During his peak hit-making years, Nashville songwriter and recording artist Vern Gosdin was billed as "The Voice." The nickname suited the Woodland, Alabama native because few aside from Keith Whitley, Randy Travis and Alan Jackson have emerged over the past 40 years as an equally gifted teller of throwback stories.
From 1977 to 1990, Gosdin charted 19 Top 10 country singles, including three No. 1s: "I Can Tell By the Way You Dance (You're Gonna Love Me Tonight)", "Set 'Em Up Joe", and "I'm Still Crazy." Memorable songs not listed below include "Yesterday's Gone," "Dream of Me," "Slow Burning Memory," "Way Down Deep," "I Wonder Where We'd Be Tonight," "There Ain't Nothing Wrong (Just Ain't Nothing Right)," "Tanqueray," "Tight as Twin Fiddles," "It's Not Over, Yet" and covers of The Association's "Never My Love" and The Byrds' "Turn, Turn, Turn (To Everything There Is A Season)."
There's way more than 15 great songs in Gosdin's back catalog, so consider this a jumping off point if you're interested in diving headfirst into his music (or a refresher if you grew up on this stuff).
15. "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)"
Gosdin's 1985 album Time Stood Still is highlighted by one of the best covers of this Joe and Rose Lee Maphis classic.
14. "If Jesus Comes Tomorrow (What Then)"
This different twist on gospel songs about the Second Coming challenges listeners to call their own day-to-day honesty into question.
13. "Who You Gonna Blame It On This Time"
If you've been in a bad relationship or have worked for or with someone who was unreliable, you'll understand this one loud and clear.
12. "Right in the Wrong Direction"
The songwriter dream team of Gosdin, Mack Vickery ("The Fireman") and Hank Cochran ("I Fall to Pieces") collaborated on this 1990 hit.
11. "Today My World Slipped Away"
Gosdin excelled at more than honky-tonk throwbacks that kept the beer taps flowing. His voice also suited emotional slow-burners like this, a future George Strait single.
10. "This Ain't My First Rodeo"
Another Cochran team-up finds Gosdin having a little fun with a saying that likens roping and riding to just about anything that's become old hat.
9. "Do You Believe Me Now"
8. "Is It Raining at Your House"
Another absurdly awesome trio (Gosdin, Cochran and Dean Dillon) deliver the brilliance you'd expect when three geniuses walk into a co-write.
7. "I Can Tell By the Way You Dance (You're Gonna Love Me Tonight)"
This one drives fast like a Kenny Rogers or Bellamy Brothers hit without sullying Gosdin's reputation as an artist with a clear affinity for country music's past.
6. "I'm Still Crazy"
Gosdin, his son Steve and the great Buddy Cannon co-wrote this No. 1 hit from 1989. It proved that Gosdin could hang with the future '90s stars he inspired to chase that neon rainbow.
5. "If You're Gonna Do Me Wrong, Do It Right"
A gorgeous instrumental intro sets the stage for one gut-punch of a story-song. The 1983 single remains one of Gosdin's best Top 5 entires.
4. "Mother Country Music"
One of Gosdin's earliest singles as a solo act sings the praises of his genre of choice. It puts over the soul of country music through a healthy mix of Gosdin's vocal talents and the sweet fiddle accompaniment at the song's heart.
3. "Till the End"
Gosdin wrote one of the great duets of the late '70s with his then ex-wife Cathy and recorded it with a future two-time CMA Female Vocalist of the Year, Janie Fricke.
Read More: The 10 Best Joe Diffie Songs, Ranked
2. "Chiseled in Stone"
Like George Jones before him, Gosdin's vocal inflections told as good a story sometimes as some of his best co-writes. That point's driven home by this 1988 classic, co-written by Max D. Barnes, who shares credit with Troy Seals on Jones' "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes."
1. "Set 'Em Up Joe"
Gosdin's signature hit celebrates the staying power of country music. It's about going to your local watering hole to hear your favorite tunes by Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell and Ernest Tubb along with your neon neighbors. It's not a completely celebratory, as Gosdin sings of wearing out the jukebox copy of "Walking the Floor Over You" to cope with heartache.
This one's by Gosdin, Cochran, Dillon and Cannon.