Even at a time when the country music business seems more concerned about pickup truck-driving suburbanites than Midwest farmer's daughters and others representing the hard work that goes into farm life, multiple hit country songs by contemporary stars pay homage to the farmer.
Songs worthy of inclusion beyond this 10-track playlist range from Tim McGraw's bro-country prediction "Down on the Farm" and his more sentimental "Where the Green Grass Grows" to such broader statements on rural living as John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy."
Incidentally, artists grow more old-school as the list goes on because we considered everything from Montgomery Gentry's "Daddy Won't Sell the Farm" to Marty Stuart and Connie Smith co-write "Farmer's Blues."
"She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy," Kenny Chesney
This tongue-in-cheek look at Southern or Heartland farming, in the spirit of Joe Diffie's "John Deere Green," helped establish Chesney as the voice of beach bums with farmer's tans. For something way less delightfully campy, listen to Rodney Atkins' "A Man on a Tractor."
"Amarillo Sky," Jason Aldean
Jason Aldean's done as well as anyone in recent memory at summing up farming life in song, as heard on "Flyover States" and "Big Green Tractor." Yet he shines brightest on this cover of a song first recorded by co-writer John Rich.
"International Harvester," Craig Morgan
From the opening sound of heavy machinery (did Tim "Tool Man" Taylor write this one?) to lyrics about farmers clogging up traffic on their International Harvester, Craig Morgan does a good job crossing classic farm imagery with modern (in)conveniences.
"Rain is a Good Thing," Luke Bryan
Few contemporary country stars do more for farmers in song or through good deeds than Luke Bryan. His dirt road allegiances date back to this, his first No. 1 hit.
?"Last of a Dying Breed," Neal McCoy
Neal McCoy's ode to aging small town dwellers describes the farmers who used to wear their cleanest pair of overalls to church on Sunday.
"Where Corn Don't Grow," Travis Tritt
Travis Tritt avoids rural life cliches by recounting a father-and-son conversation that reveals the wisdom we can all learn from an aging farmer.
"Farmer's Almanac," Johnny Cash
A favorite country songs list about just about any topic should include the Man in Black. For this discussion, one of his finest moments came with this ode to rural residents' second most-read book behind the Bible.
"Song of the South," Alabama
Before it became an Alabama hit, this tune lived an interesting life as a Bobby Bare deep cut and a charting single for Johnny Russell and the duo of Earl Scruggs and Tom T. Hall. All four versions eloquently describe how the Great Depression and FDR's New Deal changed rural farming forever.
"American Farmer," The Charlie Daniels Band
Charlie Daniels was as much the voice of the common farmer as Travis Tritt, Johnny Cash or any other country artist on this list. So it should come as no surprise that Daniels and his band did as well as anyone at applauding the modern day American farmer.
"Thank God I'm a Country Boy," John Denver
John Denver praises a hard day's work on "Thank God I'm a Country Boy."
Well life on the farm is kinda laid back/ Ain't much an old country boy like me can't hack," Denver sings. "It's early to rise, early in the sack/
I thank God I'm a country boy."
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