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The 12 Best Country Songs About Kentucky

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The Bluegrass State's musical tributes aren't limited to bluegrass music. From Elvis Presley's "Kentucky Rain" to Neil Diamond's "Kentucky Woman," artists from multiple musical genres have honored the state in song. Like Kentucky bourbon and horse racing, Americans love Kentucky for all the music it gave us and the music written about it. 

Here are our favorite country songs about the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

12. "Dumas Walker," The Kentucky Headhunters

No list of Kentucky songs would be complete without The Kentucky Headhunters' classic tribute to a Kentucky marbles player and the joy of "a slawburger, fries and a bottle of Ski."

11. "Kentucky Straight," Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash sings about a simple life filled with love on "Kentucky Straight" from 1973's Any Old Wind That Blows.

10. "Bourbon in Kentucky," Dierks Bentley  

After music, bourbon is definitely Kentucky's most beloved export. Dierks Bentley sings about it on his 2014 single "Bourbon in Kentucky," featuring Kacey Musgraves.

9. "It's Got To Be Kentucky For Me," Tom T. Hall 

Tom T. Hall, one of country music's greatest songwriters, is a native of Kentucky. Fittingly, the man from Olive Hill wrote one of the best tunes about the state.  "She loves me and she knows where I am, Kentucky you are my motherland," Hall sings on "It's Got to be Kentucky For Me," from his album Faster Horses.

8. "Paradise,"  John Prine

Written by John Prine for his father in 1971, "Paradise" is about the effects of strip mining for coal in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. Prine also recorded his own version of Kentucky's state song, "My Old Kentucky Home."

7. "Blue Kentucky Girl," Emmylou Harris

Penned by Johnny Mullins and originally recorded by Loretta Lynn, "Blue Kentucky Girl" was also a hit for Emmylou Harris, who earned a Grammy nomination for her version of the song.

6.  "Whitehouse Road," Tyler Childers

One of the best new artists to come out of the already musically-rich state of Kentucky in recent years, Tyler Childers captures life in eastern Kentucky on "Whitehouse Road."

5. "Old King Coal," Sturgill Simpson

Sturgill Simpson, a native of Jackson, Kentucky, sings about those who've worked in the Kentucky coal mines on "Old King Coal," from his 2013 album High Top Mountain. 

4. "Kentucky Gambler,"  Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton may be Tennessee's finest, but she also wrote a damn great song about Kentucky. "Kentucky Gambler" was also recorded by Merle Haggard, who took the song to No. 1. 

3.  "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive," Patty Loveless

A native of Pikeville, Kentucky, Patty Loveless delivers a haunting rendition "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive." Written by Darrell Scott, the song is a striking portrait of the challenges facing Harlan County, Kentucky coal miners and their families.

2.  "Blue Moon of Kentucky," Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys 

Kentucky legend Bill Monroe wrote "Blue Moon of Kentucky" in 1946. Since then, it's been covered by numerous artists (including Elvis Presley), named the official bluegrass song of Kentucky (no easy feat) and added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress. 

1. "Coal Miner's Daughter," Loretta Lynn

Perhaps no one is a better representative of the great state of Kentucky than Butcher Holler's own Loretta Lynn. Lynn famously chronicled her upbringing in the Bluegrass State in her signature song "Coal Miner's Daughter."

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The 12 Best Country Songs About Kentucky