Greatest Country Music Hits of All Time

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Check out our list of the greatest country music hits of all time! From Hank Williams to Garth Brooks, these songs are sure to get you in the country mood!


Country music is a genre of American popular music that originated in the southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from a blend of different musical traditions, including folk, blues, and gospel. Country music often consists of ballads and dance tunes with generally simple forms and harmonies accompanied by mostly string instruments such as banjos, electric and acoustic guitars, steel guitars (such as pedal steels and dobros), and fiddles as well as harmonicas. Crooners Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra popularized the genre in the 1930s and 1940s.

The Early Years: Pre-1940

Some of the first country music hits came out of the folk music traditions of the American south. In the early 1920s, radio station WSM in Nashville, Tennessee began broadcasting country music to a wider audience. Artists like Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family became famous for their recordings of traditional songs and new compositions.

In the 1930s, cowboy songs became popular, thanks in part to the popularity of Western movies. Songs like “Home on the Range” and “Red River Valley” were adapted from existing folk tunes and became hits. By the end of the decade, country music was becoming more sophisticated, with artists like Bob Wills incorporating elements of jazz and blues into their recordings.

The Golden Age: 1940-1960

The Golden Age of Country Music was a period of time between 1940 and 1960 that saw the genre go from the margins to the mainstream. The Golden Age is often considered to be the most creatively fertile and impactful period in country music history. Hits from this era include “I Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash, “Crazy” by Patsy Cline, and “Your Cheatin’ Heart” by Hank Williams.

The Modern Era: 1960-present

The 1960s ushered in a new era of country music with the introduction of the “Nashville Sound.” This new sound was a more polished and commercialized version of country music that appealed to a wider audience. Hits from this era include:

“I Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash
“Stand by Your Man” by Tammy Wynette
“He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones

The 1970s saw the rise of country-rock and outlaw country, which took the traditional sounds of country music and infused them with a more rock ‘n’ roll edge. Popular hits from this decade include:

“Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)” by Waylon Jennings
“Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” by Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings
“I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton

The 1980s brought us some of the most iconic country songs of all time. This decade saw the rise of “urban cowboy” culture, which led to a renewed interest in country music. Hits from the 80s include:

“Always on My Mind” by Willie Nelson
“The Dance” by Garth Brooks
“I Love a Rainy Night” by Eddie Rabbitt


While it’s impossible to definitively say which country music song is the greatest of all time, there are a few that come close. Songs like “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston, “Coal Miner’s Daughter” by Loretta Lynn and “Stand By Your Man” by Tammy Wynette have seeped into the American consciousness and become part of our national identity. These songs are more than just great country music — they’re great songs, period.

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