How do you make a sprawling perform of 100 melody seem criminally short? try to to express the greatest country songs of every time into the space.

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As we taken into consideration a century"s worth of story-driven songcraft, us did our darndest to make sure all of the greats to be recognized. And also when us say "of every time," us mean all time. 

Every era is reflected here, indigenous the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers" historic recordings come the regime of the "Nashville Sound," outlaws, singing cowboys and pop crossovers.

And prior to you shake her fists and also grumble furiously about just how the list forgot "Friends in short Places" or offered "9 come 5" the quick stick, let"s create one an easy rule: One tune per artist, v the exemption being duets.


One song from Cash. One song from Garth. And, yes, as challenging as it have the right to be, just one track from Dolly. 

Now, dust off her turntable (or boot up Spotify) and travel through 100 of the biggest tracks to come indigenous Music City, Bakersfield and beyond. 

Agree or disagree? We desire to hear native you: Join united state on Reddit in ~ 12 p.m. CDT Tuesday, Aug. 27 for an AMA v the writers that compiled this list


COUNTRY MILE: Artists, songs and lyrics take it us with the rich background of nation music

Dolly Parton — "Jolene" 

Evocative and woeful, Parton"s marquee recording the cross genre and also generations — a once-in-a-world tune without boundaries. 

Tim McGraw — “Live like You to be Dying”

McGraw"s 2004 ballad reminds listener to love deeper, speak sweeter and give forgiveness that you"ve been denying. 

Tammy Wynette — “Stand By her Man” 

Five years removed indigenous hitting airwaves, and country music faithful still stand tall for Wynette and her booming chorus. 

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Alan Jackson — “Where were You (When the people Stopped Turning)” 

The nation music class of 1989 returns to the all-time list, this time questioning a inquiry in the shadow of a generation-defining event. 

Patsy Montana — "I want to it is in a Cowboy’s Sweetheart"

In 1935, this jaunty tune ended up being the first country song by a woman artist to sell more than 1 million copies. It"s since been spanned by anyone from Patti page to Cyndi Lauper and Phish.

Clint black color — "Killin’ Time"

On his 1989 chart-topper, black tried — and failed — to drink a mrs off the his mind.

Eric Church — “Springsteen”

Church expertly catches a fleeting feeling chased by every musicians — prefer the chorus says, “Sometimes a melody sounds choose a memory.” 

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Porter Wagoner — “The Green, eco-friendly Grass that Home” 

Before Tom Jones, Elvis and also dozens the others put their spin on Curly Putman"s classic, Wagoner an initial made the a hit. In a disastrous twist, it turns the end he"s dreaming of his hometown when on death row.

Merle Haggard — “Mama Tried” 

A slippy lead guitar, Haggard"s sketched storytelling ... California nation with "Mama Tried." 

Randy Travis — “Forever and also Ever, Amen” 

Travis lays out his devotion in his signature song, and listeners haven"t stopped love it due to the fact that its relax in 1987.

Roy Acuff — “Wabash Cannonball”

This folk song around a mighty train had currently been passed down for generations as soon as Acuff cut it in 1936, and his version aided the "Wabash" legend spread around the world.

Guy Clark — "Desperados waiting for a Train"

Clark penned a beautiful tribute come his grandmother"s boyfriend, Jack Prigg, "an old school man of the world" who would certainly sing "Red river Valley" v the budding songwriter.

Brooks & Dunn — "Believe"

The country duo winner multiple awards for this soulful ballad that unwavering faith.

The Highwaymen — "Highwayman"

Only songwriting an excellent Jimmy Webb could conjure up an epic layout worthy that country"s best supergroup, composed of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and also Willie Nelson.

Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin brothers — "All the Gold in California"

In soaring three-part harmony, the Gatlins issued a warning to all who head west with stars in your eyes: "It don"t matter at all wherein you"ve played before/

California"s a brand-new game."

Charlie Daniels band — "The devil Went down to Georgia"

In 1979, Daniels uncovered the perfect showcase because that his fiery fiddle technique — a familiar tale about a boy named Johnny who provides a bet through the evil one (and wins).

Earl thomas Conley — "Holding Her and also Loving You"

It doesn’t have a chorus, however “Holding Her and also Loving You” has quite a hook. Conley counts down the hardest points he"ll ever do, and also the song"s title tops the list.


Dixie chicken — "Wide open Spaces"

With the title monitor of their breakthrough album — about a young mrs who"s ready to spread out her wings — the Dixie chicks truly take it flight.

Kacey Musgraves — "Follow her Arrow"

On height of taking mainstream country into brand-new territory v its "Kiss several boys/ Or kiss several girls" line, "Follow your Arrow" was a an effective mission declare from Musgraves, as she"s proven to have good artistic instincts. 

Patty Loveless — "How deserve to I aid You to speak Goodbye"

"Time will ease your pain," Loveless sang. That may be true, yet this tearjerker around carrying on after a move, a divorce and also the death of a parent still stings 25 years later. 

Sugarland — “Stay” 

What if "Jolene" can have provided her next of the story? top top Sugarland"s enormous 2007 hit, Jennifer Nettles sings indigenous the view of a mistress, that begs she lover to stay before deciding she"s worn down of waiting.

Martina McBride — "Independence Day"

It"s regularly falsely assumed to it is in a patriotic song, however McBride"s triumphant anthem is actually around a mrs breaking cost-free of one abusive relationship.

Lee Ann Womack — "I hope You Dance"

Whether you"re singing it to your kids, a love one or yourself, Womack"s plea come live life come the fullest and take opportunities truly resonates.

Oslin rocketed through the years on her 1987 hit, which fittingly sounds really much like a product the its time. "Now we"re 80"s ladies/ over there ain"t been much these women ain"t tried."

John Anderson — "Swingin’ "

Sure, it"s around swinging on the porch (is it really, though?), but couple of country hits have strutted the means Anderson"s feisty, horn-spiked 1983 struggle does. 

Nitty Gritty dirt Band — "Fishin’ in the Dark"

"You and also me walking fishing in the dark/ lie on our backs and counting the stars." NGDB"s classic is all about an easy pleasures, and listening to it is one, too.

Kenny Chesney — “The great Stuff”

Kenny"s bartender teaches the a an important lesson: "The an excellent stuff" isn"t booze; it"s the memories friend make with your loved ones.

George Jones and Tammy Wynette — "Golden Ring"

George and Tammy"s best duet defines that "only love" deserve to transform a "cold metallic thing" right into something more.

Luke Bryan — “Drink a Beer”

Bryan didn"t compose this song, but he do a powerful connection come it, relating it to the deaths the his brother and also sister. He sings about learning that the fatality of a friend and going to the pier they would certainly sit at to "watch the sunset disappear and drink a beer."

Lefty Frizzell — "If You’ve got the Money, I’ve obtained the Time"

Some things never change. In 1950, Frizzell kicked off his celebrated career v this No. 1 tune around painting the city red and also going "honky tonkin.""

Toby Keith — "How execute You favor Me Now"

Keith was currently an developed star, yet he didn"t yes, really crank increase the perspective until this 1999 hit, in which he rubs his success in the confront of one unrequited love.

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"Everybody to know you"ve been stepping on my toes/ and I"m getting pretty worn down of it." The outlaw legend is barely hold it together on his seething 1968 hit.

Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt — "Even Cowgirls obtain the Blues"

The iconic trio finds exquisite harmony top top a Rodney Crowell composition. 

Hank Williams — “Your Cheatin’ Heart” 

Some think about this Williams entry, a can"t-miss in nation music history, to specify the genre. 


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