By People Staff
December 16, 2009 12:00 PM

1. “JOLENE”

DOLLY PARTON

“The juxtaposition of the deceptively biting lyrics with Dolly’s delivery and hypnotic rhythm is extraordinary.”

2. “BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY”

QUEEN

“It’s operatic, rock and roll, mad-scientist brilliance.”

3. “ONE”

U2

“A song about the power of grace. U2’s spiritualism always captures me.”

4. “GOD ONLY KNOWS”

THE BEACH BOYS

“Just listening to it is all that needs to be said.”

5. “LOSE YOURSELF”

EMINEM

“His imagery floored me. I played it for Nashville writers who weren’t fans. They finally got why he’s a revered lyricist.”

6. “ROMEO AND JULIET”

DIRE STRAITS

“Mark Knopfler was a big influence. The lyrics, melody and guitar all come together superbly.”

7. “THE HIGH COST OF LIVING”

JAMEY JOHNSON

“These songs used to thrive in Music Row’s fields…now eroded by gatekeepers and truth suppressors. Who knew Jamey was a superb farmer!”

8. “WHERE I STOOD”

MISSY HIGGINS

“An insanely haunting, twisted place to write from. But Missy [an Australian singer-songwriter] nails it.”

9. “NOTHING COMPARES 2 U”

PRINCE

“Sinéad’s version is best known, but his puts it in a whole other world.”

10. “SECRET GARDEN”

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

“One of the truly great love songs of recent memory. Thank you, Bruce.”

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