By Smith Galtney
The Definitive Collection
(MCA Nashville, 2004)
No matter if you're in rural honky-tonk or a gay dive in the Bronx, there's a reason this icon's always on the jukebox. Starring one of the most pitch-perfect instruments in American music and crushed-velvet arrangements that cradle Patsy's every fall, monuments like 'Crazy' and 'Sweet Dreams (Of You)' turn wallowing into a very classy affair.
Country Music Hall of Fame Series
(MCA Nashville, 1991)
Lynn sings a world-class weeper, and God knows the likes of 'Success' and 'Blue Kentucky Girl' hurt so damn good. But then she cold-cocks her hubby's skank ho, groans about making too many babies, and reclaims her independence via 'The Pill.' We're still talking about Nashville, right? This isn't the Pretenders' first album?
Coat of Many Colors
A heavenly singer and ace storyteller, Parton has a narrative flair that's built more cohesive albums than those of her Music Row peers. Cry rivers to the title track, then marvel at the weirder shit, like Mom stealing her daughter's beau in 'Traveling Man,' and 'If I Lose My Mind,' probably the first country tune about a m'nage ' trois.