10 classic country songs that will feed your soul

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In his 1697 play The Mourning Bride, British playwright William Congreve wrote, “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast.” Few would argue with that point – music is a lifeline during dark times and sometimes the only thing that can brighten an otherwise lousy day.

Some genres soothe the savage breast more than others. One is country and western; when you’re feeling down, it’s the best comfort music in the world. Here are ten classic country songs that will warm your heart and redeem your day, no matter how rotten it may have been. 

1.’I Will Always Love You’ by Dolly Parton

Almost anything recorded by Dolly Parton can put a smile on the face of even the greatest sourpuss. Having said that, if you could only take one of her songs to a desert island, make it this moving 1974 ballad that shows her at the top of her craft. It’s especially effective if you just broke up with someone painfully and horribly.

2.’Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad’ by Tammy Wynette

Released in 1967, the first single on Wynette’s debut album depicts an otherwise shy woman going all type A and hanging out at honky tonks to please her husband, who apparently enjoys that sort of thing. Most of Wynette’s catalog is full of tragic, cry-in-your-beer lyrics, but “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad” is an all-too-rare upbeat song from the First Lady of Country.

3. ‘Her Name Is’ by George Jones

George Jones was once married to Tammy Wynette, and he too trafficked in similar songs of heartache, such as the tear-jerking “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Having said that, 1976’s “Her Name Is” is a fun song about cheating that should amuse anyone who’s occupied any corner of a love triangle. In his 1995 memoir, I Lived to Tell It All, he confessed that not only was the song about his former wife, but he was hoping it would sell enough copies to help him pay her court-ordered child support.

4.’Crazy’ by Patsy Cline

The Willie Nelson-penned “Crazy” was recorded in 1961 by Patsy Cline, and it immediately and permanently became her signature song. While its reputation as a three-hanky weeper is deserved, its arrangement, melody, and unique vocal by Cline make this depiction of unrequited love a comfort music classic despite the lyrics. If there’s a musical equivalent of popping a Xanax, this is it.

5.’Heaven’s Just a Sin Away’ by the Kendalls

1977’s “Heaven’s Just a Sin Away” is a cheating song, or at least an imminent cheating song. Despite the sensitive subject matter, the bouncy major-key backing and the angelic voice of Jeannie Kendall make the song utterly irresistible and give it lasting repeat-play value. It’s hard to be mad about someone cheating on you when they sing a song as good as this, so if your spouse comes home and wants to be part of a polyamorous triad, this song will help that news go down easier.

6.’I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive’ by Hank Williams

Don’t let the title of this song fool you. In fact, don’t let the lyrics – basically a list of grievances – fool you, either. Hank Williams’ 1952 song may be the hard-luck story of a guy who can’t catch a break, but it’s written with acerbic gallows humor that can take a bit of the edge off when bills are piling up, rent is overdue, and your significant other has run off.

7. ‘Fist City’ by Loretta Lynn 

Loretta Lynn may have been a sweet country gal from Kentucky, but that doesn’t mean she took any guff – not from her kids, not from the music industry, and certainly not from random women planning to steal her man. In this 1968 classic, Lynn makes direct, credible threats of violence towards a woman scheming on her man, and those threats can only be described as “gangster.” The results are laugh-out-loud funny every time you hear the song, and 55 years later, it’s still effective.

8. ‘Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys’ by Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson

This 1978 collaboration between two architects of outlaw country has weird and awkward lyrics in its verses, suggesting that it wouldn’t have hurt for Waylon and Willie to run them through Grammarly one more time. However, the chorus hits it out of the park every time. They recommend to the titular “Mammas” that they let their babies grow up to be “doctors and lawyers and such,” presumably to avoid paying for a very costly cowboy graduate degree.

9.’Ring of Fire’ by Anita Carter

Anita Carter

Anita Carter
Photo credit: Henry Horenstein, National Museum of American History

Johnny Cash may have popularized this 1963 song, but he wasn’t the first to record it. Co-written by his future wife, June Carter, her sister Anita was the first to record it, and she had one of the most beautiful singing voices that country music ever produced. Unlike Cash’s horn-laden version of the song, Carter’s rendition features only her vocal with acoustic guitar backing. However, that alone is heavenly to listen to and can immediately eradicate almost any bad mood.

10.’Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain’ by Willie Nelson

This song was written in the 1940s and performed by many country musicians over the years. Still, Willie Nelson’s 1975 rendition is considered definitive. There’s a good reason for that – the spare arrangement and Nelson’s vocals bring the song’s emotion directly to the listener. It’s considered one of this 90-year-old legend’s most significant recordings, and when you hear it, you’ll know why.

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

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