By Séamus Smyth

10. What’s it to you –Clay Walker

Although Clay Walker is likely hallucinating when he says he hears angels singing, it seems to serve as the necessary motivation to get him to approach the apple of his eye. He breaks down love in the most elementary of terms and convinces his cowgirl that if there is one thing he knows, it’s the autonomy of the heartbeat.

 9. Check Yes or No – George Strait

The days of love letters have sadly been replaced by thoughtless text messages. Nobody pines for heart-decorated, perfume-smelling notes like George Strait in “Check Yes or No.” The anticipation of receiving a love letter through the class grapevine was for many boys and girls their first experience with overwhelming adrenaline. It also coincided with their first blast of embarrassment. Nothing made cheeks go redder and palms go damper than when lust-filled letters were intercepted by annoyed instructors who took pleasure in sharing the thoughts of horrified students with their bewildered peers.

 8. 1,000 miles from Nowhere – Dwight Yokam

Most people scream bloody Mary when lost in the middle of nowhere, yet Dwight Yokam takes sanctuary in his beautiful mess. Yokam is lost in his feelings and thoughts, and not literally lost up north in the Yukon, yet his lyrics still paint visions of a man trapped in the wilderness.

7. Don’t take the Girl – Tim McGraw

Lil Johnny throws his boys under the bus in favour of his original crush in the first verse, but redeems himself as the song carries on. Johnny’s predicaments become ever so serious as he grows older, a smart writing ploy by McGraw that helps the song build momentum. It is not only one of the greatest tracks from one of country music’s richest gold rushes, but is easily one of the saddest as men and women were both reaching for tissues three quarters through.

 6. Should have been a Cowboy – Toby Keith

No country singer is more genuine about blue jeans and pick-up trucks than the beer-guzzlin’, Toby Keith. While many men and women will happily dress up as cowboys for the day, Keith is reflecting on a serious career option. His best friends could be horses, the moon could be his only light, and Keith would happier than a country pig in hot mud.

5. Chattahoochee – Alan Jackson

Nobody appreciates the muddy waters of the Chattahoochee like one of country’s golden kings, Alan Jackson. The Chattahoochee, a river that flows from the South to North Georgia, has clearly played a significant role in the maturing of Jackson, who claims to have learned everything from stacking beer cans to fishing. “Talking about cars and dreamin’ about women,” is campfire talk that is as predictable as the summer heat. The Chattahoochee is as important of a song to country fans as the river is to Jackson.

 4. Baton Rouge – Garth Brooks

He’s the rock star of country music, the man who shot pyro through the hay bales of country and made it as relevant as ever. Brooks could have his very own top ten list of 90’s hits, but Baton Rouge is chosen because it has the most country soul resting in its core. The track produces the energy of a 1,000 watt light bulb, as it magically seems to turn up the gusto of every venue it penetrates.

 3. Dust on the Bottle – David Lee Murphy

 Murphy is desperate for a present that will adequately demonstrate how much his girlfriend means to him. Old man Creo Williams down the road decides to offer up a bottle of moonshine that is somehow agreed upon to do the trick. Although a bottle of Creo’s white lightening may put Murphy’s girlfriend in the hospital, the sentiment clearly registered with the eager Murphy. “Dust on the bottle” is essentially the trite idiom, “don’t judge a book by its cover”, except a million times better to sing along to.

 2. Fishing in the Dark – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Why country music is so popular is that it speaks to our inclination to spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors. No genre endorses boating, fishing and counting the stars the way the banjos and fiddles do. The song is almost even more special in 2012, as escapism is rampant due to the excesses of technology and exploding metropolises. It’s becoming difficult to lie in a field and count stars not satellites, but the Nitty Gritty give hope that these places still do exist.

 1.  I’m in a Hurry – Alabama

It’s the simplicity and authenticity of country music that appeals to such a broad base. “I’m in a hurry” is such an incredibly vague concept, yet every single person can relate to it. Not everyone can relate to drinking in a club, spending lavish amounts of money or living la Vida Loca, but they can empathize with someone “rushing, rushing till’ life’s no fun.” We don’t know if Alabama are delivering pizzas or are late for the college football game, but nobody has ever made being late sound so appealing.