Imagine sandwiching a George Jones masterpiece between two Luke Bryan songs.
Alan Jackson, “Remember When”
#1 | 2003
ZK: A familiar love song that transcended itself to become a standard. I’d have this one or two hundred spots higher. Too Low
KJC: There’s a different love story of Jackson’s in the top twenty, and as good as that song is, I think Sirius got it wrong. “Remember When” is arguably the best celebration of a long marriage put to record. Too Low
JK: After “Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning,” there was a moment when country music treated Alan Jackson like its poet laureate. He has two hits that fully deserve that superlative level of claim and affection. This is one of them. Too Low
Jack Greene, “There Goes My Everything”
#1 | 2006
KJC: Ah, the first CMA Single of the Year winner. A pure country weeper that found Jack Greene punching well above his own weight. Too Low
JK: A good record from its era, but one that I’d rank hereabouts for its historical significance rather than for its own merits, which would otherwise drop it back a bit. About Right
ZK: A bit too thematically familiar for my personal tastes, but it’s another wildcard pick I can’t quibble with and belongs here. Too High
Lorrie Morgan, “Except For Monday”
#4 | 1991
JK: I’ve said elsewhere that I’m not particularly a fan of Morgan’s; this is one of my favorites among her big hits. I’d drop it well back on this list. And, as Kevin said, it seems wrong not to include (the campy theatricality and over-enunciated consonants of) “Something in Red” on here somewhere. Too High
ZK: One of her best singles, blending heartbreak and humor, placed just a tad Too High.
KJC: It’s the only entry from Lorrie Morgan, and it’s “Except For Monday?” I wouldn’t leave it off of the list, but I’d drop it down a few hundred slots, and I’d add “What Part of No” somewhere in the middle, and then “Something in Red” would be here. Seriously, how is “Something in Red” not anywhere on this list? Too High
Luke Bryan, “All My Friends Say”
#5 | 2007
ZK: One of his few singles I genuinely really enjoy, where the “aw-shucks” veneer provides a shot of charisma that’s a blast to listen to. I’m still not sure I’d have any Luke Bryan songs here, but if we have to weigh impact, well … I’ll certainly take it over a certain other cut of his below. Too High, I Guess?
KJC: I keep pushing these novelty songs down to the 900s, but there are so many overranked songs here, I’m not sure there’s room for all of them in the 900s. Too High
JK: What Kevin said: My “I’d put this in the first 100 and call it a day” seems like it’s at capacity. This is fine enough among Crest WhiteStrips’ output, but I wouldn’t miss it if it were cut altogether. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
George Jones, “She Thinks I Still Care”
#1 | 1962
KJC: There’s only one George Jones song in the top 100. Let me say that again. There’s only one George Jones song in the top 100. Even a casual country music historian should’ve known this needed to be much higher. Too Low
JK: As poor dead Amy Winehouse said: “What kind of fuckery is this?” Just the sheer ignorance and audacity. Too Low
ZK: There are some absolute disasters in this selection, and then there’s just this classic sitting randomly in between them, and you know what, you keep being you, Sirius list. Too Low
Tim McGraw, “Real Good Man”
#1 | 2003
JK: Who in their right goddamn mind actually thinks Tim McGraw in roughneck drag is better than “She Thinks I Still Care.” Who. Like, I want actual names. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
ZK: Hahahaha, I’m sorry, I just can’t take Tim McGraw seriously with the overblown “rough and gruff” performance. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: I never cared for this song, and I still resent the video tacking on “The Ride” and wasting ten minutes of precious CMT airtime every time it played. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
The Judds, “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days)”
#1 | 1986
ZK: Maybe it’s because I have memories of hearing this a kid (even as a child of the 2000s), but there’s a childlike urgency that adds an innocence to this that eschews the typical pleas for nostalgia from grownups who should know better, and I kinded of related to that. Plus, it feels more sincere coming from a child’s perspective, one watching the world change and not fully understanding why, even if certain parts of that change, ultimately, are for the better. I don’t know, I always feel the need to defend this one. About Right
KJC: It’s one of their signature songs and a powerful showcase for their harmonies. Jamie O’Hara’s finest piece of songwriting, possibly. But at least there are other — wait, this is the highest song by Wynonna or The Judds? You’ve got to be kidding me. Too Low
JK: As a rule, I just don’t buy “good old days” nostalgia: The reality is that things are only as bad as they’ve ever been. But this particular song is just well-written, and The Judds, of course, perform it with empathy and soul. I certainly wouldn’t have it ranked ahead of “Mama, He’s Crazy” or “Why Not Me,” though. Too High
The Statler Brothers, “Do You Know You are My Sunshine”
#1 | 1978
KJC: Beautiful performance of a fairly slight song. Too High
JK: I like the Statler Bros just fine. Four entries strikes me as plenty for them, and this entry is just entirely Too High.
ZK: They didn’t get any of their Statler Brothers choices wrong, really. But there’s only four in total, and this is one I’d easily swap for “Bed of Rose’s.” Too High
Luke Bryan, “Country Girl (Shake it For Me)”
#4 | 2011
JK: Okay, hear me out: If I’m going to include any one bro-country hit, it would be the one that actually has a decent rhythm section and hints at the fact that maybe it’s in on the joke. And that wouldn’t be anything by Florida Georgia Line or Chase Rice or Cole Swindell or any of the other Bros we’ve already consigned to the dustbin. It wouldn’t even be any of the songs on which Bryan started copying himself. It’d be this one. And I’d have it ranked like 500 spots lower because obviously, but I’d still keep it. Too High
ZK: Just like that, we unleashed a monster. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: I remember reading about a country music DJ who had to take a smoke break every time he was forced to play Neal McCoy’s “The Shake.” If he was still on the job come 2011, this must have put him on suicide watch. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
Hank Williams Jr., “A Country Boy Can Survive”
#2 | 1982
ZK: Look, I think most of Williams’s output from this decade is underrated, but I can’t stand these types of “us versus them” songs that stem from overblown, unnecessary, reactionary anger. Kevin sums it up best below. Too High
KJC: This tiresome mythology building seems almost quaint now that most crime has moved from big cities to smaller towns, but it was always just mythology building, even back then. I understand it’s a classic hit. But I trust my fellow NYC folk more than country boys when it comes to my survival, and I find this entire record ridiculous. Too High
JK: It’s the open contempt for differences that makes this song so repellent as ideology. Jr has plenty of strong material, but his performance on this just drips with hatred. And I’m exactly one generation removed from deep rural poverty, and this song can fuck the entire way off on principle. Drop it back several hundred spots for the fact that there’s a huge swath of the genre for whom it’s become an ethos, but whatever. Too High
Previous: #320-#311 | Next: #300-#291
Dear Me? If You Came Back From Heaven? Good As I Was To You? SOMETHING IN RED? Five Minutes? Lorrie definitely deserves more than one entry :(
A real mixed bag – and not a lot of positive consensus other that the George Jones and Alan Jackson entries were too low.
I agree with Kevin’s assessment that Jack Greene’s “There Goes My Everything” is too low (I’d have it top 50) but disagree that it “found Jack Greene punching well above his own weight”. Greene’s breakthrough came when he was fairly old (36) and he quickly looked older than his actual age but he was a terrific singer with anywhere from three to five songs that should have made this top 1000 list including “Statute of A Fool”, “All The Time” and “The Last Letter” (I can make a case for “Lord, Is that Me ?” and “Until My Dreams Come True” as well.
I agree that there are better Hank Jr. songs than “A Country Boy Can Survive”, but I travelled to NYC on business nemerous times during the 1980s and felt Hank had understated how bad it had become (it’s much better now, at least in terms of the stench). The interessting part of Hank Jr.’s 80s output is that his albums were contained interesting experiments – some excellent, some misfires but none of them dull. Often the best tracks weren’t the released singles.
It is hard to like any of the Bro-Country nonsense but “Country Girl (Shake it For Me)” is better than most of them – I’d slot it somewhere between 990 and 1000
Never heard the hank jr song before or read the lyrics. “raised on shotguns” ? Can’t relate to it at all. Comments by all 3 CU writers noted. After splitting 60 years living in Queens & Nassau and attending HS & spending many years working in lower Manhattan before leaving the NY area in 2006, I can honestly say that i never felt the need to own a gun. My hank jr collection shall remain at zero (i don’t like his politics).
I do like a fair amount of songs written by Hank Sr but never liked his voice. I prefer to hear them by some other singer. The first one that comes to mind is BJ Thomas on “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”.
Bob, bingo! I said the exact same thing this week per Hank’s voice and BJ’s version of that song. Were you listening to my conversation?
Judds are too low. Sort of campy, but it’s so good and campy. That said, Remember When is pretty campy and I’m ok with it here. Lorrie Morgan is okay but there’s nothing transcendent in her voice. Someone recently mentioned a “random” bro song. What a great way to describe my boredom with most bro country. There was an Elvis movie where he criticized himself, saying he sounded just like 100 other singers. Ditto the bros. George has only one top 100? Words fail me.
Re. “There Goes My Everything”: This was/is one of those songs that has a fair claim, in my opinion, to being one of the great C&W songs of its time (late 1960’s), not just for Jack Greene’s original recording here, but the fact that tons of people have covered it, including Engelbert Humperdinck (#20 pop, 1967), and Elvis (1971).
Re. “She Thinks I Still Care”: Another one of those songs that has become a standard of sorts, country or otherwise (Anne Murray did this as “He Thinks I Still Care” in 1974; and Elvis recorded in “The Jungle Room” of his home in February 1976).
I like Hank Sr.’s voice just fine, but also prefer cover versions of some of his songs.
For my money, Linda Ronstadt’s “I Can’t Help it (if I’m Still in Love With You)” is as perfect a country record as exists.
I think Hank Williams had an instrument perfectly suited to the era he sang in. The first time I heard “Lonesome Whistle” and was old enough to comprehend the imitation I was dumbfounded.
I don’t think I can separate Jr. from his expressed opinions, and “Country Boy Can Survive” is not the quality of song that’d make me want to try. Jr’s casting of Obama as a secret Muslim is a racism only barely veiled, and there is a straight line from the reactionary, conspiratorial worldview it suggests to more recent events culminating in the Jan. 6 insurrection.
For the Judds, I might give it a try if I were forced to. I’ve already decided to take for granted the narrator is asking Grandpa to lie to her. :-p
I’m not saying that Tim McGraw deserves even one more slot on this list. “Real Good Man” was ridiculous from the first time I ever heard it. But it is surprising to not see “One of These Days (I’m Gonna Love Me)” in place of one of Tim’s numerous songs set at the county fair, or in place of “Indian Outlaw”. “Indian Outlaw” may only be appreciated these days as a form of schadenfreude, because you know Tim has to cringe every time he happens to remember he sang it, and you know that has to happen at least once a month.
I had sufficient familiarity with “Country Girl (Shake it for Me)” the song to never desire to see the video. The video’s framing as a dance audition (strictly PG, although I’d take the song to imply something between PG-13 and R) does not make the premise/ethos of the song easier for me to countenance.
The only 3 songs here that are classics IMO are “Remember When” and “Do You Know You Are My Sunshine,” and “She Thinks I Still Care.”
If We’re going to have a Lorrie morgan song this high, it should be “Out of Your Shoes.”
@KJC re. Linda Ronstadt’s version of “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You”:
Yes, a great example of a perfect modern country record, with Linda’s ability to appeal to both die-hard C&W audiences and rock and roll ones and not make it be some kind of money grab. Pity that Siriux XM didn’t get your message and include it on their list.