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Best country songs
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The 29 best country songs of all time

From Patsy to Johnny, Waylon to (yes) Taylor, these are country's greatest recordings.

Written by
Time Out editors
Alyssa Ammirato

Country music isn't all pickups, whiskey, fights and American flags. Sure, some of it is, but at its core, country's all about overcoming hardship, familial pride and heartbreak. Those values span the legacy of the genre, from Hank Williams to Willie Nelson to Dolly Parton and all the way up to Lil Nas X's breakout and Orville Peck's alt country anthems. There's pop country and disco country, traditional country and outlaw country. But at its heart, all country is intertwined.

This list spans the history of the genre, from classic artists like George Jones to modern-day superstars (Yes, Taylor Swift is here... no, we're not sorry). You'll find songs for true believers and naysayers who claim to hate the genre wholesale. And among the 29 ditties below, you're sure to find something to get your toes tapping.

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Top Country Songs of All Time

"I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash
Image: Columbia

1. "I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash

Cash’s first No. 1 hit on the Billboard chart managed to keep itself on the radar for 43 weeks. Cash said the song was his "pledge of devotion" to new wife Vivian Liberto, and, oh, it was written backstage in one night. NBD.

"Jolene" by Dolly Parton
Image: RCA

2. "Jolene" by Dolly Parton

This Parton hit was her second chart-topper and even crossed into mainstream music’s territory. It’s one of her most covered songs, now being sung by artists who weren’t even alive when it came out in 1973, and she’s revealed in interviews that the real Jolene is a composite of her bank teller and a fan she met at a show.

"Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks
Image: Capitol Nashville

3. "Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks

Songwriting duo Dewayne Blackwell and Earl Bud Lee handed this song off to a then-unknown Brooks, who took the tune to a No. 1 chart spot and wound up making a fairly big name for himself in country.


"Choices" by George Jones
Image: Warner Nashville

4. "Choices" by George Jones

Known in the last decades of his life as the greatest living country music singer, Jones had no shortage of chart-toppers during his musical career. This 1999 cover track stands out as one of Jones’s most meaningful vocal performances.


"Concrete Angel" by Martina McBride
Image: RCA Nashville

5. "Concrete Angel" by Martina McBride

Telling the heart-wrenching story of a young girl living in a hellish world of abuse, McBride’s smooth and high-reaching vocals wrap this 2002 song in emotion and ferocity. It took her girl-power anthems to a new level with its sobering message, and it’s just a damn good song.


"Kiss an Angel Good Morning" Charley Pride
Image: RCA

6. "Kiss an Angel Good Morning" Charley Pride

The late Charley Pride will forever be remembered as the rare performer to break country music's undeniably fortified color barrier. But simply focusing on his challenges (or, more accurately, the genre's shortcomings) distracts from the fact that he was one of the country's most gifted songwriters, and one need only listen to his biggest hit — the peppy, fiddle-kissed slice of soulful country — to realize he more than earned his place among the greats through impeccable, raw talent. 

"Where Were You" by Alan Jackson
Image: Arista Nashville

7. "Where Were You" by Alan Jackson

Few Americans don’t have an answer to the question Jackson poses in this song: Where were you on September 11, 2001? Jackson reportedly felt conflicted about profiting from the tragedy but wrote the song in an attempt to process his associated emotions—and survivors and listeners thanked him for doing so.

"Live Like You Were Dying" by Tim McGraw
Image: Curb

8. "Live Like You Were Dying" by Tim McGraw

Despite its inherently somber topic, this feel-good, hip-swaying tune finds McGraw waxing poetic over the ability to truly live life to the fullest. The track and video both cleaned up at the 2004 CMAs and ACM Awards, and it has some solid bucket list advice (just ignore the part about bull riding, maybe).


"I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack
Image: MCA Nashville

9. "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack

Songwriters Mark Sanders and Tia Sillers’ heartfelt, emotional ode became the soundtrack to father-daughter dances at weddings across the country. Womack first performed the vocals in 2000 before taking home a Grammy for it.

"Take Me Home Country Roads" by John Denver
Image: RCA

10. "Take Me Home Country Roads" by John Denver

This 1971 ode to West Virginia became Denver’s best-known opus and his signature song. Nowadays, it’s the perfect Instagram caption for snapshots of any old winding road, but in its prime it reached the second spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and inspired dozens of covers in homage.

Need some music to set the mood?


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