Monday, December 16, 2013

That Nashville Sound's Top 100 (and something) Songs of 2013

2013 was another 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 2013 or is an already-released single off a to-be-released album. If the album came out in 2012 or before, it couldn’t be included- even if it wasn't released as a single until 2013.

Let us hear what you think. Anything we missed? Without further ado, here is That Nashville Sound’s Top 100 (and something) Songs of 2013.
  1.  Kacey Musgraves - "Follow Your Arrow"- It's hard to imagine that there was a more important song released in the past year. Not only did it best represent the change in guard with female songwriters writing some of the most engaging lyrics of 2013, but it dented the charts with a progressive social message that is opposite of what is generally perceived as southern backwoods thinking of country music.
  2.  Joey + Rory - "To Do What I Do"- This is a beautifully written song but even more so when you know the back story of the friendship behind it. Tim Johnson’s “To Do What I Do” waxes poetically on the privilege of being able to sing music for a career, but it's also a sweet dedication to their songwriter friend who passed away this past year.
  3.  Jason Isbell - "Elephant"-  Death brings a poignancy to music- mortality seems to make an impact when it's mentioned in song. But it is darn near impossible to be a songwriter and utilize death as a theme and have it have nuance, humor and be personal. "Elephant" is a triple-play.
  4.  Guy Clark - "My Favorite Picture of You"- This is the greatest love song written this year- made all the more powerful that it is dedicated to his recently departed wife of 40 years, Susanna. Clark describes the elements of a special photograph, from Susanna’s fierce facial expression as she looks directly into the camera to what was going in their relationship at the time the Polaroid was taken.
  5.  Sturgill Simpson - "Life Ain't Fair and the World Is Mean"- This is Waylon Jennings smoky bar music personified. It could be put on this list just for the steel guitar work alone.
  6.  Will Hoge with Wade Bowen - "Another Song Nobody Will Hear"- Hoge and Bowen are songwriting legends, especially around the Lone Star State of Texas. They've just recently collaborated on a new track called "Another Song Nobody Will Hear" that is Hoge's most recent release on the Texas radio scene. For anyone that's found themselves at the mercy of having to create a piece of art that's not a vehicle for wealth development, but a personal validation, it's the perfect message. Listen HERE.
  7.  Ronnie Dunn - "I Wish I Still Smoked Cigarettes"- I had a chance to talk to songwriter Lori McKenna about this song and she said, "I wrote it with Barry Dean and Luke Laird. I’m going to tell you exactly what happened. They are such sweet boys and I love them both dearly. They’re both just amazing songwriters. They are wonderful people. We write together from time to time just the three of us. One day, we were writing a song at Universal Publishing, and I don’t know what had happened, but Luke walked into the room and said, “I wish I still smoked cigarettes.” He wasn’t frustrated but something had happened and he just said that. And I said, “Oh my gosh, that would be such a good song, that’s such a good title.” So Barry wrote it down- he’s the keeper of all the words- and a few months later, Barry called and said he and Luke had started the song. We got on the computer. I was in Massachusetts and they were in Nashville. They played me pretty much the whole song. They give me credit for certain lines, but from what I remember, most of it was there’s. I was just the lucky girl that said that it should be a song. They handed it off and let me help them finish it which, of course, they didn’t have to do. But I’m so proud of that song mostly because two friends, who could have just taken off with it and finished it on their own, waited for me to be part of it because I was in the room when it started. That’s what Nashville is about. That’s how you end up falling in love with other songwriters. They love the songs as much as you do and they respect each other and each other’s work. They respect their presence. We all just want to write that next great song. That’s all any of us want to do. That’s a good example of that. They certainly could have finished it up without me and made sure I could be part of it. And of course, there’s Ronnie Dunn. How could you possibly want for anyone else to sing it? The whole thing has been really exciting."
  8.  Reed Turner - The Fire- Born in Portland, Oregon and raised in the music hotbed of Austin, Texas, Turner finished off his music training four years at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he majored in songwriting. On his latest Ghost In The Attic album, I was blown away by the haunting fiddle and electric-guitar laden track "The Fire." I asked Turner to explain the deep and symbolic track and he said, "That song was inspired by the housing crisis/economic collapse. I was stunned and angered by the amount of greed and stupidity displayed by a group of people who were seemingly willing to help bring down their own country." Powerful stuff. Listen HERE.
  9.  Logan Brill - "No Such Thing As Ghosts"- On "There's No Such Things As Ghosts," the listener recognizes the power in the rest of this outstanding album. The sound is fresh and the lyrics are poignant. At only 22, her storytelling belies her age. The depth of the emotions conveyed through the performances relate well to her soulful voice, particularly when singing of loss and heartache. Says Brill, “I really like putting myself into that mindset because it’s not necessarily an everyday thing to be brooding. It’s interesting to put myself into those situations in songs and experience things that way, trying to get into a character. I enjoy drama every once in a while.”
  10.  Brandy Clark - "Stripes"- That Nashville Sound has already named Brandy Clark's 12 Stories the top album of the year. And this brilliantly written song is one of the key reason's why. A girl busts in with a gun and catches her boy cheating and lets him go because of her fashion sense. It's genius.
  11.  Erin Enderlin - "I Let Her Talk"
  12.  Sammy Kershaw - "The Route That I Took (My Tribute to George Jones)"
  13.  Chris Stapleton - "What Are You Listening To?"
  14.  Dean Brody with Lindi Ortega - "Bounty"
  15.  Chris Wall - "El Western Motel"
  16.  Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison - "Leavin'"
  17.  Drew Kennedy - "Good Carpentry"
  18.  Kellie Pickler - "Selma Drye"
  19.  SteelDrivers - "Lonesome Goodbye"
  20.  Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver - "How Do You Say Goodbye to Sixty Years"
  21.  Julie Roberts - "Daddy Doesn't Pray"
  22.  Sam Riggs and the Night People - "Angola's Lament"
  23.  Lee Ann Womack - "Let 'Em In"
  24.  Tim McGraw - "Annie I Owe You a Dance"
  25.  Lori McKenna - "How Romantic Is That"
  26.  Green River Ordinance - "It Ain't Love"
  27.  Kenny Rogers - "Dreams of the San Joaquin"
  28.  George Strait - "When Love Comes Around Again"
  29.  Tracy Lawrence - "Saving Savannah"
  30.  Peter Cooper - "Grandma's Tattoo"
  31.  Randy Rogers Band - "I Had To Give That Up Too"
  32.  Clint Black - "She Won't Let Go"
  33.  Logan Brill - "Seven Year Rain"
  34.  Alan Jackson - "Blue Ridge Mountain Song"
  35.  Rich Mahan - "Favorite Shirt"
  36.  Will Hoge - "Strong"
  37.  Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss - "No Mas Amor"
  38.  Dailey and Vincent - "Hills of Caroline"
  39.  Steve Wariner - "I Want To Be Like You"
  40.  Sammy Kershaw - "I Live To Work"
  41.  Shooter Jennings - "The Low Road"
  42.  Kellie Pickler - "The Woman I Am"
  43.  Joey + Rory - "The Preacher and the Stranger"
  44.  Jason Eady - "OK Whiskey"
  45.  SteelDrivers - "When You Don't Come Home"
  46.  Ashley Monroe - "Like a Rose"
  47.  The Band of Heathens - "Shake the Foundation"
  48.  Brandy Clark - "Just Like Him"
  49.  Kris Kristofferson - "Castaways"
  50.  Brandy Clark - "What'll Keep Me Out of Heaven"
  51.  Chris Young - "Lonely Eyes"
  52.  Tim McGraw - "Number 37405"
  53.  Chris King - "Goodbyes & What You Leave Behind"
  54.  Maggie Rose - "Preacher's Daughter"
  55.  Donna Ulisse - "I've Always Had a Song I Could Lean On"
  56.  Brandy Clark - "Take a Little Pill"
  57.  Mallary Hope - "Black Widow"
  58.  Lindi Ortega - "Tin Star"
  59.  Brothers Osborne - "Let's Go There"
  60.  Sturgill Simpson - "You Can Have the Crown"
  61.  Matthew Mayfield - "Track You Down"
  62.  Randy Houser - "Power of a Song"
  63.  Rita Hosking - "Sierra Bound"
  64.  Lia Rose - "Snake in the Water"
  65.  Maggie Rose - "I Ain't Your Momma"
  66.  Craig Campbell - "When She Grows Up"
  67.  Dierks Bentley with Kacey Musgraves - "Bourbon In Kentucky"
  68.  LeAnn Rimes - "Borrowed"
  69.  Caitlin Crosby - "Save That Pillow"
  70.  Justin Moore with Miranda Lambert - "Old Habits"
  71.  TJ Broscoff - "Better Man"
  72.  Ashton Shepherd - "Andy"
  73.  Brennen Leigh & Noel McKay - "Before the World Was Made"
  74.  Neal McCoy with Trace Adkins - "Roll On Mississippi"
  75.  Dwight Yoakam with Michelle Branch - "Long Goodbye"
  76.  The Band of Heathens - "Miss My Life"
  77.  Gord Bamford - "Daughterville"
  78.  Julie Roberts - "Old Strings"
  79.  Louise Day - "Nothingville"
  80.  Joe Nichols - "Old School Country Song"
  81.  Kenny Rogers - "You Had To Be There"
  82.  Billy Currington - "Hallelujah"
  83.  Toby Keith - "Last Living Cowboy"
  84.  Holly Williams - "Waiting On June"
  85.  Randy Houser with Kristy Lee Cook - "Wherever Love Goes"
  86.  Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver - "When Love Is All You Want (It's All You Need)
  87.  John Corbett - "El Paso"
  88.  Joey + Rory - "Long Line of Love"
  89.  Blue Sky Riders - "Little Victories"
  90.  Thompson Square - "That's So Me and You"
  91.  Lori McKenna - "Susanna"
  92.  Randy Rogers Band with Willie Nelson - "Trouble Knows My Name"
  93.  Del McCoury Band - "Streets of Baltimore"
  94.  Kacey Musgraves - "Step Off"
  95.  Trace Adkins with Colbie Caillat - "Watch the World End
  96.  Lady Antebellum - "Golden"
  97.  The Band of Heathens - "Texas"
  98.  Jason Isbell - "Songs She Sang In the Shower"
  99.  LeAnn Rimes with Rob Thomas - Gasoline and Matches
  100.  Aoife O' Donovan - "Red & White & Blue & Gold"
  101.  Lady Antebellum - "It Ain't Pretty"
  102.  Darius Rucker with Mallory Hope - "I Will Love You Still"
  103.  George Strait - "Love Is Everything"
  104.  Alan Jackson - "Knew All Along"
  105.  Tracy Lawrence - "Butterfly"
  106.  Tim O'Brien and Darrell Scott - "Paradise"
  107.  Willie Nelson with Miranda Lambert - "She Was No Good For Me"
  108.  Cassadee Pope - "11"
  109.  Sheryl Crow - "Homecoming Queen"
  110.  Scotty McCreery - "Feel Good Summer Song"
  111.  Dean Brody - "Kansas Cried"
  112.  Katie Armiger - "Okay Alone"
  113.  Sturgill Simpson - "The Storm"
  114.  Brett Eldredge - "Don't Ya"
  115.  Hilary Williams - "Sign of Life"
  116.  Craig Campbell - "When Ends Don't Meet"
  117.  Trace Adkins with Exile - "Kiss You All Over"
  118.  Steve Wariner - "'49 Ford"
  119.  Gord Bamford with Joe Diffie - "Country Junkie"
  120.  Randy Houser - "The Singer"
  121.  Della Mae - "Empire"
  122.  Justin Moore - "Old Back In the New School"
  123.  Amos Lee with Alison Krauss - "Chill in the Air"
  124.  Ashley Monroe - "Two Weeks Late"
  125.  Brandy Clark - "Pray to Jesus"
  126.  Dale Watson - "I Lie When I Drink"


  1. Wow. Interesting list. I have a lot of songs to check out. Glad to see Brandy Clark so often on this list and yet my favorite, Hold My Hand, didn't make it. The album is so good that I can easily see people have different favorites. Also glad to see Maggie Rose on the list. She seems to get very little attention on the country music blogs.

    The biggest shock on this list was actually seeing a Blue Sky Riders song at #89, "Little Victories", with Georgia Middleman on lead with husband Gary Burr and some guy named Kenny Loggins on harmony. The Blue Sky Riders album "Finally Home" is outstanding although overall it's more pop than country. Great harmonies, singers and songs. One of my other favorites on BSR is "A Thousand Wild Horses" with Burr on lead.

  2. y'all should listen to the entire Della Mae album (on Rounder Records) - it's nominated for a Grammy and deservedly so....the young ladies are amazing live musicians, too.

  3. well, I think you're missing "Big Time" by The Howlin' Brothers and "The Sea & The Shore" (w/John Fulbright) by Amy Speace to name but two...

  4. Love seeing Erin Enderlin in the top list!!! Great song!!

  5. Glad to see Reed Turner #8 on the list! A great song, from a great songwriter who deserves more recognition.

  6. I feel like the writer's name should be listed along with the recording artist...maybe even instead of the recording artist.