When your punk-rock neighbor covers a Johnny Cash song, you know that that tune is powerful; so powerful it crosses genres.
Country artists who have managed to achieve this universal renown include Cash, Nelson, and Hank Williams. The most recent artist to do this is Taylor Swift, who’s delivered some catchy pop-country since she’s started (although some say she’s not true country).
What makes for a super successful country song is that it sounds country and it still hits the top radio stations — when the story is true to country living, yet everybody can relate to it. Well, we whittled the list of artists who’ve done this down to just three. These are possibly the best country songs of all time.
The Devil Went Down to Georgia – The Charlie Daniels Band
The story behind the song: Apparently, TCDB took the song “The Lonesome Fiddle Blues,” made it an octave higher, and put lyrics to it.
Release date: May 21, 1979
Most notable success: reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart
Stand-out lyric: The devil bowed his head / Because he knew that he’d been beat / And he laid that golden fiddle / On the ground at Johnny’s feet
The Dance – Garth Brooks
The story behind the song: written by Tony Arata, Brooks explains that it has two meanings — it’s both a love story about the end of a relationship, and about a loved one dying.
Release date: April 30, 1990
Most notable success: landed in top 3 on three different music charts
Stand-lyric: And now I’m glad I didn’t know / The way it all would end the way it all would go / Our lives are better left to chance / I could have missed the pain / But I’d have had to miss the dance
The Gambler – Kenny Rogers
The story behind the song: Don Schlitz wrote the song and spent two years pitching it “door-to-door.” Many well-know artists recorded the song, including Johnny Cash, but it wasn’t until Rogers recorded it that it blew up. This song earned Rogers a Grammy.
Release date: November 15, 1978
Most notable success: peaked at number one on US Hot Country Songs (Billboard), number two with Canada Country Tracks, and number three on US Adult Contemporary (Billboard).
Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away
And knowin’ what to keep
‘Cause every hand’s a winner
And every hand’s a loser
And the best that you can hope for is to die
in your sleep
These are three of the best, but there are so many great country songs. Who else could have made this list? Tell us in the comments!