A few nuggets from the goldmine in this section, but the rest of it should’ve gotten the shaft.
Jerry Reed, “She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)”
#1 | 1982
JK: It’s so hard to be this clever, isn’t it, Brad Paisley? The interplay between the dark undertones and Reed’s ingratiating performance makes this a record that still holds up. Too Low
ZK: Self-awareness goes a long way with me, and this song has it in spades – a satirical look at a divorce proceeding that’s as fun as it is biting. Pure country-funk, too. Too Low
KJC: I love this record. It’s as dark as it is funny. A brilliant songwriting effort from Tim DuBois and a pitch perfect comedic performance from Jerry Reed. Too Low
Chris Young, “I Can Take it From There”
#16 | 2012
ZK: Granted, I’d take notice now if he returned to this sound, but my interest would probably fade after hearing something like this. Give me “Neon” and “Drinkin’ Me Lonely,” instead. So Wrong (This Song)
KJC: Chris Young doing warmed over Josh Turner, while namedropping a Conway Twitty song that had more sensuality in a single note than this record has in its entire run time. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: “Neon.” The Chris Young song you were looking for was “Neon.” This should not have been tough. So Wrong (This Song)
Garth Brooks, “Standing Outside the Fire”
#2 | 1994
KJC: In Pieces is a solid effort overall, and this track kicks the album off nicely. But I wouldn’t rank it among the essential Garth Brooks hits. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: God, it’s just so earnest. And it’s not like I disagree with the sentiment, but Garth can make things like this into such a hard sell with his ham-fisted approach. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
ZK: To repeat what I said about “Shameless”: No one oversold a sentiment quite like Brooks sometimes could, and this is coming from someone who’d usually defend him from his detractors. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
John Anderson, “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)”
#4 | 1981
JK: Aspirational in the best sense of the word, this song, a classic from the pen of Billy Joe Shaver, hinges on a mineral that’s all too familiar to the rural poor who have so often been given voice in country music. I love the song, and I love Anderson’s weird-ass voice. Too Low
ZK: Love, love, love John Anderson, so much so that you can expect to see a “Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists” feature for him from me in the future. This, however, won’t make the cut. One of few Anderson – and, by extension, Billy Joe Shaver – cuts that I’m lukewarm on. The remaining selections are great, though. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: As I’ve written before, they nailed their John Anderson selections. The song makes a bold prediction and the record turns the prophecy into an immediate reality. About Right
Florida Georgia Line with Luke Bryan, “This is How We Roll”
#1 | 2014
ZK: Florida Georgia Line, on the other hand, really are just old chunks of coal. And that’s that. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong
KJC: If a record could kill brain cells, this is how it would roll. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: It most certainly is not. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
George Strait, “Write This Down”
#1 | 1999
KJC: A little silly, but it sounds like a doctoral thesis after “This is How We Roll.” Too High
JK: Man, I sure keep cutting these just adequate Strait singles… So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
ZK: A bit too cutesy for my tastes. I swear I like a healthy amount of Strait’s singles, but they’ve gone with some of the most bizarre choices for this. But fine, I won’t go with either one of the two worst grades this time around. Too High?
Brooks & Dunn, “That Ain’t No Way to Go”
#1 | 1994
JK: One of Ronnie Dunn’s most fiery vocal performances, and one of the duo’s most underrated singles. Still, I’d say this ranking is Too High.
ZK: Simple, but elevated so much by Ronnie Dunn’s angst and frustration, it’s quietly among the duo’s best. Too High
KJC: I’ve often called Brooks & Dunn the Mariah Carey(s) of country music. Dozens of big hits that were immediately forgettable. But I never forgot this one. It’s still one of my favorites. Too High, though.
Marty Robbins, “El Paso City”
#1 | 1976
ZK: I had to check to make sure “El Paso” made it; it is this list, after all. So, sure, I’m not necessarily outraged at this inclusion, but at the same time … why? So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: If Chubby Checker can get away with “Let’s Twist Again,” then I won’t begrudge Marty Robbins his quite literal reincarnation of “El Paso.” But it has no business on this list. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: Come on, guys. This is such hackwork, however brilliant a vocalist Robbins is. An absurd pick and placement. This ain’t no The Godfather, Part II. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Kenny Chesney, “Never Wanted Nothing More”
#1 | 2007
KJC: This is wonderful radio filler, and it has as much a place on this list as a commercial jingle. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
JK: I just can’t with him. We’ve already seen the only singles of his worth half a damn, and there’s so much still to come. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
ZK: Never wanted this many Kenny Chesney songs on this list. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Martina McBride, “Wild Angels”
#1 | 1995
JK: I’m still going to bat for “Whatever You Say” as the only single other than “Independence Day” that belongs on this list. This is a well-written song– it’s Matraca Berg’s, so of course it is– that McBride sings fine enough. I cannot imagine thinking it’s this significant. So Wrong (This Song)
ZK: One of few McBride performances I actually quite like. Catchy as heck, too. Too High
KJC: Wild Angels remains Martina McBride’s finest studio album, 25 years after its release. I’m glad they included this on here, but I’d only back “Safe in the Arms of Love” from that album for a ranking quite this high. Too High
Previous: #490-#481 | Next: #470-#461
Re. “She Got The Goldmine”: I think this is a lot of Jerry’s modus operandi, in that it is what one might call Country-Rap at its best. It goes back at least as far as “U.S. Male”, which Elvis recorded in 1968 (YIPE!).
Re. “Standing Outside The Fire”: Well, what can you say? One can argue that Garth helped to make the country genre bigger than it had ever been in the past; but you can also argue that he did so by making it into just glorified 80s arena rock with drawl and twang, and with grandiose statement songs like that one.
Re. “Wild Angels”: At least for Martina, like it or not, it is one of her signature songs (as it is for Matraca Berg as a songwriter). She sometimes oversells the song, but not as often or as egregiously as the Garthmeister would sell one of his.
Re. “This Is How We Roll”: If you wanted to turn someone off to country music, this would be the one to do it (IMHO).
I largely agree with the reviewer’s comments. Marty Robbins was a great singer and while “El Paso City” is a good song, I can come up with at least seventy-five Marty Robbins songs (singles and album tracks) that are better
John Anderson’s “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)” is rated about right. It’s an interesting song and I have three recordings of the song, one by the writer Billy Joe Shaver and a superlative recording by the legendary Stonewall Jackson. I don’t recall if Jackson’s version was released as a single but it received substantial airplay in the various Central Florida markets
I was privileged to see Jerry Reed perform on several occasions. He was an incredible picker, a decent singer and great songwriter. “Jerry’s Breakdown:” should be on this list somewhere, but I doubt that many instrumentals were even considered for this list
“This is How We Roll”? Really, Sirius?
“That Ain’t No Way to Go” is my favorite B&D single, and actually my second-favorite of all B&D songs. (Strangely enough, the one that tops both those lists is “Mexican Minutes,” a cut from that same album, on which of course Kix sings lead.)
I do like Marty Robbins, but I absolutely agree with Jonathan here.
Even though it wasn’t a big hit, Id replace ” Wild Angeles” with “Cry On The Shoulder Of The Road”.
I love the Jerry Reed, John Anderson, Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn and Kenny Chesney songs. I’m an admitted Garth Brooks apologist and it’s one of the few Chesney songs that I like a lot. I like Wild Angels and love that album. My favorite single of Martina McBride’s is probably “Cry on the Shoulder of the Road.”
Love me some Jerry Reed, and this song never fails to make me giggle. He was definitely one of the perfect examples of country humor done right. My parents also had his album, The Bird, and my step dad liked to play it often when I was little, so it brings back some good memories, too.
My step dad also liked the John Anderson song, as well, and every time I bought a John Anderson cd he always looked to see if that song was on it. Overall, it’s a solid and enjoyable neo-traditional ditty, and it belongs here, imo. Kind of reminds me something that maybe Randy Travis would’ve also cut. Love the dobro in this, and the lyrics make me smile.
“Wild Angels” is one of my all time favorite Martina McBride songs, and I never get tired of hearing it. To me, it’s a great example of quality contemporary country. I totally agree with others on “Cry On The Shoulder Of The Road,” as that’s also one of my favorite singles from the album. Also agree with Kevin on “Safe In The Arms Of Love.” I still believe the Wild Angels and Evolution albums were when Martina was at her best.
“That’s Ain’t No Way To Go” is also one of my all time favorite B&D singles, and I think the ranking is about right. I absolutely love Ronnie Dunn’s vocal performance on this.
The George Strait song if fine, but a bit overrated, if you ask me. Personally, I much prefer “Meanwhile” and “What Do You Say To That” which were released from the same album. Again, I like the song, but I just don’t see why it’s so much more popular than many of his others that are superior, imo.
I’m also a Garth apologist, but this song has always been meh to me. I do like the message, though. Great fiddle playing, too. “Callin’ Baton Rouge” is pretty much the only single from In Pieces that I truly enjoy.
I like Chris Young’s Neon album as a whole, but yeah, this was one of the weaker singles from the album. It follows a bit too closely to the formula of Josh Turner’s “Your Man” and his own “Gettin’ You Home.” Still, I would probably jump up and down with excitement if he suddenly came back with a song that sounded like this after all the forgettable fluff he’s released since then. Totally agree with you guys on “Neon” being the best single he’s ever released.
What an absolute joke to see that horrid FGL song this high on the list.
On those rare occasions when looking out of an airplane window while flying thirty thousand feet above this legendary West Texas town, I am assuredly happily reminded of Marty Robbins’ “El Paso City” — even more so than the artist’s revisited signature song, “El Paso.” I’ve always consider the song to be one of Marty Robbins’ best loved hits and, as such, am quite stunned by the consensus disparaging remarks from commentators I usually agree with.
Marty Robbins’ “El Paso City” absolutely belongs somewhere in this top 1000 list (#473 is fine by me), as does “El Paso,” of course. It is easily my favorite, and the most memorable, of the ten songs presented in this group.
A few good ones here, esp. “Chunk of Coal” but mostly forgettable. FGL is the worst thing thats happened to ocuntry music in a long time. Maybe ever.
Hi! I’ve finally caught up on this feature, so I’m ready to comment! This first comment will be long, so bear with me :)
A couple general notes:
– I like how you’ve broken this down into 10-song sections as big lists like these can be overwhelming to look at all at once.
– I like your evaluation system as it would be quite cumbersome to try to re-rank the songs.
– This list is bizarre. I’m not surprised that they included a lot of newer songs in order to cover off as big an audience as possible, but many of these songs don’t belong anywhere near this list. I look at it this way: when I was younger, I had a number of “Super Hits” CDs, which generally included 10 songs from a particular artist. So, we would need 100 good-to-great artists with 10-song collections to get to 1,000 songs (without taking into account that some artists would clearly have enough great songs to have two or even three “Super Hits” collections that would be worthy of inclusion here and some artists would only have 2-3 excellent songs to include). I’m convinced that this approach would result in a higher overall quality that the actual list.
A few notes from previous posts:
– 830-821 – JK noted that John Anderson is his most underrated artist in country music. I appreciated this as he is one of my Top 5 favourite artists and I agree that he is very underrated.
– 810-801 – KJC learned so many classic songs from hearing Ricky Van Shelton cover them – me too! I loved RVS when I really started getting into country music as a teenager in the 90s.
– Various discussions of Doug Stone. I probably like some of his ballads more than some of the reviewers, but I can’t believe that “Pine Box” (and even “Warning Labels”) is not on this list.
– 590-581 – “Lost and Found” is very high on my list of favourite B&D songs, so I was actually glad to see that it made the list.
– 540-531 – As a Canadian, I really enjoyed the discussion in the comments regarding “My Baby Loves Me” and the fact that there was another version put out by a Canadian artist (Patricia Conroy) around the same time as Martina McBride’s. For the longest time, I remembered this happening fairly regularly, but now that I think of it, I can only remember this song and one other – also a Martina McBride song. “Safe in the Arms of Love” was also recorded by Michelle Wright and, IIRC, was a fairly big hit for her in Canada. I like both version of this song, but I slightly prefer Michelle Wright’s version (“My Baby Loves Me” was always one of my favourite Martina McBride songs, so I prefer her version of that one). On a related note, the 90s was a strong decade for Canadian country artists, most of whom I don’t believe received much, if any, airplay in the US (eg. George Fox, Prairie Oyster, Chris Cummings), but a few did (Terri Clark, Paul Brandt).
Like several others have said, “That Ain’t No Way To Go” is my favorite Brooks and Dunn song. And I love most of their songs, so that’s saying a lot for me. I’m glad it’s ranked this high.
I remember “El Paso City” as a child but not liking it nearly as much as the original. But great for Marty Robbins to have another big hit late in his career. My Dad loved Marty Robbins and we listened to his music a lot when traveling.
“Chunk of Coal” was a nice song. I liked Anderson’s early career, especially “1959”. But I tired of him as time went on. I am surprised that this song is as high as it is.
The rest of this group of songs is pretty bland. Amazing that some of these songs even made the list, much less being this high.
Favorite songs from this group are those from Jerry Reed, Brooks & Dunn and Martina McBride. Wouldn’t have been very upset if they hadn’t made the list.
at Frank the Tank – one of my favorite Canadian country singers never made it big – Lisa Brokop. I have 7 of her albums.
@ bob – how did I forget to mention Lisa Brokop?! She was one of my favourites from that era. I had a few of her albums as well.
I like early John Anderson, but my favorite Anderson era is the nineties, especially the Seminole Wind and Solid Ground albums/singles.
God, it’s just so earnest. And it’s not like I disagree with the sentiment, but Garth can make things like this into such a hard sell with his ham-fisted approach.
To repeat what I said about “Shameless”: No one oversold a sentiment quite like Brooks sometimes could,
I was trying to figure out how all three of you managed to be so wrong about this song and I realized that, as unlikely as it seems, all of you got it mixed up at the same time: you are talking about “How You Ever Gonna Know”. That one is earnest and oversold, “Standing Outside the Fire” is everything but hamfisted – from the opening chords through the fiddle all the way to chorus, it is intense, almost anthem-like. The video drips with sap, but the song on its own is legit great.
Frank The Tank – So glad you brought up the subject of 90’s Canadian country! I’ve also been discovering a lot of great Canadian artists from that era that I’d never heard until more recently. I absolutely love what I’ve heard from Prairie Oyster, Chris Cummings, and George Fox, and all three have become some of my personal favorite artists. Prairie Oyster sort of remind me of a Canadian version of the Mavericks, and I just love their style! Some other ones I’ve discovered and enjoyed : Duane Steele, Jason McCoy, Farmer’s Daughter, Shirley Myers, Joel Feeney, John Landry, and Tara Lynn Hart. And we’ve also mentioned Patricia Conroy, who I’ve also been loving. :)
Leeann – The 90’s is also my favorite John Anderson era. :)
@ Jamie – I’m glad you’re enjoying those Canadian artists! The ones you mentioned are all good – Jason McCoy has had an interesting career. His first couple of albums were solid 90s country, but his third album (Honky Tonk Sonatas) is quite different, production-wise, and is easily his best, in my opinion (it includes a duet with Gary Allan). He then went on to form the Roadhammers, who have some solid songs too.