The 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time continues along with Part 2: 90-81. As we continue to countdown towards the greatest song of all time, I hope you learn a little about country music history, and possibly hear some of these amazing songs for the first time. Now, on with the countdown!
90. Stay- Sugarland
Jennifer Nettles & Kristian Bush released this monster hit in 2007. Told from the perspective of the "other woman" in an affair, Sugarland cut the frills and produced a bare track that focused on the lyrical content and emotion of the story. No drums, no bass, just acoustic guitar and organ on a nearly 5 minute long song. It was risky, but it paid off. The song was the CMA Song of The Year in 2008, and is widely praised as one of the best, if not the best, country songs of the past decade.
89. Boot Scootin' Boogie- Brooks & Dunn
Brooks & Dunn turned country music upside down in 1992 with their smash hit, "Boot Scootin' Boogie". It may not be the most artistic or poignant song on the countdown, but I'll be darned if it isn't the catchiest and one of the biggest hits. Brooks & Dunn renewed interest around the world in line dancing and helped usher in the 90's shuffle country sound. This song also jump started their career and they ended up being the biggest country duo of all time.
88. Murder On Music Row- George Strait & Alan Jackson
When a song is never formally released as a single, but still hits the charts and wins Song of The Year at the CMA Awards, you know its a great song. Larry Cordle and Larry Shell wrote this as a bluegrass song, and George and Alan covered it and took it to soaring new heights. The criticisms in this song are more fitting today than ever before. Only two traditionalist legends like Alan and George could pull this off and not look like hypocrites.
87. Strawberry Wine- Deana Carter
Matraca Berg and Gary Harrison wrote this smash hit, and Deana Carter took it to number one in 1997. The song is beautiful in its simplicity, reminiscing on young love. It sounds delightfully traditional now, as it is backed with heavy steel guitar. It won CMA Song of the Year in 1997.
86. Wagon Wheel - Old Crow Medicine Show
Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show added verses to an unfinished Bob Dylan demo, and the result was this epic song. "Wagon Wheel" may be a victim of over exposure, but don't let that take away from the impact this song has had. The original version introduced a new generation of fans to folk and bluegrass music in the 21st century, and Darius Rucker's cover in 2013 added some much needed country soul to the radio and re-introduced Old Crow Medicine Show to a new audience. Once you watch the video, this will be stuck in your head the rest of the day.
85. The Pill- Loretta Lynn
This song was written by Lorene Allen, Don McHan, and T.D. Bayless, and Loretta Lynn had the guts to not only record it, but release it as a single. Loretta may have looked and acted just another down home country girl, but she had nerves of steel and no fear. "The Pill" is a comical look on birth control, which was a big no-no to discuss in public in 1975. The song was banned by many stations, but it still managed to hit number 5 on the charts. It still stands today as one of the bravest releases in county music history. You go girl.
84. Green Green Grass of Home- Porter Wagoner
Porter Wagoner released this Curly Putman single in 1965. While it has been covered by many artists, Porter's version remains the country standard. The song seems like a happy tale of returning home, but it takes a dark and bleak turn. Porter Wagoner was one of the all time greats of country music, and a lifelong ambassador to the Grand Ole Opry and country music in general.
83. Walkin' After Midnight- Patsy Cline
"Walkin' After Midnight" was the first big hit single for one of the greatest country artists of all time, Miss Patsy Cline. It was written by Alan Block and Donn Hecht. Patsy actually didn't like the song at first, but luckily for us she came around to recording it. The bouncy country-pop sound was a perfect inclination of the things to come from Patsy Cline, and one of the most recognizable songs in country music history.
82. Help Me Make It Through The Night-Sammi Smith
The great Kris Kristofferson wrote this tender ballad of longing for companionship in the middle of the night in the early 70's. While Kris's was a decent success, when Sammi Smith got a hold of it, it turned into a monster. It was a number one country song and crossed over to the Adult Contemporary charts as well. It has been covered by many artists, but Sammi Smith's is the most successful version and is still considered the standard.
81. I Can't Stop Loving You- Ray Charles
Don Gibson wrote this song and released it as a single, but Ray Charles took it to a whole new level. Included on his legendary album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Ray took this to the top of the Pop, R&B, and Adult Contemporary charts in 1962. Although it wasn't released as a country single, an international sensation like Ray Charles singing an album of country standards created tons of exposure to the genre. Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music is considered one of the greatest country albums and pop albums of all time.