Several noteworthy singles celebrate milestone birthdays in June 2018, including these five songs that demonstrate elements of country music's sound and style from the past 50 years. While a lot of months offer chances to figure out why novelty tunes, industry fads or one-hit wonders found support from music executives and the record-buying public, this list of summertime favorites all come from household names. Only Carrie Underwood might lack nostalgic appeal for longtime fans--although she obviously digs at least one of these more traditional-sounding classics.
It's worth noting that the "birthday" in question is when each song first topped the Billboard charts, not when it was released as a single or when it first appeared on an album.
"D-I-V-O-R-C-E," Tammy Wynette (1968)
In one of the most socially contentious and creatively rich years in American music history, Wynette literally spelled out how to inject harsh reality into feel-good tunes about home and family. Instead of just singing about cheating and infidelity, she turns the lens on how these selfish decisions impact children too young to understand such circumstances.
"Georgia On My Mind," Willie Nelson (1978)
In 1962, Ray Charles covered country classics for his two Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music albums. Sixteen years later, Willie Nelson added a country singer's twist to this pop and jazz standard that'd become a defining part of Charles' legacy.
"I Told You So," Randy Travis (1988)
Travis brought traditional country ballads back to the mainstream with this and other beloved hits. It came in a year when legends (Merle Haggard), bands (Highway 101) and unlikely country stars (K.T. Olsin) all got a fair crack at a chart-topper. Over 20 years later, Travis' famed single returned to the top five via a duet with Carrie Underwood.
"I Just Want to Dance With You," George Strait (1998)
What can be best described as the Texas country equivalent of tropical pop made this one of Strait's better romantic hits. The cover song remains true to a John Prine co-write, first heard on Prine's 1986 album German Afternoons.
"Last Name" By Carrie Underwood (2008)
This Underwood co-write tells of an ill-advised Vegas fling that ends with a drunken exchange of wedding vows. Based on the music video, these calamities precede the less morally ambiguous "Before He Cheats." Please take note of the clever incorporation of banjo and fiddle before dismissing this one as disposable pop.