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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
80. I Will Always Love You – Dolly Parton
This song will always have a huge place in pop music because of Whitney Houston’s version. I think it elevated the status of country music when that version came out. People went back and realized Dolly had taken it to #1 on the country charts and would again a second time. Dolly is so wonderful and she has so many great old country songs. This is probably the favorite of a few people and I’m sure this love song will be a favorite for all time.
79. Swingin’ – John Anderson
In 1983, John Anderson had what is probably his biggest hit with Swingin’. The song went to #1 on the country charts and also reached the top 50 on the Billboard 100. It was a great accomplishment. It’s a great song about hanging out with your young love just swinging on the chair. John Anderson’s career mellowed out a bit after this song came out, but he came back stronger than ever in the ’90s with some really great songs. Great artist. Great song.
78. Linda On My Mind – Conway Twitty
Conway Twitty had numerous hits. He actually had more #1 hits than anybody until George Strait eventually caught up to him. And Conway was still going strong when he left the world too soon in the early ’90s. One of Conway’s classic songs was Linda On My Mind. The song took on woman as most of Conway’s songs did. Sitting around and thinking about a woman. That’s how life is sometimes and this is a great song from one of country’s biggest legends.
77. Detroit City – Bobby Bare
Bobby Bare is a country legend. Bobby’s first big hit came in 1963 and it was a big one. Detroit City reached the top ten on the charts and really became an even bigger hit as time went on. The song has a little loneliness there. It has a little homesickness there. The song is a great old country song from a great era in country music. Bobby Bare went on to have tons more hits over his career, but it all started with this hit, his fist, back in the early ’60s.
76. D-I-V-O-R-C-E – Tammy Wynette
It’s hard to type this song out so I’m going to leave it from the description. Tammy Wynette grew her reputation in the ’60s and ’70s for singing about topics no one else would touch. She sang about how things were at home and she told them from the perspective of the woman. It was a touchy subject, but many women paid attention and this really proved how powerful women would eventually become in the direction of country music. Tammy took on divorce and only took it further from there. A great old country song.
75. The Yellow Rose Of Texas – Ernest Tubb
Ernest Tubb had more hits than anyone until folks like Conway Twitty and George Strait came along, but before them it was Ernest Tubb. There will be a few songs on here from the country legend, but the first one is a classic from the state of Texas. The Yellow Rose Of Texas is a classic country song from way back in the old days. It’s remains a huge song today and it seems like every especially in the big state knows this song. Even the new generation has heard this song before.
74. Coward Of The County – Kenny Rogers
In the late ’70s and early ’80s Kenny Rogers was country music. He was selling huge amounts of records. Kenny blended country with pop and soul and really found a huge audience for his music. With Coward Of The County he told a great story about a kid that keeps taking his lumps from bullies until one day they push things too far. The former coward of the county comes up big and whips the tails of the bullies. Sometimes you gotta fight to be a man. A great country lesson for all future listeners.
73. The Window Up Above – George Jones
George Jones had only been in country music for about five years when he released Window Up Above. The song was released in 1960 and reached #2 on the charts. The song helped George’s first Greatest Hits record sell well and continue his rising pace as a country legend. Back in the ’50s and ’60s people related country music to George Jones. Today people still relate country music to George. I love going back to his really old songs like this one from back in the early days.
72. Seven Spanish Angels – Willie Nelson & Ray Charles
Two legends, Willie Nelson and Ray Charles, teamed up for a great country song. Seven Spanish Angels is a great country story song. The song is great, but the story of the song was really the two performers. Willie always did things his way and he had no problem bringing in the rock and blues legend to give something special to the country audience. Ray had been familiar with the country audience from his own music, but this song really established both of them as something special in country history.
71. If We Make It Through December – Merle Haggard
Merle is one of my favorite artists. For three decades he was on top of the charts racking up something like 40+ number one hits. The man is a country institution. He went from being a troubled young man – his own doing – to turning his life around and becoming someone people can look up to. With If We Make It Through December Merle was looking at the life of a young couple. They’re going through some trying times, but trying to stick it out. It was a great song when it came out and remains popular on classic radio today. Great old country song.
70. Dixie Road – Lee Greenwood
This is my favorite Lee Greenwood song. It slowly builds up to the chorus until you feel like you’re riding high on the road to someplace special. The song is about dreams and living life to all its potential. Every time I hear this song it reminds me of this drive I used to make to my uncle’s farm in western Wisconsin. It’s not Dixie, but to me it was this rural route that had plenty of dust. It was a great drive and there was always plenty of classic country playing when I’d make the drive.
69. Modern Day Romance – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
It’s not their biggest hit, but I wanted to include this one from Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. They had huge hits back in the ’80s. This classic was one of their bigger songs and remains popular today. These guys have a unique sound. Their voices and instruments all combined for a really special country sound. It was different from what everyone else was doing at the time and still has a place in country music even today. I love this song.
68. Misery Loves Company – Porter Wagoner
Porter Wagoner is another country legend. He had a huge collection of hits throughout his career. He had a successful TV show and even introduced the world to Dolly Parton. One of my favorite songs of his is Misery Loves Company. Maybe it’s just that sometimes you need a little company when you’re feeling down on yourself. That’s how it feels when listening to this song, but for me it just sounds like great country music.
67. For All The Wrong Reasons – The Bellamy Brothers
The Bellamy Brothers make the list one more time. For All The Wrong Reasons is another great song from the brothers. They took it to the top of the charts and continued their successful run through the ’80s. This song always stood out to me as one of their best. They always had a way with words in their songs. The lyrics were always smart and made you think a little deeper. Here we had an example of someone loving someone for wrong reasons, but maybe they’re right after all.
66. Mountain Music – Alabama
Alabama is iconic. They are legends. They racked up more hits in the ’80s and ’90s than any other band. In fact, the guys racked up more #1 hits in a row than any other country act of all time. One of the band’s earliest and most well known hits was Mountain Music. It had the classic catchy chorus and melody of most Alabama songs. It’s a great track and one people still love to listen to today. There is something about putting on some Alabama and dancing around the house on Saturday night.
65. Send Me Down To Tucson – Mel Tillis
I’ll come out and say most people probably wouldn’t put this song this high on the list. I have to, though. It’s one of my favorite country songs of all time and I guess it fits in the old category. Mel Tillis is one of the greatest country artists and songwriters of all time. I think he had more influence on country than most people realize. This was one of his big hits and probably my favorite from him. It’s got this melancholy feel to it, but it’s something really unique and I always love hearing it on classic radio. It’s a cheating song, but I still think it’s a great one. That’s all part of country.
64. Make The World Go Away – Eddy Arnold
Eddy Arnold was hugely successful. Back in the ’60s Eddy ruled the charts having numerous hits including 1965’s Make The World Go Away. Country music has always had an element of loneliness. Sometimes when we’re feeling down on things or even annoyed we want to make the world go away and just be alone. I know I feel like this sometimes. Just make the world go away. Eddy was on to something. And that’s probably why this was such a huge hit.
63. Two Dollars In The Jukebox – Eddie Rabbitt
Eddie Rabbitt is one of my favorite artists. This song reminds me so much of a great jukebox song. I guess that makes sense since it’s about a jukebox. When you’re down to just a few last dollars it can sometimes pay to put a few of those in the jukebox. Just keep the good times rolling and even if you’re going through difficult times there are usually a few songs on the list to fit your emotions. There is nothing like a good country jukebox with a few dollars to keep you going all night. Although you probably need a 20-spot these days for a few plays.
62. Country Sunshine – Dottie West
Dottie West is another country superstar that had hits in multiple decades. She rose to fame in the ’60s as she racked up a few big hits. It was in 1973 when she had one of her biggest hits Country Sunshine. The song is campy and fun. It’s something unique and positive. The song is about loving the country and even turning down big dreams in the city to live in the country sunshine. The song reached #2 on the charts – not Dottie’s highest charting hit, but certainly one of her biggest career hits and one that still gets played today.
61. Tulsa Time – Don Williams
Don Williams racked up yet another #1 hit with 1978’s Tulsa Time. The song became an instant classic. It sounds like country music when you hear Don sing this song. It became a huge hit for the city of Tulsa and really connected with fans all over the country. The guy in the song leaves for the lights of Hollywood. He tries to make a name for himself, but eventually he hits the road back to live on Tulsa time. He gave it a shot. Some people said he’d never do it. Don sure did it, though.
60. Dang Me – Roger Miller
The myth is Roger Miller wrote this song in just about 10 minutes one day while riding in a car. Sometimes that inspiration just hits you I guess. The song became one of Roger’s biggest hits and that’s really saying something. Dang Me showcased Roger’s personality as being a little quirky and off kilter. He had a great sense of humor and the melody of this track is something really unique. When you think back to the ’60s there is no doubt this song had to be great fun every time it came on the radio. Roger Miller is a legend and this is one of his greatest songs and a truly great old country song.
59. Rose Colored Glasses – John Conlee
John Conlee is one of a kind. He had this real nasal type voice and people really took a liking to him. Back in the late ’70s John came out with his debut song – Rose Colored Glasses. It was one of those songs you couldn’t believe hadn’t been released already. It was about a guy that couldn’t see through his own blinders. He was oblivious to what was going on right in front of his face and the poor guy had no idea what was coming. You feel for him. John still sings the song live on occasion along with his many other hits. He’s one of my favorites and I love hearing this track on the radio still today.
58. I’ve Got A Tiger By The Tail – Buck Owens
Buck Owens is well known in country circles for being an innovator. Buck is famous for branding his own style of music. He had west coast appeal and it really showed on his famous television shoes. Buck was always an accomplished artist and his classic I’ve Got A Tiger By The Tail is still a favorite. There is s saying in country music that if you can get the kids singing along to a song you really have something special. This is the kind of song kids can easily pick up on. They love the melody. Adults love it to and it remains popular decades after its original release.
57. Lucille – Kenny Rogers
Kenny Rogers was known for being in a pop band back in the ’60s. The silver haired guy came to prominence in the ’70s as a solo country artist. This was the song that kicked everything off for Kenny. The song was told from the point of view of the “other” guy in the relationship. He’s chatting up a lady in a bar when her husband comes up. The narrator thinks he was dead for sure, but the big husband is simply there to plead to Lucile that she’s left him at the worst time. You really feel for the poor guy.
56. Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash
This song could be one of the most well-known country songs of all time. Johnny Cash has been famous for years and his popularity picked up more than a few times over the years. In fact, when the movie about his life came out in the ’00s Johnny really became popular once again. An entire generation was once again introduced to the music of the legend including his classic about a guy on his last luck thinking about prison. Now this was outlaw country before it even existed.
55. Yesterday’s Wine – George Jones & Merle Haggard
George Jones and Merle Haggard are legends. They have huge collections of hit songs of their own. On a few occasions these guys got together to record a few duets and it was no surprise the results were huge. Yesterday’s Wine became one of those huge duets back in 1982. The song was actually written and recorded by Willie Nelson back in 1971. The song’s about enjoying the company of a person that’s well traveled and has seen it all. You talk about the old days and enjoy a few drinks. A great country song.
54. Walking The Floor Over You – Ernest Tubb
Ernest Tubb makes an appearance once again on the charts. The man had more country hits than just about every other artist in history. He will always be around in the memories of country fans. Walking The Floor Over You was a great old honky tonk song. People have been playing this song about a woman that’s left and the guy that can’t stand her being gone for ages. In fact, the song became the topic of another famous song by Vern Gosdin. You’re always a legend when you’re mentioned in someone else’s song. And Ernest certainly is a legend.
53. My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys – Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson recorded numerous songs over his run during the ’70s and ’80s. One of his most famed hits was My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys. The song is slow moving and really puts you in a certain state of mind. You think back to the days when every boy’s hero was a cowboy. You think back to the days when guys had courage and weren’t afraid to die. That’s how guys were raised during the 20th century. Guys had courage. Willie sure had courage. He took on the country established and became one of the outlaws. He’s a legend.
52. Move It On Over – Hank Williams
Hank Williams is back on the countdown. The man was country music for many fans. Move It On Over was one of Hank’s upbeat songs. The melody was catchy and it got you moving around the dance floor. I wasn’t around back in the days of Hank, but I’d imagine he swung those hips around when he was playing this song for his crowds. There was plenty to love about Hank Williams and songs like this were the reason he became a legend.
51. Somebody Should Leave – Reba McEntire
Reba McEntire got her start back in the ’70s. It’s hard to think she’s been around that long. She looks and sounds as good as ever in what is now her fourth decade of touring, performing, and acting. She’s been a busy lady these days, but back in the early ’80s she was just looking for a few hits. Somebody Should Leave is about the heartbreak a couple feels as they know they’re falling out of love. They know one of them has to leave, but they’re not sure how to start. It’s a sad song, but a true song. It’s a country song.
50. Let’s Chase Each Other Around The Room – Merle Haggard
Merle makes the list once again. The man is a legend and still going strong today. It’s hard not to include many of his songs on this list of old country tunes. Merle showed his fun loving side with this track. It showed the love of two people and how they could keep the fire burning by chasing each other around, laughing, and carrying on. that’s probably what keeps folks together through all those years. Keep laughing and keep loving. Chase each other around like a couple kids. Maybe that’s the secret.
49. What’s Made Milwaukee Famous – Jerry Lee Lewis
This song has a somewhat special place in my heart. Being from Wisconsin it’s kind of important to be proud of that which is discussing your home state. Jerry Lee Lewis successfully transitioned from his troubled rock and roll past into the hallows of country music with What’s Made Milwaukee Famous. The song is about the great beer that’s been brewed in Milwaukee for ages. The fact turns out that it’s the beer that can turn men into losers. It happened in this song and it’s happened many times. Some fight their way back and others just can’t seem to shake it. Jerry Lee became a star again and it was all because of what made Milwaukee famous.
48. Family Tradition – Hank Williams Jr.
Hank Williams Jr. had a lot to live up to. In fact, it could be argued that Jr. had to live up to unreasonable expectations. His curse was loving the same thing as his famous dad – country music. Jr. even toured as a young kid pretending to be his dad. His dad’s fans needed to hear the music they loved and Jr. was out on stage performing it. In the late ’70s, Jr. successfully reinvented his image and he became his own artist. Family Tradition was the perfect way for Jr. to acknowledge his dad and his family. It was always the perfect way to proclaim to the world that he was different and ready to change country music. And that’s just what Rockin’ Randall did in the late ’70s and ’80s.
47. Behind Closed Doors – Charlie Rich
Now here’s a romantic country song. Back in 1973, Charlie Rich came out with this track and it changed his career. Old Charlie was a silver fox and a silver tongued devil back in those days. He was a romantic and this song proved to be a little racy for the younger crowd, but adults loved it. The song is sensual. It’s about being politically correct in public, but very intimate behind closed doors. This song was like no other. The song won numerous awards and made Charlie a star. He’d had a previous life as a pop singer, but went on to become a legend in country music.
46. Can The Circle Be Unbroken (By and By) – The Carter Family
We’re going way back in the early days of country music for this one. The Carter Family was touring and performing country music before just about anybody. They had a huge hit with Can The Circle Be Unbroken. The family toured and toured and played all kinds of events. They sold tons of records and people played this particular song over and over. Many people, our grandparents probably, had memories of listening to The Carter Family while sitting in the family room listening to the radio. Now that’s country music.
45. She’s Got You – Patsy Cline
Patsy Cline really didn’t have a long career in country music. She tragically passed in a plane crash long before she had given everything she had to the country audience. The fact that she is still remembered as one of the greatest of all time proves the quality of her songs. It’s been half a decade since we had Patsy, but her songs live on. She’s Got You was one of Patsy’s best. The song is about heartache and losing someone you love to someone’s else. It’s a great country song. Sometimes things get sad in the country and there was no one better to express that feeling than Patsy Cline.
44. Fool Hearted Memory – George Strait
George Strait kicked things off strong in the early ’80s. He had a number of songs that really took things to new levels in his career. One of those game changing songs was Fool Hearted Memory. This song about love and heartbreak caught on with country fans are really made George into a star. He became a country artist with a number one record and started seeing some of the big stages out on the road. George would go on to have huge hits throughout the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s, and still today. He’s a legend and he’s always had the ability to come out with great hooks and melodies like Fool Hearted Memory.
43. Stand By Your Man – Tammy Wynette
It’s hard to know if Tammy Wynette was out looking for controversy with her huge hit Stand By Your Man. She went upstairs to write the track and the story goes she came down just a little while later. The song would go on to become her signature hit. It was a huge success not only in the country world, but in the music world. The song was about sticking by your man no matter what the situation. Some took offense to the song and spoke out for women’s right to be independent, but Tammy stood by her man and the song. People respected her for that through the years.
42. Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain – Willie Nelson
By 1975, Willie Nelson was almost an afterthought in country music. He had kicked around throughout the sixties and had numerous hits as a songwriter. As a recording artist he continued to look for a breakout hit. That came in 1975 when Willie Nelson covered the Fred Rose-penned song Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain. The song, previously recorded by Roy Acuff, became a number one hit and ushered in the era of the outlaw. Willie Nelson was on top and it’s where he would stay for more than a decade. Willie became a legend all thanks to a great old country song.
41. The Race Is On – George Jones
In 1964, George Jones hooked up with United Artists. Some look back on this period as one of George’s greatest. In a career full of great moments there are artists and fans that look back on the UA era for George as one of the best of any artist. In 1965, George released what became a huge hit with The Race Is On. The song was really upbeat and catchy. Everybody was holding on for the ride of their lives as George whipped them around, up and down through the chorus and the verses. It’s a great country song and still famous in honky tonks today.
40. Crazy Arms – Ray Price
Ray Price had a classic country voice. His song Crazy Arms is a classic as well. The song is always played on country radio. I actually heard it on the radio when I was creating this list so there was no way I could leave it off. The song is about a guy trying to get over his former love. She’s left him for someone new. His heart is telling him he has to move on. His crazy arms are pulling him away to try and get her back, though. It’s a song of heartbreak and love lost. Sometimes things don’t work out and if you’re the one left you are stuck there thinking about what you did wrong. It’s a tough place to be in.
39. Cold, Cold Heart – Hank Williams
Hank Williams originated a lot of things in his short time in the world. One of his claims to fame was really bringing the heartache to the forefront of country music. I’m not saying he was the first, but Hank’s song, Cold, Cold Heart, has been the standard heartbreak song for decades. He has this love of his life and he couldn’t figure out how to make her love him. She had a cold heart and there was nothing that could melt it. Hank performed this song so well and with such conviction you believed every word of it. He’s a legend.
38. I Been To Georgia On A Fast Train – Billy Joe Shaver
Billy Joe Shaver is not a guy you want to mess with. He was responsible in part for shaping Waylon’s outlaw image. Waylon was always an outlaw and an original, but it took an entire album’s worth of Shaver’s song to really establish the outlaw era in country music. Shaver had a few big hits of his own and one of the biggest was this classic track. The song moves right along just like the rhythm of a fast moving train. The song is ripping and roaring as the story of the south is told. It’s great.
37. Great Speckled Bird – Roy Acuff
Roy Acuff is a legend in music for his playing, singing, and producing. His biggest hit was Great Speckled Bird. The song plays out of old time country radio stations still today. If you close your eyes when this song is on you imagine your grandparents sitting on the patio in the backyard of their farm. They watch the birds fly through the tall grasses in the field. It’s two folks sitting in the rocking chairs in the back yard holding hands and sipping on some cool lemonade. Now that’s country music and this song is what makes think of that image.
36. Lovin’ Her Was Easier – Kris Kristofferson
Kris Kristofferson is truly one of a kind. The man lived life like no one else. He didn’t follow anyone’s rules. He made his own path. He was one of the best songwriter country music has ever seen. And one of his biggest hits was Lovin’ Her Was Easier. The song is a slow ballad that plays as a love song to a love. It’s a love song that plays as the last stand for a man that’s on his way out. Kris sings this song with such emotion. He has a unique voice. He would become a huge movie star and would win some big awards and many recognitions in his career. He’s a true country artist.
35. Louisiana Saturday Night – Mel McDaniel
Mel McDaniel was a good southern country boy. He had all the chops to be a great country singer and he proved his worth with classics like Louisiana Saturday Night. I was a kid in the ’90s when I would hear this song over and over on the radio. It was probably played at least once, if not twice, on the radio every day where I grew up. The song remains a huge hit even to this day by those standars. There is something about hitting the town for a Saturday night in the country that gets you going. And the rocking melody simply can’t be beat.
34. Tennessee River – Alabama
Alabama is my favorite country band. There is no arguing the fact with me. I refuse to listen to any other suggestion. When it comes to country music I think of Alabama. They were able to come up with these really cool song ideas and when they put the music and lyrics together it became something so special. Tennessee River was one of the bands first hits. The song was actually their second major single release and their first number one hit. This is really the song that got things all started. It’s a great country track and really a landmark song from a legendary band.
33. Always Late (With Your Kisses) – Lefty Frizzell
Lefty Frizzell is a country legend. The man creating so many great country hits it was hard to narrow them down to include on this list. I had to put Always Late (With Your Kisses) way up near the top of the list. For as long as country music has been around there have been songs about love and how love goes wrong. In this case we have a woman that’s always late with her kisses. I’m not sure if the man in the song is waiting for the woman because she’s out running around and doesn’t love him or if he’s simply too impatient to wait for her love. He can’t get enough. Either way, it’s a great song. One of the greatest of all time.
32. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer – Gene Autry
This is the only country song on the countdown. There have been many great country Christmas songs over the years, but none really more popular than Gene Autry’s rendition of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. The song is played over and over every year during the holiday season. The song is a classic in so many homes. Hearing Gene sing this song during December makes everybody reminisce about the old time Christmases of the past. Everybody gets all nostalgic around Christmastime and there’s nothing better than hearing the great songs of the holidays. This is still my favorite Christmas song of all time. This exact version.
31. Toy Heart – Bill Monroe
Bill Monroe is the grandfather of bluegrass and country music. Back in 1948, he had one of his biggest hits with Toy Heart. The song became a huge hit during its initial run. The song is about a woman that keeps playing with this guy like he’s got a toy heart. She keeps toying with him and he’s losing his mind. The song is really about the great musicianship, though. Nobody could play bluegrass quite like Bill. And he kept touring and playing right up until the day he died. In fact, some think that once he wasn’t able to play he was soon to pass. Music was the man’s life and he gave country fans plenty to love including this great old country song.
30. The Ballad of Jed Clampett – Flatt & Scruggs
These two are legends. They ruled the road for decades playing every stop on the bluegrass touring circuit. In fact, Flatt & Scruggs are probably the most influential bluegrass and country act of their era. They brought the blend of backwoods music to the mainstream. These guys could flat out play and one of their biggest hits was The Ballad of Jed Clampett. When you hear the banjos ripping and the music playing from this song you immediately recognize the melody. It’s like nothing else. And when you hear the lyrics there is no doubt you have the image of old Jed and his family. What a great song.
29. Cool Water – The Sons of the Pioneers
The Sons of the Pioneers released this track in 1948. The song became hugely successful. The track was recorded by many famous artists over the years including Hank Williams, but the version from The Sons of the Pioneers was the bestseller. The song is about a man traveling through the desert with his mule. He finds a mirage in the desert. Sometimes when you’re wandering aimlessly through life you run into a few mirages. Don’t be fooled by them. Keep on going until you find the real wonders of life.
28. Wichita Lineman – Glen Campbell
This is my favorite Glen Campbell song. In a list of numerous huge hits that saying something. Glen Campbell racked up more hits than just about anyone else during his run at the top of the country and pop charts. The man was so talented and gifted. He had the ability to sing and play songs like none other before or after him. Wichita Lineman is about a man working hard on the lines as he travels the country finishing America’s infrastructure. It’s a great country story song. They really don’t make them like this anymore.
27. Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
Some people don’t like that John Denver is included as a country artist. I’m not sure why because it doesn’t really get much more country than John Denver singing about the good old country roads of home. The song even became the state anthem of West Virginia and you know there are some country music loving folks down there. The melody and imagery in this song are what makes it great. John had the voice of an angel and he really had the uncanny ability to tell stories and paint pictures with his lyrics. It’s a classic song from a truly great country artist.
26. I’ve Been Everywhere – Hank Snow
Hank Snow had been famous for over a decade by the time he released what is probably his most well known song. I’ve Been Everywhere became an instant classic. When Hank rips into the chorus it’s hard to keep up. He rips through what is seemingly all the cities and states in the country. Hank was the original country artist to cover this song. He put his spin on it and introduced it to the country audience. Many would later cover it and the song remains popular today even having versions in current television commercials. You can’t beat Hank’s version, though, if you’re an old country song fan.
25. In The Jailhouse Now – Jimmie Rodgers
We’re going way back in time for this one. In fact, this might be the oldest song on the old country song list. In The Jailhouse Now was released by Jimmie Rogers back in 1928. Listening to this song today I’m surprise at how good it sounds. The melodies are great. The yodeling is great too. There isn’t much of that on radio these days, but I’d imagine this song would get some attention if it was released today. It’s a little old school, but if you’re looking for the best of the old country songs you need to include this one on the list. It’s a true country music original.
24. Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone – Charley Pride
Charley Pride is one of my favorite country artists of all time. The man overcame all odds to become one of the most loved figures in the business. Perhaps my personal favorite hit of his was Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone. The song just has this unique charm about it. I don’t know if it’s his most well known song, but to me it’s pleasant and wonderful. The song is upbeat yet it appears to be about getting away from the memory of a lost love. I guess that’s what you gotta do sometimes – move on and try to find happiness in the next town.
23. Your Cheatin’ Heart – Hank Williams
Everybody knows this song. Hank Williams was singing about cheating before anyone in country music. Oh, I’m sure there were a few others singing about it, but Hank was able to bring it to the masses. Your Cheatin’ Heart has this really great melody. You feel all the words as Hank sings about his own love situation. The thing about Hank’s music was how honest it sounded. Every word out of Hank’s mouth seemed to have years and years of experience behind it. And yet Hank didn’t even live to see his 30th birthday. It’s amazing to think how much he accomplished.
22. Easy On The Eyes – Eddy Arnold
Eddy Arnold had a huge hit in 1952 with Easy On The Eyes. The song is about Eddy’s love. She’s the one he loves the most and he really loves the way she looks. Everybody stops and stares when they walk around town and she wins Eddy’s heart every day. The song is classic country. When I think of old country songs I think of the slow moving music in the background. This song makes me think of what it must have sounded like in an old honky tonk back in the ’50s. It’s a great vision and this is really a truly wonderful old country song.
21. I Love – Tom T. Hall
In 1973, Tom T. Hall had his biggest hit. And it was an unlikely hit at that. The song – I Love – was a song about all the simple things in life. Tom repeated all the things he loved about life. In fact, he really just told a story in the song and sang the chorus. He mentioned just about everything under the son including baby tucks and tomatoes on the vine. There were even a mention of hay. It’s a great song and even though it could come across as corny or childish I think that’s what people wanted at the time. And really people still love this song. Sometimes we just need to put aside all the negativity in life and focus on what we love. And you know what? I love you too.
20. He’ll Have To Go – Jim Reeves
Nothing like starting things off with a little controversy. Sometimes when you’re in love things aren’t ideal from the get go. You run into someone. You meet them. You get to know them. You like them. You fall for them. And you realize she’s (or he’s) got someone else at home. That’s the story of this song from Jim Reeves. In the end we have Jim trying to get the woman of his dreams to tell her man to head out the door. He’s got to go and Jim is moving in. That’s a little racy, but that’s how things have always worked. Falling in love (or lust) is usually not a perfect situation, but sometimes you just have to go for it.
19. Saginaw, Michigan – Lefty Frizzell
Lefty Frizzell came out with an interesting song when he released Saginaw, Michigan. The song was the story about a guy that left everything behind for the pull of the gold in Alaska. The guy left the love of his life behind hoping to strike it rich. Her father, unfortunately, did not like the young guy. In the end the young guy struck it rich in the Klondike and the old man was left up there searching for his own gold. It’s one of those “I told you so…” songs. And sometimes those are ok.
18. King Of The Road – Roger Miller
Who would have guessed that a song about a traveling hobo would become the biggest hit of 1965? Roger Miller recorded his own penned song, King Of The Road, and it took off like a shot. What really was unique about the song was the campy melody. People can’t help, but sing along with the lyrics. They’re hopping right along enjoying their freedom with the hobo in the song. Roger Miller was always a little quirky, but he sure could write and sing some of the best songs ever. This was his top hit.
17. Joshua – Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton had been kicking around for a few years in the ’60s trying her hand at a few singles on her own. It was in 1970 when she finally broke through in a big way with her first number one hit – Joshua. The song was a story about a young woman and burly big man. There is nothing anybody would do to say ‘hi’ to Joshua, but the gal in the song makes her way to his house. They get to know each other and pretty soon they’re settling down. Nobody could tell a story in the way Dolly could. She is unique. She has a great storytelling about her and this number one hit is proof.
16. Golden Ring – George Jones & Tammy Wynette
George and Tammy are legends. Back in the ’70s these two teamed up for a marriage that made headlines and music that made history. George and Tammy seemed to have sparks flying back and forth at all times. When they were on they were really on. In the case of Golden Ring George and Tammy got things right. The song is about a couple in love and the ring that binds them. That’s how it worked for a while in the relationship of George and Tammy and even though the marriage didn’t last their music legacy always will.
15. Luckenbach, TX (Back To The Basics of Love) – Waylon Jennings
Waylon makes an appearance in the top 20. It would be hard to put together a top old country song list without including Waylon. My favorite song of his was Luckenbach, Texas. There is something about the melody in the chorus that takes me to a place in the rural countryside where I can hang out with my friends and enjoy life. That’s what a good country song can to; it can take you somewhere and make you smile a bit. Even if the song is about something a little more on the somber side there is still something about a song that takes you somewhere else. It’s a three minute trip.
14. Coal Miner’s Daughter – Loretta Lynn
If you’ve heard a few Loretta Lynn’s song you probably know all there is to know about her life. She wore her laundry out on her sleeve. Her songs were her way of coping with what was going on at home. And Loretta also used her songs to connect with her past. In the case of Coal Miner’s Daughter she was sharing the story of her childhood and how she became the person she was at the time. Loretta came from humble beginnings and was able to find success in country music. It was a hopeful song for so many. It gave them something to shoot for.
13. Unwound – George Strait
I had to include George Strait’s first hit. This is certainly not George’s most well known song. I’m not even sure if most George Strait fans have heard this song before. I find it to be a classic, though. Unwound introduced the world to George Strait’s Texas swing style of country music. The song is fast-paced and really moves along through the lyrics. George didn’t become a star after this song. It was a little introduction for a guy that would become one of the biggest music stars of all time.
12. Life Turned Her That Way – Mel Tillis
It’s already been mentioned that Mel Tillis is one of my favorite artists. Over the years I’ve learned to love Mel’s songs. He’s recorded many of his own songs and many have become huge hits. It wasn’t until I heard a song by Ricky Van Shelton that I learned about a song from Mel’s past. Life Turned Her That Way is one of my favorite country songs of all time. Life can break you down sometimes. It turns you inside and out and whips you around until you become a bit broken. I love this song. It lets you know you’re not alone. We’re all a little broken for some reason or another.
11. For The Good Times – Ray Price
Breakups are always difficult. And the thing about breakups is we’ve all gone through them at some point. You, me, and everyone else reading this blog has gone through a breakup. And they’re never easy. That’s what For The Good Times is about – breaking up. Ray Price was one of the biggest country stars back in the ’60s. His music made an impact on the lives of country fans all over the world. His songs spoke to people and his biggest hit was this song. It’s a classic about the difficultly of love and how to get through it.
10. Act Naturally – Buck Owens
In a country world where everybody sounded the same for a while there was Buck Owens. He came from the west coast and with him brought a totally unique style of playing and singing. After breaking through with a few hits Buck saw his career take off in 1963 with his first number one hit – Act Naturally. The song became a country classic and old Buck went on to have more success with radio and TV than just about anyone else in country music in the ’60s and ’70s. The man is a true legend and he always did things the way he thought they should be done. He was unique. He was different and people loved him for it.
9. The Gambler – Kenny Rogers
So many people recognize this song. The Gambler has got to be a song just about everybody knows even if they don’t realize it. Every person worth their salt has said ‘you’ve got to know when to hold ’em’ at some point in their life. Kenny Rogers took on the persona of the gambler and even starred in a movie series based on the character in the famous song. Kenny was the ultimate superstar in country music and he’s probably responsible for expanding the country genre in the ’70s and ’80s. He crossed genres and brought scores of new listeners. And his biggest hit was about an old gambler. It doesn’t get more country than this song.
8. Whiskey River – Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson was perhaps the biggest country star in the late ’70s and early ’80s. My folks had and perhaps even still have a box full of Willie Nelson LPs at their house. I remember looking through that box of actual records many times and seeing Willie’s face on numerous albums. The man was everywhere back in those days and since then he’s remained popular. One of Willie’s biggest hits from his golden era was the well-known Whiskey River. The song is one of Willie’s more fast-paced tracks as evidenced by his trusty guitar and the big hole that appears on the front of it. He always remarks how many times he’s had to play this song to get that nice hole there in the front of his guitar.
7. Branded Man – Merle Haggard
Merle is famous for his wrong doing during his younger days. He spent time in jail for theft and a few various other infractions. To my knowledge he never killed anybody or anything like that, but when you’re in prison there is probably a good reason. For old Merle he brought his troubled past to song and often sang about his stays in prison including the track Branded Man. Merle knew he would be the target of much story for his past and he felt it best to just tell the official word as he saw fit. People reacted positively and Merle became a star.
6. Thanks A Lot – Ernest Tubb
Ernest is well known for being the “Thanks” guy in country music. Thanks A Lot was one of his biggest hits. The song has this upbeat sound to it, but there is nothing really upbeat about the lyrics. A guy is a little annoyed by how he was treated with by his former lover. She left him to struggle in sorrow and all he can muster up is a little sarcasm. This song might not be where sarcasm started in the world, but the song certainly introduced quite a few people to the concept of being sarcastic. It’s a great piece of history and one of the best songs of all time.
5. El Paso – Marty Robbins
My dad is a big fan of westerns. When I was a kid growing up I remember him watching the old time TV shows and movies. I’m sure some of that influence trickled down into my veins. I always had a spot in my likeness for western stories. So when I heard El Paso by Marty Robbins for the first time I was instantly hooked. Here is a western set to the tune of a great country music song. The song is about love and all the crazy things that happen to the gunfighter that thinks he can fall in love. It turns out his profession is a bit too dangerous and in the end they really can’t be together.
4. I Walk The Line – Johnny Cash
This song has had a renaissance over the last decade. When the movie of the same name came out an entire new generation of folks were introduced to Johnny Cash and the famous song from his early days. I was in college at the time and I remember everybody my age talking about this movie. It seemed like everybody had seen it and for the next few months all I’d hear on the computer playlists was I Walk The Line and many of other Johnny classics. It was really interesting to see a song that was 50 years old become this favorite song again of 20-something year old kids. It was great and for someone that had been listening to old country songs my entire life I felt like my secret was out.
3. She Thinks I Still Care – George Jones
If pressed to name my favorite country artist I always go with George Jones. There is something about how George approaches singing that gets my attention. He’s a true country original. There is no other artist that sounds like him or takes on songs like he does. He sings about good timing, sorrow, and all the emotions in between. With She Thinks I Still Care, George played the part of a guy going through a bit of denial. He’s trying to convince everyone, including his ex, that he’s over her for good. Just because he still thinks of her all the time she seems to have the crazy idea that he still cares about her. It’s a great country song from perhaps the greatest country artist of all time.
2. Crazy – Patsy Cline
Patsy Cline was an artist I remember going way back. I don’t remember how I was introduced to her hit songs. I used to listen to the classic country station where I grew up. Every weekend the local country station would play classic songs for three hours. I’d sit in my room and listen to all the old classics. Patsy was a regular on the station of course with her best songs. One of those songs was Crazy. Later I’d come to find out Willie Nelson had actually written the song. Still to this day I love hearing Crazy on the classic radio station here where I live now. It’s an old country song, but it still has relevance some 50 years later.
1. Hey Good Lookin’ – Hank Williams
When I had the idea to put together the top 100 old country songs there was no doubt what the top song would be. When I think of old, classic country music I think of one song – Hey Good Lookin’ by Hank Williams. There is no other choice for the top old country songs of all time. I can remember being a kid and hearing this song everywhere. My mom would sing a few lines to me. My grandma would sing a few lines to me. As I grew up I’d hear the song in movies, on TV shows, and certainly on country radio. This song is what country music is to a lot of people. For me, this is the song that started the modern day country music revolution. Hank brought the twang to mainstream and today things are going as strong as ever.