Music

All-Time Best Songs 40-21

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: 60-41... Check all this week for the rest of the countdown.

 

40

LeAnn Rimes

"Blue"

Rimes' yodel-friendly delivery of this Bill Mack composition moved the darling of Dallas-Fort Worth into the national spotlight and helped revive a love of classic sounds.

 

39

Brad Paisley

"I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song)"

Looky here, Paisley's biting comment on female-versus-fish struck a nerve with millions of guys who'd trade a creek bank for a couch any day.

Watch video

 

38

Hank Williams Jr.

"Family Tradition"

Bocephus' bit of rowdy genealogy gave country fans a sense of continuity as new artists moved in on the charts during the late `70s and early `80s.

(best available quality video)

 

37

Patsy Cline

"Walking After Midnight"

We promise we won't list every Cline hit here, but can't you picture her restlessly pacing in the dark on this one?

 

36

Kris Kristofferson

"Help Me Make It Through the Night"

It was recorded by many, but Kristofferson nailed the loneliness behind many a love tryst.

 

35

Merle Haggard

"Okie From Muskogee"

An anthem for many, mere irony for some, this song made a middle-America statement at the end of the turbulent 1960s.

 

34

Patsy Cline

"Crazy"

One of Willie Nelson's finest compositions paired beautifully with Cline's conversational, why-am-I-doing-this tone.

 

33

Freddy Fender

"Before the Next Teardrop Falls"

Here's Freddy's signature, a rich bilingual dance favorite from the `70s that had everyone singing along, though not as distinctively as the crooning Fender.

(not Freddy Fender, alas, but a great version nonetheless)

 

32

Conway Twitty

"Hello Darlin'"

An intimate song that's both a conversation and a romantic ballad, and it's the one Twitty fans always remember first.

Watch video

 

31

Ernest Tubb

"Waltz Across Texas"

Tubb's voice and the simple lyrics lent a spare, moonlit-night quality to this waltz, which makes Texans proud to be where they are.

 

30

Marty Robbins

"El Paso"

In 1933, A.P., Sara and Maybelle Carter recorded this song of desperate hope during the deepest years of the Great Depression, and its simple optimism is still comforting today.

 

29

The Carter Family

"Will the Circle Be Unbroken"

In 1933, A.P., Sara and Maybelle Carter recorded this song of desperate hope during the deepest years of the Great Depression, and its simple optimism is still comforting today.

 

28

Lee Ann Womack

"I Hope You Dance"

The hopeful advice of this heart-tugger from 2000 was the perfect sendoff for old flames, new college students, best friends and significant others.

 

27

Hank Williams Sr.

"Your Cheatin' Heart"

Williams was already dead in 1953 when fans first heard this good rant about a bad woman. The song is loads better than the 1964 movie bio of the same name.

Hank Williams Jr. version from the Porter Wagoner Show

 

26

Ernest Tubb

"Walking the Floor Over You"

Though Tubb had a voice only a bullfrog could love, the straightforward lyrics and easy melody made this song a two-stepping favorite, and only Tubb's version will do.

 

25

Conway Twitty

"It's Only Make Believe"

Power ballads like this song, with its building crescendo, helped make the strong-voiced Twitty a staple on the country concert circuit until his death in 1993.

 

24

Johnny Paycheck

"Take This Job & Shove It"

Oh, come on, there isn't a rank-and-file wage-earner alive who hasn't committed Paycheck's timeless working-class rant to memory.

David Allan Coe version from 1983

 

23

Charlie Rich

"Behind Closed Doors"

Sexy, sultry Rich was dubbed the Silver Fox when he recorded this sophisticated love song that pointed out the virtues of privacy.

 

22

The Statler Brothers

"Countin' Flowers on the Wall"

Quirky on the surface and ultimately more sinister, this song lightheartedly danced into the mind of a cheerful man losing his grip on reality. Millions of fans embraced its split personality.

 

21

Kris Kristofferson

"Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down"

Everyone, including Johnny Cash, rushed to cover this portrait of despair and isolation after Kristofferson's recording, but his own world-weary voice means that this remains the best version.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

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Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

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Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

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3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

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9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

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