strait, “Carried Away”

#1 | 1996

JK: This would be in the upper half of songs that Kenny Chesney or Tim McGraw have recorded; not so for Strait. Massively overplayed at the time, and a Strait song I would cut. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC:   For one brief, glorious moment in 1996, I thought George Strait had done an Olivia Newton-John cover.  Instead, he’d just found a tepid love song that would be beneath the C-list hat acts of the day.  King George shouldn’t have gone anywhere near it.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

ZK: Like most Strait singles, it’s breezy and has a nice melody, but isn’t anywhere close to being one of Strait’s best singles. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)



Scotty McCreery, “See You Tonight”

#10 | 2013

KJC: An entirely pleasant record that captures McCreery’s youthful energy without reminding us that he’s so damn young.  Too High

JK: Not the most wildly overpraised Idol winner, but I have never once heard the appeal. This is fine enough, but I don’t think it belongs on a list like this at all. I’d replace it with Kellie Pickler’s “100 Proof.” So Wrong (This Song)

ZK: Other than being McCreery’s first big hit, there’s nothing distinguishable about this. Give me “Five More Minutes” or “Feel Good Summer Song,” instead. So Wrong (This Song)



Reba McEntire & Linda Davis, “Does He Love You”

#1 | 1993

JK: A testament to the depth of women artists in the 90s that a singer as capable as Davis was never more than a C-lister, with the exception of this one moment of high camp. McEntire is missing way too many songs from this list, but I wouldn’t cut this one. Too High

KJC:  I have difficulty separating this song from its bonkers video!  It’s a great showcase for two strong singers, though can anyone go up against Reba and win?  Too High

ZK: I’ve always loved the irony to this song’s sentiment – how even though both singers try and figure out who’s “the other woman” in this situation, they both know it really doesn’t matter; the damage is done. Devastating stuff. About Right



Kenny Chesney, “Out Last Night”

#1 | 2009

KJC:  They must’ve picked Chesney hits with a dartboard or something. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: Couldn’t hum a single bar from this one before now and won’t remember it tomorrow, like so much of his output. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

ZK: Again, I say, this over “Anything But Mine”? So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)



Dwight Yoakam, “Honky Tonk Man”

#3 | 1986

JK: Not my favorite Yoakam single by any stretch– I can think of a dozen of his singles that aren’t on this list that I’d choose before this one– but it’s still better than any one of the Jake Owen or Brett Eldredge or Billy Currington singles we’ve already encountered. Too High

KJC:  My latest pet theory about the rise and fall of country music’s golden age was that it started when radio made room for Dwight Yoakam’s first single in 1986 and that it ended when they knocked the Dixie Chicks off the radio in 2003.  His entire sound established in under three minutes, with a Johnny Horton cover that is superior to the original in every way.  I’d even argue for it to be higher if his next single wasn’t even better, and appropriately higher on the list.  About Right

ZK: Country artists in the mid-’80s had greater freedom to experiment, what with the fallout of the Urban Cowboy movement and the industry trying to salvage country music’s poor record sales. Like Kevin said, it led to a golden age, and though one wouldn’t think a debut single that happens to be a cover would be a bold choice, “Honky Tonk Man” has always felt more like a Dwight Yoakam hit than a Johnny Horton one. About Right 



Wynn Stewart, “It’s Such a Pretty World Today”

#1 | 1967

KJC: Sometimes an artist gets just the right song.  Wynn Stewart sings the fire out of this.  I wouldn’t rank it quite this high but I’m happy that it’s included!  Too High

JK: A terrific inclusion! Another song that I’m stunned they remembered at all. Too High

ZK: Because hey, sometimes the nonsensical ways of this list result in something good. Too High



Jason Aldean, “Night Train”

#2 | 2013

JK: Imagine believing Jason Aldean was this fucking important of an artist in the history of country music. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC:  Why is every song this guy sings about going out into the country and getting it on?  Does he not own a bed? So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

ZK: It’s a train song, but Jimmie Rodgers wept anyway. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)



Sonny James, “Running Bear”

#1 | 1969

KJC:   Sonny James is one of the most successful singers in country music history, with 23 #1 hits to his credit, and somehow this his only entry: a song about two Native American lovers from warring tribes drowning in the river.  It’s a bona fide classic, dated as some of it is.  But where the hell is “Young Love?”  Too High

JK: Oh my God, “Young Love” isn’t on here? And how many Billy Currington entries have we had to do? Maddening. This is certainly “of its era,” and I’d probably recommend cutting it if not for the fact that it’s James’ lone entry. Too High

ZK: Oddly enough, this would have fit in better a decade before with the 1959 “saga song” trend. At any rate, while this list continues to make no sense whatsoever, I’m happy with this inclusion. Too High


Previous: #580-#571 | Next:  #560-#551


  1. If you asked me to name a Sonny James song, the only one I could come up with is “Young Love”. The only “Running Bear” I am familiar with is Johnny Preston’s. I never knew that Running Bear was written by “The Big Bopper”. Thank you wiki.

  2. “Swingin Doors” is a little Too Low.
    I’m only a fan of one Dwight Yoakam solo song: “I sang Dixie”
    LBT should be 50-100 spots higher

  3. Pretty boring group of 10. I will note this Dwight Yoakam meh, okay single, is better than 95% of the bros stuff.

  4. I am not sure I agree that Dwight’s version of “Honky Tonk Man” was ‘superior to the original in every way’. Dwight’s version was very good indeed, but different. It’s superiority, if any, lies in the recording technology of the time. I wouldn’t mind seeing both versions on this list.

    I would consider the Golden Age of Country Music to be 1948 – 1972 with the period of 1986 – 2003 to be its Silver Age.

    I agree with most of the comments on this section – I think that Sonny James had at least four songs worth inclusion on this list but “Running Bear’ isn’t one of them. I also think that Wynn Stewart’s best songs “Wishful Thinking”, “Playboy” and “Another Day Another Dollar” belong too, although I guess I should be glad that they remembered Wynn at all.

  5. Re. “Honky Tonk Man”: Yes, Dwight covers a song that was already thirty years old; but he did so in such a way that it had appeal to both the hard-core country fans and rock and roll fans who like this kind of rougher, more jaded form of country, especially the California brand.

    @ KJC re. “Night Train”: It’s kind of typical of Bromeisters like Aldean, and songwriting culprits like Dallas Davidson, to write only about what they know, which is, as you so rightly say going out in the country and getting it on….and, I guess, screwing women on a Ford. But as Ken Kesey says, “Don’t write about what you know, write about what you don’t know.”

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