Classics from Alabama, John Conlee, and Tracy Lawrence are among the highlights this time around.
Alabama, “Old Flame”
#1 | 1981
JK: This one, I will 100% go to bat for. It avoids every single one of their worst impulses and still sounds great. I’d even say it’s ranked Too Low.
KJC: I forgot how great this song is, with the poor guy competing with the memory of an old flame and being fairly certain that he’s already lost. A real gem. About Right
ZK: I share Jonathan’s general feelings toward Alabama, but when they have a single that’s somewhere between Gary Stewart and Charlie Rich, I’ll take it. About Right
Blake Shelton, “Sangria”
#3 | 2015
KJC: Lord, all these Blake Shelton songs on this list are like peanuts in trail mix. They take up way too much space and make everything else around them seem better in comparison. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: I like a good sangria. I don’t like this at all. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
ZK: If you ever need a good sleeping aid, any Blake Shelton from the past decade should do just fine. So far, this one too. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
John Anderson, “She Just Started Liking Cheatin’ Songs”
#13 | 1980
JK: I love love love John Anderson. This song would’ve been better handled by Gary Stewart. I’d replace this with the sinister “When It Comes to You” from his 90s comeback. So Wrong (This Song)
KJC: This list did right by John Anderson. All five of his entries are classics. I consider this one slightly overrated, as it’s an early recording where he hasn’t fully developed his confidence as a vocalist. Still glad it’s here. Too High
ZK: This one always reminds me of that Moe Bandy song with a similar title. I’d agree Anderson has better cuts, but I’ve always felt there was a certain charm to this. Too High
Dierks Bentley, “Every Mile a Memory”
#1 | 2006
KJC: My favorite Dierks Bentley single. About Right
JK: Bentley is always better when he’s setting trends instead of following them. It’s not my favorite single from him, but it’s in his top tier. About Right
ZK: Bentley’s earnest charisma is on full display here, and this song works best as an early career song. About Right
Ernest Tubb, “Waltz Across Texas”
#34 | 1965
JK: That chart peak surprised the hell out of me. The placement on this list, sadly, doesn’t. Too Low
KJC: Don’t let the chart position fool you. This is a signature Tubb song and a bona fide classic. About Right
ZK: An excellent song not receiving the chart success it deserves is what we sort of expect today, but I, too, am shocked by this song’s placement. Too Low
Dolly Parton, “Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That”
#1 | 1989
KJC: This list apparently missed the Dolly Parton revival that’s been going on, because it should have an easy dozen additional tracks from the legend. This is a really entertaining record that launched a mini-comeback at country radio in 1989. It would’ve been a great way to kick off the top 1000. But Parton has many songs not on this list at all that are worthy of #555 or higher. Too High
JK: There isn’t a Parton song on this list that I’d cut, but there are so many better than this one that aren’t here at all, and that’s just infuriating. This one is still fun and is imbued with so much of Parton’s larger than life persona, but it’s Too High.
ZK: Even with Parton’s strong discography, I still wouldn’t cut this. It’s such a bright, shimmering ball of energy, and the music video is even better. Still, it’s a bit Too High
Craig Morgan, “Redneck Yacht Club”
#2 | 2005
JK: Morgan oversings literally everything he records, and very, very little is worth the strain he puts on his vocal cords. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: I like Craig Morgan so much more as a personality than as a singer. His greatest record, “Tough,” isn’t on this list. I’d trade this one out for it. If nothing else, at least they put him right next to his biggest influence. So Wrong (This Song)
ZK: Grade school me loved this. Older me would rather have “This Ain’t Nothin’,” or, if we’re allowing album cuts, “The Ballad Of Mr. Jenkins.” So Wrong (This Song)
John Conlee, “Lady Lay Down”
#1 | 1978
KJC: John Conlee has four songs on this list, and three of them are from his debut album. And I can’t argue against a single damn one of them. I’d love to see a few more from him overall, though. About Right
JK: One of the genre’s most under-appreciated talents, Conlee should figure more prominently on this list. This one may actually be my favorite of his four entries. Too Low
ZK: John Conlee doesn’t receive the recognition he deserves today. Sure, his production could sometimes be a bit heavy-handed, but not here. It’s the perfect marriage of voice and song. About Right
Tracy Lawrence, “Alibis”
#1 | 1993
JK: “Alibis” takes the trope of the cheating song and subverts it with a complicated story of getting back far more than you give. It’s Lawrence’s best single. Too Low
KJC: Brilliant record with a complicated melody that Lawrence delivers with ease. There are more obvious choices, I guess, but for me, this is the definitive Tracy Lawrence record. I’d even bump it up a few notches. Too Low
ZK: I’m all for a good show of regret in a country song, but not when it’s made to conjure sympathy for Lawrence’s cheating. So Wrong (This Song)
George Jones, “Bartender’s Blues”
#6 | 1978
KJC: Even when doing a James Taylor song, this man is pure country, through and through. Jones doesn’t get nearly enough credit for how intelligent and ambitious some of his material was over the years, especially in the late sixties and throughout the seventies. About Right
JK: Jones at his most surprising and inspired. I love this record, and I think it’s ranked where it should be in relation to Jones’ other entries. About Right
ZK: An odd choice, and not what I really think of when I think of Jones’ strongest material. After revisiting this, however, I’m happy for its inclusion. About Right
Much disagreement with the crew this set. Alabama has another sleep inducing entry and all 3 like it? I do agree about Blake Zzzzzz and Ernest Tubb. Tracy Lawrence kinda, sorta, sometimes has a good voice, but rarely knows how to use it. Like here. I really like Redneck Yacht Club, more for its really fun countrified premise than anything else. Forgive me George, but I could live without this one.
A much better batch of songs, overall, than the last one.
“Old Flame” is one of my all time favorites from Alabama, and one of the best of their 80’s output, imo. The Feels So Right album holds a lot of nostalgia for me, since my dad owned it on cassette when I was little. My parents liked a lot of Alabama’s music, in general.
Ah..so glad to finally see another of Tracy Lawrence’s 90’s classics on this list. I’ve enjoyed “Alibis” since early 1993, and I still never get tired of hearing it today. His first two albums are definitely classics, but I thoroughly enjoy almost everything he released throughout the 90’s.
Loved the Dolly Parton song since I was little, and it’s still such a fun listen today. I love how so much of her personality comes through on this one.
Totally agree with you guys on John Conlee being very underappreciated. Besides having a great, easily identifiable voice, he also released many gems throughout the late 70’s and 80’s. I really love “Lady Lay Down.” Some of my other favorites are “Friday Night Blues,” “Miss Emily’s Picture,” “Old School,” and “Got My Heart Set On You.”
Also shocked to learn the low peak of Ernest Tubb’s “Waltz Across Texas.” It’s definitely a classic, nonetheless. I agree that it should be higher on the list.
I like the John Anderson song, but from this album, I enjoy “1959” even more. Too bad “When It Comes To You” didn’t make it. Always liked that song too, along with its pretty cool video.
Totally with you guys on the Blake Shelton song. He’s released countless snoozefests throughout the last decade, but I thought this was one of his most boring, yet. I just don’t get its appeal at all.
Also agree with you guys for the most part on Craig Morgan. I really loved his first album from 2000 on Atlantic records, and he showed so much promise then. I’ve been more and more disappointed with almost everything he’s released after that, though. That said, I do really like his latest single, “The Father, My Son, and the Holy Ghost”. I still think “Paradise” is his very best song, though.
I’d love to see a list of most glaring omissions at the end of this countdown if you guys are keeping track!
Much better group of songs – I find that I completely agreed with KJC as far as these songs are concerned
By 1965 Ernest Tubb was spent as a chart force so “Waltz Across Texas” got little airplay at many country stations (Cashbox had the song at 39, and Record World at 35) but it quickly became one of his most requested songs in his live performances and a song that country cover bands had to learn because of the number of requests that they received for the song. I was living in Maryland in 1965, but when we moved to Tidewater (VA) in December, I heard the song frequently on WCMS as listeners frequently requested the song.
There are 7 Alabama songs ahead of Old Flame:
Mountain Music 14
If You’re Gonna Play in Texas 96
Song of the South 202
Closer You Get 223
Love in the 1st degree 364
born country 398
take me down 452
I’d rate “Old Flame” ahead of all of them.
“Waltz Across Texas” should be in the double digits, not the triples. Ditto “Alibis”
I don’t like sangria or “Sangria”
“Old Flame” is about Right
This is completely random. But C/U followers need to head to YouTube and watch the 1995 CMA Awards, the best they ever had: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mn2ueyNv–Q
Alison Krauss was shocked all night long.
Dwight sang “Nothing”.
Gretchen Peters took best song for “Independence Day.
And Patty Loveless got the biggest standing O of the night when her replacement album in Best Album won the award for “When Fallen Angels Fly”.
The CMA will take this video down eventually. So watch it while you can.
Thanks Erik. I thought I’ve seen everything, but not until Shania toussled the grizzled mane of The Man in Black at the CMA’s.
Erik, I’m actually currently watching this! I’m about halfway through. Patty Loveless winning AOTY for When The Fallen Angels Fly was one of my favorite moments. Loved her reaction and speech. Also enjoyed the performances by The Mavericks and Mary Chapin Carpenter. The Mavs winning Group of the Year was another highlight for me. Sighhh…why can’t mainstream country and the award shows be like this again?
This guy also uploaded a lot of other 90’s country awards shows and TNN stuff, and sadly a few have already been blocked, so enjoy them while you still can!
Also completely random – the Second CMA Awards (1968( was the first to be televised
Some nice entries here.
I’ll start with “Old Flame” which is my very favorite Alabama song. I’m not huge on the group like a lot of people from my generation. But every once in awhile, they’d knock it our of the park. And they sure did it with this one.
I also really like “She Just Started Liking Cheating Songs”. I was surprised to discover how early in the 80s this song actually came out. Like Jamie, I prefer “1959” but this one is still a keeper.
Always happy to see Dolly anywhere on this list. One of her final #1 hits of the 80s, it’s classic Dolly. If I remember correctly, I think Ricky Scaggs produced this one.
And what can I say about John Conlee. So underrated as an artist. “Rose Colored Glasses”, “Miss Emily’s Picture”, “Friday Night Blues”, and “Old School” just to name a few of his classics.