Surprisingly or not, some of pop music’s biggest hits began as a country song. Here are at eight pop songs that have their roots in country music.
1. “Crazy Arms”, Linda Ronstadt (Ray Price)
“Crazy Arms” has been covered by numerous artists over the years, including Bing Crosby, Gram Parsons, the Jerry Garcia Band, Waylon Jennings, Chuck Berry and Linda Rondstadt, who included it on her self-titled album in 1971. But before anyone else recorded it, Ray Price sang it first, for his Ray Price’s Greatest Hits album. The song became Price’s first number one hit in 1956.
2. “I Swear”, All-4-One (John Montgomery)
It’s the song that became the prom and wedding anthem throughout the latter part of the ’90s. John Michael Montgomery took it to number one 1 in 1993, from his Kickin’ It Up album, but it was the four-part harmony of the boy band, All-4-One, which made it so popular. The guys included it on their eponymous debut album, helping it become their first and only chart-topping single.
3. “Act Naturally”, The Beatles (Buck Owens)
The Beatles famously included this song as the B-side of their mega-hit, “Yesterday.” But before the English rock band sang it, Buck Owens first laid claim to the tune, written by Johnny Russell and Voni Morrison, for his The Best of Buck Owens album in 1963.
4. “I Can’t Stop Loving You”, Ray Charles (Don Gibson)
Few can forget Ray Charles’ take on “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” which he included on his 1962 Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music album – an appropriate fit, since it began as a country single for Don Gibson, who wrote the tune. Gibson released it in 1958, but it was Charles who took it all the way to number one.
5. “I Will Always Love You”, Whitney Houston (Dolly Parton)
Whitney Houston famously sang this song in one of the most intense scenes in the 1992 movie, The Bodyguard, which starred Houston and Kevin Costner. Released by Houston as a single, it spent a record-breaking 14 weeks at top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming the best-selling song of Houston’s illustrious career. But nearly 20 years before it became a pop hit, Dolly Parton wrote and recorded the song for her 1974, “Jolene” album, in response to her professional split from her former business partner, Porter Wagoner.
6. “We Had It All”, Tina Turner (Waylon Jennings)
Tina Turner recorded “We Had It All” for her debut Tina Turns the Country On! album, becoming one of more than a dozen artists who sang the song, including Bob Dylan, Rita Coolidge, the Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart and Dobie Gray. But before it became an album staple for rock, the song, written by Troy Seals and Donnie Fritts, was first recorded by Waylon Jennings, who included it on his 1973 album, “Honky Tonk Heroes.” Turner earned a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, in 1974 for the record.
7. “Jolene”, The White Stripes (Dolly Parton)
“Jolene” became a beloved country classic after Dolly Parton wrote and released the song, which was the title track of her 13th studio album. But although the song was covered by numerous artists, including Olivia Newton-John, Ellie Goulding and Miley Cyrus, it’s rock band the White Stripes who introduced the song to an entirely new audience. The group included it on their 2004 video album, Live Under Blackpool Lights, and released it as a single in the UK, where it landed in the Top 20.
8. “I Do (Cherish You)”, 98 Degrees (Mark Wills)
Mark Wills recorded the ballad “I Do (Cherish You)” as the debut single for his 1998 album, Wish You Were Here. Although the tune became one of Wills’ biggest hits, peaking at number two, it was pop and R&B band 98 degrees who made it a universal hit. The group included it on their sophomore album, 98 Degrees and Rising, helping the record become one of the best-selling of their career, with sales topping four million.