Tuesday, December 7, 2010

That Nashville Sound's Top 100 Songs Of 2010

2010 was a fabulous year of country music. Traditional country, bluegrass, modern country and Americana were all represented well and this list proves that out.

Here are the rules by which this list was selected. It had to be released off an album that was released in 2010 or is off a to-be-released album. If the album came out in 2009 or before, it couldn’t be included- even if it wasn't released as a single until 2010.

And without further ado, here is That Nashville Sound’s Top 100 Songs of 2010.

1. Joe Diffie - Route 5 Box 109- It’s a reflection on days gone past filled with nostalgia such as Martha White’s Flour, childhood fishing for brim and Schwinn bicycles. Like the Judds “Flies On The Butter” and Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me,” he forgoes all the radio-common cliché’s of down home living and why the country is so much better than the city and concentrates on his own powerful personal reflections of the sentimental minutia that made his own upbringing so special and memorable. It’s a stunningly beautiful track. If it had a color, it would be black and white or sepia.

2. Johnny Cash- Ain't No Grave- This song is a rally cry that there isn’t a resting place strong enough to hold him down. It’s appropriate in both the sense of his legacy and his belief he would meet his maker. The song is backed by symbolic instrument choices of clanging chains and the ring of a bell. The bell reminds us of the passing of time with each ring. And the chains remind us that no one rattled the chains of the music establishment more than Cash (the famed photo of Cash flipping the bird to Music Row executives comes to mind). Combine that symbolism with an image of no earthly chains weighing him down and there is a powerful metaphor in the production choices alone.

3. Zac Brown Band - Colder Weather - It begins with an amazing piano melody, tells a story from a hauntingly sorrowful perspective, and captures their trademark harmonies beautifully. The lyrics are deep as hell. What the listener is left with is a heartbreaking tale that is part love story, part heartbreak and all great storytelling.
4. Rhonda Vincent (w/ Dolly Parton)- In The Garden By The Fountain - My pal Juli Thanki says it best over at The 9513: "(it) starts off sounding like an airy love song, but wait! It’s actually a murder ballad where the onetime object of a lady’s affection ends up taking a dirt nap beneath a bed of roses in the same garden where the two once courted. Could things get any better? Yep: Dolly Parton shows up to contribute harmony vocals."
5. Jamey Johnson- That's Why I Write Songs - The art of writing in song is the crux and heart of his new album. No track better exemplifies this fact than the stark “That’s Why I Write Songs.” Johnson talks and sings his way through a perfectly believable acoustic and sparsely produced song of why he sings like he does. “I knew what I was born to do,” he croons as he pays sweet dedication to the songwriters “that gave us chills” both in lyrics and in sound.

6. Elizabeth Cook - El Camino - it's a 1970’s tale of falling in love with a guy that won’t give up his bell-bottomed mojo. It’s inspired with several lyrics that bring a smile including, “And if I wake up married I’ll have to annul it, right now my hands are in his mullet.” It’s trashy and loose- and genius. She crosses between country and rock and roll seamlessly and benefits from Don Was’ slow rock(ish) production.
7. Jamey Johnson- By The Seat of Your Pants - He relates a conversation that is simple, yet emotionally charged and filled with a spiritual depth. Music production does the same and the result is a great example of why Johnson’s music is so different from what we’re normally hearing on modern country radio. It makes you feel.

8. Ray Wylie Hubbard- Tornado Ripe- This track tells the story (from the perspective of a child), of a violent storm ripping through a family’s home. “We come out of that hole in the ground, in all directions of the compass was death and kindlin’,” Hubbard sings. The track is sparse and primal, boasting a growling guitar riff that plays the part of the bridge but makes an incredible representation of God’s fury.

9. James Otto & Ronnie Milsap- Good Things Gone Bad - Otto enlists his hero Milsap on the 70’s flashback in sound in groove on a great little track on “Good Things Gone Bad” where they both effectively use his groovy love mojo.
10. Sammy Kershaw- The Snow White Rows Of Arlington - Written by Hugh Prestwood, “Arlington…” reminds us through philosophical and poetic lyrics of the real cost of protecting America from those whose ‘holy mission is to destroy all we hold dear.’ It’s a shame this song hasn’t received more publicity than it has.

11. Dean Brody- Trail In Life
12. Ray Charles and Johnny Cash- Why Me, Lord?
13. The Grascals - The Famous Lefty Flynn's
14. John Mellencamp- Easter Eve
15. Zac Brown Band- Quiet Your Mind
      Taylor Swift- Back to December (tie)
16. Toby Keith- Bullets In The Gun
17. Randy Houser- Somewhere South of Memphis
18. Mary Chapin Carpenter- The Age of Miracles
19. Marty Stuart - Hangman
20. Blake Shelton w/ Miranda Lambert - Dragging the River
21. Joey+Rory- My Ole Man
22. Phil Vassar- Where Have All The Pianos Gone?
23. Steeldrivers- Where Rainbows Never Die
24. Jamey Johnson- My Way To You
25. Jason Eady- Battlefields
26. Darius Rucker- Might Get Lucky
27. Gary Allan- Get Off On The Pain
28. Elizabeth Cook - Heroin Addict Sister
29. Dierks Bentley- Senior (Tales of Yankee Power)
30. Reba McEntire- When You Have a Child
31. Harper Simon- Tennessee
32. Johnny Cash- Aloha Oe
33. Chuck Wicks- Hold That Thought
34. The Grascals- Satan and Grandma
35. Mary Chapin Carpenter- 4 June 1989
36. Randy Houser- Will I Always Be This Way
37. Joey+Rory- God Help My Man
38. Zac Brown Band- Martin
39. Sammy Kershaw- Better Than I Used To Be
40. Johnny Cash- Can't Help Wonder Where I'm Bound
41. Butch Walker & The Black Widows- She Likes Hair Bands
42. Emily West- Blue Sky
43. Reba McEntire- Somebody's Chelsea
44. Gary Allan- Kiss Me When I'm Down
45. Sarah Darling- With Or Without You
46. Clay Walker- People In Planes
47. James Otto- Soldiers and Jesus
48. Steeldrivers- Can You Run
49. Clay Walker- Seven Sundays
50. Becky Schlegal- When It Rains
51. Becky Schlegal- So Embarrassing
52. Zac Brown Band w/ Alan Jackson - As She's Walking Away
53. Alan Jackson w/ Lee Ann Womack - Till the End
54. Randy Houser - Addicted
55. Joe Diffie- 'Til Death
56. Randy Houser- They Call Me Cadillac
57. Dean Brody- Wildflower
58. Jerrod Niemann- Lover, Lover
59. Sunny Sweeney - From a Table Away
60. Steeldrivers- Reckless Side Of Me
61. Brantley Gilbert- Saving Amy
62. Easton Corbin- Someday When I'm Old
63. Josh Turner- Lovin' You On My Mind
64. Zac Brown Band- Cold Hearted
65. Gary Allan- That Ain't Gonna Fly
66. Ray Wylie Hubbard- Down Home Country Blues
67. The Grascals- My Old Friend the Blues
68. Sara Evans- A Little Bit Stronger
69. Jamey Johnson - Lonely at the Top
70. The Band Perry - If I Die Young
71. James Otto- Sun Comes Round Again
72. Joey+Rory- Baby I'll Come Back To You
73. Dierks Bentley- Down In The Mine
74. Jamey Johnson- Macon
75. Becky Schlegal- Reunion
76. Josh Abbot Band- She's Like Texas
77. Lathan Moore- Cornfield Cadillac
78. Rachel Proctor & Matt Dame- The Blossoming
79. Flynnville Train- 33 Steps
80. Blake Shelton- Who Are You When I'm Not Lookin'
81. Carolyn Dawn Johnson- The Whole Thing
82. Dierks Bentley- Bad Angel
83. Dierks Bentley- Pride (In The Name of Love)
84. Jamey Johnson- I Remember You
85. John Mellencamp- Love at First Sight
86. Sammy Kershaw- Like I Wasn't Even There
87. The Steeldrivers - Ghosts of Mississippi
88. Jerry Lee Lewis- Mean Old Man
89. Butch Walker & The Black Widows- Shouldn't Someone Take You Home
90. Sammy Kershaw- Saltwater Cowboy
91. Trace Adkins- This Ain't No Love Song
92. Zac Brown Band- I Play The Road
93. Becky Schlegel - I Never Loved You Cowboy
94. Josh Abbot Band (With Kacey Musgraves)- Oh Tonight
95. Josh Turner- I Wouldn't Be A Man
96. Phil Vassar- She's On Her Way
97. Josh Turner- I'll Be There
98. Mary Chapin Carpenter- I Put My Ring Back On
99. Ray Wylie Hubbard- Pots and Pans
100. Josh Thompson- Sinner


  1. Thanks for choosing a couple of Reba's songs; however, the title of one of the songs you chose is "Somebody's Chelsea" - not "Saving Chelsea."

  2. Cheryl from KentuckyDecember 7, 2010 at 8:40 AM

    This list is great. It is cool to see some underappreciated artists like Dean Brody and Jason Eady make the list. It makes it all that more complete.

  3. Thanks for including 3 of Gary Allan's songs in your list...must celebrate when anyone recognizes this under appreciated man's work. I personally would have chosen "I Think I've Had Enough" or "She Gets Me" over "That Ain't Gonna Fly" but then again the Get Off on the Pain album is so full of great songs it's hard to choose just a few!

  4. It is great to see Flynnville Train on there!

  5. Great to see some music of Gary Allan's on here! He is so overlooked...and what a shame for someone who is so talented & unique. He has been honing his craft for so many years now, it's about time he gets credit for the wonderful music he creates!

  6. So happy to see Joey & Rory on the list not once, not twice, but 3 times!!! They are excellent and 100% true country! They don't get enough credit or publicity. Take them to the top Nashville!!

  7. We're extremely honored to have four songs from Becky Schlegel's CD Dandelion on the list. With gratitude, we're putting them on sale for just $5 (plus s&h, tax). Use promo code "top100" at her website. Thank you Nashville Sound.

    Brian Fesler
    Lilly Ray Records

  8. Very happy to see Butch Walker on your list...twice! He is one of the most underrated musician/songwriters working today.

  9. Nice to see Brantley Gilbert make the list. One of countrys best unknowns.

  10. Great to see Deirks Bentley up their as well as Zac Brown Band.

  11. Good to see some real names on that list like Jamey Johnson and Zac Brown band. This list seems like a real music list and not just fluff that is shoved down our throats and told it's a hit and we need to like it even though a good ear knows it's terrible.

  12. #76, She's lLike Texas is one of my favorites.
    I heard of the Josh Abbot Band from People magazine and it was one of the best discoveries I have made! I'm glad to see them with two songs up here.

  13. Randy Houser has my vote. Such a powerful voice. I am a big fan of his and also Jamey Johnson. You cannot get more country than 2 country boys from Mississippi and Alabama. Congratulation Guys.

  14. Glad to see I'm not the only one around who really digs "Colder Weather."

  15. Appreciate your choices! I would have also found room for RANDY MONTANA "Ain't Much Left of Lovin You !

  16. Appreciate this list, too! You just can't go wrong with the likes of Joe Diffie, Reba, etc. I'll always love and enjoy them and many more of my old favs. However, this year I have become a fan of Joey + Rory (What a couple!!) and Zac Brown Band. These artists have clear, pure vocals. It's pure pleasure listening to them. And I'm especially pleased to see Joey + Rory receiving such well deserved recognition!!

  17. So happy to see Butch Walker on this list twice!!! he is my absolute favorite.

  18. Colder Weather should be number 1. Great to see it at 3, but it might be the greatest song I've ever heard. The lyrics, the vocal harmonies, instrumentation. They are so ridiculously talented.

  19. Awesome that Colder Weather, co wrote by Levi Lowrey, is on here. He is an amazing song writer. Check out his stuff on i tunes. You will not be disappointed.

  20. I have to agree with Droopy's comments. It is refreshing to see an original list with tons great songs, including artists that don't get enough radio play IMO! Everybody's lists of the "Best of" too often focus on songs that marketing departments and radio stations have deemed to be what we should listen to. This list is original and there are several that I will go find to see if I like them as much as That Nashville Sound does. Bravo!

  21. Patricia LittlefieldJanuary 4, 2011 at 2:47 PM

    I was delighted to see that four of Becky Schlegel's songs made the list. How nice that she is getting the recognition that she deserves.

    1. Yes Becky has done some very nice songs and I became a fan of hers a few years ago. She just has the kind of
      voice that I like very much. Hope to be able to get
      up to Midwest Country for a live show that she does there once in awhile.
      Larry Staeden
      Roswell, NM