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Top country song from the year you graduated high school

  • Top country song from the year you graduated high school

    Music provides the soundtrack for our lives—and there's a reason for that. There’s a scientifically proven link between music and memory. This is especially true of high school years; the music we listen to as teenagers sets our musical taste for life. That’s why certain songs may bring you right back to your high school prom or even something as uneventful as a drive with a friend. With that in mind, Stacker set out to find the top country songs of your high school years. Many radio mainstays made the list, including Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, and Brad Paisley—though you might be surprised to see which years their songs reached the top of the charts. 

    Using Billboard’s Hot Country Songs charts, Stacker identified the most popular song of each year by selecting those that held the top spot the longest. If more than one song fit the bill in a year, they were all included. The charts take streaming and digital downloads into account as well. So fire up that mental time machine, and get ready to explore the top country songs every year since 1944. 

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  • 1944: 'Smoke On The Water' by Red Foley

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 13

    This patriotic song ushered in the end of World War II, as Red Foley sang of dictators stripped of their power. Foley was a Grand Ole Opry performer and found his way into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

  • 1945: 'I'm Losing My Mind Over You' by Al Dexter

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 6

    Texan Al Dexter helped popularize the honky-tonk genre with songs about a man who's “lonely and blue,” losing his mind over a woman. Dexter was a regular feature on the Billboard Juke Box Folk Record charts in the ‘40s, with other big hits like “Pistol Packin’ Mama” and “Guitar Polka.”

  • 1946: 'New Spanish Two Step' by Bob Wills

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 15

    Known to all country and western fans as the “King of Western Swing,” Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys scored big with songs like the “New Spanish Two Step,” which competed with Al Dexter’s “Guitar Polka” for the top spot in 1946. Wills also covered Red Foley’s 1944 hit “Smoke on the Water” in 1945 and brought it to #1 for two weeks.

  • 1947: 'Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)' by Tex Williams

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 15

    In retrospect, a song encouraging people to smoke may not have been the best idea. It was nevertheless a smashing success for Tex Williams, who recorded the song with fellow country legend Merle Travis in 1947. Williams was known for his “talking blues” style, and grew up in Illinois, as opposed to the traditional Southern upbringings of most western swing artists of the time.

  • 1948 (tie): 'I'll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms)' by Eddy Arnold and His Tennessee Plowboys, "Bouquet of Roses" by Eddy Arnold and his Tennessee Plowboys

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 13

    Eddy Arnold and his Tennessee Plowboys had a big year in 1948 with not one but two #1 hits. “I’ll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms)” is about a man missing his lady, while “Bouquet of Roses” is about love lost. Arnold was managed by Colonel Tom Parker, who went on to work with Elvis Presley.

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  • 1949: 'Lovesick Blues' by Hank Williams with His Drifting Cowboys

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 12

    This show tune originally appeared in the musical “Oh Ernest,” and Hank Williams played “Lovesick Blues” during his first appearance on the groundbreaking "Louisiana Hayride" show. Music industry trade magazine Cash Box dubbed the song the “Best Hillbilly Record of the Year.” 

  • 1950: 'I'm Movin' On' by Hank Snow

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 17

    Another Hank held the top spot in 1950—this time it was Hank Snow’s turn, with “I’m Movin’ On.” One of the most popular songs in country music history, “I’m Movin’ On” fits the 12-bar blues profile, and tells the story of a truck driver who’s leaving his love. Snow’s ensuing popularity led to him joining the Grand Ole Opry in 1950. 

  • 1951: 'Shotgun Boogie' by Tennessee Ernie Ford

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 14

    Bass-baritone Tennessee Ernie Ford was classically trained at the prestigious Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and fell into country and western music as a Southern California radio DJ who exaggerated his Tennessee roots. “Shotgun Boogie” was Ford’s biggest country hit. 

  • 1952: 'The Wild Side of Life' by Hank Thompson

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 15

    Recorded by artists to great success before and after Hank Thompson, “The Wild Side of Life” captivated country and western fans thanks to Thompson’s much-loved band, The Brazos Valley Boys. The song also inspired Nelson Algren’s novel “A Walk on the Wild Side,” which in turn inspired Lou Reed’s hit song “Walk on the Wild Side.”

  • 1953: 'Kaw-Liga' by Hank Williams

    Number of weeks spent as #1: 13

    Hank Williams owned a cabin on Lake Martin in the middle of Alabama, and Kowaliga was a Native American hero who was represented by a statue on the lake. Williams wrote the song in tribute to Kowaliga—one of the few tracks he cowrote with longtime producer Fred Rose.

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