The best country music covers can truly reinvent a song – and every so often, country artists do beyond what’s amazing that they become the ultimate recordings. They breathe new life to older country hits and even bring it all the way to the top of country radio charts.
Keep on scrolling below to know what we mean.
1. “Fancy” by Reba McEntire
In 1990, McEntire released “Fancy” on her album, Rumor Has It. The rags-to-riches tale of a poor woman who was forced to use prostitution to lift herself out of poverty captivated audiences and still remains one of the living country legend’s most famous pieces of work.
But before McEntire’s dramatic take of the country ballad, it was a No. 8 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart in 1970 for Bobbie Gentry, who is also the song’s sole writer.
2. “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton
During the 2015 CMA Awards, Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake teamed up and took the stage in an unexpected style. The performance stole the show and arguably launched Stapleton to the country star that he is today. Stapleton then cut the song in a bluesier, grittier version for his debut solo album, Traveller.
Well, you might be surprised to learn that “Tennessee Whiskey” had been around for decades prior to that legendary performance. Written by Dean Dillon and Linda Hargrove in 1981, the song was first offered to George Strait, who turned it down for reasons not known. David Allan Coe picked it up and recorded for his album of the same name.
3. “Am I Losing You” by Ronnie Milsap
In 1957, Jim Reeves wrote and recorded “Am I Losing You,” which spent two weeks at the third spot of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. Reeves re-recorded the song, which then peaked at No. 8 on the same chart while crossing over to the pop chart, reaching No. 31 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Over two decades later, Milsap covered the song and took it to the country chart’s top spot.
4. “Callin’ Baton Rouge” by Garth Brooks
Written by Dennis Linde, “Callin’ Baton Rouge” tells the story of a trucker who was desperate to talk to the woman he left behind.
The song finds its roots in the late 1970s with The Oak Ridge Boys’ recording in 1978. Nearly a decade later, progressive bluegrass band New Grass Revival recorded the song and became the group’s highest-charting single – peaking at No. 37 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
But it was actually Brooks who made the country tune famous when he recorded it for his 1993 album In Pieces, bringing it all the way to No. 2 on the country chart.
5. “But You Know I Love You” by Dolly Parton
Before this song became a country singles chart-topper for Parton in 1981, it was first a major country hit by Bill Anderson and a pop hit for Kenny Rogers and The First Edition.
Written by Mike Settle, “But You Know I Love You” tells the story of a lover feeling sorry for not being able to stay with his better half because of career demands and the need to frequently travel for his job.
6. “The Closer You Get” by Alabama
Alabama released “The Closer You Get” in 1983 as the title track to their seventh studio album, which yielded three country No. 1 hits, including this song. But before they achieved such success, two versions were earlier released as singles.
It was first a hit to singer Don King, whose version peaked at No. 27 on the country chart. Another earlier recording was by Exile; however, it did not gain much attention.
7. “Goodbye Time” by Blake Shelton
When Shelton released “Goodbye Time” as the third single off his 2005 album Blake Shelton’s Barn & Grill, it became the fourth Top Ten hit of his career.
Written by James Dean Hicks and Roger Murrah, the song was inspired by Hicks’ brother, who was going through a divorce. The two then pitched the song to Reba McEntire, who turned it down as she felt she couldn’t sing the song following her divorce at that time. It was then pitched to Conway Twitty, who recorded it in 1988 with Vince Gill’s vocals in the background.
8. “Why Baby Why” by Charley Pride
“Why Baby Why” was George Jones’s first chart hit, following several unsuccessful singles. It then became a country standard, having been covered by several different artists. This includes Charley Pride, whose version reached No. 1 on the country chart nearly three decades after Jones’ release.
Meanwhile, Jones himself recorded the song quite a few times, including a duet with Gene Pitney and another duet with Ricky Skaggs.
9. “When You Say Nothing At All” by Alison Krauss & Union Station
“When You Say Nothing At All” was a hit song for Keith Whitley, who took it to the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1988. It was written by two leading country songwriters, Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz, and it went on to be a hit song for two different performers.
Alison Krauss, who recorded the romantic ballad in 1995, got her first solo Top Ten country hit when her version peaked at No. 3 on the country chart.
10. “Slow Hand” by Conway Twitty
In 1982, Twitty released his cover of “Slow Hand,” which was originally recorded by American R&B group The Pointer Sisters. His version spent two weeks at the top spot of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
Ten More Essential Country Music Covers
Indeed, a good song is a good song whoever is singing it! Keep on scrolling for more popular country music covers.
So, there you have it! How about you? Do you have any favorite country music covers that you think we should include in this list?
Alabama, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Blake Shelton, Charley Pride, chris stapleton, conway twitty, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, ronnie milsap