Farming and country music have long been partners.
Americans have built their livelihoods by producing crops and goods from the soil and the land.
Throughout the decades there has been many soundtracks to the farming way of life and they’re hopefully gathered here so you can add them to your farming playlist.
25. Daddy’s Farm – Shooter Jennings
This song is kind of a wild card on the list. Shooter Jennings found his own style of music. It’s part hard rock and part country. He had one big hit a few years ago with perhaps his most pop-country track with 4th of July. I really liked that song and this one as well. Daddy’s Farm is about a felon on the run. He shot the guy his girl was with and hid out on his Daddy’s farm. It’s the farm the narrator grew up on playing guitar from morning to night. A nice little change of pace rebel song about farms on this list.
24. Farmer’s Daughter – Rodney Atkins
Rodney Atkins‘ 2006 album If You’re Going Through Hell was such a huge hit that it was almost impossible to follow up. That album saw four singles go to #1 on the charts. Rodney followed it up with another #1 on his next album and then saw two singles struggle on the charts a bit before the bonus track Farmer’s Daughter climbed up the charts in 2010. The song is a simple tune about a young farm hand. He catches on with a farmer and starts doing chores around the farm for a living. The work is tough and he thinks about giving up but then he sees the farmer’s daughter. She’s a real looker and pulls the kid in with her beauty. The rest of the story plays out like a farmer fairytale and the two end up together forever on their very own farm. All over the world there have been stories like this. And it’s a common story for many country fans. Just a great farm song about falling in love.
23. She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy – Kenny Chesney
Kenny Chesney had his farm song with the classic and fun She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy. The song is about a guy that finds a woman that is in love with his tractor. All she wants to do is go for a ride in the field all day and night with him. The song cracked the top ten on the country charts and became one of the biggest hits of Chesney’s career at the time. This was before his island loving days. At the time people weren’t sure if the song meant a little bit more than just having a good time on the farm with tractors but it’s all in good fun. The song was meant to be tongue-in-cheek and it turned out to be a big winner for country fans and for Chesney.
Download She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy
22. International Harvester – Craig Morgan
At the end of 2007 a song was released that had the sound of farm machinery firing up on the opening of the track. The tune was International Harvester and the performer was Craig Morgan. Now Morgan has the twang of a country guy and the attitude of a hard working farmer. He was perfect for this song and probably the only guy with the personality to successfully pull it off. The song became a top ten hit shortly after it’s release. It’s a song about a farmer that loves his International Harvester. Even when he’s hogging up the road on his p-p-p-plower he loves being a farmer and tilling up the land with his machines. Nothing more country than that.
Download International Harvester
21. Farm to Fame – Joey + Rory
In a sad story, Joey + Rory tell the tale of a country singer that went from farm to fame. The song is about a unnamed country singer that worked hard to go from rags to riches and then ultimately fell back to rags again after his run of country success flamed out. The song has the usual great melody and sound of a Joey + Rory tune. They have a special talent for telling stories. While this song isn’t directly about farming it sure tells the story of country life and starting out on a farm where hard work is learned, but not always remembered.
20. Hillbilly Deluxe – Brooks & Dunn
Brooks & Dunn have always had a different kind of attitude, but they took things to a new, cool level with the release of Hillbilly Deluxe. The song is about life in a small town. This song kind of stretches the limits of farm songs, but I thought it should be included since it has pickup trucks, home grown country girls, and small town parties. Most of these events happen outside of the small towns all across America where farms are usually only a mile or two, if that, away from the big lights of the small town.
19. Strawberry Wine – Deana Carter
Most people might not think of Strawberry Wine when it comes to farm songs, but the Deana Carter tune was definitely about life on a farm. The waltz made Deana a star when it shot to the top spot on the country charts in the fall of ’96. The song was about young love one summer on the grandparent’s farm. The writer of the song said it was based on actual events from her coming of age history. The song was bittersweet and something everybody could relate to. Strawberry Wine remains popular today and fans love it for the story, the singing, and the great imagery of farm life in the US. A great farm song from country’s own girl next door.
18. The Pickin’ Shed – Ashton Shepherd
It wasn’t a single, but Pickin’ Shed is a classic song from Ashton Shepherd. The souther singer released a great collection of songs on her debut album in 2008. Two singles hit the top 20 and a few of the other tracks became favorites including Pickin’ Shed that is about playing and enjoying music out in the shed on the country property. This is where country music was born – people getting together to celebrate life. The setting for a few great country songs was probably a place just like the Pickin’ Shed.
17. Farmer’s Blues – Marty Stuart
Farmers really came under pressure in the late 1900’s and many struggled. Marty Stuart released his ode to the tough farming life with the song Farmer’s Blues. The song is melancholy and the lyrics tell the story of a farmer working through each day with little security and happiness. The song has some great images and Marty puts his classic vocals on the all too true farm story. A great yet sad farm song.
16. My Town – Montgomery Gentry
One of Montgomery Gentry‘s biggest hits was the song My Town. I put this song on the list since there are images of farming and farming life sprinkled in the lyrics. A rusty tractor is in the first line of the song. Some of these country songs include lyrics and stories about small town life. I can’t help but think of farming and small towns as one in the same sometimes. Where I’m from the farms were only a few miles if that from town and the town seemed to be full of items from the farm especially my favorite Thursday farmer’s market. This is a great tune from Montgomery Gentry and it remains popular on radio and on playlists for many country fans.
15. John Deere Tractor – The Judds
John Deere Tractor appeared on The Judds first album in 1983 and it was later released as a single in 1991. The song is about life in the country compared to life in the city. Wynonna and Naomi sing about how living in the city can be different from the good life in the country. There are some great images of the farm life in the song and that’s why it had to be included in this list. It’s just a great country song in general and one of The Judds’ finest.
14. Man On A Tractor – Rodney Atkins
Here is a great outlook on life by Rodney Atkins. He sings the story of a guy sitting in his house. The guy sees a man on a tractor that seems to have his life in order. The farmer seems to have peace of mind. He knows what he has to do. His work is laid out in front of him. The narrator starts realizing that he’s doing a pretty good job at life. He may not be a man on a tractor, but he’s yielding some pretty good results as he works life in his own way. Another great farming analogy for life.
13. The Last of a Dying Breed – Neal McCoy
Neal McCoy saluted the hard working folks that farm the land every day. The Last of a Dying Breed celebrates the life of farmers yet there is a sad undertone to the song as well since the history of farming in America seems to be ending at worst and changing at best. The days of individual farmers working hard to make a living for themselves and their families are no longer the norm in the American Heartland. They are the last of a dying breed, but we can all still look to them for direction in life while we still can.
Download The Last Of A Dying Breed
12. John Deere Green – Joe Diffie
Joe Diffie saluted John Deere tractors and the good country life with his song John Deere Green. The song was actually written by the great songwriter Dennis Linde and it was both clever and hilarious. The song is about a lovestruck country boy that paints his name and his sweetheart’s name on the water tower one day. The guy of course chooses John Deere Green as the color of the paint. The green color has been an American icon over the years as just about everybody recognizes the color when they see it. That’s the power of branding and a reason John Deere became a huge image of the farming industry worldwide.
11. Thank God I’m A Country Boy – John Denver
In 1975, John Denver released what is perhaps his most well known song. Thank God I’m A Country Boy is fun and super catchy. Denver ripped through the lyrics as fast as he could and he played the fiddle right along at a pace that had everybody’s feet tapping. The song peaked at #1 on the country and pop charts. Denver was always considered kind of a pop-country star because his music had such broad appeal. He was a talented artist that recorded some great country songs including this one about country life that includes some great images from farm life as well. The song was visited again in 1993 for the movie Son In Law and Denver has remained a popular figure in music after his premature death in 1997.
Download Thank God I’M A Country Boy
10. Song of the South – Alabama
Alabama sang about country life and included some farm stories in their music over the years. Song of the South was one of the greatest Alabama songs. The song has the story of a cotton farmer and family struggling through life in the South. The song is another catchy one from Alabama. The sing along chorus is familiar to just about every country fan and that’s a big reason why the song remains popular even today. This song is upbeat and an anthem of sorts for the South and farm life. It’s a great country song and also one of the greatest farm songs of all time.
9. Where Corn Don’t Grow – Travis Tritt
For as long as there has been farmers, there has been farmer’s kids longing for something more. Adventure is part of most kids’ lives. Farm life is great. There are wide open fields. Hard work builds character, but for some kids there is always the pull of the world beyond the plow. Travis Tritt released a song about just this feeling with Where Corn Don’t Grow. The song is about a kid that asks his dad if he can leave and seek a life of his own out in the city. Kids often think they have things figured out when they’re still just getting started. Many hard lessons are learned as we go through life. There are often riches out in the world, but quality life lessons can be learned right at home on the farm as well.
Download Where Corn Don’t Grow
8. Alabama Clay – Garth Brooks
Alabama Clay was never a single for Garth Brooks but the song was still able to become popular with country fans and farmers. The song was first released on Garth’s debut album way back in 1989. The song is about life on the farm and takes a unique turn again as a boy learns life on a farm. The story follows the kid as he grows up and tries to work the factory in the city. He eventually finds his way back to life on the farm and things work out well in the end despite a few bumps along the way. Garth was country’s biggest star of all time. He could record songs about anything and have success. Luckily he recorded Alabama Clay as a tribute to the farmers of the world.
Purchase Garth Brooks debut album
7. Amarillo Sky – Jason Aldean
Jason Aldean‘s first record was a platinum success. The first single made the top ten. The second single reached #1 on the charts. To follow that up Jason released the single Amarillo Sky. The song is a story about the struggling life of a farmer. Farming is tough work. Before the sun comes up farmers are out there working the land, doing something that needs to be done to make money and support the family. Usually the chores of the day go on until after sunset. There isn’t much sleep for farmers and there are rarely vacations. It’s a difficult way to live yet it’s necessary for food, resources, and other bounties people need. Amarillo Sky is a great song. It recognizes the hard work farmers put in every day and salutes the ones still going strong.
6. Cadillac Ranch – Chris LeDoux
In 1993 the late great Chris LeDoux released the song Cadillac Ranch. The single reached the top twenty on the country charts. It was a rocking tune – Chris usually never slowed things down. The song is a fun story about a farm family that struggles to keep their farm going. The family decides to turn the farm into a dance hall. There is music, liquor, and a dance floor. The song is rocking and surely had folks out on the dance floor two-stepping and enjoying a good line dance. Chris was a classic country artist. He was truly one of a kind and songs like Cadillac Ranch will forever be a big part of country music.
5. Rain Is A Good Thing – Luke Bryan
In 2009 Luke Bryan combined two classic country themes – rain and farming – and created a classic country tune. Rain Is A Good Thing raced up the charts and became a number one hit for Bryan. The song turns the normally downer of rain on its head by saying that rain can make for some fun along with growing great crops for all the farmers. Celebrate the rain and celebrate American farms.
4. Down On The Farm – Tim McGraw
Farmers know how to grow crops, raise animals, work the land, build structures, and so much more. Something farmers don’t get enough recognition for is their ability to throw a great party. Tim McGraw recognized the farm party with his hit Down On The Farm. The song became a huge hit early in Tim’s career. Getting together for a good old fashion barn dance is always a good idea especially when Farmer Johnson’s daughters show up in a Jeep. Where is the farm party at near you this weekend?
3. Big Green Tractor – Jason Aldean
This was the surprise hit song of 2009. Big Green Tractor shot straight to #1 and became perhaps Jason Aldean’s biggest hit to date. Aldean himself describes the song as a romantic tune about a guy and a gal falling in love – farm style. Big Green Tractor has a romantic sound to it. There is a good old boy romancing his uptown gal by offering to take her for a ride on his tractor rather than heading to town. Sometimes the best date can be staying home and enjoying the good life. Throw in a tractor and what girl could resist?
2. Cafe On The Corner – Sawyer Brown
After a solid run of hits in the mid and late ’80s, Sawyer Brown ran into a about a half dozen single released that struggled on the charts. The guys turned things around though with some big hits and high selling records. In 1992 the guys released the single Cafe on the Corner. The song proved to be a winner with fans reaching the top five on the country charts. The song is about a guy that had to give up farming because he couldn’t make a living doing it anymore. Now he had to head into town and work at the local cafe to pay the bills. In times like today this song takes on special meaning because many people have been forced to downgrade their jobs to pay the bills. This song covered an important aspect of farming that was all too common in the latter half of the 20th century and today. Times changed and unfortunately times changed over the years for farming. Hats off to those that still find ways to successfully farm the land.
1. Daddy Won’t Sell The Farm – Montgomery Gentry
It only reached #17 on the charts, but Daddy Won’t Sell The Farm had a much bigger impact for Montgomery Gentry. The song was released in 1999 as the third single from MG’s debut album. The song’s title aptly describes what the song is about. The guys bring some attitude and fight to the story of a guy that won’t give in for nothing when it comes to his land, his farm, and his life. This guy doesn’t care if his tractor blocks traffic. He doesn’t care if his cows run through the town that’s encroaching on his land. This song rings true for many Americans especially over the past few decades as the American lifestyle moved from the country and towns grew. But it’s the backbone of America to see people taking natural resources and turning them into things that make life better. Farms are the soul of America and it’s great to see some people still refusing to sell their farms. That’s pride.
Download Daddy Won’t Sell The Farm
Grass Field image courtesy of Brian Forbes
Robin Branda says
Thanks for the number 1 position.
Robin Branda, co-writer, “Daddy Won’t Sell the Farm”
I’m almost finished with a short story based on the song. Let me know if you want to post it on your site.
Dayne Shuda says
Hi Robin – would love to hear the story. shudadr (@) gmail (.) com
robin branda says
Along time coming but here’s the short story
My Daddy’s and his Daddy’s Farm
It was a cold February in south Georgia when the last wall of a 200,000-square-foot machinery and boiler company went up about 100-yards from the muddy Reed Creek trail that hugged the fence-line on daddy’s farm. It could have been a special day as his open top Willys Jeep crept through the gummy red clay on its way across the creek where the cries of about ten wood ducks that had taken flight amidst the dense pond cypress filled the frigid morning. In the moment, we both twitched towards our 12-guages, but instead daddy stopped, pushed my hand aside and turned his attention to twisting off the top of his thermos, pouring himself and me some steaming coffee.
“Listen boy, that ragged call o’ them wood ducks’ll be with me till I go,” he whispered. “Aint like no other duck in the world, least not our world, and it’s, well, you know son.”
And I, a budding writer and possibly unfortunate awardee of that damn writer’s soul, heard it. I heard the sadness and forthcoming nothingness of his earthly spirit in that whisper. He was talking to me – secondly – and firstly, to God. This hit me like a blast of the ten-mile-per-hour freezing morning air and I didn’t know how to answer; or if I needed to. But I did.
“Me too dad. Me too.”
Awaiting a reply. No reply.
A few months after that morning, on a workday, the factory fired up for its third time, drowning out any hope of hearing a wood duck cry from the jeep trail. So daddy got out and struggled along the maidencaine edge of Reed Creek so he could flush those ducks and hear that cry one last time, then gaze upon their spectacular colors sifting through pond cypress and splash against a blue cloudless morning. After that, he put the barrel of his Browning twelve-gauge to his head and . . . that’s all I’m going to say about that.
We buried him under the huge live oak near the three-room home he built after he came back from Vietnam. Mama then moved in with my wife and I and our two kids. We had our own place just a mile down the trail with a front porch overlooking a seven-acre pond, two hundred acres of hardwood forest, and fifty or so of row crops. We also had a barn, some cows, horses, dogs and cats that wandered about within an acre fenced field, the cats and dogs of course slumming around the porch.
I was a truck farmer (gave up the row crops) and writer – two tenuous occupations in any atmosphere. My wife an artist – more tenuous. But we held on. I sold a few short stories, a novella, and a had a hit song. My wife did well illustrating children’s books. And we did love getting in that dirt. We were either sweating profusely while picking okra, squash or the like, or giving in and plowing with the little old Ford 8n tractor. We’d Pile our vegetables in the back of a Studebaker pickup, haul them to the farmers market and get a paper check from the highest buyer, if there was one. If not, we chalked it up to the fun of it. Yeah.
My son, now in his third year at the University of Georgia, studying Wildlife Biology, came to me one day and said, “they can’t sustain a viable population.” What? Who can’t? This doesn’t sound good.
“What are we talking about here son?”
“The whitetail deer.”
But, I said, “I saw one this morning, an eight pointer I think, springin’ the woods like a king.”
Then he says, “Yeah, right now some look good, but we’re overpopulated with them. I killed one the other day, checked it out and it’s loaded with ecto-parasites, pulled its jawbone, saw that it’s underweight for its age and showing signs of stress.”
I thought, a stressed-out whitetail deer? Bambi’s bounding through our 200-acre paradise of hardwood forest, open meadows and crops, of which they had been eating too much. And that was the problem, according to my son. The had to eat from our garden because they were depleting their natural food supply, because they have been compressed onto our farm by our now urban and suburbanized surroundings.
There was no escape for them. The boiler factory was the last “corridor” for their travel to other wild lands. And that was Mr. Wiley’s 500-acre farm around which he already had “For Sale” signs, knowing he could make a killing when the real estate market came back.
Indeed, he had a three-piece suited gaggle of realtors clamoring for a some-odd percentage of dollars that beautiful acreage would bring if developed. At a County Commission meeting just a few months ago, he unveiled a gorgeous 3X5-foot poster-board depiction of a golf course, duplexes, triplexes, and single-family estates, like (to me anyway) parasites overlain and sucking from his oak-hickory-longleaf pine forest.
So, even if our deer could travel the floodplain corridor of Reed creek to the Wiley habitat, they would only encroach upon his now overpopulated deer, who themselves had a fragile future at best.
Then the day came. I was on my tractor, sub-soiling a couple of acres for the upcoming spring planting, and there they were. I saw them greeting my wife, she pointed to me and they came. Two realtors and a developer. Suits. Now, there’s nothing wrong with suits, I wore one every Sunday until I saw enough urbanites in jeans and golf shirts. So, in happiness I arrived at church in jeans and, at least a dress shirt. But boots, always boots.
“Hello, hey, hi,” said the group.
“What can I do for you,” says I.
“Got a minute,” they asked.
Sitting on my tractor I say, “Just a minute or two, I’ve got to get this soil turned.”
They look at each other as if I am joking. Why would a guy with a million plus worth of land be concerned about “turning the soil” on a tiny patch of his 229 acres. Especially acres in the path of consumption by suburbia. Acres that are already being overtaken by an onslaught of exotic vegetation from nearby lawns, modifying a once pure oak-hickory climax forest into a hodgepodge of slimy, snaking, serpentine “trees” and all manner of lesser strange undergrowth from God knows what country.
And acres of once pristine streams that are silting in from poor construction practices nearby – red clay now burdening wetland vegetation to the point that it lay on the bottom of the creek instead of gently waving with the current. Plus, the overcrowded whitetail deer searching for escape cover from the noise, poachers and, hell, even me.
So, the big guy pulls out a poster board, like the one I saw for Mr. Wiley’s place at the commission meeting. He’s got my land all laid out like Wiley’s. His yes man and woman nodding as he goes on and on about beating Wiley to the punch with our golf course, residential development, oh and a nifty mini-mall with goofy golf. Right where my favorite deer stand rises above two Carolina hickories. All gone, on his map anyway. All gone for a big mouthed goofy where the ball goes round and round and maybe comes out near a hole drilled into some half-ass indoor/outdoor carpet.
“Not interested,” says I.
“Well the wheels are in motion,” they tell me, almost in unison.
“Still not interested and please see your way to the gate,” I reply.
A few months go by and instead of mulching a quarter acre of okra and fertilizing a few acres of silver queen corn, I’ve got to get to a County Commission meeting because, although I haven’t spoken to one commissioner, they want to speak to my wife and me. And what a mess when I arrive. I’ve got 40 people clamoring about how they are screwing me and another 40 talking jobs, progress and “the good of the county.”
Before I take a seat, I know the deal. imminent domain; condemnation. A legal action once reserved for electric line rights-of-way, highways, county roads, and pipelines, has now been extended to the “economic good” of a particular governmental body (My county). And I was in its sights.
They tell me, now that I am surrounded by the suburbs, even commercial development, in order to prevent urban sprawl (something they never worried about before), we must have “infill development.” My land being the filler.
A noted Planner from some university brandished figures no one could understand to prove the point. He presented a slick power-point presentation; hell, he even used a paper from my son regarding the poor health of my property’s deer, stating they should possibly be euthanized by professionals. Pointing out that I was cruelly perpetuating their population growth by providing them with ample food sources of corn and soybeans, but not enough habitat to support them. Me!
Still, both sides were firm. His over-the-top presentation was worthless to my side and their side. But it was worth millions to the commission and the developers who had been lobbying them for months. Condos, yet another golf course, a mall, would work perfectly plopped down in the middle of the unfettered urbanization that the commission had promoted for years. All of the sudden, whitetail deer mattered to them. Sure.
After all the hemming and hawing, I was done. I walked out as I walked in, with the same crowd on my side and the same on the side of imminent domain. Ah, but fair market value would make me a millionaire, according to people who think of money as life. This land was my daddy’s life, his daddy’s life and my life. I went home with that axiom deep inside me.
The fight was in me. First the legal fight: arguments before a local and then circuit judge, then on to a state Judge. Then legal fees that I could no longer keep up with, but in a strange irony, my tax dollars helped the county keep well heeled. I was paying for the county to beat me in a land grab.
So it came to pass that my million dollar plus check from the county was an object of ceremony among three commissioners (Two were on my side – not enough). They stood outside the gate of my property, taking pains not to cross the line. They wanted to be displayed in the news handing the huge check to me but I sat on the front porch with my family as the commission chairman stuck it in my mailbox. They popped a cork, drew the cameras near and pulled out another damn poster-board with a computer generated neo-village depicted the forthcoming urbanization, goofy golf and all.
By now most people were tired of taking up my fight, satisfying themselves with the age-old excuse “you can’t fight city hall.” The realtors and a certain noted developer stood around the poster board like buzzards around a kill, teeth gleaming in the springtime sun.
Everyone but me was crying on our porch. I just wondered how this was going to play out. Would the Sheriff come and evict us as if we hadn’t paid a mortgage; would the surveyors and bulldozers just invade land that was still damn well mine; or, would a commissioner have the balls to confront me face to face and ask me kindly to take the money and run.
Well, it started with surveyors. They climbed the fence out by the machine shop and boiler company. One had the computerized tripod, the other a pole with which to establish the border of my land and that other world. The world daddy saw and felt pouring down on him like a tidal wave before he listened one last time the to the wood ducks and then . . .
I wasn’t going to go out like that, for as my family was having breakfast I had the surveyors in my sights. Not my eyeballing sights but my .243 Winchester site. I saw, close up, every move they made. Then the developer joined in behind him, and I followed him, up and down, side to side; each step, each stumble.
Then they all crowded together around the tripod having a snack, pointing here and there, denoting where every piece of humanity would abide in the hardwood forest that was to be no more. It was a smiling little gang in my rifle site. Smiling at what a county could do to a person with one extra vote. Smiling at what kind of money progress would send them. Smiling at, I assume, just being themselves in the time and place they inhabited.
Smiling in the site of my rifle. And then.
My wife, son and daughter loaded up the SUV and took off for a 300-acre farm near the rich woodlands of the Suwannee River valley. It’s loaded with deer, turkey and an occasional black bear rumbles through. A cypress home with one bedroom and a loft, a wrap-around porch for the dogs and cats, and a small barn for the horses and one cow.
Every morning is filled with song bird’s echoes, a few moos, neighs, brays, snorts and. And if you walk about 300-yards down a live oak lined trail to a dark water sinkhole surrounded by bald cypress, you will flush about ten wood ducks and marvel at their beauty and their crackled, ragged cry. Walk another 50 feet towards the uplands and a huge granite stone marks my father’s second resting place. His first is now a 175-yard par three.
My son is a wildlife biologist for the state of Georgia and my daughter is in her first year of veterinary school at Auburn. My wife continues the truck farming business and so do I. I’m still writing and she’s still painting.
That morning with the surveyors and developer in my cross-hairs was one final fantasy that shall now forever go forgiven and forgotten. The shot was never fired and was never going to be. I just had to spend a few moments of fake defiance to off-set a long future of a fake piece of America taking my daddy’s and his daddy’s farm.
But my new one has begun; where will it end. When I die my friend, when I die.
Farm life is dear to me. I grew up on a farm, and have seen the sacrifices. Thank you for sharing this story.