A Country Music Conversation: Sirius Top 1000 Country Songs of All Time, #430-#421

This beautiful mess of a list continues.


Diamond Rio, “Beautiful Mess”

#1 | 2002

KJC: I remember being surprised that this went to #1 when it was first released. I’m even more surprised that it’s on this list.  My kingdom for “You’re Gone.”  So Wrong (This Song)

JK: How they went from a progressive, Bluegrass-inspired band to such innocuous adult contemporary has always made me sad. Swap this for “Norma Jean Riley” or “It’s All In Your Head” from when they still had fire in their recordings. So Wrong (This Song)

ZK: One of their better late-career singles, but that’s not saying much, sadly. So Wrong (This Song)



Merle Haggard, “That’s the Way Love Goes”

#1 | 1983

JK: A worthy inclusion for Hag, of course, but wildly over-ranked in relation to some of the other entries we’ve already seen from him. Too High

ZK: I’m glad they included this underrated cut from Haggard’s ’80s commercial rebound. Maybe not as striking as his other singles from the time, but that’s the point of this solid, simple love song. 

I just, you know, wouldn’t have ranked it higher than “Sing Me Back Home.” Too High 

KJC: I adore this song.  His delivery is flawless.  It’s just not top 500 material.  Too High



Tim McGraw, “Down On the Farm”

#2 | 1994

ZK: Unless it’s to shoot an episode of a resurrected Hee-Haw, I’ll skip this party. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC: Remember when Tim McGraw leveraged the massive success of Not a Moment Too Soon to get himself some better material? This is one of the hits from Not a Moment Too SoonSo Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: McGraw didn’t release a single worth a damn until “Just To See You Smile” in 1997 and was just dreadful up until then. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)



Zac Brown Band, “Homegrown”

#2 | 2015

KJC:  They settled on a formula fairly quickly, which was boring at the time but as Zack notes below, is so much better in retrospect.  Still not good enough for the history books, though. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: I’ve gone to bat for them plenty of times over the years, but I barely remembered this one. No way should it be here. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

ZK: This was relatively middle-of-the-road for the band upon its initial release, and now, I’d give anything for them to return to something like this. Too High



Kip Moore, “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck”

#1 | 2011

JK: Again, I’ll pick “I’m To Blame” for Moore and nothing else. So Wrong (This Song)

ZK: No, there ain’t. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

KJC:  I have this entire alternative timeline where “Mary Was the Marrying Kind” was the breakthrough hit it deserved to be, and one of the genre’s most promising talents didn’t have to sell himself short on hits like this.  In that timeline, “Mary” is on this list.  So Wrong (This Song)



Tom T. Hall, “I Like Beer”

#4 | 1975

ZK: Leave it to Tom T. Hall to embrace one of country music’s biggest clichés, go overboard with it, and turn it into something witty and fun. How this was included over “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died,” though, I’ll never know. Too High

KJC: I like jigsaw puzzles and Cherry Coke Zero.  Wouldn’t write a whole damn song about it. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: The scarcity of Cherry Coke Zero during CoVid-19 times is an underreported story. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)



Vince Gill, “One More Last Chance”

#1 | 1993

KJC: The video elevated this song with a George Jones cameo, who actually did drive a John Deere to the bar when his wife hid his car keys.  It’s a playful hit that goes quite a bit against type.  Too High

JK: Some of Gill’s uptempo cuts predicted Brad Paisley’s attempts at humorous ditties, and with about the same hit-to-miss ratio. This one hits, but I would have listed it in the first 100 entries. Too High

ZK:  They really botched the Vince Gill selections overall, but this is one of my favorite upbeat tunes from him. For a balladeer, he pulls off the humorous elements quite well. Too High 



Brooks & Dunn, “Red Dirt Road”

#1 | 2003

JK: One of their more impactful latter-day hits… But I would honesty have cut most of their last run of hits to make room for artists who weren’t included at all. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

ZK: Country bros of the 2010s really should have taken notes from Brooks & Dunn on how to turn typical rural imagery into something substantive. About Right 


Full disclosure: That chorus rhyme of “Jesus” and “pieces” has always made me wince.  This is still about as good as latter day Brooks & Dunn got.  Too High



Dottie West, “Country Sunshine”

#2 | 1973

ZK: I’d have more Dottie West here, personally, and I can’t help but feel like the folks at Sirius just decided, “Hey, it’s her biggest hit; it’s got to be her best! Just throw it somewhere near the middle of the list and let’s move on.” About Right 

KJC: A classic country song.  A classic Coke commercial.  About Right

JK: Among the genre’s most underrated stars, West should be on this list far more. This placement is About Right, though.



Randy Houser, “How Country Feels”

#6 | 2012

KJC:  I prefer the Randy Houser who sings “Anything Goes” to the one who uses “Anything Goes” as an A&R mantra. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

JK: Nope nope nope. He’s so much better than this. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)

ZK: But it ain’t how country sounds. Man, am I ever thankful he ended up making Magnolia. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)


Previous: #440-#431 | Next:  #420-#411



  1. Dottie West needs to be represented on this list, but I don’t think I would have picked “Country Sunshine” as her exemplar – she had a string of better songs during the 1960s

    There are a lot of Tom T Hall songs that could be on this list – I would have had “The Year Clayton Delaney Died” in the top 200 and “Magnificent Music Machine” and “Fox On The Run” on the list somewhere

    While “That’s The Way Love Goes” is a great song, I would have had the Johnny Rodriguez version somewhere in my top 300 (and I can make a case for Lefty Frizzell’s version as well) and picked a different Haggard song

    I mostly agree with the panel’s comments

    The rest of this list is mostly the wrong songs for the right artists

  2. I agree w KJC on substituting Diamond Rio’s “You’re Gone” (Jon Vezner & Paul Williams) for “Beautiful Mess” .

    I have “That’s the Way Love Goes” on a Johnny Rodriguez GH album. Suzy Bogguss didn’t include it on her Lucky cd. Suzy belongs on this list.

    Always loved the Red Dirt Road line:
    Learned that happiness on earth
    Ain’t just for high achievers

  3. Weird claim about Mcgraw! Some more than solid singles pre-Just to See You Smile:

    – Not a Moment Too Soon
    – Can’t be Really Gone
    – It’s Your Love
    – Everywhere

  4. How is it that the higher we’re going up the list, the weaker the songs are getting? I swear over half of this batch are ditties about beer, trucks and how country the singer is. Sure, there can actually be some decent songs with those subjects, and some of these are not completely terrible, but come on! We’re in the top 500 now! But then I have to keep reminding myself this is THAT list, lol.

    The Merle Haggard song is head and shoulders above everything else here, imo. I always really enjoyed this song, and it’s actually one of my favorite 80’s Hag songs. Love how smooth it is.

    Always liked “One More Last Chance” and the video was always a hoot. However, there’s no way should it be ranked higher than “When I Call Your Name” and several of his other ballads.

    I actually like “Beautiful Mess,” though I admit that when I first heard it, I was surprised at how contemporary of a direction that Diamond Rio had gone. I do like the sort Chris Isaak feel with the guitar and the falsetto part in the chorus. It’s definitely one of their more lightweight songs though, and I’m kind of surprised at how it’s one of their most remembered songs while a lot of their 90’s hits are seemingly forgotten now. I totally with you guys on “You’re Gone” deserving a spot here. Some of my other Rio favorites: “Mama, Don’t Forget To Pray For Me,” “Mirror, Mirror,” “Nowhere Bound,” “In A Week Or Two,” “Sawmill Road,” “Walkin’ Away,” “That’s What I Get For Loving You,” “Holdin’,” “Imagine That,” and “I Know How The River Feels.”

    I do love me some 90’s Tim McGraw, but this song is definitely not one of best examples of the music he put out in that decade. “Down On The Farm” fits right into the line dance craze that was pretty hot back in 1994, and it hasn’t aged too well, imo, especially with McGraw’s exaggerated twang. I also consider Not A Moment Too Soon the weakest of his 90’s albums. I do think he put out some good music before the Everywhere album though, like “Can’t Be Really Gone,” as mentioned by Bob Loblaw. I also like “Maybe We Should Just Sleep On It,” “She Never Lets It Go To Her Heart,” and most of his self-titled debut from 1993.

    “Red Dirt Road” is one of the last decent singles B&D released to radio, imo (The last one I truly enjoyed was “It’s Getting Better All The Time”). Otherwise, there’s very little 00’s B&D I’d include on this list. Steers & Stripes is their only album from that decade that I like.

    Even though I really dislike “Somethin’ Bout A Truck,” there are actually some pretty good songs on that album, and I find Kip Moore to be one of the better modern mainstream artists out there with a solid heartland rock influenced style and catchy melodies (haven’t heard his most recent stuff yet, though.) I’m with Kevin on wishing “Mary” was his breakthrough instead of “Truck.”

    Sonically, “How Country Feels” is not too bad, and it kinda reminds me of some of Lee Roy Parnell’s 90’s stuff. But those lyrics though…yikes! Another example of a great voice being wasted on unworthy material. I’m glad to hear that Houser has redeemed himself with Magnolia (still haven’t listened to it).

  5. Re. “I Like Beer”: Yes, it does touch on one of those staples of country, but leave it to the man called The Storyteller” to make something good out of malt liquor. I would agree, however, that “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died” should also have been included in his original 1971 version, along with his first #1 country hit as a performer, the 1969-70 smash “A Week In A Country Jail”.

    Re. “How Country Feels”: One of those examples of how you can’t have just one song be representative of either the sound or feel of country music, let alone the way of life that gave birth to it in the first place. And to just have the word “Country” in the title, and not have the sound reflect it, is truly hollow and empty BS (IMHO).

  6. Sigh. Much as I love Merle, I have always liked his Capitol & MCA works the best, and for my money Johnny Rodriguez’s version of this song is the better one. I also would not have ranked it higher than “Sing Me Back Home.”

    Jamie, for Diamond Rio, “Mama Don’t Forget to Pray For Me” was the song that came to mind that should have been on this list as well. (Don’t tell anyone, but I always also had a soft spot for “I Believe,” especially with the video. I am incurably sentimental.) I am also in complete agreement with you on “Red Dirt Road.” B&D’s first five albums or so were really good, but they really flamed out in the 2000s with stuff like “You Can’t Take The Honky Tonk Out of the Girl” and “Play Something Country.”

    Still bitter about Tim McGraw’s first album not getting any traction. NAMTS was a pretty good album, but I liked pretty much every song on his debut album better than “Down on the Farm.” He did only really hit his stride with Everywhere as far as singles go, though. Honestly, I think the title track to that album is probably the best single he’s ever released.

    Not real sure “I Like Beer” should be in the top 500, but it has always been a favorite, and it still makes me laugh.

  7. The Pistolero – Don’t worry, I wont tell. ;) I actually like “I Believe” too. I’m incurably sentimental, as well, and I’m sure my love for most of those sappy 90’s country love songs proves that, lol.

    As for McGraw, I consider “Everywhere,” “Just To See You Smile,” and “One Of These Days” to be the best trio of singles he’s released in his career. And once again, I’m totally with you on his debut album. NAMTS did have some non singles I really like, though, like “Wouldn’t Want It Any Other Way” and “Ain’t That Just Like A Dream.”

    As for “I Like Beer,” which I failed to mention in my previous post, I pretty much agree with Zackary and Erik’s comments. It’s a fun, witty song, and unlike most of the modern beer songs, it actually makes me laugh (I’ll admit, Brad Paisley’s “Alcohol” never fails to get a chuckle out of me, as well). Still wouldn’t have put it in the top 500, though.

  8. I rather liked the title track and “Refried Dreams.” I know the latter’s premise was a bit hokey, but it was still a pretty good song. I was glad to see it released as a single. Also, as a George Strait fan, “Give It To Me Strait” was riiiiight up my alley, but I figure that song would’ve never made it as a single. Odd thing was, I actually did hear it first on the radio; Shreveport, LA’s KWKH-FM was big on playing unreleased album cuts and they played it quite often.

  9. Oh yeah, I do like “Not A Moment Too Soon,” too. “Refried Dreams” always gets a chuckle from me whenever I hear it, because it reminds me of when my dad would always sing it as “living on refried beans,” lol. And yeah, as a GS fan myself, “Give It To Me Strait” was a cool song. With how contemporary his music has gotten in more recent years, it’s sometimes hard to remember that McGraw is actually a big Strait fan.

  10. Not a Moment to Soon was one of the first albums (tapes) that my younger brother owned, so we listened to it a lot at the time. I haven’t listened to it in full in many years until yesterday after reading this post. It is a solid album and it holds up pretty well. The title track, “Give it to Me Strait,” “Wouldn’t Want it Any Other Way,” “Ain’t that Just Like a Dream” and “Refried Dreams” are my favourites (I sing Refried Dreams every time we eat refried beans at home).

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