Country Music

Ten Country Covers That Top The Pop Originals

Our copy must still be in the mail, but Rocks Off figures we have heard enough songs from Jamey Johnson's new album The Guitar Song on Sirius/XM's Outlaw Country to know that we like it a whole lot. But none that we've heard so far are our favorite new Johnson song.

It's close. No flies on Guitar's "Lonely at the Top" ("...but it's a bitch down at the bottom") or Johnson's cover of Vern Gosdin's "Set 'Em Up, Joe," that's for sure. But for the moment - at least until Mercury Nashville finally sends us the damn record - our favorite new Johnson song is "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad," which appears on The Imus Ranch Record II, just released on semi-Houston label New West Records.

Yes, that "Two Out of Three" - the Jim Steinman-penned, Meat Loaf-sung ode to operatic overindulgence, which Johnson compresses into a first-rate honky-tonk ballad with an upper lip stiff enough to iron a shirt on. Some men would rather die than cry. (Sorry, Craig.)

So Rocks Off got to wondering, as we often do, how many other country covers out there improved on their pop/rock originals. It turned out to be quite a few. And we mean improved - so no matter how much we like Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris' "Save the Last Dance for Me" or Dwight Yoakam's "Train In Vain," they didn't make the list because they could never eclipse the Drifters and the Clash, respectively. Not so for the following ten songs...

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray