All-Time Best Songs 60-41

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.



George Strait

"All My Ex's Live in Texas"

This is not such a perfect wedding song, unless you're cool with polygamy. But it's all in good fun, with Strait rhyming names of girlfriends with Texas towns. Our favorite: "Dimples who now lives in Temple's got the law lookin' for me."



Randy Travis

"Forever & Ever Amen"

Not all songs in country are about leavin', cheatin' or murderin'. Take this warmhearted, I'm-so-committed-to-you 1987 single. Perfect wedding song.



Hank Williams Jr.

"All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)"

A slightly depressing lament of the past disguised as a silly party song. This 1981 No. 1 is actually one of his most thoughtful moments, a reflection of the rambunctious lifestyles of his friends, as well as his own.

Hank III and the Damn Band version



Tennessee Ernie Ford

"Sixteen Tons"

Ford genre-surfed from pop to gospel to country, leaving his mark on the third with this 1955 hit, written by Merle Travis, who based the song on his family's experiences in the coal-mining industry.



Roger Miller

"Dang Me"

"King of the Road" is, obviously, Miller's best-known song, but "Dang Me," released in 1964, was no slouch, either. It earned a whopping five Grammys.



Garth Brooks

"Friends in Low Places"

The ultimate go-to-you-know-where anthem from Brooks' excellent 1990 album, "No Fences." The song is so good, in a raunchy, vengeance-is-mine sort of way, you almost forgive Brooks for that whole Chris Gaines thing. Almost


Ray Price

"For the Good Times"

No slight to Kris Kristofferson, who wrote this song, but the lush, orchestral rendition by Price, released in 1970, surpasses all other versions. And there are a lot of them.



Hank Williams Sr.


One of the many, many songs Williams wrote that illustrated just how lonely life can be, even for a wooden Indian. It came out in 1953, shortly after Williams' death.

Johnny Cash & Hank Williams Jr. version



Brad Paisley/Dolly Parton

"When I Get Where I'm Going"

Pint-size genius Paisley is usually at his best when he's poking fun at something, but on this 2005 duet with Dolly Parton, a song about dying proves he can do much more than make you laugh. Who's got a tissue?



Garth Brooks

"The Dance"

If Brooks knew how to do anything, it was construct emotionally riveting ballads that touched a nerve with his audience. This is early proof from his 1989 self-titled debut.




"My Home's in Alabama"

The leadoff, title track to Alabama's 1980 album set the stage for all the band's hits to come. But it also epitomized the group's home-state love and simple approach to making music.



Dwight Yoakam

"Guitars, Cadillacs"

Hillbilly music made a huge comeback in the late `80s, when slinky Dwight Yoakam brought nasal distinction to a song about all the trappings.



Buck Owens

"Act Naturally"

Yes, we know about Ringo Starr's version, but Owens' 1960s cut was full of fun and irony, `cuz he could play the part so well.



June Carter Cash

"Wildwood Flower"

Cash's versions of her family's timeless folk tale ranged from outgoing in her youth to pensive as she aged. Only a great singer, and a great song, can do that.



Tim McGraw

"Live Like You Were Dyin'"

A sensitive song about living well, wistfully delivered by McGraw, who can display a wide range of emotion.



Jerry Lee Lewis

"39 and Holding"

Boomers, this is your country song, delivered in honky-tonk style by a rockabilly pioneer.



Eddy Arnold

"Make the World Go Away"

What a universal and timeless sentiment, not to mention a rich delivery by one smooth stylist. Makes you want to sit by a fireplace and cuddle.



Dolly Parton

"I Will Always Love You"

Parton's at her best on sweet, sad ballads like this one.



Willie Nelson

"Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain"

This sentimental folkish tune could've been a Carter Family song in the 1930s, but Nelson brought the gentle ballad into the outlaw movement with no sweat.



Randy Travis

"On the Other Hand"

Temptation. Fidelity. Powerful themes, delivered in Travis' weathered baritone, though he seemed too young for this in the late 1980s.

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.

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.

Keep reading... Show less

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!"

Keep reading... Show less

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.

Keep reading... Show less

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.

Keep reading... Show less

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.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.