We’re down to the final ten songs in our countdown of the greatest guy songs in country music history. Here are the first installments in case you missed them:
What follows are the greatest guy songs ever recorded by country artists. The list concludes with guys that know how to connect with their fellow men that frequent audiences across the nation.
Let’s get right to it…
10) How Do You Like Me Now!? – Toby Keith
In 1999, Toby Keith took his latest collection of songs to his record company. After over 5 years of number one hits, gold and platinum albums, the execs of the label told Keith that his album wasn’t good enough. Toby asked the label if they would release him from the contract and they agreed. Toby planned to take his album with him, but the label said they had money invested. Keith had to pay a reported six figure sum to purchase the rights. He took the album and found a home on a new label. The result was a a platinum album that was bolstered by the title track How Do You Like Me Now!?. It’s the ultimate kiss-off song. The song was about a former love, but guys all over use the phrase for a variety of reasons. And the song had a little extra meaning for Keith.
9) Guys Like Me – Eric Church
I had mixed feelings about including Eric Church in the top ten on this list, but his song Guys Like Me is just so great. Eric writes simple lyrics that describe the lifestyle of most guys that listen to country music. It’s hard to ignore a song hits the nail on the head with working on the truck, wearing a greasy ball cap, and wearing boots to church. There is a little subtle ode to Some Girls Do.
Thank God there’s girls like you/for guys like me
8) Family Tradition – Hank Williams Jr.
Hank Williams Jr. is quite possibly the ultimate guy’s guy in country music. Rockin’ Randall was rowdy, fun, and a genuine country guy. He likes to shoot guns, fish, drink beer, and drive trucks. He wrote about as much with his breakthrough hit Family Tradition. The song allowed Hank Jr. to move from being only the son of his famous dad to a legitimate country star in his own right. When this song comes on the jukebox or is covered by a band in a bar these days just about the whole place will chant along.
7) Choices – George Jones
It’s pretty unreal how respected George Jones is among his peers and audience. Performers from all genres regularly cite the great singer as an influence. In 1998, Jones released a new single called Choices. The song wasn’t a huge hit on radio, but the song had an immense impact on guys across the country. I can remember sitting around a campfire at hunting camp as the 3 middle-aged men around me drank beer and sang along to the chorus.
But perhaps the defining moment for Choices was at the 1999 CMA Awards. The producers offered George the opportunity to sing Choices, but he would have to cut it down to 90 seconds. George was insulted and turned down the offer. Alan Jackson – a big fan and friend of George Jones – had a spot where he sang his hit Pop A Top, but halfway through he stopped the song and sang a portion of Choices. The artists stood in applause. Alan simply acknowledged the crowd and walked off. A great statement for a great song and legend of country music.
6) Theme From The Dukes of Hazzard (Good Ol’ Boys) – Waylon Jennings
For guys that grew up in the early ’80s, the hit show on TV was The Dukes of Hazzard. Along with the popular show was the popular theme. Waylon Jennings wrote and recorded the song. It’s 2 minutes of pure joy as Waylon rolls through the lyrics and melody. Just over 25 years after the show and song came out, the track was the first country song to be certified as a platinum ringtone.
5) The Cowboy In Me – Tim McGraw
Tim McGraw is back on the countdown with his cowboy tune. A slow moving tune about what it’s like to be the typical guy. The choice we make, the hearts we break, and the work we do is all part of what defines us as men. The few things that others sometimes question are usually a result of all guys having a little cowboy in them. The baby boomer generation grew up by watching westerns. The cowboys on TV and the actual farmers, ranchers, and rodeo stars left their mark on those men. Tim was the perfect guy to put his stamp on a classic song.
4) Hard Workin’ Man – Brooks & Dunn
Brooks & Dunn ruled country music for nearly two decades. They brought a rocking sound to country as they tore through songs like they were on a mission. Hard Workin’ Man was their ode to the guys in the audience that were working physical jobs to make a living. B&D brought a brash attitude to country and guys responded by buying their records by the millions. Nobody could lay a vocal down like Ronnie Dunn and nobody tore up a stage like Kix. These guys may take a break from performing each other in the near future, but they’ll forever be linked as one the greatest duo in country music history.
3) Mama Tried – Merle Haggard
The ultimate bad boy song. Merle Haggard released Mama Tried as a way to let everyone know that his mom was not responsible for the bad things he’d done in his life. Plenty of guys could relate to the tale of a mom struggling to keep her young sons in check. Some guys are simply too dead set on doing their own thing and making their mistakes. Merle tried to give all those moms out there a little credit for trying to do what they could with an impossible task.
2) A Country Boy Can Survive – Hank Williams Jr.
Hank Williams Jr. just about topped the list with A Country Boy Can Survive. The song is just about the ultimate country music song. Guys living in rural parts all over the country relate to the story this song tells. The men of America are rugged, survivors, and ready for anything when it comes to doing what is necessary. Shooting guns, skinning deer, and running trot lines is all that needs to be heard to know that this song is a classic guy song. Plus nobody could lay down a guitar lick like Jr.
1) As Good As I Once Was – Toby Keith
For the number one, ultimate guy song I had to go with Toby Keith‘s As Good As I Once Was. The song was a multiple week number one smash hit. The story of the song is meaningful to all guys as they realize they’re putting on a few years. As guys reach maturity they realize they may not be able to do all the things they used to, but damn it they can probably do it all once just as good as they ever have. Toby Keith made that feeling a possibility with this song. And for giving hope to all guys, Toby Keith lands at number one on the list.
There they are – the top ten guy songs of all time.
What are your thoughts? Are there any missing? Share your feelings in the comments.