What do old country songs mean to you?
For most, old country songs bring back memories. These are the songs that put you back in a place and time where something important happened. You can hear a song and instantly go back to that moment in time where you were alone with your girl or sipping coffee with your grandfather or perhaps hanging out with your friends.
That’s the power of country music. It takes you back to the good times. A good, old country song has the power to make you feel the way you felt so many years ago.
And old country songs have really defined the genre. After all these years there are so many great country songs, but there are some songs you’d play to introduce country music to new listeners.
When people think about old country music – the original country songs – they think about these Top 100 Old Country Songs…
Check them out, listen, and comment.
Old Country Songs
This list was compiled giving thought to songs that are at least 25 years old. They’ve had an impact on the genre. These are the songs that go way back and songs that have had some impact on country music and its fans.
100. I Saw The Light – Hank Williams
He was the original modern day country artist. When people think of country music they often thing of Hank Williams. To start the Old Country Song list it had to be kicked off with a great Hank Williams song. I Saw The Light was released in 1948 just as Hank was getting going with his career. The track had gospel influence as country often does. When most think of country music they think of songs like this. What a great way to kick off the countdown.
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99. The Man I Used To Be – Boxcar Willie
A former pilot, Boxcar Willie came to fame in the ’80s for his traditional sounding country vocals and his love for trains. Boxcar Willie carved his niche in country with the unique sound and take on classic train songs. He also had new hit songs and sold millions of records worldwide. One of his classic hits and a favorite at his theater in Branson was The Man I Used To Be. It sounds like a song straight out of a honky tonk in the ’50s. A great country song. I love how the guy is trying to explain to his woman that he was never the man she thought he used to be.
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98. Rose Marie- Slim Whitman
Slim is one of country’s most successful artists of all time. He had numerous hits from the ’50s all the way up to the ’80s. He is a legend and one of his biggest hits was Rose Marie. Slim was known for his trademark ability to single way up high to the heavens all while even including some yodeling. He had a style all his own and his love song for Rose Marie is truly one of the best of all time in country music.
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97. Rose Garden – Lynn Anderson
We stick with the rose theme for Lynn Anderson’s classic hit. The song is upbeat and was a huge hit for Lynn. It’s kind of the song that made her a star. It’s a country classic and one that really crossed genres a bit. Lynn Anderson is one of country’s biggest female stars and really one of the biggest stars period. She has a great voice and her biggest hit has to be included on this countdown of old country songs.
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96. Wasted Days and Wasted Nights – Freddy Fender
I’m a huge Freddy Fender song. Freddy became one of country’s biggest stars back when he debuted in the ’70s. One of his first hits was also one of his biggest. Wasted Days And Wasted Nights had this really unique sound. It had the hispanic sound mixed with classic southeast country. It was new. It was interesting. Above anything else it was a great country song about trying to figure out life. It’s a classic and I still turn it up every time I hear it on the old time radio stations.
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95. You Never Even Call Me By My Name – David Allan Coe
I realized the impact David Allan Coe had on the country music scene when I was hanging out with some folks one night a few years back. We were just sitting around watching a football game or something and having a few beers. When the game ended we started playing cards to pass the time. The music was turned on and when the playlist came to this track everybody started singing along. It was crazy. Blame it on the beers or blame it on a great country song. Either way it was a great moment and proved to me just how important this song is in country history.
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94. Old Violin – Johnny Paycheck
I cheated the 25 year rule to get this one on the list. Every time I hear this song on old country radio I feel like it came from an older era than the late ’80s. Johnny Paycheck is a country legend. He was a little off kilter and didn’t get along with everyone, but he recorded some of the best country songs of all time. This is one of my favorites. It came at the end of Johnny’s career and really wasn’t his biggest charting hit, but at the end of the day I think it’s one of the best country songs of all time.
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93. A Country Boy Can Survive – Hank Williams Jr.
Just like his dad, Hank Williams Jr. is a country legend. It could almost be argued that Jr. had to overcome even more odds than his dad. Jr. had to make his own way in the same world as his dad and do it all many years after his dad’s legend became huge. Jr. was more than successful and one of his biggest hits was A Country Boy Can Survive. The song remains iconic today and still has themes people can relate to. It’s one of country’s most important songs and always will be.
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92. It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels – Kitty Wells
In 1952, Kitty Wells came out with one of her biggest hits. The song shot to #1 on the charts and even entered the top 30 on the pop charts. As I listen to It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels it makes me feel like I’m sitting on a bar stool back in the ’50s. This is what made country music what it is today. Kitty Wells had hit songs on the charts for more than three decades. She’s a true icon in country music and having her biggest hit on this list is a must. She’s great and this song is one of the best.
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91. Thank God I’m A Country Boy – John Denver
John Denver was loved by many, but disliked by a few. Some felt he didn’t fit in with country music. Today, it’s hard to think that was ever the case. When some people think about country music they think about John Denver and I think that’s just fine. John had numerous country hits including this classic Thank God I’m A Country Boy. The song comes up now and again in movies and on TV and really represents a great era in country. It’s fun. It’s campy. It’s a part of country music and something to be proud of. I love it.
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90. Elvira – Oak Ridge Boys
Throughout history there have been just a few songs that have really become hits above all other hits. Elvira is one of those songs. The track has all the unique factors that really make it special. The melody is memorable. The lyrics are unique. For the Oak Ridge Boys the song became one of country’s biggest hits of all time. It sold millions and people still love it today. It’s a classic and a song that really stands for country music to many people. It’s a special song.
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89. Flowers On The Wall – The Statler Brothers
For me, The Statler Brothers will always stand out for a specific memory. Back when I was just a kid my folks would drop my younger brother and I off at Grandma and Grandpa’s for a week or so each summer. We always looked forward to it. Something I remember is that every night (or it seemed like every night) my Grandpa would turn on PBS and The Statler Brothers would be singing their classic hits. My grandpa loved the way they sounded. One of their biggest hits was Flowers On The Wall. It’s one of the biggest and best country songs of all time. It could get boring at times at grandma’s, but even as a kid I never resorted to counting the flowers on the wall.
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88. Once A Day – Connie Smith
Connie Smith debuted in 1964. Her first single release went all the way to #1 on the country charts. Once A Day remains a huge hit on classic country stations. Connie is regarded as one of the pioneers of country especially in the ’60s. The song is about denial and losing someone. She still thinks about her man every day even though things are over. The melody of the track is great. It still sounds amazing all these years later.
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87. Hello Walls – Faron Young
Faron Young had what is perhaps his biggest hit in 1961. The song, Hello Walls, was a quirky country tune about a guy sitting alone and talking to nothing, but the walls around him. The sound of Faron’s voice is iconic. It’s classic country from the ’60s era. The track was actually written by an up and coming singer-songwriter Willie Nelson. You may have heard of him. Faron was busy talking to the walls, windows, and other objects in 1961. The song became iconic and so did its performer and writer.
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86. Delta Dawn – Tanya Tucker
Tanya Tucker was just a kid when her debut single Delta Dawn was released in 1972. The song went on to become one of the biggest hits of all time. Tanya had this intriguing voice that didn’t sound like anyone else. She really captured the attention of the country audience and with this song especially. Tanya would go on to have her controversy, but when you look past everything she really had some great songs and it all started with this great old country tune.
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85. Rhinestone Cowboy – Glen Campbell
Glen Campbell was one of country’s biggest stars in the 1960s. He was an incredible talent and sought after musician. He rose to fame as a great singer, performer, and actor. Glen was an icon. In 1975, though, he was on a bit of a downward trend in his career. Many even considered him and afterthought. Glen surprised everybody except perhaps himself, though, when he came out with the iconic country hit Rhinestone Cowboy. The song poked a little fun at the Hollywood cowboys and it made for good discussion. The melody of the song is what really captured people back then and continues to do so today. It’s a great country song. A classic.
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84. Good Ol’ Boys – Waylon Jennings
Waylon Jennings took on the duties of narrator for the hit TV show Dukes Of Hazzard. Waylon even recorded the theme song Good Ol’ Boys. I don’t know if Waylon knew just how big the song and show would become. Thirty years later this song is still in huge demand. It’s been sold as a mobile phone ringtone over a million times and you can still hear this song in bars and at country parties. It’s a song that has crossed generations and still has people wanting to have a little fun out in the country.
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83. I Believe In You – Don Williams
Don Williams became a country classic in the ’70s. Things came to a peak in 1980 when he released what was perhaps his biggest hit I Believe In You. The slow song about love was easy going and something really unique. Don had this way of melding simple lyrics into really beautiful country songs. This is another example of taking some words about love and turning it into something that’s romantic and optimistic at the same time. Don was great and this is a great old country song.
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82. Yakety Axe – Chet Atkins
Chet Atkins was a country legend. He was a huge producer and executive. He also had a few hits of his own including Yakety Axe. The song is a country classic and one that often comes up in discussion of old country songs. The song has the classic Chet Atkins style of guitar picking. It’s snappy. It’s country from the opening chord. Chet could play like no one else. He has his own style and proves that sometimes if you can pick the guitar you don’t even need to open your mouth.
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81. Let Your Love Flow – The Bellamy Brothers
Even though it was a bigger pop hit than country hit, Let Your Love Flow had and has continued to have a huge impact on country music. Any time artists cross genres I think it’s a good thing for country music. Songs like this bring new blood in country music. The song peaked at #1 on the charts in 1976 and really kicked off a huge run of hits for the brothers. It’s a simple love song, but sometimes those are the songs that become the biggest hits.
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