A Country Music Conversation: Sirius Top 1000 Country Songs of All Time, #540-#531

A great selection of artists, but not a great selection of singles.


Tim McGraw, “My Best Friend”

#1 | 1999

JK: I’ve always been on the negative side of ambivalent about McGraw, and it’s largely because of how often he chooses to sing weak material like this. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC: I don’t even need to swap this out with a full song title. I’ll just change one word.  “My Old Friend” is one of his best singles ever, and I would not quibble with it replacing “My Best Friend” exactly here.  So Wrong (This Song)

ZK: What Kevin said. So Wrong (This Song)



Toby Keith, “I Love This Bar”

#1 | 2003

KJC:  This single represents Keith’s full transition from artist to brand, so it’s appropriate that it’s the moniker for his restaurant chain.  He sings it well and there’s some decent lyrical imagery, neither of which are a surprise: he’s a great singer and capable songwriter.  I hated his “Red, White, and Blue” song, but the “I love my truck, and I love my girlfriend” line in the bridge was the first time I thought of him as a hack.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: The point at which Keith became more interested in being a brand than an artist, and what a shame. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

ZK: I’m torn on this one. Keith would milk this theme to death over the decade, but I’ve always loved the imagery and subdued, boozy nature that fits the track. Above all else, he’s a good songwriter when he wants to be. With that said, I’d only have a few Keith singles on a list like this, and even then, I’d use this to help start it off. Too High



Patsy Cline, “San Antonio Rose”

LP Cut | 1961

JK: Lovely, but a strange inclusion for so many reasons– not the least of which being that “She’s Got You” isn’t on the list. So Wrong (This Song)

KJC:  Of course, she sings it beautifully.  But why is her album cut version on the list instead of the hit version by Floyd Cramer, or one of her missing signature hits, like “A Poor Man’s Roses (or a Rich Man’s Gold) or “So Wrong” (This Song)?

ZK: Artists often covered hit songs for their own albums during this time. Really, the average country album then was comprised of the artist’s own hit singles, a bunch of covers and a few filler tracks. It’s a roundabout way of saying I’m not mad this is here. I guess I’m just … confused? Either way, I won’t argue with more Patsy Cline on this list. Too High?



Confederate Railroad, “Trashy Women”

#10 | 1993

KJC:  I was prepared for this to have aged terribly, but it’s just as funny and ultimately endearing as it was upon release.  It’s the Dolly Parton ideal as the very embodiment of womanhood, and it’s 100% sincere, even if it’s a quite a bit Too High.

JK: Interesting to write this blurb after the Lady Antebellum to Lady A but whoops we didn’t do our due diligence events of the last week, especially given that Confederate Railroad had already lost bookings over their name. The name is problematic for a host of reasons and always was. A key difference with the Lady A(ntebellum) situation is that Confederate Railroad’s music was actually far better than the band was given credit for. “Trashy Women” avoids the sleazy way the men of modern country talk about women in their songs, and it’s both catchy and witty. I’m not mad that this single is here, though I’d argue it’s Too High.

ZK: Like Kevin said, it helps that this song doesn’t take itself too seriously and, in turn, eschews the usual worst elements of southern-rock within country music. I’m still not sure I’d have it here at all, but … Too High



Trace Adkins, “Ladies Love Country Boys”

#1 | 2006

JK: Absolutely not. That he has better material is a function of how bottom-of-the-barrel this is, even for him. I’d go to bat for “Arlington,” but not anywhere close to this high. So Wrong (This Song)

KJC:  Essentially a genre swap of “Trashy Women,” held back by a surprisingly impotent vocal that sounds overprocessed.  This needed more twang across the board. If I’ve said it about an earlier Trace Adkins entry, I’ll go ahead and repeat it: Swap this lesser single out for “I’m Tryin’” or “Arlington.”  So Wrong (This Song)

ZK: I’m convinced that one could take Adkins’ best material – “The Rest of Mine,” “Sometimes a Man Takes a Drink” and “Arlington,” for example – and have one of the finest country albums ever. Conversely, take material like this, “Brown Chicken Brown Cow,” “Swing” and plenty more I’d rather not revisit, and you’d have one of the worst country albums ever. By far the most frustratingly inconsistent artist to ever grace our presence. So Wrong (This Song)



Martina McBride, “My Baby Loves Me”

#2 | 1993

KJC: A very deserved breakout hit that still sounds fresh today, with McBride’s power and sass remaining in service to the lyric, rather than overwhelming it as became so common with her later records.  As far as ranking goes, I’d say it’s a bit Too High.  

JK: I actually loved two of the three singles from McBride’s debut album, but it’s not hard to hear why this was her real breakthrough. The production is crisp, and it avoids all of the decisions, both as a vocalist and in choosing material, that made her latter career so insufferable. Personally, I’d still swap this out for “Whatever You Say,” but I’m also fine with saying this is Too High.

ZK: It’s cute ’90s fodder that’s one of McBride’s better records, but still far Too High. 



Zac Brown Band, “Keep Me in Mind”

#1 | 2011

JK: Pleasant and competently performed. But they have far better than that in their catalogue. Give me the breakneck  “The Wind,” instead. So Wrong (This Song)

KJC:  Their radio filler was breezier and more pleasing to the ears than most artists of the time. But radio filler is still radio filler.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

ZK: After The Owl, I most certainly will not. So Wrong (This Song)



Tanya Tucker, “San Antonio Stroll”

#1 | 1975

KJC: All of her Southern Gothic records from the seventies belong on this list, but fluff like this should’ve been swapped with something from her eighties/nineties heyday, like “I Won’t Take Less Than Your Love.”  So Wrong (This Song)

JK: I love her, but I would never have picked this song. Among her 70s run, I’ll still champion “(Don’t Believe My Heart Can Stand) Another You.” So Wrong (This Song)

ZK: I had very little memory of this before revisiting it, and even though I won’t argue with a Tanya Tucker song on this list, this is far Too High. 



The Wreckers, “Leave the Pieces”

#1 | 2006

JK: I wasn’t a fan of Michelle Branch’s MOR Adult Pop, and I wasn’t at all impressed by The Wreckers’ debut album… beyond this one terrific single that has actually aged really well. Still, overall this is Too High.

KJC:  A great debut single that didn’t lead to much of a career. So much promise that went unfulfilled.  Too High

ZK: I’m surprised and absolutely thrilled this was included. In a post-Dixie Chicks world, though, (at least in mainstream country music) I blame the timing for this duo’s early demise. About Right



Tracy Byrd, “The Keeper of the Stars”

#2 | 1995

KJC: A middling love song that came off at the time like a John Michael Montgomery reject.  He made some great country music, but this and his novelty records seem to be all that’s remembered.  So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: Something I’ve found interesting in the process of reviewing this countdown is how many of our regular commenters were secret Tracy Byrd fans all this time. As with his previous entries, I just don’t get this and anticipate some spirited defenses of it in the comments. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

ZK: I never really understood what Tracy Byrd brought to the table that we weren’t already getting from other more competent performers. Case in point. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

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  1. Re. “My Baby Loves Me”: While I think a case can be made for Martina sometimes not being as careful with her material or her vocals on later records, she does play it fairly straight here. I sometimes think that the amount of times those records of hers where she overdoes it were played so often on the radio that it seems like people have been brainwashed into believing that that was her stock-in-trade. The same could be said every once in a while of Trisha Yearwood as well, and of Trisha and Martina’s spiritual hero Linda Ronstadt. But it really isn’t the case, certainly not to the extent it’s made out to be (IMHO).

  2. You guys could not be more wrong on “The Keeper of the Stars.” The song is probably like 200 spots too high but it belongs on the list because while it may be “JMM lite” it became a wedding staple in the mid to late 90’s before “Amazed” came along and songs that become staples like that speak better of country music than some of the one off stuff that has appeared on this list already (and I’d imagine to come)

  3. Leave the Pieces is the best of this bunch. Listen for just a tiny bit of a Patsy Cline hitch in “le-ave”.

    I Love This Bar is not worthy of Toby Keith, like much of his material.

  4. The Toby and Trace songs are easily the worst ones here, imo. For the most part, both artists have wasted their talent starting in the 2000’s, with only a few redeeming singles here and there. The only thing I liked about “I Love This Bar” was the melody and steel guitar, while I just never liked “Ladies Like Country Boys” at all, though Trace has done even worse. Glad “The Rest Of Mine” was mentioned. That seems to be one of Trace’s most sadly forgotten songs now. Also want to give a mention to “Lonely Won’t Leave Me Alone,” and “Don’t Lie.” His second album, “Big Time,” is still one of his best albums, imo.

    Well well well, finally a Tracy Byrd song on here I actually like! This is actually not my favorite of his ballads, but it’s still got a really nice melody, and his vocal performance on the radio version sells it for me. It’s also aged a lot better than his novelties, imo. Too bad songs like “Put Your Hand In Mine,” “Heaven In My Woman’s Eyes,” and “I Wanna Feel That Way Again,” etc, are not remembered as well. As one of those secret Tracy Byrd fans (lol), it’s just refreshing to finally see an entry on here that’s NOT a novelty song.

    Agree with you guys on Confederate Railroad and “Trashy Women.” This song is still actually funny today, unlike most of the attempts at humor by many male artists in recent years. Still, I would’ve also tried to make room for “Queen Of Memphis,” “Jesus And Mama,” or “Daddy Never Was The Cadillac Kind.”

    Martina McBride is yet another artist who I feel released some of her best work in the 90’s, but the quality of material dropped for the most part in the 2000’s. “My Baby Loves Me” is still a fun listen today, and I love her energetic performance on it. I also wish she broke out with her debut album, though, since it was a very solid record, and I love the neo-traditional style she had going at the time. Too bad “Whatever You Say” didn’t make it. I just saw her performance of that song on the 1999 ACM’s, and she absolutely killed it! Still holding out hope that “Wrong Again,” my favorite single off that album will make an appearance, though I’m growing more doubtful.

    “Leave The Pieces” is a pretty solid pop country tune that still sounds good today, but I agree that it’s too high.

    Always found most of ZBB’s island themed singles to be either boring or forgettable, with this song being a fine example.

    Sorry guys, but I actually still kinda like the Tim McGraw song. I recognize that it’s not lyrically strong, but it just sounds so pleasant to me, and memories of the late 1999/early 2000 Y2K era come flooding back every time. :)

  5. I’d swap out the Confederate Railroad entry for “Daddy Never Was the Cadillac Kind” and the Tracy Byrd song for “Walking to Jerusalem”.

  6. Here are my ten favorite Patsy Cline songs. The title is followed by the name of the songwriter(s)

    (1) She’s Got You – Hank Cochran
    (2) Why Can’t He Be You – Hank Cochran (B side single; A side was Heartaches)
    (3) You Took Him Off My Hands – Harlan Howard, Wynn Stewart & Skeets McDonald
    (4) Crazy – Willie Nelson
    (5) So Wrong – Carl Perkins, Danny Dill & Mel Tillis (1962)
    (6) Sweet Dreams (of You) – Don Gibson
    (7) Leavin’ on Your Mind – Wayne Walker & Webb Pierce
    (8) I Fall to Pieces – Hank Cochran & Harlan Howard
    (9) Faded Love – Bob Wills, John Wills & Billy Jack Wills
    (10) Always – Irving Berlin

    I guess you can tell that I really like ballads of love gone wrong. “Walkin’ After Midnight” (Alan Block & Donn Hecht) is probably her most popular song that I haven’t included.

  7. “New San Antonio Rose” should be on here but by Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys (vocal by Tommy Duncan). San Antonio Rose was an instrumental hit in 1939 to which Wills & his band added words later. I’ll admit it is hard to boot off a Patsy Cline hit but Wills sold nearly a million copies of his recording and Bing Crosby with Bob Crosby’s Bobcats DID sell a million copies and topped the pop charts. Unfortunately there were no country charts prior to January 1, 1944 (the Crosby & Wills versions were selling throughout 1941 & 10420

    “Trashy Women” belongs on here, but by the songwriter, Chris Wall or its original recording artist Jerry Jeff Walker. Confederate Railroad’s version was good by the other two are better

    The rest of these songs do not belong on this list

  8. …what do you mean by “secret” tracy byrd fans? fair enough, he may not have invented the wheel but a couple of his albums make a long drive at night a lot more pleasant. similarly as most of the late joe diffie’s could. mainstream country of that era hardly comes any more solid. i, for one, wouldn’t argue with this choice (“keeper of the stars”), even if it had been placed quite a bit higher up. make no mistake, tracy byrd could make any ol’ honkytonk a serious place to be. on stage he was such a natural and sounding great. “leave the pieces” is such an akwardly great tune, i still find it as fascinating as ever when i hear it today. would i ever go to a confederate railroad concert again? hell yeah! novelty with a twist and a tongue in the cheek – not many pulled it off better as this still somewhat unexpected choice proves.

  9. I loved that first Confederate Railroad album. My favorite to this day is “When You Leave That Way You Can Never Go Back.”

    Interesting to find out that “Trashy Women” was a cover. It was only recently that I discovered that the same was true about “My Baby Loves Me,” which was first recorded by Canadian country star Patricia Conroy in 1992.

  10. As fro Patsy, thid dong id not bad, but its a little too high. How the hell do you not put “She’s Got You” on this list?!
    ZK: I’m convinced that one could take Adkins’ best material – “The Rest of Mine,” “Sometimes a Man Takes a Drink” and “Arlington,” for example – and have one of the finest country albums ever. Conversely, take material like this, “Brown Chicken Brown Cow,” “Swing” and plenty more I’d rather not revisit, and you’d have one of the worst country albums ever. By far the most frustratingly inconsistent artist to ever grace our presence. So Wrong (This Song)”..Couldn’t have said it better, ZK

    Never was a big Tracy Byrd fan, and especially not “Keeper.” Tracy was not a balladeer iMO.

    “Trashy Women”…Just yeeccchhh

  11. I may be one of the Doug Stone fans, but not so much Tracy Byrd. I think I’d like him better if he didn’t do that weird thing with his voice at the end of each phrase. I do love “Walking to Jeruselum” though.

    I’ve never liked “Trashy Women”, but I do love “When You Leave that Way You Can Never Go Home.” I wonder if “Trashy Women” would be considered so amusing without the video?

  12. I liked the single version of “Keeper of the Stars” better (it was in a lower key), but even then it wasn’t really one of my favorite Tracy Byrd songs. I really wish they’d released the title track from that album as a single.

    I know “San Antonio Stroll” well (and not just because I’ve been in the titular Texas city for a little more than a decade) and it’s not a bad song at all, but I, too, would absolutely put one of Tanya’s Southern Gothic songs in its place, or “Lizzie and the Rainman,” or the aforementioned “I Don’t Believe My Heart Could Stand Another You.” The latter has always been one of my favorite TT songs as well.

    Better “San Antonio Rose” than “Faded Love” as far as Patsy Cline covering Bob Wills goes, but I still prefer the originals. This spot would be better occupied by another Cline single. Maybe “Leavin’ On Your Mind”?

    (I hope “Walkin’ After Midnight is ranked much higher.)

  13. I liked that Wreckers album and glad to see this song made it here. Maybe a little too high but I’m sure there is worse stuff coming. Not many comments on the rest of this mostly forgettable group.

    As for Patsy Cline, I agree this one is too high but no “She’s Got You” on the list? I’m with Bob above, it is my favorite Patsy Cline song.

  14. I also had no idea “Trashy Women” was a cover. I love learning something new from the other commenters! Kevin, I agree with you on Confederate Railroad’s first album. Forgot to mention “When You Leave That Way…” in my list of favorite CRR songs.

    On the other hand, I found out a while back about “My Baby Loves Me” being done originally by Patricia Conroy, and I really like her version, too. BTW, I absolutely love her 1992 album which came from. I gave it a listen on Spotify late last year, and it’s quickly become a favorite. Patricia’s got such a lovely voice, too.

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