Friday, March 6, 2020

Sirius/XM Counts Down Country Music

Sirius/XM has a limited-run channel (Channel 30) that is playing the top 1000 country music songs of all time.  I've been listening to it off and on, but it was always in the 700's or the 400's.  But now it's at number 35:  Randy Travis, "Forever and Ever, Amen."

69 comments:

  1. I'm a huge Randy Travis fan, and this song is spectacular.

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  2. Number 34: Luke Bryan, "Play It Again." This is a fairly generic song from 2013. It sounds like 80 percent of all country hits over the last decade.

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  3. Number 33: Johnny Paycheck, "Take This Job and Shove It." I was 11 years old in 1977, and I think this song really captures the mood of a lot of people in that time.

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  4. I'm guessing "Ring of Fire," "Crazy" or "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" for No. 1.

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    1. I'm holding out for "I Saw the Light" or "Will the Circle Be Unbroken."

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  5. Number 32: Travis Tritt, "It's a Great Day to Be Alive." Darrell Scott is one of the greatest songwriters who ever lived, and this song from the late 1990's turned into a big hit for Travis Tritt in 2000. Even in a fairly generic song like this one, Scott can't help being clever.

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    1. I love this song, and I love Travis Tritt's version.

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    2. This seems like a fairly generic song, but Darrell Scott is always coming up with interesting phrases. I really like this verse:

      It's been fifteen years since I left home
      I said good luck to every seed I'd sown
      Gave it my best and then I left it alone
      I hope they're doing alright.

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  6. Number 31: Loretta Lynn, "Coal-Miner's Daughter" (1970). Eric's the real expert on this song, but I think everyone would agree that it should ranked very high on any list of great country music songs.

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    1. I love the song, and I love the movie even more than the song. I won't agree that the 30 upcoming songs should be rated ahead of "Coal Miner's Daughter," but I think 31 sounds about right for its ranking among the great country-music songs.

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  7. Number 30: Johnny Lee, "Lookin' For Love" (1980). Just like that Luke Bryan song was generic country for 2013, this song is generic country for 1980.

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  8. Number 29: Kenny Chesney, "Don't Blink" (2007). I'm missing something when it comes to Kenny Chesney. To me, Brad Paisley probably has about 20 songs that are better versions of this song. But obviously, not everyone sees it that way.

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  9. Number 28: Conway Twitty, "Hello Darlin'" (1970). I think Conway Twitty is basically the Kenny Chesney of the 1970's.

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  10. Number 27: Lee Greenwood, "God Bless the USA" (1984). For me, and for most people from Kentucky who are my age, this is 1984 in song form. I would also note that it's the only patriotic song written in my lifetime that has become a standard.

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  11. Number 26: Tim McGraw, "Don't Take the Girl" (1994). I think of this song as fairly generic, so I'm surprised to see it this high.

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  12. Number 25: Waylon Jennings, "Luckenbach, Texas" (1977). My dad was a huge fan of this song when it was a hit, and he was right to be so.

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  13. Number 24: Eric Church, "Drink in my Hand" (2011). There are a whole bunch of country songs about how lives are destroyed by drinking, and then there are a whole bunch about how much country people love to drink. This song is one of the latter.

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  14. Number 23: Keith Whitley, "When You Say Nothing At All" (1988). Now this is a great song, done very well in this version. Alison Krauss also does an excellent version of this song.

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    1. Rest in peace, Keith Whitley of Sandy Hook, Kentucky.

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    2. There are a lot of people who never got over what happened to him.

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  15. Number 22: Hank Williams, "Your Cheating Heart" (1953). It feels like this countdown suddenly got a lot more serious.

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    1. When I guessed "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" might win, I was actually thinking about "Your Cheating Heart" and just typed the wrong song name.

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  16. Number 21: Tim McGraw, "Live Like You Were Dying" (2004). Now this is an almost perfect country music song. I was once at a Phillies game where they played this song and showed clips of Tug McGraw. It brought the house down -- as it should.

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    1. I love this song. My wife went to Vanderbilt Divinity School with the wife of the songwriter, Craig Wiseman.

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  17. Number 20: Johnny Cash, "Ring of Fire" (1963). This song was written by June Carter. Someone, somewhere, should write a great novel about Johnny Cash and June Carter. I mean one of those big 800-page novels like "Gone with the Wind." I don't think a two-hour movie can do them justice.

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    1. I also want to read a novel based on the career of the Dixie Chicks. But that wouldn't be an 800-page novel -- it would be more like the size of "What Makes Sammy Run."

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  18. Number 19: Alan Jackson, "Livin' on Love" (1994). I should probably listen to Alan Jackson more than I do.

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    1. These songs really do capture what people are like in our section of the world. They swing back and forth between the notion that you should stick close to eternal values (home, love, Jesus) and the notion that you get drunk and have a good time. Those are pretty much the two poles of rural life in America.

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    2. Alan Jackson's catalog soars the peak on both sides of this swing set. And I have been walking back and forth along either side of the swing set and gotten kicked in the face by one of his songs. I find his songs incredibly powerful, but I pretty much keep away from his part of the playground.

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    3. I like "Drive (For Daddy Gene)."

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  19. Number 18: Patsy Cline, "I Fall to Pieces" (1961). When I was at college in the 1980's, there was a little country restaurant near campus, and my then-girlfriend (who I later married) and I would go there to eat at about midnight every Friday night. We would order these great country meals, with lots of biscuits, and they would play Patsy Cline on the jukebox, and that was about the coolest I ever was in my whole life.

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    1. This is a great song. I can honestly say I don't think I've ever heard a Patsy Cline I didn't like (though I've never heard a full Patsy Cline album, other than greatest-hits collections). My favorite of hers (and I think it's yours, too) is "I've Got These Memories." But I don't think it will make it higher than this one. I do think "Crazy" is going to be in your top five, in part because it checks both the Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson boxes.

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    2. I'm a huge fan of "She's Got You."

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    3. Yes, that's right--I think I've seen it listed as "(I've Got These Memories) She's Got You." I almost always like songs with the parenthetical phrase at the front of the song name.

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  20. Number 17: Jason Aldean, "Dirt Road Anthem" (2010). I associate this type of music with the college kids who show up to watch ESPN GameDay.

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  21. Number 16: Marty Robbins, "El Paso" (1959). I'm awed by the fact that Marty Robbins was a country music star who also drove in NASCAR. Imagine seeing Kenny Chesney or Brad Paisley at the Daytona 500.

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  22. Number 15: Alabama, "Mountain Music" (1982). It's unfortunate for me that Alabama had all of their hit songs while I was trying to be one of those guys with skinny ties who listened to MTV. I missed their hits while listening to songs by very sad Englishmen and trying to do something with my hair. This is a fabulous song, and I should have listened to it more than I have.

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  23. Number 14: Florida Georgia Line, "Cruise" (2012). Presumably Nashville produces a bunch of songs like this every summer for the kids going to the beach, or the lake, or wherever kids go these days. They often reference old music -- this one mentions the Marshall Tucker Band, "Dirt Road Anthem" mentions George Jones. I'd watch a play about a 50-year-old songwriter in Nashville trying to come up with a song like this.

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    1. I do think that "Florida Georgia Line" is a great name for a country band.

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  24. Number 13: Tammy Wynette, "Stand By Your Man" (1969). I think that country people want to think of themselves as Johnny Cash and June Carter, but I'm afraid that they often turn out to be George Jones and Tammy Wynette.

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  25. Number 12: Kenny Chesney, "How Forever Feels" (1998). See my comments about Kenny Chesney above.

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  26. Number 11: George Strait, "The Chair" (1985). My mother is a huge George Strait fan, so I'm glad he is represented here.

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  27. Number 10: Willie Nelson, "On the Road Again" (1980). One of the most interesting parts of the Ken Burns documentary on country music is how Willie Nelson spent years -- at least a full decade -- trying to be a mainstream star in Nashville. He put out something like 14 mainstream albums. Finally, in despair, he left and moved back to Texas and started doing this type of music -- and he became a huge star. In other words, he could only succeed by not selling out. What a strange career.

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    1. This was my first guess at what might be No. 1, and then I reguessed. I didn't really start appreciating this great song until about three months ago, and right now I'm trying to encourage my daughter's ukulele band to cover it.

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  28. Number 9: Garth Brooks, "The Dance" (1989). I think Garth Brooks and the Dixie Chicks are both underrated, in large part because they have an ambivalent relationship with Nashville and the country music world. Also, Southerners tend to underestimate the importance of talent -- as compared to hard work. But Garth Brooks can simply do things that almost no one else can do, and that should count for a lot.

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  29. Number 8: Roger Miller, "King of the Road" (1964). I can still remember riding through Nashville in the early 1970's and seeing the King of the Road Motor Inn.

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  30. Number 7: Charlie Daniels Band, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" (1979). I have vivid memories of watching Charlie Daniels play this song during a downpour at halftime of an Alabama-Tennessee football game in Nashville. Charlie Daniels is still alive, and is surprisingly active on Twitter.

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    1. I didn't think of it, but it would not have surprised me if this song had been No. 1. I can absolutely remember the texture and smell of the school-bus seat in front of me one day when several of us on the bus tried to sing this together on the way home from school (in 1979, I guess).

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  31. Number 6: George Jones, "He Stopped Loving Her Today" (1979). This song speaks for itself.

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  32. Number 5: Eric Church, "Springsteen" (2011). If you did a countdown of the best rock songs of all time, there would be almost nothing after Kurt Cobain died. But country music is a living tradition, and so there are a lot of recent songs on this list.

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    1. Indeed, I discovered this list just yesterday. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is No. 2, but the highest-ranking song since that one is No. 27, "Hey Ya!" by Outkast.

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  33. Number 4: Dolly Parton, "I Will Always Love You" (1974). I'm pretty sure that a movie could be written about Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner that would win the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actress. The next time they think of re-making "A Star Is Born," they should tell this story instead.

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    1. On the Ken Burns documentary about country music, Dolly Parton tells an amazing story about this song. Her story is that she was desperate to get away from Porter Wagoner, but that she knew he would fight her every step of the way. So she wrote this song to change his mind. And it did. I really hope that's true, and I really hope that whether it's true or not, someone makes a movie about it.

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  34. Number 3: Johnny Cash, "Folsom Prison Blues" (1955). It's stunning to me that Johnny Cash actually went to prisons and played concerts for prisoners in the 1960's. It's even more stunning that one of the prisoners turned out to be Merle Haggard. Real life among rural people in America is often more dramatic than anything Hollywood has imagined.

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  35. OK, I'm feeling really good about "Crazy" here.

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  36. Number 2: Patsy Cline, "Crazy" (1961). Willie Nelson wrote this song when he was 28. At the time, he had to think that he was very close to becoming very rich and very famous. But he would have to wait close to 15 more years. Life is hard.

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  37. Number 1: Garth Brooks, "I've Got Friends in Low Places" (1990). I'm happy for Garth Brooks, and not surprised given all of the other celebratory drinking songs on the list. Hurray for America! Hurray for country music!

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  38. Replies
    1. I can't find the complete list anywhere.

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    2. I was just being a wise guy, though it is one of my favorite country songs.

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