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Country's Top 100: All-Time Best Songs

By Shirley Jinkins and Malcolm Mayhew
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

Here's a tribute to all of those artists and the many others who shaped country music -- a list of the 100 best country songs of all time. Today: 20-1...

Just as they did with rock 'n' roll, naysayers once predicted that country music wouldn't last, that it was just a passing fad. Of course, a lot of that naysaying happened in the 1980s, when "Elvira" was popular. Who coulda blamed `em for wanting that song to go away?

But country music, of course, hasn't gone anywhere. If anything, its popularity has blossomed even more than at the height of the so-called "Urban Cowboy" movement in the `80s. Country music today has as big a role in popular music as hip-hop, rock, indie-rock and every other genre, and looking back at country's history, it's safe to say that pop music wouldn't be what it is today had Johnny Cash, George Jones, George Strait and the Dixie Chicks not come along.

Here is our tribute to all of those artists and the many others who shaped or otherwise significantly contributed to country music -- a list of the 100 best country songs of all time.

We kept this list, in the words of Strait, pure country: No Wilco. No Flying Burrito Brothers. No Old 97's. No alt-country -- there's a time and place for honoring those heroes, and this ain't it.

We based this list on two things: popularity and our own opinions. Just because a song was popular, however, doesn't mean it made the cut. Same goes for the quality of the songs; because of space restrictions, we had to leave a bunch of our faves on the editing-room floor.

Still, in our opinions, these are indeed the 100 best country songs of all time. Let the disagreeing begin.

-- Shirley Jinkins and Malcolm Mayhew

The Cigarette: A Political History (By the Book)

Sarah Milov's The Cigarette restores politics to its rightful place in the tale of tobacco's rise and fall, illustrating America's continuing battles over corporate influence, individual responsibility, collective choice, and the scope of governmental power. Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 5. "Inventing the Nonsmoker".

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