Nitty Gritty Dirt Band songs had existed in a variety of forms since its beginning in 1966. In fact, the band’s membership has had at least a dozen changes throughout its career. But one thing remains consistent, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band songs are among the most beloved country-rock tunes in classic rock history.
So, without further ado, we offer a brief playlist of songs that we believe are essential to getting to know one of the best bands and most accomplished in American roots music – from their days as cosmic cowboys all the way through their latter-day hits.
1. “Long Hard Road (The Sharecropper’s Dream)”
Written by country singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell, the song depicts a sharecropper’s son, who was forced to work together with his family for long hard hours in a cotton field. But despite such an exhausting childhood, his memories are mostly pleasing – like singing songs over his grandma’s radio, listening to his mom read the Bible, and regularly having food to eat.
2. “Modern Day Romance”
The heartbreaking ballad was released as the lead single from the album Partners, Brothers, and Friends, and it went on becoming the band’s second No. 1 hit on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart – spending a total of fifteen weeks on the said chart.
3. “Fishin’ in the Dark”
“Fishin’ in the Dark” is one of those songs that just paints a beautiful picture with the love of your life as you spend the night at a lake – fishing, counting stars, cooling off in the water where a full moon is present. It’s a song that just about everyone knows and loves.
4. “Mr. Bojangles”
The band’s success story consists of a cover version of Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles.” It became the group’s first hit, peaking at No. 9 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
Walker wrote the song after meeting a street performer in a New Orleans jail. The man called himself “Mr. Bojangles” to hide his identity from the police – a name he has taken from a famous black tap dancer who appeared in several movies during the 1930s.
5. “House at Pooh Corner”
Written by Kenny Loggins when he was only a 17-year-old senior in high school, “House at Pooh Corner” was based on a famous children’s book of the same name.
When the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band heard the song – which is a story of the loss of innocence and longing for childhood – they immediately fell in love with it and told the teenage songwriter they wanted it for their album.
6. “The Battle of New Orleans”
Originally a No. 1 hit for singer Johnny Horton in 1959, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band had a minor Billboard Hot 100 hit with their version in 1974.
7. “Hey Good Lookin'”
The Nitty Gritty Band got together with Linda Ronstadt for this Hank Williams classic. Even if it’s more up-tempo than the original version, their version is absolutely something to be heard.
8. “Ooh Po Pe Do Girl”
“Ooh Po Pe Do Girl” is a part of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s second album, and it’s a good rocking blues tune that flaunts the band’s earlier sound.
9. “And So It Goes”
Written by the country’s most eloquent songwriters, Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz, “And So It Goes” is a collaboration between Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and John Denver – and it was a match made in heaven.
10. “Stand a Little Rain”
Released as the first single off their 1986 compilation album, the song reached No. 5 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
11. “Rave On”
“Rave On” was a cover version from Sonny West, who released the song in 1958.
12. “Buy For Me The Rain”
Of course, this list will never be complete without “Buy For Me The Rain” – the first single Nitty Gritty Dirt Band ever released. Its hopeful message of being grateful for being alive each day quickly captivated the late 1960’s audience amidst the Vietnam War.
13. “Brand New Heartache”
Co-written by its founding member Jeff Hanna, the song defines the band’s brilliance and longevity four decades since they first appeared in the music scene.
14. “All I Have to Do Is Dream”
In 1975, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band gave their shot on the song made famous by the Everly Brothers. Their version reached No. 30 on Billboard’s Easy Listening chart.
15. “Dance Little Jean”
The song was written by Jimmy Ibbotson, hoping that the song’s story of romance would persuade his then-wife to get back together. It tells the tale of a musician discouraged by marriage until his heart was dwindled by a daughter dancing to his band during her parents’ wedding reception.
Little Jean was the name of Ibbotson’s real-life daughter.
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Songs That Endured The Test of Time
Here are some more Nitty Gritty Dirt Band songs that helped the country-rock band last longer than any other group of their era.
So, what do you think about this list of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Songs? Did you find your favorite hits?
nitty gritty dirt band