The 50 Best Country Songs to Cover

Country musician collage

Country music has a rich history with deep roots in American culture, that resonates with a wide audience for its authentic storytelling and relatable themes. From its early days, country music has chronicled the lives and emotions of everyday people, evolving over the years to embrace modern experimentation and even fusion with genres like rock and hip-hop. If you're in a cover band or a solo acoustic act, incorporating the best country songs to cover into your setlist is a great way to appeal to a diverse fan base that cuts across generations.

We've hand-picked the following 50 country songs specifically for cover bands to learn, featuring beloved songs from every decade. They showcase a wide range of styles, as well as easy-to-learn songs, suitable for beginning musicians as well as bands needing to add songs quick. Our 50 best country songs to cover are timeless hits that are sure to connect with hardcore country fans and general music lovers alike, adding something for everyone to your performances.

Top 10 Country Songs of All Time

Cowboy hat playing country acoustic guitar

We start our list of the 50 best country songs to cover with the top 10 country songs of all time, a collection of the most iconic and beloved songs in country music history. These songs embody the spirit of country music and its ability to capture the human experience in its rawest form. Whether you're a lifelong country fan or new to the genre, these timeless classics are essential for anyone considering performing for an audience of country fans. Incorporate a couple of these top 10 country songs of all time into your set list, and you can't go wrong.

  1. "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash (1963)
    One of Johnny Cash's most notorious songs, written by his wife June Carter Cash, addressing her feelings about her relationship with Cash and the baggage that came with it.
  2. "Stand By Your Man" by Tammy Wynette (1968)
    A controversial yet beloved song that's not only one of the best country songs to cover, but a country standard as well.
  3. "Kiss an Angel Good Morning" by Charley Pride (1971)
    A feel-good song that became a signature tune for Pride, and one of the top country songs of the 1970s.
  4. "Jolene" by Dolly Parton (1973)
    A vivid storytelling song, showcasing Parton's distinctive voice and storytelling ability.
  5. "Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks (1990)
    An iconic country anthem known for its catchy chorus and relatable lyrics, and one of the best country songs to cover.
  6. "Choices" by George Jones (1999)
    A deeply personal song reflecting on life decisions, showcasing Jones' emotional depth.
  7. "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack (2000)
    An uplifting song filled with hope and wisdom.
  8. "Where Were You" by Alan Jackson (2001)
    A reflective song capturing the nation's mood post-9/11.
  9. "Concrete Angel" by Martina McBride (2002)
    A poignant ballad addressing the difficult topic of child abuse, highlighting McBride's powerful vocals.
  10. "Live Like You Were Dying" by Tim McGraw (2004)
    An inspiring song encouraging listeners to live life to the fullest.

Easy Country Guitar Songs to Cover

Bandpioneer page advice

We always advise our cover bands to incorporate easy songs into their setlists, especially for beginner bands or for groups looking to add new songs quickly. Songs with straightforward chord progressions and easy-to-learn melodies, allow musicians to learn and perform them with ease, creating more time to focus on other aspects of their performance. This section of easy country guitar songs to cover features a mix of modern hits and classic staples that are not only simple to master but also crowd favorites, ensuring that your setlist appeals to a wide range of audiences while giving your band the confidence of a well-rehearsed performance.

  1. "King of the Road" by Roger Miller (1965)
    A whimsical and catchy tune that celebrates the freedom of the open road and a carefree lifestyle.
  2. "I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash (1956)
    A foundational country song with a unique rhythmic pattern, reflecting Cash's deep, unwavering commitment.
  3. "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus (1992)
    An upbeat, catchy tune that became a country dance sensation and a defining song definitely considered one of the top country songs of the 1990s.
  4. "Okie from Muskogee" by Merle Haggard (1969)
    A classic country song that resonated with many for its portrayal of small-town pride and traditional values.
  5. "Boys ‘Round Here" by Blake Shelton (2013)
    A playful, modern country song with a catchy beat, blending traditional country with contemporary sounds.

Classic Country Songs List

Country Western Acoustic Guitar Player

Performing the classic songs of a genre is a great way to journey back to the roots of that genre. We've included a classic country songs list into our best country songs to cover, because they're a testament to the enduring appeal of country music. Whether you're performing for die-hard country fans or introducing newcomers to the genre, these are songs that will evoke nostalgia and help connect with audiences on a deeper level.

  1. "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash (1964)
    A song that combines a driving rhythm with vivid storytelling, reflecting the rebellious spirit of Cash.
  2. "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" by Hank Williams (1949)
    A hauntingly beautiful song that captures the depth of loneliness, featuring Williams' evocative and mournful vocals.
  3. "He Stopped Loving Her Today" by George Jones (1987)
    This ballad tells a poignant tale of love and loss. Not just one of the best country songs to cover, but often regarded as one of the greatest country songs of all time!
  4. "Your Cheatin' Heart" by Hank Williams (1953)
    An emotional and soul-stirring song that has become synonymous with the heartache of love lost, showcasing Williams' raw vocal power.
  5. "Mama Tried" by Merle Haggard (1968)
    A reflective song about the consequences of rebellious youth, underscored by Haggard's personal experiences.

Best Decades of Country Songs to Cover

499px Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton 1969

Some cover bands perform recurring shows at venues that cater to a specific demographic, while others move around playing for audiences of varying ages and interests. The following is a diverse selection from various eras, highlighting the best country songs to cover throughout its 100 years of evolution. You can skip to the lists that meet the interests of the venues you play at. Or if you play for diverse audiences, learning songs from each of these decades will help you connect with all of them, catering to their different tastes and preferences. We've even included some top modern country songs from the past 10 years, to ensure your setlist stays current and relevant, appealing to contemporary country music fans as well.

Top 50s and 60s Country Songs

  1. "Cold, Cold Heart" by Hank Williams (1951)
    A song of love and rejection, its melancholic melody and heartfelt lyrics have made it a country standard, and easily one of the top country songs of the 1950s.
  2. "Hey, Good Lookin'" by Hank Williams (1951)
    A playful and upbeat invitation to romance, this song is a testament to Williams' charm and songwriting skill.
  3. "Your Cheatin' Heart" by Hank Williams (1953)
    A timeless classic that captures the pain of betrayal, it's a cornerstone of country music's emotional depth.
  4. "I Fall to Pieces" by Patsy Cline (1961)
    A heartrending ballad about unrequited love, showcasing Cline's powerful and emotive voice.
  5. "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash (1963)
    A fiery and iconic love song with a distinctive mariachi horn section. Not only one of the top country songs of the 1960s, but one of Cash's most recognizable as well.

Top Country Songs of the 1970s

  1. "Take Me Home, Country Roads" by John Denver (1971)
    An iconic song that evokes nostalgia and longing for the simplicity of rural life, celebrated for its singalong chorus.
  2. "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" by Willie Nelson (1975)
    A melancholic and tender song about lost love, it's a classic example of Nelson's emotional storytelling prowess.
  3. "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)" by Waylon Jennings (1977)
    An anthem for simplicity and returning to roots, it epitomizes the Outlaw Country movement of the 70s.
  4. "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson (1978)
    A witty and nostalgic song that humorously advises against the cowboy lifestyle, beloved for its catchy tune.
  5. "Looking for Love" by Johnny Lee (1979)
    A soulful search for true love, popularized by its inclusion in the movie "Urban Cowboy," capturing the era's romantic zeitgeist.

Top Country Songs of the 1980s

  1. "He Stopped Loving Her Today" by George Jones (1980)
    A heart-wrenching ballad often hailed as one of the greatest country songs ever, it's a poignant narrative of enduring love.
  2. "Always on My Mind" by Willie Nelson (1982)
    A tender expression of remorse and undying love, Nelson's rendition of this song is deeply moving and universally relatable.
  3. "All My Ex's Live in Texas" by George Strait (1987)
    A lighthearted take on past relationships, showcasing Strait's charm and wit, making it easily one of the top country songs of the 1980s.
  4. "Forever and Ever, Amen" by Randy Travis (1987)
    A heartfelt declaration of lifelong devotion, this song became a wedding favorite and a classic of the genre.
  5. "When You Say Nothing at All" by Keith Whitley (1988)
    A romantic and gentle ballad that beautifully captures the essence of love's unspoken understanding.

Top Country Songs of the 1990s

  1. "Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks (1990)
    A singalong favorite at bars and gatherings, this song's down-to-earth humor and catchy chorus made it a country staple.
  2. "Chattahoochee" by Alan Jackson (1993)
    A fun, high-energy song that celebrates youthful summers and Southern life, highlighting Jackson's playful side.
  3. "Should've Been a Cowboy" by Toby Keith (1993)
    An ode to the Old West and cowboy fantasies, this song's catchy tune and nostalgic lyrics struck a chord with many fans.
  4. "Check Yes or No" by George Strait (1995)
    A sweet, simple song about childhood love that grew into a lifelong relationship, showcasing Strait's timeless appeal.
  5. "Carrying Your Love With Me" by George Strait (1997)
    A heartwarming testament to enduring love, this song solidified Strait's status as a king of country ballads.

Top Country Songs of the 2000s

  1. "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack (2000)
    A touching ballad filled with hope and encouragement, it resonated widely for its message of living life fully and without fear.
  2. "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)" by Alan Jackson (2001)
    A deeply emotional response to 9/11, this song resonated with many for its heartfelt reflection on a moment that changed the world.
  3. "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)" by Toby Keith (2002)
    A patriotic anthem born in the aftermath of 9/11, it captured the spirit of American resilience and unity.
  4. "Whiskey Lullaby" by Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss (2003)
    A haunting duet that tells a tragic story of love and loss, marked by stunning vocal harmonies and emotional depth.
  5. "Don't Blink" by Kenny Chesney (2007)
    A poignant reminder of life's fleeting nature, this song encourages listeners to cherish every moment.

Top Modern Country Songs

  1. "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus (2019)
    A genre-defying hit that blends country with trap, it broke chart records and sparked conversations about the definition of country music.
  2. "Save Me" by Jelly Roll with Lainey Wilson (2020)
    A deeply emotional duet that explores themes of redemption and resilience, resonating with a wide audience.
  3. "One Too Many" by Keith Urban and P!nk (2020)
    A powerful duet blending country and pop elements, featuring an emotionally charged narrative about seeking solace in drinking to forget the woes of a strained relationship.
  4. "Thinkin’ Bout Me" by Morgan Wallen (2023)
    A catchy, upbeat song that combines Wallen's distinctive vocal style with contemporary country sounds, reflecting on personal growth and past relationships.
  5. "I Remember Everything" by Zach Bryan featuring Kacey Musgraves (2023)
    A poignant and introspective ballad about memories and love, marking a high point in both artists' careers.

Johnny Cash once said,

"I love songs about horses, railroads, land, judgment day, family, hard times, whiskey, courtship, marriage, adultery, separation, murder, war, prison, rambling, damnation, home, salvation, death, pride, humor, piety, rebellion, patriotism, larceny, determination, tragedy, rowdiness, heartbreak and love. And Mother. And God.
Johnny Cash June Carter

The essence of country music is a genre that has never shied away from the complexities of life and emotion. From Cash's era to today's diverse musical landscape, the best country songs to cover chronicle our stories, reflecting society's evolution and often, its controversies. As you learn these songs and perform them for your audiences, you're not just revisiting melodies; you're exploring chapters of a never-ending story that is as rich and varied as life itself.

Leave a Reply!

John Perko

I'm a country boy from rural northeast South Dakota, I grew up on this stuff and my life reflects it. Country music is alive, changing and growing constantly. Mom and Dad grew up on Hank Williams and Patsy Cline, I cut my teeth on Waylon and Merle. There's Gary Allen and Dwight Yoakum, Aaron Lewis, Jason Aldean, the Dead South. Point being, not all country is the same country you listen to. Every year brings change, and it's supposed to. I don't love all country music, i have my choices, you have yours. I won't bad-mouth your music, you leave mine alone. You do your thing, I'll do mine.

Kris

I was going to comment on "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" by Hank Williams (1949) being from 1969 so what am I missing?

Band Pioneer

1949 is the correct year, however we did find a couple other year typos that have been corrected. Thanks for bringing it up!

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