Ah yes, the Southern anthem. Countless country songs pay homage to the South. But especially beginning in the 1970s and 80s, Southern culture came under a bit of an attack from the outside world.
So country artists doubled down on their Southern pride and released some of the best Southern anthems in country music. You know, the kind of song you can sing along to. And the kind of song that just drips Southern pride.
Here are 14 of the best Southern anthems.
Alabama — “Dixieland Delight”
This is not the last time Alabama appears on this list. The band embodied the idea of being proud of where you come from. “Dixieland Delight” is an absolute classic.
Charlie Daniels Band — “Devil Went Down To Georgia”
It’s a song about a Southern boy beating the devil and literally calling him a “son of a bitch.” It doesn’t get more proud than that.
Johnny Cash and June Carter — “Jackson”
The oldest tune on the list, “Jackson” captures everything adorable about Johnny and June. It also epitomizes the sense of freedom and pride country singers find in country towns.
The Band — “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”
Levon Helm and The Band always landed more on the “southern rock” side of the equation, but there’s no question denying this tune’s place in Southern anthems. “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” is a historical take on Civil War-era southerners who were caught up in the war and were simply trying to preserve their way of life. It doesn’t take a stand, it just paints a portrait. And it quickly became a huge favorite in both the country and rock worlds.
Alabama — “If You’re Gonna Play In Texas”
Oh man, you don’t have to be a Texan to love this song. It sure helps though. For a band called Alabama, they sure captured Texas pride well. But seriously, nobody can resist singing along to this anthem.
Marc Cohn — “Walking In Memphis”
This autobiographical smash hits just about everybody in the feels. It describes Cohn’s real-life visit to Memphis for the first time and how, as a Jewish lover of gospel music, he felt the absolute power of the musical town. It may not be as “country” as other tunes on the list, but darn it if it doesn’t capture the spirit of Southern pride perfectly.
John Denver — “Take Me Home, Country Roads”
This one gives you chills every time. Interestingly enough, Denver never lived in West Virginia. But he knew the power of home and the beauty of the expanse of the American South, and it absolutely shines in this American classic.
George Strait — “All My Exes Live In Texas”
It’s hard to be downtrodden, witty and proud of your home all at once. But Strait pulls it off in this country song that lands on most people’s list of the greatest country songs ever. And it underscores just a plain old truth about the South: if you can’t be in Texas, Tennessee isn’t a bad runner-up.
Alan Jackson — “Chattahoochee”
Never mind nobody found out what a “hootchie cootchie” is. Alan Jackson’s hit “Chattahoochee” is an inescapably catchy anthem about a carefree Southern upbringing.
George Strait — “Heartland”
From the golden days of when a movie soundtrack also spawned hit singles, “Heartland” captures the Southern sentiment perfectly. As Strait says, you’re listening to the sound of the American heart. It’s hard not to get as excited as that movie crowd when Strait’s character emerges from the fog in the video.
Eric Church — “Talladega”
Eric Church’s recent hit “Talladega” is really one of the only recent tunes to qualify as a southern anthem. Like many of its predecessors, the tune mixes nostalgia and pride to perfection.
Little Texas — “God Blessed Texas”
A song so anthemic they eventually used it to sell trucks. And you can’t expect a band called Little Texas to not sing an ode to the king of the South.
Alabama — “Song of the South”
Alabama on the list three times? Yes, absolutely. They’ll never be guilty of forgetting where they came from, that’s for sure. There’s nothing like singing “Sweet potato pie and a-shut my mouth” at the top of your lungs.
Lynyrd Skynyrd — “Sweet Home Alabama”
Come on, like you didn’t see this coming. No, Skynyrd ain’t country. And yet, they wrote and recorded literally the best Southern anthem of all time. For all intents and purposes, it’s the perfect Southern song. So perfect, in fact, that even the Yankees love it. You could probably convince enough people to make it the national anthem if we change “Alabama” to “America.” It’s that good.