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Top 100 country songs of all time

  • Top 100 country songs of all time

    After a five-month delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the belated Country Music Awards will broadcast Wednesday, Sept. 16. Hosted by Keith Urban from Nashville, Tennessee, this year's top nominees include Maren Morris, Thomas Rhett, and producer-musician Dann Huff with five each. Blake Shelton, Old Dominion, Dan + Shay, and Luke Combs also battle it out with several nominees each, and Taylor Swift will return to the CMAs for the first time in seven years. 

    Stacker analyzed Billboard’s Greatest of All-Time Top Country Songs to create a ranked list of classic tracks and modern hits from 1959 to present day. This list is remarkably varied, proving country music as a genre is broader than some may believe; it also shows how the genre has grown to feature a redefined picture of the classic country superstar, from Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson to Faith Hill, Taylor Swift, Sam Hunt, and Kacey Musgraves. Some even say the sound of country music has changed: Younger subgenres of country music include bro-country (Sam Hunt, Florida Georgia Line), stadium country (Garth Brooks, Keith Urban), and pop country (Taylor Swift)—and some artists are even experimenting with country rap (Bubba Sparxxx, Colt Ford). 

    From classic country tunes to contemporary country sounds, these 100 songs are an essential part of music history and showcase some of the most impressive storytelling skills in the genre. Read on to see if your favorite country hit made it to the top.

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  • #100. 'Good Hearted Woman' by Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson

    - Artist: Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson
    - Billboard rank: #100

    Jennings convinced Nelson to record the iconic song during a poker game in 1971, inspired by an advertisement for Ike and Tina Turner. It won a CMA for Single of the Year and helped form the two artists' outlaw image.

  • #99. 'This Is It' by Jim Reeves

    - Artist: Jim Reeves
    - Billboard rank: #99

    Jim Reeves died in an airplane accident in 1964, though his records made the charts from the 1950s to the 1980s. Reeves, also known as "Gentleman Jim," was more popular in South Africa than Elvis Presley, and recorded several albums in the Afrikaans language. "This Is It" made waves as a heartfelt breakup anthem.

  • #98. 'Thinkin' Of A Rendezvous' by Johnny Duncan

    - Artist: Johnny Duncan
    - Billboard rank: #98

    Johnny Duncan’s first-ever #1 single on the Billboard Country Chart spent 13 weeks in the top 40. The 1976 hit told the tale of a family man who meets up with a longtime friend he's had an affair with.

  • #97. 'High Cotton' by Alabama

    - Artist: Alabama
    - Billboard rank: #97

    One of four songs in the album to reach the top of the country charts, “High Cotton” held the title the longest. The narrator reminisces about the good old days and bemoans life's unexpected changes.

  • #96. 'You Look So Good In Love' by George Strait

    - Artist: George Strait
    - Billboard rank: #96

    Though George Strait is one of the biggest names in country music, this 1983 recording was his first hit song in many years. In the song, the narrator gloomily realizes that his former girlfriend is now in love, and he comes to terms with the fact it wasn’t meant to be.

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  • #95. 'Breathe' by Faith Hill

    - Artist: Faith Hill
    - Billboard rank: #95

    Though the song peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, "Breathe" was still declared the top single of 2000—the first time that's occurred in 35 years. In this romantic tune, Faith Hill showers her significant other, presumably husband Tim McGraw, with sweet nothings.

  • #94. 'Why Not Me' by The Judds

    - Artist: The Judds
    - Billboard rank: #94

    The red-headed family duo lament their relationships in "Why Not Me"—this time, he’s not giving them the attention they crave. The 1984 single also hit #1 on the country charts.

  • #93. 'Mind Your Own Business' by Hank Williams Jr.

    - Artist: Hank Williams Jr.
    - Billboard rank: #93

    The singer's father, Hank Williams, originally recorded this song in 1949. The song, which the original artist called a “prophecy,” has been covered over and over, frequently appearing on the country charts. Hank Williams Jr. released his rendition in 1986.

  • #92. 'Cry Myself To Sleep' by The Judds

    - Artist: The Judds
    - Billboard rank: #92

    Wynonna and Naomi Judd’s condemnation of a misbehaving man marked the mother-daughter duo's eighth #1 country hit. The 1986 recording follows a women’s intent to stay with her partner at any cost.

  • #91. 'If You Leave Me Tonight I'll Cry' by J erry Wallace

    - Artist: J erry Wallace
    - Billboard rank: #91

    “If You Leave Me Tonight I'll Cry” was Wallace’s only chart-topping hit. The heartbreaking 1972 recording described the end of a relationship, and was popularized in the hit horror show “Night Gallery.”

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