In hard times, many people turn to music to ease their fears and give them a sense of hope among feelings of despair. That's what music's for, after all: to touch hearts in ways that words cannot. Many people have especially been through tough times in the past year, as the coronavirus pandemic hit the nation and life as we knew was turned upside down.
There are plenty of pop, folk, soul and rock songs that deal with having hope, including The Beatles' "Here Comes The Sun" and "Let It Be," Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down," Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World," and Marvin Gaye's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." However, there's just something extra meaningful about an inspirational country song. Whether you're dealing with illness, a lack of faith, or just need a little positivity or self-care, here is a list of 10 great songs you'll want to put on your country playlist to keep holding onto hope.
1. "I'm Gonna Love You Through It," Martina McBride
The first song on the list is from powerhouse vocalist Martina McBride, who has a history of singing inspirational songs about hard topics. In this 2011 single, she tells a story about a woman reeling from a breast cancer diagnosis at age 38. She's a mother to three children and when she starts feeling hopeless about her illness, her husband lets her know that he's going to be there for her every step of the way. In the chorus of the song, McBride sings from the perspective of the husband reassuring his wife. "When you're weak, I'll be strong / When you let go, I'll hold on / When you need to cry, I swear that I'll be there to dry your eyes / When you feel lost and scared to death / Like you can't take one more step / Just take my hand, together we can do it / I'm gonna love you through it," she sings. While the song is certainly relatable to anyone dealing with cancer or illness, it's also a motivational tune for people going through any difficult time.
2. "I Saw God Today," George Strait
George Strait's 2008 single, "I Saw God Today," taught us that one doesn't have to look too far to find a reason to keep pressing on. In the tune, Strait sings from the perspective of a soon-to-be new father who's been helping his wife through labor for hours. He takes a step away from the hospital for a short walk, where he sees what he interprets as evidence of God. First, he sees a flower growing through the sidewalk, thriving against all odds. Then, as he continues walking, he sees a couple and the woman is expecting -- another showing of hope. Then, in the last verse, he sees another miracle: his newborn baby. In each circumstance, Strait repeats the phrase "I Saw God Today," proving that if you open your eyes, hope is all around us.
3. "Riser," Dierks Bentley
In 2015, Dierks Bentley released "Riser" as the final single from his album of the same name. While the song wasn't a massive radio hit (it peaked at No. 24 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart), it made a lasting impact on the hearts of many people. In the tune written by Travis Meadows and Steve Moakler, Bentley sings to his significant other, promising her that they'll get through their current difficulties and that better days are on the horizon. "The hard times put the shine into the diamond / I won't let that keep us in the ground," he sings. While the song itself is directed towards a wife, husband or significant other, listeners can feel strength by just hearing the song and making their own decision to push through whatever is happening in their life.
4. "Good Day," Brett Eldredge
In "Good Day," his latest single released in early March, Brett Eldredge preaches positivity and commits to having a good day no matter what he's going through. Even though the day he's singing about is "42 cold and rainy," he holds onto hope that good things are coming his way. "It's gonna be a good day / I don't know why, but it feels like love's coming my way / And the sun ain't even shinin'," he sings. The song is a perfect one to listen to when you need a little shot of motivation and reassurance that things will get better.
5. "When I Get Where I'm Going," Brad Paisley featuring Dolly Parton
Brad Paisley sang about the ultimate hope in his 2005 single, "When I Get Where I'm Going." In this unparalleled tune, Paisley ponders what it will be like to go to heaven someday and reunite with his loved ones that have passed on before him. Paisley paints a vivid picture in the song of what heaven will be like, as he describes flying, riding a drop of rain, and walking next to his late grandfather. In the chorus of the uplifting tune, Paisley and Parton sum up what the afterlife will be like, singing, "When I get where I'm going there'll be only happy tears / I will shed the sins and struggles I have carried all these years." For those who have a belief in life after death, this song is one of unmitigated hope.
6. "Rainbow," Kacey Musgraves
Kacey Musgraves made waves with her Grammy-winning album, Golden Hour, released in 2018, and one of the most meaningful songs on the album is the last track, "Rainbow." Set to the background of a simple piano melody, Musgraves sings about how it is often easy to get stuck in difficult times, but sometimes, one must look up through the rain to realize that a beautiful rainbow has formed. "The sky has finally opened / The rain and wind stopped blowin', but you're stuck out in the same ol' storm again / You hold tight to your umbrella / Well, darlin', I'm just tryin' to tell ya /That there's always been a rainbow hangin' over your head," she sings. The song is especially poignant for anyone going through a tough time and needs a little encouragement to look beyond their current circumstances.
7. "Tough," Craig Morgan
Craig Morgan's discography is full of both inspirational and upbeat songs, and one of his most emotional tracks is 2007's "Tough." In this song, Morgan sings from the perspective of a husband who is sharing just how "tough" his wife is. He showcases her toughness in the first verse as he describes how she takes care of their family flawlessly. Then in the second verse, he reveals that she is a breast cancer survivor who never backed down during her fight against the disease. The song teaches listeners that no matter what you're going through, whether it be the stresses of life or a health problem, there is always a way through to the other side.
8. "Believe," Brooks & Dunn
Brooks & Dunn took on the subject of life after death in their heartwarming 2005 single, "Believe." In this tune, lead singer Ronnie Dunn tells a story about a little boy who had a friendship with an old man who lived nearby. The old man would tell him about his wife and child who passed away and taught him about God and heaven. Fast forward years later, the young boy is now in college and learned of the old man's death. While his friend was gone, the lessons the man taught the boy about belief were still burned on his heart. The song not only pulls on the heartstrings, but it also reassures faith-based people that they will see their loved ones again one day.
9. "It's A Great Day To Be Alive," Travis Tritt
Sometimes all one needs in order to hold onto hope is to remember that every day is a blessing. In Travis Tritt's lively hit, "It's A Great Day To Be Alive," he's reminding people of that enduring fact. Throughout the song, Tritt mentions all the seemingly simple things that make him happy, and it's those simple things that make life worth living. "It's a great day to be alive, I know the sun is still shining when I close my eyes / There's some hard times in the neighborhood, but why can't every day be just this good," he sings. The song is sure to remind listeners that no matter what you're going through, the sun still comes up every day.
10. "Be A Light," Thomas Rhett, Chris Tomlin, Hillary Scott, Reba McEntire, and Keith Urban
In 2020, singer/songwriter Thomas Rhett assembled an A-team group of artists for an inspirational song called "Be A Light." The tune is about finding hope in oneself and encourages people to be the change they want to see. Throughout the song, each artist takes turns singing about different ways people can reach out and "Be A Light" in the world. "In a world full of hate, be a light / When you do somebody wrong, make it right / Don't hide in the dark, you were born to shine / In a world full of hate, be a light," they sing. The song was released last March right after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and the tune proved to endure through the rest of an arduous 2020.