Catch CMT’s All-Time Top 40: Artist’s Choice This Weekend

Thomas Rhett, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Others Talk About the Best of the Best

Some of the biggest names in music will appear this weekend during a special re-airing of All-Time Top 40: Artist’s Choice, produced by CMT Hot 20 Countdown.

With an all-genres list that ranges from Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash to the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith — and even some younger performers — the results were determined by a private poll of country music artists. The artist polling began early last year with a weekly countdown featuring rare footage and exclusive interviews.

Thomas Rhett put Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams Jr. on his list of favorites but said no one compares to Haggard.

“All those guys, they’re all fantastic and they will all go down in the history of the greatest country artists of all time,” Rhett said. “But to me, Merle was the best. To me, Merle was the best songwriter ever. ‘Misery and Gin’ is my favorite song of all time. The way that Merle can deliver a song makes you feel something … the way that he could tell a story through two verses and a chorus. I mean, honestly, Merle was one of the main reasons I wanted to become a songwriter.”

Each story pays tribute to the legacy of the artists’ body of work by documenting their extraordinary talent with personal stories and fond memories. For Luke Bryan, it was all about Alan Jackson, a singer-songwriter from his home state.

“Alan spoke the language of country music to me being a kid from Georgia,” Bryan said. “I remember where I was at when I heard ‘Chattahoochee’ for the first time. I just remember going, ‘This guy has written the soundtrack to my life and my summer and summers to come. Him being a Georgia boy songwriter guy that made it from Georgia inspired me that I could make it.”

Jason Aldean says a truly great artist means being part of history.

Aerosmith is, to me, one of the best rock bands of all time,” he said. “You’ve got a band that’s just kind of created their own thing and went through a lot of ups and downs like within the band. Broke up and got back together and became bigger than they ever were before.

“I think Steve Tyler is the best frontman that’s ever been in a band of any kind. Such a distinctive voice and and just a great showman. Again, those guys have been around since forever — I mean, before I was born — having hits back then and still be able to go out and tour.”

Aldean’s admiration and respect grew even more after he shared the bill with Aerosmith following the Boston bombing.

“Just to get a chance to go out and watch those guys perform and soundcheck and all that, I mean I turn into a like a 16-year-old kid again man,” he said. “I out sidestage and hanging out backstage in the dressing rooms, and they’re all in the hallway. I’m mean, that’s rock ‘n’ roll history, man. It was cool to be a part of it.

Don’t miss this special presentation of All-Time Top 40: Artist’s Choice this Saturday and Sunday (July 4-5) at 9 a.m. ET/PT.