Rolling Stone's Ridiculous Top 100 Country Songs: The First Half
In further efforts to reassure us that it is still relevant, Rolling Stone magazine recently started a country clickbait section called most cleverly (drum roll, maestro) RS Country. I know, the heart pitter-patters in anticipation.
Tim Patterson via Flickr What would Johnny Cash think?
A brief perusal of the site finds basically the same crap, errr... nuts and bolts of most music blogs: lists out the ass. The most recent list that generated beaucoup clicks, errr...intelligent, thoughtful discussion was their recent mega-list, the "100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time."
They actually didn't do too bad a job, as these things go, pieced together as they are like Dolly Parton's "Coat of Many Colors." But the list didn't even make it through the first ten songs without tripping up on their own set-up blurb, which states a great country song has "twang you can feel down to the soles of your feet."
Pure poetry, huh? Those country folks over at Rolling Stone are pretty quick with their descriptions.
If a song has to have twang you can feel down to the soles of your feet, why is Ray Charles' over-orchestrated ballad "You Don't Know Me" at No. 8? While it's a killer tune and a brilliant move by Charles to cross-over, it comes closer to Percy Faith and Perry Como than to Hank Williams or Ernest Tubb.
Taylor Swift is not country so she should not be in the top 25. "Goodbye Earl" is far from the best Dixie Chicks song. Picking "Setting the Woods on Fire" as Hank's second best tune is retroactive hipsterism. "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be Cowboys" is a hideous choice as the best Waylon and/or Willie had to offer. ("Luckenbach" would have been even worse.) Snap judgment after reading only the first 25 of these.
My own take is similar. It becomes apparent rather quickly that the list is more about political correctness and spreading the interest over a wide age group so as to ensnare as many people as possible. For instance, let's face it, there hasn't been a country song since the '80s that should be in the Top 25. For the most part, country music is old people's music -- no matter what Blake Shelton or Eric Church say. New country, bro-country, hick-hop, it's all just pop crap with a twang, and comes fully equipped with less depth than a wading pool.
It's hard to argue with Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line" as a contender for greatest country song ever, but here again, this is a calculated clickbait ploy. Obviously the youngsters at Rolling Stone compiling this list haven't heard Fred Eaglesmith's snarly, sarcastic sentiment to hipsters, "You sure do like Johnny Cash now."
Here in Texas, we could probably pick half a dozen Ray Price songs we consider greater than "I Walk the Line," not the least of which is "Crazy Arms," the classic 4/4 dance beat that became known as the "Ray Price shuffle." Hank Thompson's "The Wild Side of Life," Ernest Tubb's "Walking The Floor Over You," Bob Wills' "Faded Love," Willie's own version of "Night Life," Lefty Frizzell's "If You've Got the Money, Honey, I've Got the Time" or "I Love You a Thousand Ways" could easily be argued in place of "I Walk the Line."
And don't get me started about their inclusion of George Jones' schmaltzy "He Stopped Loving Her Today" as the fourth greatest country song ever. "White Lightnin'," "She Thinks I Still Care," "Take Me," "Things Have Gone to Pieces," "The Race Is On," or "The Grand Tour?" Bands in Texas dancehalls will be playing these when no one remembers "He Stopped Loving Her Today."
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