Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time Part 6: 50-41

     The 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time continues with Part 6: 50-41.  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 6: 50-41.

50. Tumbling Tumbleweeds- Sons of the Pioneers

"Tumbling Tumbleweeds" was written in the 1930's by Bob Nolan, and recorded by the Sons of The Pioneers for a film of the same name in 1935.  The film and song helped launch the careers of Roy Rogers, who was a member of the Sons of The Pioneers, and Gene Autry, who starred in the movie.  The old west cowboy-ballad genre of country music has a long and storied history full of many great songs, and the Sons of The Pioneers and this song can be pointed to as one of the torchbearers.

49. Always On My Mind- Willie Nelson

Written by Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher, and Mark James, this song was first recorded by Elvis in the early '70's.  In 1982, Willie Nelson recorded his version of the song and it exploded.  The song won a Grammy for best country song and back-to-back CMA Song of The Year awards.  The pain and regret in the lyrics have been a standard-setter for country music since it was first recorded.

48. Highway 40 Blues- Ricky Skaggs

In the 1980's, bluegrass music made a big comeback into the mainstream culture thanks to Ricky Skaggs.  He took his blend of modern-country for the time and the structure of old bluegrass songs and created a sound that drove folks wild for the better part of a decade.  Ricky was one of the strongest combatants for traditional country during the Urban Cowboy craze.  Larry Cordle wrote this song and it hit number one in 1983.

47. Make The World Go Away- Eddy Arnold

"Make The World Go Away" was written by Country Music Hall of Fame member Hank Cochran in 1963.  Ray Price recorded it and had success with it.  However, when Eddy Arnold got hold of it, the song reached soaring new heights.  It hit number one on the country charts, number one on the adult contemporary charts, and number six on the pop charts.  The song helped usher in a new era in country music known as the Nashville Sound.  The heavy, orchestrated productions of this song that made it a hit was copied and replicated for many years on the country music scene.

46. San Antonio Rose- Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys

One of the pioneers of western swing and traditional country music, Bob Wills, recorded this song with his band, The Texas Playboys, in 1938.  Bob Wills is royalty in Texas to this day, and this song is staple in the Lone Star State.  Always an innovator when it came to music, Bob Wills performed this song on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry with drums and a full horn section, one of the first to test the Opry in such a way.

45. Go Rest High On That Mountain- Vince Gill

When the great Keith Whitley passed away in 1989, Vince Gill began writing this song.  He finally finished and recorded it following the death of his brother a few years later.  "Go Rest High On That Mountain" is one of the most poignant and touching songs in country music history.  Despite only peaking at number 14 on the country charts, the song won the CMA Song of the Year in 1996 and also snagged a few Grammy awards as well.

44. For The Good Times- Ray Price

"For The Good Times" was Ray Price's biggest hit, reaching number one on the country charts and number eleven on the pop charts.  The song featured the stringed accompaniment of the Nashville Sound and a stirring vocal performance by Ray.  The song was written by the legendary Kris Kristofferson, and won an ACM award for Song of the Year in 1970.

43. In Color- Jamey Johnson

Jamey Johnson, James Otto, and Lee Thomas Miller wrote this ballad for Jamey's critically acclaimed 2008 album That Lonesome Song.  The song is a masterful journey through old photographs and memories. The song won the CMA and ACM awards for Song of The Year, and re-sparked an interest in traditional country music in the late 2000's.   

42. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry- Hank Williams

What makes "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" so great isn't the thoughtful poetry of the song, or the dark, plodding melody.  What makes this song so intriguing is the honesty of it.  As you will see many times on the countdown, Hank Williams lived every song he sang.  He wrote this song to be a spoken word poem about his troubled relationship with his wife Audrey, and it turned into one of his most well-known songs and one of the best glimpses into the man behind the legend.  This song was released in 1949, near the height of Hank William's storied career.

41. Okie From Muskogee- Merle Haggard

There are a lot of conflicting stories about this song.  Some say it was meant to be a parody of conservative thinkers of the time.  Other say it was meant to reflect what Merle thought his dad would say.  Others believe it was truly Merle's beliefs.  Either way, Merle Haggard and Roy Edward Burris wrote this song on Merle's bus while passing Musgokee, Oklahoma.  According to Merle, he wrote it as a way to support the troops in spite of all the backlash they were getting from the hippie counter-culture..  The song was a huge smash hit in 1969, hitting number one on the country charts and winning the CMA award for Single Of The Year.  Most importantly, the song further proved that Merle Haggard was the voice of the common man and could portray middle America's thoughts and problems to the public with poise and wit.

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