Lists

John Conlee's 10 Best Songs, Ranked

John Conlee holds his award for new male vocalist of the year at the 1978 14th Academy of Country Music Awards show in Los Angeles, Ca., May 2, 1979. Conlee is flanked by actress Loni Anderson, left, and singer Tanya Tucker, presenters of the award. (AP Photo)

John Conlee songs, especially his hits made with producer Bud Logan, secured his spot as one of the great vocalists of the '70s and '80s. Nowadays, that earned respect makes him one of the Grand Ole Opry's most-loved veterans.

A list of 20 or 30 Conlee songs would skip some worthy material, from popular hits "As Long As I'm Rockin' With You" and "She Can't Say That Anymore" to working man anthem "The Carpenter" and sentimental slow-burner "Mama's Rockin' Chair." So consider this a jumping off point if you're not familiar with Conlee (or a reintroduction to old favorites if you used to hear these gems on your local radio station).

10. "Years After You"

​Sentimentality and mid-'80s production mark "Years After You," a highlight of the 1984 album Blue Highway.

9. "Lady Lay Down"

Conlee's string of seven No. 1 hits on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart began with this 1978 single from the album Rose Colored Glasses.

8. "Got My Heart Set on You"

Country, R&B and soul great Dobie Gray co-wrote this, Conlee's seventh and final No. 1 hit and his finest single for Columbia Records. It's a pure-hearted love song that could've worked in just about any popular genre.

7. "Before My Time"

Conlee's first MCA single built off country tradition without sounding out of the ordinary to fans of the more pop-friendly love songs of Kenny Rogers, Crystal Gayle and other peers.

6. "I'm Only In It For The Love"

Kix Brooks co-wrote this fun, boot-scooting No. 1 hit from the 1983 album In My Eyes. It's proof that in his heyday, Conlee's voice could fit any pop-minded Nashville trend.

5. "I Don't Remember Loving You"

A lot of Conlee's songs, from selections on this list to "Old School" and "Miss Emily's Picture," prove he's got a big, sensitive heart to go along with his big, memorable voice. He's got a sarcastic side, too, as heard on this tale of a man driven insane by a past lover. Unsurprisingly, this standout track from 1982's Busted was written by a couple of all-time greats: Harlan Howard and Bobby Braddock.

4. "Common Man"

A lot can be said about Conlee's celebration of everyday people, but we've come up with one pressing question that sums up this song's greatness. How did the likes of Doug Stone, Toby Keith and other '90s country stars miss out on what could've been a hit cover song?

3. "Backside of Thirty"

Conlee mixes multiple tropes (divorce, drinking to forget, mid-life crises, etc.) into quite the country music cocktail. It's the second (after "Lady Lay Down") and final No. 1 hit from Conlee's mainstream debut, Rose Colored Glasses.

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2. "Friday Night Blues"

One of the first great singles of the '80s addressed the emptiness of domestic life and the dreams of the everyday housewife. Also, how amazing is that album cover?

1. "Rose Colored Glasses"

It's usually a safe bet to rank a singer's signature song number one. That's definitely the case here, as this classic country tune's sustained greatness deserves a lot of credit for Conlee's rise from a mortician in Kentucky to the toast of Middle Tennessee.

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John Conlee's 10 Best Songs, Ranked