While known for clever, tongue-in-cheek country anthems, Brad Paisley's greatest gift may be storytelling. His greatest asset may be his willingness to do whatever it takes to make a song all it can be. Those traits come together on "Whiskey Lullaby," song No. 12 on this Top Country Songs of the Century list.

Alison Krauss joins Paisley to sing this tragic love story. He's never worried about pairing up with the format's top singers — many would be terrified they'd be exposed by her angelic voice. Together, they fall into character; he the hard-working husband in love with his wife, she the beautiful swan draped in guilt because her actions led to his death. They are a diamond-and-denim couple until both drink themselves to death. The lyrics, the chords and their performance tear the heart open, even a decade or more later.

Jon Randall and Bill Anderson wrote "Whiskey Lullaby," and both knew a double-suicide dirge would be a difficult sell. The song sat on the shelf for nearly five years before Paisley turned it into a duet, and it has go on to become the best of his ballads, if not the best song of his career. The multi-Platinum hit was a CMA Song of the Year winner that opened up what fans and the industry expected from him.

About this list: Taste of Country’s Top Country Songs of the Century were decided by a panel of country music experts and fans using sales and chart data, a song’s social and musical impact and lyrical integrity. Select artists were also surveyed. You’ll hear from several throughout the list.