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The Best Traditional Country Songs

  • Arden is a Senior Country Music Journalist for Country Thang Daily, specializing in classic hits and contemporary chart-toppers.
  • Prior to joining Country Thang Daily, Arden wrote for Billboard and People magazine, covering country music legends and emerging artists.
  • Arden holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Tennessee, with a minor in Music Studies.

Country music began a long, long time ago. As it moved forward to the present, a lot of things changed. The sound of country music we once knew has crossed over to pop music, and many instruments or electronic sounds were now added. However, it doesn’t mean that it is not worth listening to the old country. The ever-changing world of music doesn’t mean that the old songs are irrelevant. Instead, it makes these old songs an important aspect of music’s history.

best traditional country song
The Best Traditional Country Music/ Photo via 94country.com

The Best Traditional Country Songs

The traditional country music we know has always been a constant inspiration to younger artists and since everyone loves it, why don’t we take a look at the best of the best? Here, we compiled a list of the classic songs we think are great.

“Man of Constant Sorrow”

The song was written in 1913 by a Dick Brunett. The first known recording of the song dated back in 1928 by Emry Arthur. However, there was not much attention given to it. The song only came to light when artists such as the Stanley Brothers, Bob Dylan, and the Soggy Bottom Boys, from the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? released their versions. 

Check out this folk sounding song of the past.

“Coal Miner’s Daughter”

Loretta Lynn’s autobiographical single turned out to be the best song in her career. Despite earning a total of ninety singles on the chart, “Coal Miner’s Daughter” stood out the most. How could it not be? The song elaborates the life of Lynn as a child living in poverty with her family. It gives us a glimpse of her life and it also allows the fans to be drawn closer to Lynn.

“Coal Miner’s Daughter” gave Lynn another number one on the US and Canadian chart. In addition, she scored her first song on the pop chart. The title of her song was also used as the name for her autobiography and the movie.

“Ring of Fire”

It’s a classic, it’s a gem, it’s country! “Ring of Fire” is considered to be one of the most popular country tunes of all time. The song was first recorded in 1963 by Anita Carter, June Carter Cash‘s sister. When Johnny Cash heard of it, he felt that he needed to record the song. However, out of respect, he decided not to. The Anita’s version was not commercially successful so when it failed, Johnny decided to record the song based on a dream he had about it.

“Ring of Fire,” penned by Merle Kilgore and June, reached the top of the country chart. In addition, Johnny’s single also scored positions on the US Hot 100, German and Swiss charts.


“Flowers on the Wall”

The Grammy award-winning single of The Statler Brothers is definitely a classic song to be remembered. “Flowers on the Wall” came to be the band’s signature song. Moreover, it was their first song to enter the country and pop chart.

“Flowers on the Wall” delivers a story of a man who lives a contented life by counting flowers, watching the same movie, and not leaving his house. There are two ways to understand the song; it could be the poignant truth of how the man lives his life or the happiness he gets by being satisfied in life.

The quartets’ single was penned by Lew DeWitt, the tenor of the band.

“El Paso”

Nothing sounds better than an old Western tune playing on the radio in a quiet lazy afternoon. That’s how emotionally evoking a country song can be to us. One particular country song that’s great to be played on repeat is Marty Robbins“El Paso.” The western single became Robbins’ signature song. It was released in 1959 as a single from his album Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs. 

Robbins’ first version of the song was too long that it was cut to a shorter version for radios. It originally played for about four minutes and it is not a usual song length at that time. However, despite being too long it’s worth listening to it as it has a great story of the wild west.

“He Stopped Loving Her Today”

George Jones‘ classic hit is considered to be the greatest country song of all time. Furthermore, it was also the reason why Jones’ career was resurrected. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” was written in 1978 by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman. It was said that the song was pitched to Jones by his producer. However, Jones was not into the song. Therefore, every time he performed it in the studio, he ended singing it into “Help Me Make It Through the Night” tune. Eventually, Jones felt that he owed a lot to the song when he finally had another number one after six years because of it.

Check out Jones’ classic hit.

“It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels”

It’s definitely not country if Kitty Wells is not on our list. “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” set a record for Wells. She was regarded as the first solo female artist to reach the top of the country chart. This controversial song was even banned to be performed at the Grand Ole Opry. The topic of Wells’ single seems to be a taboo because people in society don’t want to discuss such a topic about women. Nonetheless, Wells certainly made her point and mark in country music with this song.

“Rhinestone Cowboy”

The glittering song of Glen Campbell is also a country classic that many will recognize. “Rhinestone Cowboy” was written by Larry Weiss in 1974. He made a recording of the song, but it wasn’t commercially successful. When Campbell heard of “Rhinestone Cowboy,” he wanted to record it. Thanks to Campbell, Weiss’ song is known globally.

“Rhinestone Cowboy” hit the top of the Country, Adult Contemporary, and Hot 100 chart.

Aside from the mentioned classic country songs above, we listed for you some hits in the past that are worth remembering here:

  • “Coat of Many Colors,” Dolly Parton
  • “Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine,” Tom T. Hall
  • “Sixteen Tons,” Tennessee Ernie Ford
  • “Margaritaville,” Jimmy Buffett
  • “If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time,” Lefty Frizzell
  • “Convoy,” C.W. McCall
  • “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys
  • “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” Hank Williams
  • “I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail,” Buck Owens and the Buckaroos
  • “Mama Tried,” Merle Haggard

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