Saturday, May 10, 2008

Give Me Your List, Please!

I'm taking a break.

I'll be back in a month or so. Until then I’ll still be posting a few tracks over at Star Maker Machine and occasionally updating the sidebar here.

While I'm gone, you can check here for some great stuff on other blogs.

Now for the real purpose of this post: I love lists. I made one (below) and I want to see yours.

Please submit a ranked list of your top 10 favorite country artists/bands of all time. (Feel free to include explanations of your choices if you wish, or even an mp3 link, but all that's required is a ranked list.)

When the lists start coming in, the Classic Country Research Department here at STWOF will begin crunching the numbers. Then, after a month or so, I'll return with a highly entertaining and informative post about the results. It should be fun! And the more submissions the better, so let’s set a new record for the number of comments here.

Who’s eligible? Any country artist or band. (If in doubt, check AMG to see if the artist or band in question fits into any of these style categories. Feel free to include bluegrass, country-folk, country-rock, and alt-country performers. Note, however, that if you pick a performer who only occasionally dabbled in country styles, like Bob Dylan for instance, your vote should be based only on that artist’s country material. No extra credit for Like A Rolling Stone.)

I’m looking forward to reading your lists. Here’s mine (for the moment):

1. Hank Williams. No explanation necessary. He set the rules for all who followed.

Hank Williams – Jambalaya (On The Bayou) (buy album).

2. Tom T. Hall. A little high you say? Maybe. But this project is not about an objective view of accomplishments. It’s about individual favorites. Tom T. Hall’s funny and insightful songs really get me.

Tom T. Hall – The Year That Clayton Delaney Died (buy album).

3. George Jones. That voice. Nobody can deliver a country song like the possum.

George Jones - A Girl I Used To Know (buy album)

4. Merle Haggard. George had the voice. Merle had the attitude and he wrote a ton of brilliant country songs.

Merle Haggard – I Can't Hold Myself In Line (buy album).

5. Johnny Cash. The Man in Black might be the most enduring of the 1950's pop artists (including Elvis Presley). Cash made his name and his best material in 1950’s, but his legacy was sealed by the great work he did in the 1990’s. A true giant.

Johnny Cash – Drive On (buy album).

6. Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys. No music makes me happier than western swing. Bob’s band wrote the book on that style.

Bob Wills – Bring It On Down To My House (buy album).

7. Gram Parsons. The kid with a big trust fund wasn’t the greatest live performer, but he was also an innovator and a great songwriter responsible for an impressive number of classic tunes in his short life.

Gram Parsons – Brass Buttons (buy album).

8. Townes Van Zandt. I’m a sucker for Texas-based songwriting geniuses.

Townes Van Zandt – To Live Is To Fly (buy album).

9. John Hartford. See here for the explanation.

John Hartford – Back In The Goodle Days (out of print)

10. Buck Owens. Love that Bakersfield sound.

Buck Owens – Act Naturally (buy album)

Some more contenders for my list: Patsy Cline, The Flatlanders, Lefty Frizzell, Jason & The Scorchers, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Monroe, Willie Nelson, Jimmie Rodgers, Ernest Tubb

I'm looking forward to reading your top ten lists!


Anonymous said...

Your list is perfection.

Chris said...

You can't argue with Anonymous, but just to get the ball rolling:

1. George Jones
2. Gay Stewart
3. Merle Haggard
4. Emmylou Harris
5. Johnny Cash
6. Willie Nelson
7. Steve Earle
8. Nanci Griffith
9. Hank Thompson
10. Laura Cantrell

No explanation except for me it's usually about the voice and the tears in my beer

Chris said...

I meant Gary Stewart of course - really should learn to type properly

Anonymous said...

1)Billy Joe Shaver- Texas number 1 'Tramp On Your Street'.
2)Dave Alvin-Highly influential-Just listen to'California Snow'
3)The Jayhawks-Blue Earth-The beginning of alt-country then the amazing 'Hollywood Town Hall'
4)Son Volt-Trace
5)Waylon Jennings-The King of outlaw
6)Jason Ringenberg-For the Scorchers and Empire Builders.
7)Merle Haggard-A true master
8)Gram Parsons-Has to be here.
9)The Handsome Family-Through The Trees-A modern country classic.
10)Johnny Cash-Started and ended career well. Live albums a must.

Ramone666 said...

Tough, but here goes:
1. Hank Williams 2. Gram Parsons 3. Johnny Cash
4. Louvin Brothers 5. Townes Van Zandt 6. Merle Haggard 7. George Jones 8. Stanley Brothers
9. Flatlanders 10. Uncle Tupelo
With loads bubbling under of course.
Come back soon Paul, I´ll miss your posts here.

LD said...

I could spend 4 days compiling 117 different versions of this list, but this is as good as any. FWIW, the difference between 1 and 20 is about the width of a low E string.

1. Hank Williams
2. Merle Haggard & The Strangers
3. Ray Charles
4. Clarence White (in his various incarnations)
5. Uncle Tupelo (though the collected works of Farrar and Tweedy between 1990-98 might jump up to #3)
6. Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
7. Johnny Cash
8. Roger Miller
9. Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys
10. Willie Nelson

11-20 (in relative order): George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Gram Parsons, Billy Joe Shaver, Townes Van Zandt, The Band, Lefty Frizzell, Jimmy Martin, Patsy Cline, and Bob Dylan.

Dave D. said...

1) George Jones
2) Hank Williams
3) Merle Haggard
4) Willie Nelson
5) Johnny Cash
6) Buck Owens
7) Roger Miller
8) Louvin Brothers
9) Tom T. Hall
10) Johnny Paycheck

Cap said...

1- Loretta Lynn
2- Buck Owens
3- Hank Sr.
4- Johnny Cash
5- Patsy Cline
6- George Jones
7- Kenny Chesney
8- Alison Krauss
9- Toby Keith
10- Lucinda Williams

Anonymous said...

1. Waiting Around To Die - Townes Van Zandt
2. Great Atomic Power - The Louvin Bros.
3. Why Baby Why - George Jones
4. Swinging Doors - Merle Haggard
5. Making Believe - Kitty Wells
6. Honky-Tonk Hardwood Floor - Johnny Horton
7. Little David Play On Your Harp - Merle Travis
8. Hello Trouble - Buck Owens
9. Big River - Johnny Cash
10. Dream of a Miner's Child - The Johnson Mountain Boys
Honorable Mention: Hot Dog, That Made Him Mad - Wanda Jackson

Paul said...

Just to be clear, I'm looking for your favorite artists, not songs.

Anonymous said...

There's two things I look for in my music - that it's performed with conviction, from the heart and the strength of the song - how well does it tell a story? Country has both in spades, no other genre treats it's songs with the respect it does. Hank Williams brought me aboard, that man could sing a story like no other. Here's my ten, plus one for good luck:

Jimmy Rodgers
Hank Williams
Delmore Brothers
Johnny Cash
Carter Family
Flatt and Scruggs
Kitty Wells
Bob Wills
Hank Thompson
Patsy Cline
Buck Owens

Randolph Word said...

1. Kris Kristofferson
2. Waylon Jennings
3. Willie Nelson
4. Townes Van Zandt
5. Gosdin Brothers
6. Hank Williams
7. Flatt & Scruggs
8. Mickey Newbury
9. Johnny Cash
10. Dwight Yoakam

Anonymous said...

long time listener, first time commenter. go easy and hurry back. No order:

Mike Ireland & the Holler
the Souviniers
West Valley Highway
the Gibson Brothers
Carter Family
Robbie Fulks
Marty Robbins
Slaid Cleaves
Dale Watson
Bobby Bare Jr.

There's always more, but there is never enough time.

Thanks for the blog. It rocks, it rolls, it swings. Come back soon.
-D. Dobbs

Dave D. said...

D. Dobbs:

Thanks for including Fulks, Robbins, and Watson. They were 11-13 on my list.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you there dave d. Country Love Songs is one of my favourite albums. Gunfighter Ballads would be up there too. They would probably have made my top 10 albums list if not top 10 artists overall. Anyway, really enjoying this poll so far, great stuff.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, this is tough. Here’s the current version of my list:

1. Townes Van Zandt-the man wrote from his soul
2. Emmylou Harris-such a pure angelic voice
3. Johnny Cash-If God had a human voice, this is it
4. George Jones-He lived to tell it all
5. Mary Gauthier-Ideal standard bearer for a new generation of songwriters
6. Waylon Jennings-he could sing anything: crying, loving, or leaving
7. Kris Kristofferson-hellraiser and romantic all in one
8. Jimmy Dale Gilmore-instantly recognizable voice and no throw-away songs
9. Don Williams-I could listen to him sing the phone book
10. Keith Whitley-phenomenal talent gone too soon

Honorable mention: Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Vern Gosdin, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Lucinda Williams, Jim Ed Brown, Alan Jackson, Alison Krauss, Tammy Wynette, Gram Parsons, Merle Haggard, George Strait, Ray Charles, Bellamy Brothers

brendan said...

1. Jerry Jeff Walker
2. Flatlanders
3. Doug Sahm
4. Gene Clark
5. Townes
6. Willie
7. Waylon
8. Kristofferson
9. Willis Alan Ramsey
10.Terry Allen

LD said...

Sweet Jesus, I totally forgot Doug Sahm!!! Great, now the South Austin Police are gonna make me turn in my cosmic cowboy decoder ring.

Paul, if you're actually tallying up votes, please slide in Doug at #5 and knock everyone else down a peg, which drops Willie from my Top 10. Sorry Willie, I didn't know you didn't know.

Paul said...

Yes I am actually tallying up votes. This thing is scientific.

Correction noted.

LD said...

Science with a hint of twang ... very underrated.

Anonymous said...

1 Johnny Cash
2 Dwight Yoakam
3 Emmylou Harris
4 Hank Williams
5 Waylon Jennings
6 Merle Haggard
7 Willie Nelson
8 Ralph Stanley
9 Patsy Cline
10 George Jones

Contenders include

Steve Earle
Billy Joe Shaver
Dale Watson
Loretta Lynn
Buck Owens
Kelly Willis
Marty Stuart

Ole5anddimer said...

List and Record...

1. Willie Nelson - Spirit
2. Merle Haggard - Serving 190 Proof
3. Lefty Frizzell - Bear Family - Life's Like Poetry Live Radio Show Disc (Bear Family is ALWAYS CHEATING!)
4. Iris Dement - My Life - So few records, but what can I say
5. Hank Williams - Any collection - I don't know how to put Hank Williams in a there a number above 1?
6. Waylon Jennings - Honky Tonk Heroes
7. Emmylou Harris - Live at the Ryman (My all time favorite live record - until Bruce released the Hammersmith Born to Run package..)
8. Johnny Cash - My Mother's Hymn Book
9. Robbie Fulks - South Mouth
10. The Unknown Hinson - Any bootleg of a live show...

Dave D. said...

anonymous@4:24 mentions Marty Stuart. Judged solely on the body of his recordings, he'd barely make my top 25. Broaden the criteria to include overall effect on the genre, preservation of its history, live performance, etc. and he is in my top 5.

eric said...

1. Buck Owens, the buckaroos are the best backing band ever, Don Rich and Buck Owens voice together is my favorite sound, hands down.
2. Merle Haggard, the greatest country songwriter, who you want to be on stage when you enter a honky tonk.
3. Jerry Jeff Walker, the first guy i turn to when i feel shitty. isn't that what country is all about.
4. The Louvin Brothers. perfection and tragedy mixed so beautifully, even if you are not religious at all their songs are incredibly inspirational.
5. Waylon Jennings, Country Masculinity at its finest, he is the tall dark stranger that buck warned us about.
6. Gram Parsons, to me gram was the best at taking various American genres like soul, country and folk and combining them into something greater.
7. John Hartford, Aereo-plain is enough to merit a place on the top ten, in tall buildings is one of the all time great songs.
8. George Jones, his early recordings stand out above any of his contemporaries.
9. Roger Miller, so many amazing songs, a delightful spirit, never got his due respect.
10. Merle Travis, never gets the credit he should, possibly the best guitarist ever in any genre and an amazing songwriter.
people i feel bad for omitting: Lefty Frizzell, Hank Williams, Tom T. Hall

Reverend Doctor William Grace said...

Sometimes it's the voice, sometimes it's the song, sometimes it's the melody and sometimes it's impossible to define. But one way or another all of these have the power to shake up my emotions.

In no particular order:

1. George Jones
2. Iris Dement
3. The Jayhawks
4. The Louvin Brothers
5. Buck Owens and the Buckaroos
6. The Bottle Rockets
7. Gram Parsons
8. Katy Moffat
9. Son Volt
10. Hank Williams (of course)

muruch said...

1 Patsy Cline
2 Old Crow Medicine Show
3 Johnny Cash
4 Alejandro Escovedo
5 George Jones
6 Tim McGraw
7 Dixie Chicks
8 Hank Williams (either Sr. or Jr.)
9 Don Williams
10 Faith Hill

Honorable mention to Elvis. I love all his country songs, but he's not really a country artist. And I could fill the list with alt-country artists, but tried to stick to the more traditional country genre.

Kelly said...

Johnny Cash
Hank Williams
Patsy Cline
Old Crow Medicine Show
Willie Nelson
Loretta Lynn
Maddox Brothers and Rose
Charline Arthur
Louvin Brothers
Marty Robbins

Looking forward to your return!

Lynchie from Aberdeen said...

My country top 10 changes all the time but here's one (in no particular order):

Waylon Jennings - Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?
The Louvins - When I Stop Dreaming
George Jones - Still Doing Time
Jerry Lee Lewis - She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye
Merle Haggard - Sing Me Back Home
Everly Brothers - Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail
Iris Dement - Our Town
Laurie Lewis - Who Will Watch The Home Place?
Willie Nelson - Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain
John Prine - Souvenirs

Charlie said...

1. The Band
2. Hank Williams
3. Waylon Jennings
4. Gram Parsons
5. Johnny Cash
6. Townes Van Zandt
7. Emmylou Harris
8. Steve Earle
9. Merle Haggard
10. Willie Nelson
11. George Jones
12. Flatlanders
13. Guy Clark
14. Billy Joe Shaver
15. Rodney Crowell

And I can't believe that JJ Cale doesn't qualify.

brendan said...

dang i have to make a correction now too. please replace kristofferson in my list with hartford. sorry kris, but I mean, you got your whole acting career to fall back on. @eric, great list.

Anonymous said...

1. Jimmie Rodgers
2. Hank Williams
3. Gram Parsons
4. Emmylou Harris
5. Lucinda Williams
6. Randy Travis
7. Doc Watson
8. George Jones
9. Richie Furay (!)
10. Patsy Cline

slohand said...

1. Merle Haggard
2. Jim Reeves
3. Marty Robbins
4. Patsy Cline
5. Alison Krauss

stricki said...

Very tough list to make! This is my top 10 as it hits the paper:

1. Bob Wills - the Greatest. I love Hank but Bob is my number 1 Country Legend.

2. George Jones - as you said "the voice".

3. Steve Earle - the thinking man's country hero.

4. Dwight Yoakam - In place of Buck. I think Dwight's song catalogue is truly undervalued.

5. Willie - The last great Country icon.

6. Lyle Lovett - Pontiac was the first country record I ever bought. Thanks Lyle.

7. Gene Clark - I love Gram but Gene was the real father of Country-Rock.

8. Charlie Rich - Another amazing voice - the most soulful country singer ever.

9. Townes - It took a while for me to understand all the fuss, but then The Heartworn Highways DVD and Live at the Old Quarter CD revealed his genius for me.

10. Jimmy LaFave - Saw him play live in NZ to 30 people in the late 90's (just after the release of his debut Austin Skyline). He inspired me to make the pilgrimage to Austin Texas.

Paul said...

END OF FIRST WEEK'S COMMENTS (for administrative purposes).

Anonymous said...

Not all country but...

George Harrison - I Live For You
The Band - When You Awake
Karen Dalton - Take Me
Townes Van Zandt - Colorado Girl
Dylan - To Ramona
Neil Young - Cripple Creek Ferry
John Lennon - Crippled Inside
Paul McCartney - 3 Legs
Billy Preston - I Want To Thank You
Muddy Waters - Corrina Corrina

Paul's Team of Math Wizzes said...

@Anon 10:42

Those are great songs, but for technical reasons I can only consider lists that are attempts to list favorite country artists.

I can deal with unranked lists or lists that are short of 10 artists, but my statisticians cannot figure out how to incorporate a mixed genre list.

Anonymous said...

ROGER MILLER! ROGER MILLER! Like an earlier post said, he deserves more attention! Great songs, great delivery, and lots of classics!
Lock, stock, and teardrops!

Roger's my #1. After that, Waylon!

scottp4k said...

1. Hank Williams
2. Loretta Lynn
3. Johnny Cash
4. Bob Wills
5. Merle Haggard
6. George Jones
7. Ernest Tubb
8. Patsy Cline
9. The Carter Family
10. Webb Pierce

Beau said...

My alltime top 10 favorite country singers:

1. Linda Ronstadt- exclude the pop, rock, big band, Latin, and just consider the authentic country music Linda has done (Hobo's Meditation, Rock Salt and Nails, Crazy Arms, etc.) and she definitely ranks among the very best.

2. Loretta Lynn- especially in the 1960s- is the quintessential country singer-songwriter.

3. Johnny Cash

4. Jason & the Scorchers- I probably would not have considered them country enough to include here, but since the website owner includes them, I will too. Great concert band.

4. Rosanne Cash

5. Asleep at the Wheel

6. Kris Kristofferson- He sings his songs as well as the hit versions.

7. Tammy Wynette

8. Skeeter Davis

9. Joe South

10. Marty Robbins

mistah kurtz said...

No particular order except maybe from earliest to latest...
Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen (I bought this at the same time as Faust's first record, hmm)
Doug Sahm
Hank Williams
George Jones
Iris Dement
The Handsome Family
Giant Sand
Gillian Welch
Louvin Brothers
Ryan Adams

Shoot that's 11 - and there was me thinking I liked songs not artists!

edward said...

Porter Wagoner!

Kris McCracken said...

I'd have to have Gene Clark in their somewhere.

Chairwoman of the bored said...

Nearly everybody everyone else mentions, but please don't forget Tom Russell and Driveby Truckers.

Doug Freeman said...

Haggard would have to top my list, but since I run a website that covers Austin and Texas music, here is my list of top 25 Texas country artists (and I'm sure I've forgotten someone absurd)
1. Willie
2. TVZ
3. Bob Wills
4. Waylon Jennings
5. George Jones
6. Doug Sahm
7. Hank Thompson
8. George Strait
9. Lucinda Williams
10. Lyle Lovett
11. Billy Joe Shaver
12. The Flatlanders (Ely, Gilmore, Hancock)
13. Ernest Tubb
14. Alejandro Escovedo
15. Steve Earle
16. Guy Clark
17. Dale Watson
18. Patty Griffin
19. James McMurtry
20. Rosie Flores
21. Ray Wylie Hubbard
22. Jerry Jeff Walker
23. Slaid Cleaves
24. Kinky Friedman
25. Nanci Griffith
A few others that demand mentioning: Blaze Foley, Tom Russell, Asleep at the Wheel, Robert Earl Keen, Eliza Gilkyson, Johnny Bush, Jesse Dayton, Scott Biram, Rodney Crowell, Bad Livers, Richard Buckner, Old 97s, Bill Callahan, and anything Will Johnson does.

Ones we'd like to disown: Pat Green, Kevin Fowler

Paul said...


That's an awesome list. Thanks for sharing!

Geoff said...

Nice blog. Here's a (belated) list

1. Hank Williams , Sr.
2. Merle Haggard
3. Jimmie Rodgers
4. Carter Family
5. Johnny Cash
6. Willie Nelson
7. Flatlanders
8. Doug Sahm
9. Bill Monroe
10. Gram Parsons

I only used names from your list of country greats on the side. Too bad we can't count Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley though. They sure could sing some great country along with their other stuff.

Anonymous said...

Here's my list;

1 - Townes Van Zandt
2 - Guy Clark
3 - Steve Earle
4 - Lucinda Williams
5 - Johnny Cash
6 - Chris Knight
7 - Jim Lauderdale
8 - Emmylou Harris
9 - Gillian Welch
10- James McMurtry

boyhowdy said...

I like your list, but I was shocked -- shocked, I tell you -- to find nary a female name in either your top ten OR the top ten as compiled above. I've been glad to see a few women in here since then, but so many of them are only borderline country music...and this seems weird, too. Really -- no true women of country in the top ten?

In order to skew the results, and because the more I think about it, the more I genuinely prefer female country singers/songwriters, here's my top ten list.

1. Dolly Parton
2. Emmylou Harris
3. Patsy Cline
4. Kim Richey
5. Claire Lynch
6. Rhonda Vincent
7. Carrie Rodriguez
8. Lucinda Williams
9. Roseanne Cash
10. Loretta Lynn

I refuse to believe Patty Griffin is a country musician, or she'd be on there, too. Nanci Griffith is folk, too, guys. So is Iris Dement, and Gillian Welch. There IS a difference.

Pete Shanks said...

I agree that women are being shortchanged. I dunno, I could spend all day but ... in no particular order except for #1:

Hank Williams
George Jones
Loretta Lynn
Willie Nelson
Patsy Cline
Merle Haggard
Dolly Parton
Johnny Cash
Tammy Wynette
Jimmie Rodgers

I rationalize leaving out Bill Monroe & Ralph Stanley & Jimmy Martin &c as Bluegrass; Guy Clark as folk-ish; Emmylou Harris as pop-ish; Jimmy Dale Gilmore as rock-ish; and Tom T. Hall as too darn smart because I can't think of anything wittier to say. But if you want to make it 20, I'd put them all in, perhaps with Roger Miller, Waylon Jennings and -- for overall influence if nothing else -- Chet Atkins

dr kill said...


Scorched earth, last angry man standing music.

Paul said...

Thanks for all the votes so far.

Keep 'em coming!

bbinpb said...

Buck Owens & His Buckaroos
Waylon Jennings
Merle Haggard & The Strangers
The Stanley Brothers
Wynn Stewart
Ray Price
Marty Robbins
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys
Freddy Fender
Johnny Cash

bubbling under:
Patsy Cline
Jerry Lee Lewis
The Louvin Brothers
The Hackberry Ramblers
Darby & Tarlton

Michael said...

1. Loretta Lynn
2. Johnny Cash
3. Patsy Cline
4. Dolly Parton
5. Rosanne Cash
6. Ronnie Milsap
7. Don Williams
8. The Judds
9. Randy Travis
10.Eddie Rabbitt

Heather Abendsen said...

1. Charlie Rich
2. Hank Williams
3. George Jones
4. Merle Haggard
5. Townes van Zandt
6. Lucinda Williams
7. Lefty Frizzell
8. Steve Young
9. Billy Joe Shaver
10. Tom T. Hall

blasters said...

better late than never....

dave alvin

merle haggard

johnny cash

patsy cline

willie nelson

raul malo

steve earle

kris kristofferson

waylon jennings

ray charles