Doug Stone songs offer more than tender ballads that put his vocal talents to good use.
This list could be twice as long and still leave off worthy selections. Notice that "Little Houses," "I Thought It Was You," Too Busy Being In Love," "Come In Out Of The Pain," "How Do I Get Off the Moon," "Faith In Me, Faith in You," "Make Up In Love" and "Why Didn't I Think of That" don't even make our playlist of the 10 best by a what former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller described as a "lonesome baritone balladeer."
The Road To the Top
Born Douglas Jackson Brooks, his ascent from the Atlanta suburbs to Nashville stardom involved more than "I'd Be Better Off (In a Pine Box)" and other obvious picks. The singer started performing at an extremely young age, even opening for Loretta Lynn when he was just 7 years old. He changed his name to avoid any confusion with Garth Brooks and was able to secure his first record deal with Epic Records in 1989. He was signed as the only artist the label had never seen play live thanks to producer Doug Johnson sharing some of Stone's songs.
Stone shared his talents and love of country music through a wide range of sonic approaches, as demonstrated by this roundup of this top ten greatest hits. Over the years, he's scored eight No. 1 hits and twenty-six charted singles.
10. "Sailing Home for Christmas"
Stone added to '90s country's Christmas playlist with this celebration of soldiers who won't be home for the holidays. It's off his 1992 album The First Christmas.
9. "These Lips Don't Know How To Say Goodbye"
8. "World Goes Round"
This album cut from In a Different Light is a solid example of Stone's gift for telling vivid stories about regular folks' daily routines. It's also a solid studio creation, with well-placed fiddle accompaniment and a sweet guitar mini-solo.
7. "Addicted to a Dollar"
This old-fashioned honky tonk song rocks every bit as hard as Keith Whitley's "Hard Livin'" and other classics that allowed country singers to let loose musically and creatively.
6. "Warning Labels"
This is another one of those Music Row meets Texas dancehalls types of upbeat hits, co-written by Kim Williams. It celebrates sad, old country songs, as those are what Stone wants labeled as harmful to your health and hard on your heart.
5. "Fourteen Minutes Old"
Lyrically, this one is a bummer, with the narrator counting down the minutes since his lover departed. Musically, it's a Georgia boy tipping his cap to upbeat, fiddle-driven Texas country. It's by the legendary songwriter A.L. "Doodle" Owens.
4. "A Jukebox With a Country Song"
Here's another George Jones-esque story-song from Stone's back catalog. The lyrics tell of a musician shaken by his local spot getting rid of its swinging doors and a jukebox filled with country classics. Think of it as dive bar gentrification.
3. "I Never Knew Love"
Now this is a country ballad! Stone sums up appreciating the little things that teach us all about love, loss and life with one of his greatest songs. Its music video aged better than most and helps drive Stone's story home.
2. "In a Different Light"
Famed songwriting duo Dickey Lee and Bob McDill had a hand in what's still one of the most gorgeous ballads of the past 25 years. It's about lust, not love, but it's still from the heart. Also, the 1991 single became Stone's first song to top the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
1. "I'd Be Better Off (In a Pine Box)"
Stone's vocal gifts and neo-traditionalist values still shine brightest on this career-launching love song off his self-titled debut album for Sony/Epic Records. It makes it clear that there's no better place than his lover's embrace. Otherwise, he might as well be in Hell or prison.
This story was originally published on Sept. 29, 2019.