10 Popular Country Songs That Were Originally Cover Hits

by

Arden Lambert

Updated

March 2, 2023

Updated

March 2, 2023

Updated

March 2, 2023

It’s truly amazing how one artist can reinvent an old track – so much so that, at times, they become the definitive recordings. For our list of country cover songs, we’ve gathered tunes that already happened to be a hit or a popular recorded version for someone else. Pretty sure you’ll be surprised by what you’re about to find out.

So, here’s a round-up of the most renowned country cover songs.

1. Tennessee Whiskey

When Chris Stapleton performed “Tennessee Whiskey” during the 2015 Country Music Association Awards alongside Justin Timberlake, the song quickly became viral. In fact, just two days after the breakout performance, Stapleton’s recorded version reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. It also climbed to the No. 23 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

However, Stapleton was far from the first artist to record the track. It was originally recorded by David Allan Coe in 1981 for his album of the same name and then by George Jones, who brought the song to No. 2 on the country chart.

2. When You Say Nothing at All 

The song that turned a teenage Alison Krauss into a young bluegrass phenom was actually the same song that made Keith Whitley a country superstar. Written by award-winning songwriters Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz, “When You Say Nothing at All” is among the most popular country covers ever.

Whitley took the romantic ballad to the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1988, while Krauss’ version became her first solo Top 10 country hit in 1995.

3. Why Baby Why

Following several unsuccessful singles, George Jones made a difference in 1955 with the release of “Why Baby Why.” The country classic became Jones’ first chart-hitting single, peaking at No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.

Since then, it has gone on to become a country standard, having been covered by many artists. Among the most well-known country covers were those from Charley Pride, Red Sovine, and Webb Pierce.

4. Hurt

In 2002, Johnny Cash covered “Hurt” to commercial and critical acclaim. Many music lovers even considered its accompanying music video, which featured images from his life, among the greatest music videos of all time. 

The song was originally released by the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails and written by the group’s lead vocalist, Trent Reznor. The original version earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rock Song.

5. Fancy

Before Reba McEntire’s dramatic take of the song “Fancy,” it was the first crossover pop music hit for Bobbie Gentry – who also wrote the song in 1969. The heart-wrenching ballad tells the story of an 18-year-old girl sent by her mother to work as a prostitute in a last desperate act to save her from the cycle of poverty. 

McEntire revealed that she had always wanted to record the song, but her producer at the time was against it. They thought the song was highly associated with Gentry. The moment she did, McEntire surpassed Gentry’s feat, with her version reaching the Top 10 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in 1991.

6. My Maria

The song was originally released by country pop singer B.W. Stevenson, who also finished writing it and added an additional verse. “My Maria” became a Top 10 hit for Stevenson, reaching the No. 9 spot on Billboard Hot 100.

Meanwhile, a cover version of Brooks & Dunn climbed atop Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and even won a Grammy Award in 1997. This song was performed as their last performance as a duo in 2015.

7. Shine

One of the top country cover songs is, without a doubt, Dolly Parton’s “Shine,” which was originally released as the debut single of the alternative rock band Collective Soul.

Parton was released in 2001 with the members of the bluegrass band Nickel Creek, and it’s amazing how the country legend turned an alt-rock anthem into a bluegrass gospel masterpiece. Her version won a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.

8. Pop a Top 

There is quite a lot of renowned country cover songs in Alan Jackson’s catalog but “Pop a Top” is our favorite. The first hit version was released by country singer Jim Ed Brown in 1967. The song about a bar patron asking the bartender to open another bottle of beer for him was later revived by Jackson, whose version peaked at No. 6 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.

9. Callin’ Baton Rouge

One of the most notable country cover renditions that most fans know by heart is none other than Garth Brooks’ “Callin’ Baton Rouge.” It was first recorded by the country quartet The Oak Ridge Boys but only made famous by Brooks when he released it in 1993. His rendition reached No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.

10. But You Know I Love You

Did you know this classic chart-topper by Dolly Parton was originally a pop hit for Kenny Rogers and the First Edition? Parton covered the song for her 1980 concept album about working called 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs.

Isn’t it amazing knowing these awesome country cover songs? We hope you had fun!


Tags

Alan Jackson, Alison Krauss, Brooks & Dunn, chris stapleton, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, George Jones, Johnny Cash, Reba McEntire


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