A few more “about right” rankings than usual in this set.
Tim McGraw with Faith Hill, “It’s Your Love”
#1 | 1997
JK: The only one of their collaborations I’d personally include is their cover of “Angry All the Time,” and, even then, I’d be tempted to swap it out for the Bruce Robison – Kelly Willis original. Its status as a wedding staple is recognition enough for this sap. So Wrong (This Song)
ZK: Absolutely not. A huge hit, yes, but also one that helped usher in a wave of sappy, adult-contemporary fluff into the format. They got this formula right once – with “I Need You,” and even that’s a stretch – but no way is this a top 100 song in country music history. Too High
KJC: Tim and Faith make up one of the rare superstar duet teams where the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Faith’s deep and rich vocals give substantial support to Tim’s comparatively thin and reedy voice. This isn’t my favorite of their collaborations, but it’s certainly the biggest and most significant. I’d definitely include it, but it’s at least a hundred slots Too High
Dave Dudley, “Six Days On the Road”
#2 | 1963
ZK: The Steve Earle version is the definitive version, at least to me, and a ton of fun, too. But I wouldn’t have this in the top 100. Too High
KJC: A trucker’s anthem that broke into the mainstream, this is a smart and welcome inclusion. Is it really a top 50 record, though? Too High
JK: I’m with Zack on preferring the Steve Earle version, but I’m not mad that they remembered this. I am, however, baffled by this ranking that is far Too High.
The Chicks, “Cowboy Take Me Away”
#1 | 1999
KJC: So here’s the deal. Among their radio singles, I think the best ones were from Home. If we’re going to talk about their signature song, it would be “Wide Open Spaces” from the early days, “Not Ready to Make Nice” from the later days. But “Cowboy Takes Me Away” is pretty much perfect to represent the band at their commercial high point when they were radio darlings, and it captures their sound and perspective as well as anything they’ve ever done. About Right
JK: This one absolutely belongs on this list; of the singles from their first two albums, I’d have this one ranked behind “Wide Open Spaces,” “You Were Mine,” and “Goodbye Earl,” to say nothing of the singles from Home. I’m happy they cracked the top 50 of the list, but, for this particular song, this ranking is Too High, great as this single is.
ZK: This is where I get nitpicky and say that, yes, this belongs, but perhaps in the 90s or so. For what it’s worth, with that huge, expressive chorus, it’s their best hook, next to “Wide Open Spaces.” Too High
Hank Williams, “Hey Good Lookin’”
#1 | 1951
JK: In an absolute sense, of course this is About Right. But, again, they really FUBAR’ed their Hank Sr. rankings.
ZK: One of Williams’ most iconic upbeats, and where I can’t quibble much with the placement. About Right
KJC: The reality is that you can drop in any one of a dozen Hank Williams songs here and it would be About Right
Reba McEntire, “Fancy”
#8 | 1991
ZK: It does feel like a slap in the face to make Reba’s two biggest entries covers – “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” and “The Fear of Being Alone,” anyone? – but this absolutely belongs, if only because it’s a perfect fusion of Bobbie Gentry’s storytelling wit and Reba’s penchant for dramatic flair. You don’t just need great songs at this point – you need iconic moments, and I have no arguments with the placement. About Right
KJC: Reba’s signature song, and yes, I’m in the “Reba did it better” camp. About Right
JK: I’m firmly in the Bobbie Gentry camp on “Fancy” and would honestly have her sultrier take ranked around here, with Reba’s more torrid rendition ranked back in the 200s or so. Both are fantastic records that highlight how a well-written song can stand up to such wildly different interpretations. I love both versions, but I’ll say this is Too High for Reba’s, and I’ll apologize later to my uncle who’s done this as his signature drag number for decades.
Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson, “Good Hearted Woman”
#1 | 1975
KJC: And now the best of the Waylon & Willie duets, which is also ranked About Right. Can we keep this streak going, Sirius?
JK: Love it. Love that they managed to rank it correctly, too. About Right
ZK: Well, hot damn. Three About Rights in a row. We’re bound for a disaster soon. At any rate, another buddy anthem that lives by that hook. About Right
Zac Brown Band, “Colder Weather”
#1 | 2010
JK: One of their two or three best singles, so it’s not ranked super incorrectly in the context of their own work. But this feels like pretty obvious recency bias: ZBB at their best should have a couple of entries in the top 500. Not anything in the top 50. Too High
ZK: OK, definitely not a disaster, and this is one of very few No. 1 country singles within the past 15 or so years I think deserves to one day be known as a classic. It’s the band at its performance peak with a genuinely excellent song, and one I wouldn’t quibble with seeing somewhere in the 200s or 100s. Too High
KJC: No, we cannot keep this streak going, apparently. This is a great record, but come on. Even “Chicken Fried” would make more sense at #44 than “Colder Weather,” and “Chicken Fried” wouldn’t make a finger-lick of sense at #44. Too High
Charley Pride, “Kiss an Angel Good Morning”
#1 | 1971
ZK: The obvious choice for Pride’s highest-ranked song, but certainly not the wrong one – in choice or in placement, for that matter. About Right
KJC: My gut tells me this should be higher, but my mind says, “Kevin, you could name 42 records that could be above this, even if Sirius couldn’t.” About Right
JK: A record that, 50 years on, is still just impossibly charming. This is definitely About Right
Darius Rucker, “Wagon Wheel”
#1 | 2013
KJC: I love that Darius Rucker made this underground hit a massive radio smash, and his performance radiates joy. Too High, but I’m not mad about it.
JK: As a day one adopter of Old Crow Medicine Show, I’ll forever go to bat for their original recording and will argue that they have at least three other songs that should’ve made this list. Rucker sings this with enthusiasm, but I hate the shrill attempts at backing vocals from Lady LookWeHaveBlackFriends. They ruin this cover for me; I’d probably include it in the 900s on impact and have the OCMS version somewhere in the top 200. Too High
ZK: I mean, I can point out how the Old Crow Medicine Show version is the superior one, but this was the smash hit version that’s basically become the “Free Bird” of country music over time. A good song is a good song, but not one I’d have this high, even when only focusing on impact. Too High
George Strait, “All My Ex’s Live in Texas”
#1 | 1987
JK: This is where I expected “Amarillo by Morning,” not this fun but wildly over ranked hit. Too High
ZK: George Strait at his most charming and playful, and this is absolutely a fun, tongue-in-cheek tune. But you know what’s coming next here… Too High
KJC: Yes, it belongs on the list. But if you’re going to rank a Strait song this high, it should be “Amarillo By Morning” or “I Cross My Heart.” Too High
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