What: Roseanne Cash’s infectious version of her dad Johnny’s song “Tennessee Flat Top Box,” from her 1987 breakout album King’s Record Shop:

Why: Roseanne Cash was uniquely poised to lead country music out of its darkest period. The early 1980s had seen the Nashville Sound devolve into orchestrative schmaltz, pop insensibility, and jingoistic posturing. Cash launched a burgeoning movement called New Country, a puzzling name since it was a revolution backwards to find country’s roots. As she was the Man in Black’s own daughter, she could get away with things that her fellow malcontents could not. King’s Record Shop was country’s Appetite for Destruction, sweeping away the “hair-country” and replacing it on the airwaves with real music. The centerpiece was a plucky take on her dad’s catchiest tune. “Tennessee Flat Top Box” was the tuneful tale of a country Johnny B. Goode who hypnotized all the girls from 9 to 90 with his jangly guitar stylings. Their adoration was illicit; the little dark-haired boy was from a South Texas border town, so maybe he was Mexican, and maybe he vanished like the breeze because he was rousted out by angry brothers and husbands. Playing the part of the mesmerizing picker was Cash’s then-husband, Rodney Crowell. It’s country’s greatest riff.

Impact: Most “new” musical movements get dated fast. New Wave and Nü Metal are easy to pinpoint in time, and hard to appreciate without a personal connection. Not so New Country, which feels relevant now. Cash and company overthrew the overproducers and put the singer front and center, the way her dad did it. Though there are always Lee Greenwoods waiting in the shadows, they’re beaten back by those inspired by Rosie twenty years gone.

Personal Connection: In January ’88, I began a brief stint as a hotshot intern for the Fort Lauderdale News/Sun-Sentinel. But I needed a ride. So an exchange of my mom’s money later, I rolled out in a sky blue Chevette with a fancy AM radio. Out in the Florida sticks, I could only pick up a lonely country station. Capping 90 down the Port Everglades Expressway, I could count on hearing the recent “Tennessee Flat Top Box” every hour or so. Each time, I floored that Chevette.

Other Contenders: The Charlie Daniels Band’s epic fire-and-rhinestone throwdown “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”; Lyle Lovett’s wry childhood fantasy “If I Had a Boat”; Steve Earle’s moonshine- and rage-fueled “Copperhead Road”; David Ball’s tribute to a lost G.I. with great taste in cars, “Riding with Private Malone”; Dolly Parton’s distress call to the treacherous “Jolene”; Mary Chapin Carpenter’s heavenly trifle “Halley Came to Jackson”; Big & Rich’s country-rap barnburner “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy”; Jack White’s likable reboot of Loretta Lynn’s career, “Portland, Oregon”.