Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Top 25 Country Songs, #5 - 1

They're not ready to make nice...

Let's get ready to yeehaw one last time. Today marks the end of our tiny country music countdown as we look at the five bestest songs the genre has given us. For those of you who aren't country fans, hopefully you've gained more of an appreciation for a genre you thought was only suited to redneck hillbillies. For those of you who are country music fans... you'll have figured out I don't really know too much about it a long time ago and stopped reading after I put Lonestar's 'Amazed' in the list. Good for you. Here's the fab five country songs for It's My Kind of Scene.

#5. Ring of Fire (1963)
by Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash + mariachi horns = the perfect game to play a crazy card-based drinking game to. Yeah, so the game ring of fire has little to do with the song, but I do love to play 'Ring of Fire.' The song is one that virtually every person would know and it should be; it's Cash's most successful hit. Written by June Carter (pre-Cash) for her sister Anita, Johnny's version would spend seven weeks at the top of the US Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. There's no crazy, depressing story here, the lyrics are questionable when you think about them and as I mentioned, there's mariachi horns. These things shouldn't work in a country song, but if anyone could do it, it was the man in black.

Best Line: "Love is a burning thing, And it makes a fiery ring."

#4. Top of the World (2003)
by Dixie Chicks

Looking for a song that can only be described as 'epic?' Try this one. Patty Griffin wrote one of the most intense songs about a life of regret and the Dixie Chicks brought it to life with one of the most powerful recordings of their career. Top notch lyrics, Natalie Maine's best vocal performance (the best, no question about it), the slow build to the coda before the strings begin to dominate as Maine's repeats, "to the top of the world," over and over again; epic. No need to make some lame joke to fill space here... I'll just let you enjoy the song.

Best Lines: "I wished I could have stood where you would have been proud, But that won't happen now, That won't happen now." The whole song is a lyrical goldmine.

#3. Not Ready to Make Nice (2006)
by Dixie Chicks

We've talked about this story before; In 2003, Natalie Maines voiced her displeasure with then President, George W Bush, hailing from Texas at a show in London. Subsequently, US country radio stations would put those darn traitorous Chicks on a black list and crazy trailer trash would organise CD burnings and I'm assuming gather pitchforks and light torches or something. The damage was done, death threats were sent out and the three former golden girls of country music went into retreat. They could have happily sat on the sidelines with the fortune they had amassed from their multi-platinum albums, but they didn't. Instead, they wrote the masterpiece that is 'Not Ready To Make Nice,' gave the finger to country radio and won Grammys for Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Album of the Year. Of course, the following year everyone was saying what they really thought about Dubya, with no ramifications whatsoever. Only in America (p.s. I love you... don't blacklist me!). One of the greatest songs of all-time and one that you sadly won't find on too many country countdowns.

Best Lines: "Made my bed and I sleep like a baby, With no regrets and I don't mind saying, It's a sad sad story when a mother will teach her, Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger, And how in the world can the words that I said, Send somebody so over the edge that they'd write me a letter, Saying that I'd better shut up and sing or my life will be over."

#2. Hurt (2003)
by Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash takes Nine Inch Nails' song, makes it his own and destroys our emotions in three-and-a-half minutes. I don't believe I need to write anything about this song. I'll let 'Hurt' speak for itself.

Best Line: "What have I become, My sweetest friend. Everyone I know, goes away... in the end."

#1. Crazy (1961)
by Patsy Cline

It would be crazy to put any other song at number one. See what I did there? Working 'Crazy' into that sentence? Yep, the lame jokes are back. Everything I believe makes a hit country song is right here for the listening pleasure. The desperate, emotional lyrics. The powerful vocal performance of a strangely complex melody. There's one more thing that we haven't touched on too much throughout the countdown and that's a lack of overproduction. It's just Patsy Cline singing a beautiful, sad song. At the end of the day, that's what real country music has to offer us, even today. Musicians performing. Singers singing. A bit of a twang in the vocal line and maybe even a little banjo every now and then. One of the greatest songs of all-time and your #1 Country Song... 'Crazy' by Patsy Cline. Enjoy.

Best Line: "I'm crazy for trying and crazy for crying, And I'm crazy... for loving you."

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