The final countdown…
Top Country Songs – Part 5
20) Wild One – Faith Hill
It’s hard to believe there was a time when people didn’t know who Faith Hill was. Faith’s first single was released way back in 1993 and it shot straight to the top spot on the country charts. Wild One became an anthem for little kids that dreamed about doing great things. The song is about a little girl whose daddy tells her that she can be anything she wants to be. The song is melodic and memorable. It’s a great combination of sound and words. Nearly two decades later the song remains popular on radio and is a staple on playlists for men and women. Even men love hearing Faith sing her heart out. It’s a great song and one that is tops in country music.
19) Mama He’s Crazy – The Judds
The Judds debuted in 1983, but it was their second single Mama He’s Crazy that went to number one in 1984 and turned the mother daughter duo into superstars. The song is an interesting story especially considering that a mother and daughter perform it. The song is about a girl finding a boy that is crazy over her. It’s a great feeling to feel the love for someone where you just know they’re the one for you. Even if you don’t see it coming you know it when you have it. The Judds captured that emotion in this song and the rest was history as the duo went on to have a great career over a decade.
18) Meet In The Middle – Diamond Rio
There are maybe a handful or possibly even ten or fifteen songs just about everybody recognizes. One of those catchy songs that everybody knows is Meet In The Middle by Diamond Rio. The song is ultra-catchy and has a great message in the lyrics. The song is about a couple that has always met in the middle no matter what the situation. The message is to meet in the middle of any situation that might have the potential to break you and the ones you love apart. The song takes a positive approach to compromise and it works to perfection. The song went number one in 1991 and turned the sextet of Diamond Rio into stars. Throw in a guitar lick that is one of the best of all time and you have a song that is truly one of the best of all time.
17) Any Man of Mine – Shania Twain
After one album that kind of flopped, Shania Twain came back with one of the biggest albums in country music history. It was 1995 and Shania rocked the country world by recording some catchy tunes and even showing (gasp) her stomach to the world. Her first number one song in the US was the second single from The Woman In Me album. Any Man of Mine rocked the country world as Shania brought some attitude and told everyone that her next man better walk the line and show her a squeezing pleasing kind of time. It’s a great song that was paired with a genre defining video. Shania went on to become one of the biggest country stars of all time and fans everywhere still love listening to the catchy tune.
16) Gunpowder & Lead – Miranda Lambert
Some people probably wouldn’t put Gunpowder & Lead by Miranda Lambert up this high on the list of top country songs, but I believe the song is that powerful with that much impact on the genre. Miranda released this song not too long ago in 2008. The track was an in your face rocker that smashed men on the side of the face and got everyone’s attention. Normally a song about abusive relationships and retaliation wouldn’t have a chance on country radio, but it was just the song Miranda needed to push her onto radios everywhere. The song became Miranda’s first top ten hit and she has only continued to climb since its release. For one of the most talented artists of our time this was a life changing song.
15) When You Say Nothing At All – Keith Whitley
Every woman in America and probably many parts of the world recognize this song. When You Say Nothing At All is the ultimate love song women love to hear. The sentiment was expressed by one of country’s greats Keith Whitley. The song capped off a big 1988 for the country legend as it reached the top spots on the singles charts becoming Keith’s second top hit. The song was later taken to the top three on the charts with Alison Krauss. Other artists have continued recording the song and it always seems to have an impact. We will always remember Whitley’s version for being the big hit. It’s a great song about telling a woman you love her best and she doesn’t even have to say anything to make it happen. It’s a powerful emotion and people still connect with this song even today.
14) Life’s A Dance – John Michael Montgomery
I know some may not agree with this song being this high up on the list, but it’s another one of those songs that has the power to get caught in your head while making you smile. Back in 1992, a dimple-faced kid from Kentucky released his first single and it launched a huge career. The song was Life’s A Dance and the singer was John Michael Montgomery. The song is often referred to as a rip off of The Dance from Garth Brooks, but it’s a completely different song even if it has a similar meaning. Life’s A Dance is upbeat, fun, and a shares a message we can all connect with. Life’s truly a dance, you learn as you go.
13) I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack
I remember when this song came out. My mom was in love with it from the first time she heard it and had to have the CD. The song was I Hope You Dance and the singer was the great Lee Ann Womack. The single was released in 2000 and became one of the biggest singles of all time even reaching the top 15 on the pop charts. The traditionalist in Lee Ann probably didn’t expect for her music to reach a pop audience, but she brought her breed of country to the masses as everyone took to the sentiment of parents wanting the best for their kids. This is a song that makes moms and dads everywhere tear up. Parents simply want their kids to succeed and live happy lives. That’s what I Hope You Dance is all about and there was no one better to sing the tune than the great Lee Ann Womack.
12) Don’t Take The Girl – Tim McGraw
After one album that was a flop, Tim McGraw knew he had to cut some big tracks on his second otherwise he may never have a career in Nashville. After garnering some attention with the single Indian Outlaw Tim established himself as a star with his next single Don’t Take The Girl. The song shot straight to the top of the charts and became one of the biggest hits of the ’90s. The song is about a love and devotion for a girl through difficult situations. The narrator begs and pleads throughout the song that he doesn’t want anything in the world other than his girl. Anyone and everyone can have anything they want as long as he can stick with his girl. It’s a powerful feeling expressed by one of the best and that’s why it’s one of the top country songs of all time.
11) The River – Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks released some powerful songs in his career. One of the most special to many country fans is the song The River. The song was released in late 1992 and later hit the top spot on the charts. The song is about life and how it compares to the ups and downs of a river. When you compare common things it makes it easier for people to understand. Life is difficult to understand, but when poets like Garth Brooks and other talented songwriters are able to put life in terms we understand it makes living a little more easier through understanding. The song remains powerful while carrying multiple meanings for each person that hears it. It’s a popular song for big moments in life like graduations, weddings, and deaths. It’s a timeless song that will likely be around to define country music forever.
10) Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys – Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson
This song definitely has the longest title of any on the list. In 1978, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings released Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys. The song was a plea to save the young men from being drawn into the life of a cowboy and a drifter. For some reason there are those of us out there that need to drift and do some things that make others shake their heads. This song was an anthem for those kind of folks while at the same time pleading to the mamas out there to do the best they could to raise up those good men that stick in one place. Nobody could sing a song like Waylon and Willie and that’s why they basically were country music for many years in the ’70s and ’80s. They’re two of a kind and their songs like this one are what make them legends.
9) Dixieland Delight – Alabama
Alabama defines what country music is like. The members of the band are from the south and they brought their southern upbringing to each of their songs. The song Dixieland Delight is pure country music. The song is about the simple life of being with the love of your life forever. It can be as simple as sharing a Saturday night with the one you love and making a little loving on a Mason Dixon night. The song is catchy. It’s fun. And it one of a kind. This song oozes country especially the southern kind and just about every country fan loves it. I would have put it this high on the list for simply mentioning whitetail bucks munching on clover, but others may put it this high for simply being a song that most enjoy and cherish with special memories.
8) Forever And Ever Amen – Randy Travis
Randy Travis is widely regarded as one of the greatest artists in country music history. His unique voice connected with so many fans and along with George Strait, Randy can take credit for taking country away from a pop sound in the mid to late ’80s and starting a trend of old time traditional country that went on throughout the ’90s. In 1987, Travis released the first single to his huge album Always & Forever. The song was Forever And Ever, Amen. The song is probably the best country love song of all time. It’s a song for kids, adults and everyone in between. As long as old men sit and talk about the weather and as long as old women sit and talk about old men there will be people smiling and hugging their loved ones to this tune.
7) Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash first released Folsom Prison Blues way back in 1955 as a flip side to one of his debut singles. The song was later re-released in 1968 when it became a number one country song. The song is told from the perspective of a prisoner. It’s a harrowing song that bites at the listeners as the freight train rhythm captures the attention. The thought of being stuck in a prison somehow connected with more than just those that actually have to stay there. Cash had a way of playing the part of something people could connect to and that’s why people loved him. This song was one of his greatest achievements and remains a country classic more than fifty years after being written.
6) Strawberry Wine – Deana Carter
Deana Carter came onto the country music scene in late 1996 and rose to fame by following a path nobody recommended. The song that kicked off her career was Strawberry Wine. The track is a slow waltz – the kind of song that makes it tough for an artist to breakout. Usually radio wants something upbeat and snappy from new artists. Deana was even a little leery of the release as she wanted to release one of her own cuts. Everybody in the camp loved Strawberry Wine though and it was released. The choice proved best as the song climbed to the top spot on the charts in the fall of ’96. It’s a story of a young girl finding love for the first time and losing her virginity one summer at her grandparent’s farm. A little bittersweet, but memorable nonetheless just like strawberry wine. The sentiment connected with women everywhere and even men were drawn to the voice, the sound, and the lyrics. It’s one of those rare songs that captures the attention of everybody and that’s why it’s here on the list of top country songs.
5) Don’t Rock The Jukebox – Alan Jackson
A crazy occurrence in a tavern one night led to Alan Jackson getting the idea for one of the greatest country songs of all time. Before Alan had hit it big he was playing a small show. He went over to his bass player and leaned up against the old wobbly jukebox. His bass player looked at him and said… The comment took on a double meaning as Alan turned the song into a great country hook that turned out to be kind of his own anthem. Alan was part of the crowd that helped bring good old traditional country back into fashion in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Back then there were a lot of folks that didn’t want to hear a lot of rocking in their jukebox. They wanted to hear the good stuff from the likes of George Jones. There are still many folks that feel that way today and songs like Don’t Rock The Jukebox remain important.
4) Check Yes Or No – George Strait
It’s hard to pick a George Strait song to be his best and there are arguments for many others that could top this chart, but I had to go with the song I continue hearing the most even today. The song is Check Yes Or No and it remains a top country song many years after its initial release. The song is the cute story of two young kids that pass notes in school and eventually fall in love and spend the rest of their lives together. It’s the ultimate love story that everyone kind of hopes to experience. The song is simply a great story song that country music fans love. It’s a wonderful tune that people keep requesting. Everybody has a story of how they fell in love and this is the song people think of to remind them of the memories they have with their special someone. This song makes people feel good and that’s why it’s a top country song.
3) As Good As I Once Was – Toby Keith
Toby Keith doesn’t get enough credit. Fans love him but he’s burned a few bridges in the country music establishment. As a result he doesn’t get listed as one of the all time greats, but when you’ve been at the top of the country charts for nearly 20 years you deserve to be at the top of a few lists. In 2005 Toby released one of his songs that defined life for a generation. As Good As I Once Was captured the feeling many men and women feel when they start to put on a few years. The song is about not being able to do all the things you used to be able to, but just maybe if you put everything you have left into just one last effort you could still get things done once. It’s the ultimate hope feeling that everyone needs to keep living and enjoying life. It’s a totally unique song and nobody could sing it better than Toby.
2) He Stopped Loving Her Today – George Jones
George Jones often tops the list of all time country music greats. His song He Stopped Loving Her Today also often tops the list of the greatest country songs of all time. Here he makes it all the way to #2 on the list. The song came out in 1980 and turned a drowning career around for the country legend. The song is about a lonesome man that finally stopped loving his woman, but only after passing on. It’s a terribly sad song that all country fans seem to know. It’s a great country song in more ways than one. Thanks to the song people are able to cope with love and loss. Also thanks to the song one of the country’s greatest was able to find ongoing success in a career that was on the brink of going down the drain for good.
1) Don’t Close Your Eyes – Keith Whitley
Coming in at number one is the great Keith Whitley. Don’t Close Your Eyes tops the list of the top country songs of all time for a few reasons. The song is a ballad. It’s a slow country song about love that tears at the listener’s heart with the sorrow and melancholy that will make even the casual listener take notice. It’s the ultimate cry in your beer song that country is known for. Keith could sing a country song as well as anyone. He’s often regarded as one of the best soul country singers of all time. He put all his emotion into the songs he recorded and he struck gold with this classic. It became a huge hit and shortly after reaching superstardom Keith succumbed to complications from alcohol poisoning. A tough end to one of the best in history. Thankfully he left country fans with some great songs like Don’t Close Your Eyes.