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15 of the Greatest Classic Country Songs

If you’re looking for a fun roundup of hits by some of the biggest stars in country music history, consider these old country songs. The list is a cross-section of some of the biggest stars’ best-loved hits, dating back to the 1950’s.

It’s a worthwhile listen for old fans and a jumping off point for anyone seeking a classic country music primer.

“Friends in Low Places,” Garth Brooks

Although it isn’t quite as old as other songs on this list, the one guaranteed barroom sing-along starter deserves a mention on any roundup of all-time country classics.

“Jackson,” Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash

Thanks to Hollywood, this might be Cash’s most easily recognizable classic country song. It certainly defines the Cash family singing group.

“Crazy,” Patsy Cline

This classic Willie Nelson composition helps define Cline’s immensely influential, and tragically short, career. It’s the classic case of a good song taken to a new level by a great singer.

“The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” The Charlie Daniels Band

Daniels sealed his Hall of Fame case with a song that still helps define modern fiddle playing, ’70’s country and classic rock for both outsiders and true fans.

“Take Me Home, Country Roads,” John Denver

Whether you lump him in with folk rockers or genuine country singers, Denver unquestionably captured the spirit of classic country storytelling with one of his biggest hits.

“Mama Tried,” Merle Haggard

Haggard defined good-hearted yet flawed cowboys and outlaws for decades to come with arguably the greatest song he ever recorded.

“Good Hearted Woman,” Waylon Jennings

Like Haggard, Jennings was at his best when revealing the soft side of rough characters. In this timeless love song, a less flawed woman sees the good in a modern-day outlaw.

“He Stopped Loving Her Today,” George Jones

Most impersonations of Jones‘ instantly recognizable vocal delivery revolve around his greatest country music song. It remains the crowning achievement of Jones’ big 1980’s comeback.

“Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Loretta Lynn

Lynn‘s biographical tale of growing up in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky is still one of the best-loved songs and most sincere nods to the working poor in country music history.

“On the Road Again,” Willie Nelson

There’s probably 40 or 50 Willie Nelson songs that could fit this list like a glove. For new fans, this exemplifies Nelson as a storyteller and remains among his most recognizable vocal performances.

“Jolene,” Dolly Parton

Few country artists approach the longevity or celebrity of Parton. Even with six decades of Billboard hits, nothing else she’s recorded comes close to the fame and staying power of “Jolene.”

“The Gambler,” Kenny Rogers

At one time, “The Gambler” was synonymous with modern country songs. Nowadays, fans who remember Rogers’ prime and television miniseries moonlighting still know the chorus by heart.

“All My Ex’s Live in Texas,” George Strait

The most prolific hit-maker and proud Texan of them all needs to make the list for sure. Why not toss in one of his most fun and recognizable nods to ex-dodging?

“I Saw the Light,” Hank Williams

It’s hard to pick just one Hank Williams song, but tossing in his great contribution to both country and Southern gospel adds a little grace and variety to this roundup of barroom anthems and love songs.

“Stand By Your Man,” Tammy Wynette

Wynette’s career-defining hit and vocal performance rounds out this list of definite country music songs. She wrings every last drop of emotion from the lyrics in this textbook example of a great country song.

WATCH: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Johnny Cash

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15 of the Greatest Classic Country Songs