When you feel a twang right from the edges of the hair on your head (or the skin in case you are bald) down to the soles of your feet, you know you are listening to a great country song. A country song is not something many appreciate unless it draws a line and tells a story that moves you to your core. And when one does, it is country music at its best. Today, we will take a look at some of the best country songs of all time that made people weep and get down the road. In this list, we have not limited the best country songs to the eras they were produced in, or the generations they helped (and are still helping) move closer to the true essence of music. Let us ‘move’ towards the list, shall we?
Johnny Cash – I Walk the Line
One of the most iconic figures of the country, and the song that defines him has to be on the ‘best country songs of all time’ list. The great country song features amazing hums that are goofy and masterfully telegraph the changes in keys, romantic lyrics that are poetic, and austere rhythms that please every ear that comes across them. The song was penned on the road and was released through Sun Records in 1956.
Patsy Cline – Crazy
The independent candidate running for the presidency in 1992, Ross Perot, made the song his campaign anthem. It is featured in the Great American Songbook and is easily Patsy’s signature tune. The chorus in the song was played by The Jordanaires (greatly known for their background vocals with Elvis Presley), and the credit for the amazing riffs of piano goes to Floyd Cramer. The song was released in 1961.
Hank Williams – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
With wrenching poetic majesty and the capacity to control wails of emotions at will, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry is proof of how music can connect to our souls like nothing else. The great country song is about Hank bemoaning the effects of his failing marriage to his wife through a series of hurtful images that craft-fully seesaw on the nerve-sucking melody. The song was true in suggesting that Hank had ‘lost the will to live as four years after the original was sung, his out-of-life body was found in his car on January 01, 1953.
George Jones – He Stopped Loving Her Today
Masterful at instilling songs with subtext and integrating bottom under the bottom, George Jones’ He Stopped Loving Her Today was his first song in six years that climbed to number one in charts. Want to know how an open mix of despair and humor feels like? Give the country song a listen.
Tammy Wynette – Stand By Your Man
Tammy stated it took her 20 minutes to write the song (it was co-written with Billy Sherrill) while she spent 20 years defending it. The song is a tract for family values that was a riposte to the women’s liberation movement that was on the high at that time. The power in Tammy’s voice and the composition of the song easily makes it qualify as one of the best country songs of all time.
Ray Charles – You Don’t Know Me
Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music is the name of the 1962 album that Ray Charles considered 250 country tunes for. Written by Cindy Walker, You Don’t Know Me is one of the best country songs ever produced. It delivers the ache in Ray Charles’ heart and makes you feel the woes he had inside him. The artistic control Charles had over his voice is best audible in this song. It climbed to become a Number Two pop hit.
Merle Haggard – Mama Tried
Released in 1968, Mama Tried is one of the best country songs of all time. Haggard was an ex-con and the great country song is a prison number that only someone with the relative experience could have sung with such emotions. The song disguises apology as cussed stubbornness and was originally a commission for a B-movie that starred Dick Clark. Its upbeat tempo is oddly satisfying in the way it contrasts the lyrics.
Dolly Parton – Jolene
Jolene was released in 1973, a time when the charts did not lack numbers that asserted self-sufficiency. The song is a cheating song that sounds vulnerable to its core as it implores a woman more beautiful than the singer to leave her man alone. The inspiration for the heartbreaker came to Parton by noticing her husband flirting with a bank employee.
Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings – Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys
Roy Rogers’ tradition of producing cowboy songs was given a push into the seventies by probably the most popular duo in the history of country music. Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings had a charisma that was front-porch. They used it to take Ed Bruce’s writing to the Number One spot. The song powerfully romanticizes a male drifter that is inaccessible in emotional regard. The song was released in 1978.
The above-mentioned best country songs of all time are just a few of the many that have revolutionized the world of country music. A great country song cannot qualify as one of the best country songs until the alignment and synchronization of all its components and factors are audio-perfect. The music, lyrics, vocals, rhythm, melody, beat, and everything else has to work together for a country song to impress and move the masses.