Who’s on the Mount Rushmore of Country Music?
Presidents Day is fast approaching and it got me thinking about who I would put on my Mount Rushmore of Country Music.
There can only be four. No more, no less. Here is a list of the contenders:
1) Willie Nelson: The long, red hair. The beaten-up guitar. The timeless songs. Willie Nelson is one of the institutions of country music. He belongs on any list of the greatest of all time. Is he on the Mount Rushmore? There's definitely a debate to be had about that.
2) Loretta Lynn: This Coal Miners Daughter's career has spanned over 60 years, brought her numerous awards and accolades, and made her one of the most prominent female voices in the history of country music. She's worked with everyone from Conway Twitty to Jack White. Sadly, we lost this legend last year but she will remain a country music icon far into the future.
3) Hank Williams: The first name I thought of while putting this list together. If you ask any of the great country artists, he's one of their biggest influences. Not only was Hank way ahead of his time, but his songs are timeless. This one is a no brainer.
4) Johnny Cash: He's sold over 90 million albums, has some of the most iconic country songs of all time under his belt (I Walk The Line, Ring of Fire, A Boy Named Sue) and he has the coolest nickname of any artist in the history of music, The Man In Black. Johnny Cash almost transcends the genre of country. He might be the first face added to the Mount Rushmore of Country Music.
5) Merle Haggard: Born during the Great Depression, this country music icon started out as a troubled youth and even did a stint in prison. Once out, he turned his life around and became the man we simply call The Hag.
6) Waylon Jennings: He was one of the Highwaymen, one of the Outlaws, and even a member of Buddy Holly's Crickets. If you were making a country artist from scratch, Waylon Jennings would be the end result.
7) Dolly Parton: Not only is she one of the best singers and performers ever, but Dolly Parton is also a prolific songwriter in her own right. Plus, you know you've made it when you have your own theme park.
8) George Jones: He Stopped Loving Her Today, The Race Is On, Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes, She Thinks I Still Care. Those are just a few of the many, many massive hits George Jones gave us. His long career, along with his broad appeal easily places him among the contenders for the Mount Rushmore of Country Music.
9) Garth Brooks: The youngest of our contenders, but also, quite possibly the richest. It's estimated that Garth Brooks is worth over 350 million dollars. But hey, if this country music thing doesn't work out, he can always fall back on advertising. He has a college degree in it.
10) George Strait: King George. He's amassed 60 number one country hits over his career. That alone should probably put him on the Mountain.
11) Patsy Cline: Any list without Patsy Cline on it can't take itself too seriously. She redefined the genre, became one of the first female household names in country music, and she introduced the world to Willie Nelson's songwriting.
12) Kenny Rogers: Not just a country artist. Kenny crossed over into the pop and rock world too. He was one of the most respected musicians out there. And people all over the world can sing you The Gambler.
13) Conway Twitty: Saving the best for last? Like Kenny Rogers, Conway wasn't just a country star, as he got his start in rock and roll. And before George Strait broke his record, he had the most country number one hits with 56.
So, those are the contenders, but who makes the cut? For me, it goes like this: Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson. Hank and Johnny were a must and the other two I debated for a good long while. But what about you? Who makes your Mount Rushmore of Country Music?