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Don Gibson, “Oh Lonesome Me”
#1 | 1958
ZK: A classic by any name, but one that fans only vaguely familiar with country music history may not immediately recognize. I’d say No. 140 is just fine. It’s not often at this point that we break out the About Right ranking.
KJC: By this point of the list, we should be seeing classic after classic. This Don Gibson record qualifies more than most of its neighbors do. About Right
JK: A classic record, ranked correctly. How novel. Totally would have included the Kentucky Headhunters’ boss cover of this one earlier in the list, too. About Right
Eddie Rabbitt, “I Love a Rainy Night”
#1 | 1980
KJC: One of the best Urban Cowboy crossover records, which still isn’t enough to justify this high of a ranking. Too High
JK: This one has held up better than many other records of its era, and I’m not all that salty to see an Urban Cowboy hit ranked highly. This is still Too High, but not egregiously so.
ZK: I mean, I do too, but I’d rather see “Drivin’ My Life Away” here, slotted maybe one or two hundred slots back. Too High
Johnny Cash and June Carter, “Jackson”
#2 | 1967
JK: It’s fun, sure, but this list did so wrong by so many classic duets that I just absolutely cannot abide this ranking. Too High
ZK: It’s basically this high because of the names involved. A very chipper record, but as Kevin said earlier, classics only from here on out, please. Too High
KJC: “Hey guys, remember this from the movie?” Too High
Rascal Flatts, “What Hurts the Most”
#1 | 2006
ZK: “What hurts the most.” Yeah, I’d say that sums up this exercise just fine. Too High
KJC: If I was going to pick the Rascal Flatts single to be around here on the list, it would be “I’m Movin’ On.” But this is a decent substitute. About Right
JK: The least shrill of their hit ballads, which is kind of like saying which Frappuccino at Starbucks is least likely to make your pancreas shrivel up and die. Slot this somewhere in the 800s and be done with this trio. Too High
Leroy Van Dyke, “Walk On By”
#1 | 1961
KJC: One of the best cheating songs of its time. About Right
JK: Another iconic single by an artist who isn’t talked about all that often: Which is to say it’s another song I’m stunned Sirius remembered at all, let alone ranked About Right.
ZK: Hell, I was surprised to see Don Gibson earlier; this just blows my mind. But, like, in a good way! About Right
John Michael Montgomery, “I Can Love You Like That”
#1 | 1995
JK: Every time I think we’ve covered the last of his drippy wedding ballads, here we are yet again. So many hits for such a marginal talent. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
ZK: We already saw “I Swear,” and I swear I’ve said same thing about every one of his entries. Anyway, that song was just fine to close out Montgomery’s selections of sappy fluff. So Wrong (Doesn’t Belong)
KJC: All-4-One did it better. “I Swear” would’ve been fine here. This one is Too High
Statler Brothers, “Flowers On the Wall”
#2 | 1965
ZK: You can add “knockin’ out bad Sirius entries” to the activities listed, if you want to update this. My God. Too Low
KJC: This doesn’t only sound like no other Statler Brothers record. It sounds like no other record, period. I would’ve loved to have seen what else they’d have made if they had continued in this psychedelic vein. About Right
JK: Such a fantastic record– and a hat tip to Eric Heatherly’s terrific cover, which I’d have been tempted to put somewhere in the 900s, too– and the obvious choice to have ranked highest for the StatBros. Like Zack, I’d say this is slightly Too Low.
George Jones, “The Race is On”
#3 | 1964
KJC: Not gonna lie. I prefer the Sawyer Brown cover. How on earth is this up here instead of “A Good Year For the Roses” or “When the Grass Grows Over Me”? Too High
JK: God help me, I do, too, Kevin. The breakneck pace of their version works better for the song. I’d keep Jones’ version, of course, but they did such a horrific job with ranking his material. Too High
ZK: I third the Sawyer Brown love. Jones is just such a miserable bastard on his best work that I almost don’t buy him trying to have fun with his heartbreak here. For my money, his highest ranking should be “A Good Year For the Roses.” Where exactly, I don’t know. Too High
Mark Wills, “19 Somethin’”
#1 | 2002
JK: A massive hit that, as someone immune to this kind of nostalgia porn, I never had a second’s worth of use for. At least they didn’t rank “Don’t Laugh At Me” here. Too High
ZK: It was 19 somethin’ when this list started. Damn you for making me think of “Don’t Laugh At Me,” Jonathan. Too High
KJC: Okay, this can be the Mark Wills entry. It was a very big hit. But it’s not even as good as anything he had a hit with in 19 somethin’. Too High
Sammi Smith, “Help Me Make it Through the Night”
#1 | 1970
ZK: On sheer lyrical framing and perspective alone it’s one of country music’s most important records. How, even this high up, do they fuck up this entry this badly? Too Low
KJC: This is a top ten record. Too Low
JK: The sheer arrogance of taking the single ranked as the genre’s best by two of the leading historians on country music and saying, “No, there are 130 others that are better, and a significant plurality of those are by a combination of Kenny Chesney and Jason Aldean.” I hate this list so very much. Too Low
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Re. “Flowers On The Wall”: And also leave it to Quentin Tarantino, in his infinite and (arguably) perverse wisdom, to include this song on the soundtrack of his graphic (both in terms of violence and language) 1994 film classic PULP FICTION, giving it a renewed popularity.
Re. “Oh Lonesome Me”: It was a pretty big deal for this song to be the big hit in 1958, as it also crossed over to #7 on the Hot 100, and became one of the most covered C&W songs of all times (Neil Young did a version in 1970).
Re. “Help Me Make It Through The Night”: Yes, this one is still be too low on the Sirius totem pole, especially given how big a hit it was on the “other side” of the fence as well (#7, March 1971).
Sammi Smith is too low, but not by alot.
Swap “My Wish” in for “what hurts the Nost.’
“I love a Rainy Night” is my favorite Eddie Rabbitt song, after “On Second Thought,” but it doesnt belong this high.
For what it’s worth David Cantwell and Bill Friskics-Warren ranked “Help Me Make it Through the Night” as their number single of all time in their ranking of the 500 best country singles ever recorded.
I largely agree with the consensus comments on this set of recordings.
“Flowers on The Wall” does not remind me of any other song either. The B side of the record was a Tom T Hall song titled “Billy Christian” that might have been a decent sized it if released separately
Somewhere along the line I put together my own top 1000 list – I put “Help Me Make It Through The Night” at #14.
Favorites here are the songs from Sammi Smith, Statlers, Eddie Rabbitt, Don Gibson and Leroy Van Dyke
I tired quickly of the 19 somethin’ Mark Wills hit but i still like his Don’t Laugh at Me (written by Allen Schamblin & Steve Seskin – although I’m not suggesting that it belongs anywhere on this crazy list.) I liked the line about being the kid on every playground always chosen last. In my Sappy Songs post of 9/29/08 I actually admitted to liking sappy songs.
I’m in large agreement with the panel. But JMM…shudder. Have I mentioned his ballads are everything wrong with country music? Am I the only person who thinks the syrup factor is unbearable? And I guess I’m fine with Flowers here. There’s only so much room at the top.
I’ve not complied my own list of top 1000, 100, or even 10 country songs of all time. But if I did, I’m pretty sure that Sammi Smith’s “Help Me Make It Through The Night” would have landed somewhere in the top 10. I wonder how Sirius arrived at their absurdly low ranking.
“Oh, Lonesome Me” is probably right, thought I probably would have it even higher in my personal list. Not only is it a classic, but it’s always been one of my mom’s favorites, as well, and it always takes me back to late 1992 when she bought a tape of Don Gibson and we were all downstairs listening to it as well and singing and goofing off. I concur about the Headhunters version, and would’ve included it too.
Also so glad to see that they actually know and remember “Walk On By.” Another one of my absolute favorite early 60’s country classics. When I say that I also love classic country besides 90’s and 80’s country, this is the kind of stuff I mean. Love everything about this record!
I actually don’t mind seeing Jones’ “The Race Is On” here, as I really like his original version, as well. For me, you can never go wrong with any 50’s and 60’s Jones. The Sawyer Brown version most definitely has more nostalgic value for me, though. And yes, it’s quite troubling that they have way more upbeat Jones than slow and sad Jones, which is what’s he’s, you know, actually more known for.
“Flowers On The Wall” is probably about right for me, though I’m not gonna lie, the Eric Heatherly version is my personal favorite, mainly because it’s the one I heard first and it has a lot more nostalgic value for me.
I’m with the panel all the way on “Jackson.” I was also wondering if it would even be this high if it weren’t for the movie.
JMM might’ve overdid it a bit with the love ballads, but there are quite a few of them I actually really enjoy. The two big crossover ones (this one and “I Swear”) are not my top favorites of his mainly because they’re the ones most heavily played and are more pop leaning. Still, I’ll take ’em over anything from the recent boyfriend country trend any day. I prefer the slightly more traditional leaning “I Love The Way You Love Me,” along with lesser known ones like “Cover You In Kisses,” “Home To You,” “How Was I To Know,” “Hold On To Me,” and “Rope The Moon” (though the video to that one shows it can also apply to a father and daughter relationship).
Even though I’m more of a nostalgic person (and I think there’s enough proof of that already here, lol), “19 Somethin'” never really did much for me, either, and I don’t know how or why it became one of Mark’s signature songs. I’ll easily take most all of his late 90’s stuff over this one any day.
Nothing from the Flatts would be anywhere near this high on my personal list, especially anything they did with Dann Huff’s overproduction.