Thursday, May 29, 2014

The 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time Part 4: 70-61


     The 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time continues with Part 4: 70-61.  As we push ahead toward the greatest song of all time, we get to experience some of the best that country music has to offer.  I hope as you make this journey, you see one of your favorite songs, rehear an old classic you may have forgotten about, and, most importantly, you learn some of the greatest songs for the first time.  Keep It Country Kids proudly presents The 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time Part 4: 70-61.

70.  Sweet Dreams- Patsy Cline

This Don Gibson song became a big crossover hit for Patsy Cline after her death in 1963.  She was reported to have said the song was a little too pop for her taste, but she came around to it after hearing the finished version.  It was a big country and pop hit, and served as a sad reminder of the great talent that was lost.

69.  Love's Gonna Live Here- Buck Owens

Buck Owens penned this monster hit, which stayed at the top of the charts for 16 weeks in 1963.  No song has ever done that until Billboard starting including pop plays and YouTube plays towards the country charts in 2013, inflating the numbers of crossover songs.  The song is a timeless classic, covered by many artists over the years.  It is a perfect example of the Bakersfield Sound that Buck Owens brought to the masses in the 1960s.

68. Guitars, Cadillacs- Dwight Yoakam

From teacher to student: Dwight Yoakam brought the Buck Owens Bakersfield Sound back in the 1980's with "Guitars, Cadillacs".   Dwight Yoakam has one of the most distinctive voices in country music, and a sound that is just as unique.  Dwight brings coolness and attitude to traditional country music.  "Guitars, Cadillacs" hit number 4 on the charts, and has lived on for years as a timeless classic.

67. Good Hearted Woman- Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson

This song nearly topped the charts twice.  Waylon and Willie wrote it together, and Waylon recorded it and released it as a single in 1972.  It hit number 3 on the charts.  However, 1976, Waylon, Willie, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser changed country music forever with their album Wanted: The Outlaws.  It was the first country album in history to sell a million copies, and ushered in a new era of country stars.  They fought for creative control of their material and won.  "Good Hearted Woman" was rerecorded as a duet and released to radio, where it topped the charts in 1976.  Waylon liked songs with a rugged, live-feel to them in the studio.  The popular version of the song is actually a studio-cut.  They kept the raw edges on purpose and dubbed in crowd noises.  It won CMA Single of the Year in 1976, fully proving that the Outlaws had taken over Nashville.

66. Sixteen Tons- Tennessee Ernie Ford

This song is listed as written by Merle Travis, although George S. Davis also claims authorship of the song.  Tennessee Ernie Ford took this song to number one in 1955.  It tells the story of the struggles of coal miners.  The song has a big place in popular culture, as it is often referred to and used with issues related to labor and unfair pay.  The song epitomizes country music's ability to tackle social issues and capture the struggles and feelings of the common man.

65. Delta Dawn- Tanya Tucker

A young Tanya Tucker took this song written by Larry Collins and Alex Harvey to number 6 in 1972.  The song tells the story of a confused woman waiting for her "mysterious dark-haired man" to "take her to his mansion in the sky".  Famed producer Billy Sherrill heard Bette Midler sing the song on The Tonight Show and wanted to sing her to his label.  When he found out she was already signed to another label, he recorded it with Tanya Tucker, who became one of the first child stars in country music.  She may have been young, but the song was very grown-up.  Tanya went on to have a long and successful recording career.

64.  Smokey Mountain Rain- Ronnie Milsap

The 2014 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee released this single in 1980 and it became his 16th number one hit. It also crossed over to the pop charts as well.  The song was written by Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan.  The song is a perfect example of Ronnie Milsap's soulful pop-country sound.  The song became one of the official State Songs of Tennessee in 2010.

63.  Independence Day- Martina McBride

Gretchen Peters wrote this song and it was released as a single by Martina McBride in 1994.  It quickly became one of the most controversial songs in country music history.  The song deals with domestic violence and murder through the eyes of a child.  It captures the sad reality that is spousal abuse in small towns with lines like "some folks whispered, some folks talked, but everybody looked the other way..."   The woman shows her independence when she sets their house on fire, presumably killing her abusive husband and herself.  Many radio stationed wouldn't play it due to the sensitive subject matter, so it stalled at number 12 on the charts, but it still won Song Of The Year at the 1994 CMA Awards.

62.  Take Me Home, Country Roads- John Denver

John Denver was a monster in the folk music world.  His songs defied genre and classification.  He helped finish writing "Take Me Home Country Roads" with Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert.  While never formally released as a country single, it hit number two on the all genre Hot 100 charts.  John Denver released his own country music albums later on in his career, but none seemed to have the influence and appeal as "Take Me Home, Country Roads".  Many folk and country artist count this song as an inspiration for their career, which makes it a worthy addition to this list.

61. The Fightin' Side of Me- Merle Haggard

This protest song was written by Merle and released in 1970.  He takes aim at people who were protesting the war in Vietnam and doesn't hold back.  Merle Haggard was always known as the voice of the common man, and this song proved no different.  Many Americans may not have believed in the cause, but they also didn't like the way people were trashing the country and mistreating the troops.  Merle Haggard looked them in the eye and dared them to continue.  The song still rings true today, as all of Merle's tunes seem to.

Continue On To Part 5: 60-51

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