KYGO Staff’s Top 10 Favorite Country Songs Of All Time
By Patrick Knight on May 11, 2020
The KYGO staff was challenged over the weekend to come up with their 10 favorite country songs of all time. The only rule this time around was they could only pick one song from an artist (so the list couldn’t be all George Strait songs). It was fun reading all their submissions this morning.
So we present to you, the KYGO staff’s Top 10 favorite country songs of all time in their words and why they love them.
Tracy Dixon – Morning Show Co-Host
- In Color – Jamey Johnson : It’s so perfect it hurts. Simplistic and powerful. They could reach an entire class on great country music by studying these lyrics and how Jamey Johnson cut through all the other noise with his voice
- Anything Goes – Randy Houser : I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard this The lyrics hit me like a train. In every relationship there are times things aren’t going smoothly. This song spoke to me so real during that time for me. I’m so glad I realized what I truly wanted and that’s to stay together forever.
- Still Make Cheyenne – George Strait : King George. All of his songs are so perfectly country, but this one is more timeless to me than all
- Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys – Waylon & Willie : I remember my dad coming home on his lunch break every day from work and before he’d go back, he’d pick me and my sister up in his arms and dance with us to this song.
- My Favorite Memory – Merle Haggard : I love Merle so much. He had such a unique cadence to his melodies and lyrics. Could he have been a total romantic softy?? Seems like it in this one
- He Stopped Loving Her Today – George Jones : Can’t make it through this song with out tears. His voice in an instrument!
- Colder Weather – ZBB : I remember this song being the biggest hit the summer I moved to Colorado. All across America driving, to my new city and home, I must have heard this song 100 times.
- Sinners Like Me – Eric Church : “Mama had a soft spot for hell raising boys” yes- I get that. This is Eric Church doing what he does best.
- Traveling Soldier – Dixie Chicks : Country music has a way of telling the best stories. This is a perfect example of the emotions in a great story coming though
- House That Built Me – Miranda Lambert : This song hits me in my childhood so hard. Everything about the little town, little house, simple life I grew up with is in these lyrics
Sheena – Midday Host
- Kaw-Liga – Hank Williams Sr. – “Kaw-Liga just stands there as lonely as can be, and wishes he was still and old pine tree.” Quite possibly the saddest love song ever written.
2. Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys – Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson – This one is very special to me. For as long as I can remember, my dad would always sing this song as “Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to linemen.” I’ve known linemen my whole life and, in many ways, linemen and cowboys are similar. Don’t get me wrong, Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell is a good song, it just doesn’t have the same meaning as this one.
3. The Ride – David Allen Coe – Who doesn’t love a spine-tingling ghost story?! This is a particularly eerie one. If you can believe it, writer Gary Gentry claims many strange things happened while researching aspects of Hank Williams’ death for this song. Gentry said he even conjured Hank’s ghost in his living room. Once while Coe was performing this song at the Opry House, he sang the verse “the whole world calls me Hank” and power throughout the Opryland complex went out. I get the chills every time I hear it.
4. The Highwaymen – The Highwaymen – I know I’ve said it before, but this was an extraordinary group of artists. The storytelling is so vivid and dreamlike. The “highwaymen” are never really gone. They always come back in one form or another.
5. Coat of Many Colors – Dolly Parton – “Now I know we had no money, but I was rich as I could be, in my coat of many colors, my momma made for me. Made just for me.” *sniffles* I’m not crying… you’re crying.
6. Daddy Sang Bass – Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash – “Singin’ seems to help a troubled soul…” Shoot, I’m always singing. Just ask poor Pat Knight and Brian Michel. (Ha-ha) I don’t know what that says about my soul, but I sure do feel better when I’m singing. In addition, Johnny and June are national treasures.
7. Country Boy Can Survive – Hank Williams Jr. – Inherent grit and grace. Survival skills. Homemade wine. This song encapsulates “country folks” perfectly.
8. Thunder Rolls – Garth Brooks – Every time this song came on the radio, did you hope this time it would be the extended version? Yeah, me too! This song is atmospheric and a great story!
9. Copperhead Road – Steve Earl – A story about three generations trying to make money and outrun the law. Great song!
10. Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show – When one of my best friends was in Iraq, he introduced me to this song. My friend is gone now. Nevertheless, this song will always remind me of him and lift my spirits when my heart is hurting.
Paul Donovan – Afternoon Host
“You Never Even Called Me By My Name” – David Allan Coe This is the perfect country and western song…Period.
“He Stopped Loving Her Today” – George Jones You can actually feel the emotion of this song. No one can sing hurt like George.
“Rocky Mountain High” – John Denver I fell in love with Colorado before I ever saw it, but I had a pretty good idea what it looked like, thanks to John Denver’s music.
“Tougher Than the Rest” – Chris LeDoux I can still remember the first time I walked into the Grizzly Rose, and this was the song playing. It made such a lasting impression on me. God Bless Chris LeDoux.
“She Couldn’t Change Me” – Montgomery Gentry One of their earlier songs, but still my favorite from them. They were so good. Miss you Troy.
“When I Call Your Name” – Vince Gill w/Patty Loveless This is one of those songs I have to crank up and sing when no one else is around. These two sound so good together.
“My Home’s in Alabama” – Alabama Long late-night road trips home, this was my go-to song.
“Anything But Mine” – Kenny Chesney The lyrics and the music come together perfectly for my favorite Kenny Chesney song. A salute to the end of summer. Kenny Chesney IS Summer.
“She is His Only Need” – Wynonna Judd This is such a great love story. Wynonna sings it so well.
“Wide Open Spaces” – Dixie Chicks This song is Colorado. The video was actually shot in Colorado, some of when they performed at West Fest at Winter Park. Were you there? We were. KYGO’s in the video!
Fizz – Evening Host
1. Suds In The Bucket – Sara Evans. My wife and I have belted this song out more times than I can count. In the car. At a bar. Best listened to at high volume.
2. It’s a Great Day to Be Alive – Travis Tritt. My gauge of how cool or not you are. If you love this song, we’re gonna be friends. If you don’t, well then I’m not even sure I wanna know ya.
3. Come Over – Kenny Chesney. Out of all his songs, I pick this? Yep. The lyrics (Sam Hunt), the video, seeing him perform it live at Mile High. For me, it’s the perfect storm of greatness.
4. Mountain Music – Alabama. One of the greatest sing-a-long songs ever! Not just country. When it stops for just the drums, speeds up and takes off? Man, that’s magic.
5. Neon Moon – Brooks and Dunn. This is the song to get it done on the dance floor. Still.
6. Bop – Dan Seals. I remember roller skating to this song in the 80’s and it takes me back there every time I hear it. Back then, I had no idea what the song was about….
7. I Love a Rainy Night – Eddie Rabbit. When you’re outside, standing in front of a fire with adult beverage in hand, no song sounds better. Bonus points if it’s sprinkling a little.
8. Johnny Cash – Jason Aldean. It’s on every road trip mix I’ve ever made. It should be on yours too.
9. East Bound and Down – Jerry Reed. I grew up wanting to be ‘Smoky and the Bandit.’ If you know, you know.
10. Smoky Mountain Rain – Ronie Milsap. My parents loved this song. Played it on the 8-track in the station wagon on repeat. I grew to love it and will probably ram it down my kids’ ears too.
Brian Michel – Program Director of KYGO
George Strait – Give It Away
Now that’s a country song. I don’t know what else to say… the King, the thunderous hit of the bass line, the lyrics, the production… all of it is supreme.
Jason Aldean – Amarillo Sky
This song reminds me of my grandfather who was a farmer.
Old Dominion – Said Nobody
A well written, well-crafted song that is sonically as pleasing as the lyrics. It’s hard to pick just one Old Dominion song because of the ear candy they write.
Garth Brooks – Beaches of Cheyenne
What could be more country than heartbreak, cowboys, and rodeos? This song has all of it and I love it.
Eric Church – Smoke A Little Smoke
The Chief! There’s nothing better than Friday afternoon and then cranking this up.
Kenny Chesney – You and Tequila
Kenny just crushes it on this one… it’s a feeling we have all had or want to keep having.
Brooks & Dunn – Neon Moon
It’s another one of those overcoming heartbreak anthems to find hope. And Ronnie Dunn is arguably the best vocalist of the last several decades.
Brad Paisley – This Is Country Music
Just like the title says… this is country music.
Hank Williams Jr. – Family Tradition
My favorite song when I was a kid. Still love it.
Miranda Lambert – Heart Like Mine
Patrick Knight – Music Director/Weekends
If I wasn’t married or didn’t have kids, my list would look vastly different. However, like Eric Church sings about in “Springsteen” – “funny how a melody sounds like a memory,” that’s what it is all about for me. I love music, and the fact I have coupled that with memories I have with my wife and daughters… it makes my list look very different. So, here is my list in no particular order!
1. Luke Bryan – “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset.” When I first heard this song, I knew it had to be on the radio. I was that guy begging it to be a single because there was just something about it. What I didn’t know at the time was my oldest daughter was listening to it as well with me at the house. It was the first song she would sing in the car when it came on KYGO and always asked me, “Dad, you like it right?” I’ll never forget those sounds of her in her car seat singing along the best she could. All she knew was Dad liked it and so did she.
2. Luke Combs – “Beer Never Broke My Heart.” Obviously, a massive song for Luke. When the music video came out, our oldest would dance along with my wife and love every minute of it. Again, what we didn’t know, was our youngest was watching us and listening. I’ll never forget (you will see me write this a lot BTW) the afternoon she stood up next to a chair in our living room and just ROCKED OUT like she saw her sister doing. A year later, she still asks for that song, dances to that song and – my favorite part – waits to the end of the music video and laughs with Luke.
3. Brad Paisley – “Then.” It was the song my wife and I had our first dance to. Man, what a memory. I’m a lucky guy and this song will always bring me back to that moment with her along with our family and friends.
4. Keith Urban and Eric Church – “Raise Em’ Up.” My wife and I used this song to announce to our families that we were expecting our first child. A video collage of photos from our first year in Colorado and then we hit them with the ultrasound photos towards the end of the video. Man…I just re-watched the video as I was writing this and it gets me every time. Just a great song.
5. Jo Dee Mesina – “Heads Carolina, Tails California.” If you missed my list of favorite country albums of all time, you can read HERE on why this song makes my list!
6. Kenny Chesney – “Anything But Mine.” In my opinion, it’s pretty much a perfect song. It just makes you feel something every single time you hear it.
7. Kacey Musgraves – “Keep It To Yourself.” I could have picked any song off her debut album Same Trailer Different Park. She is so stinking talented and all of her music is just my chill soundtrack when I need to unwind. Cleverly written. Excellently produced. This song is just the one I have listened to the most off the album and is always my go to when I get the CD out. Seriously, I couldn’t recommend her music enough.
8. Garth Brooks – “Standing Outside the Fire.” Finding out this was my wife’s favorite Garth song also was like when we found out we both had the complete series of FRIENDS on DVD (yes, both sets are still in our house). We were meant to be with each other. This is also the song that grabbed a hold of me and brought me into country music. I remember always trying to get my hockey equipment off after practice to get into my dad’s car so I could hear it on the Top 8 at 8. It was also the song I would wait all hours of the night to hear on my radio and then record onto a cassette tape so I can have the song on loop whenever I wanted to hear it. Garth made me fall in love with just not country music but music as a whole and I will always be grateful for that.
9. Maren Morris and Brothers Osborne – “All My Favorite People.” This song is an absolute JAM! From Maren and TJ singing so perfectly together to John killing it on the guitar, I crank this song up when it comes on the playlist and hopefully, you will get to hear it soon enough on KYGO!
10. Jake Owen and Florida Georgia Line – “Summer Jam.” Another jam of a song that if you haven’t ever heard it, I highly suggest you get it on your playlist. Every time I hear this song, it brings me back to sitting around a campfire, being out on a lake, or just hanging with great friends at a cabin. That is how we spent our summers growing up in Minnesota and this song connected with me the first time I heard it. Fun. Catchy. It will become a go to when you roll the car windows down!
“Stretch” – Overnight Host
Brian Taylor – Weekends
1. George Strait ‘Amarillo By Morning’ – for a kid who grew up in Texas…this song is and was the best country song…ever. The fiddle, the words and the cowboy swagger of this song is everything that I wanted to be…growing up.
Ashley – Weekends
- All My Ex’s Live in Texas – George Strait Because most of my ex’s do live in Texas…Just kidding!! My entire list could be George Strait songs, but this one is ONE of my many favorites from the King because it’s classic George Strait.
- That Summer – Garth Brooks – I think the narrative of this song is super weird but the lyrics are so descriptive and the tune is so catchy you can’t help but love it. This is the perfect summer evening song.
- On My Way To You – Cody Johnson – This is the song that my fiancé and I have chosen for our first dance, and every time I hear it I tear up because it is the most fitting love song for us (and CoJo’s voice just hits different)
- Wear My Ring – Bart Crow Band – This song brings me back to college nights out country dancing and then hearing the same song the next day in our pregame warm up playlist. (I played college softball)
- No Hurry- Zach Brown Band – This is my favorite ZBB song because it puts things in perspective. Life moves too fast and sometimes the things we stress about aren’t that important. I play this song when I’m feeling overwhelmed.
- ATV – Midland – I actually don’t think this song has been released on any of Midland’s albums, but it’s on YouTube so I suppose that’s close enough. It’s twangy and vintage and the best! It’ll make you happy and get stuck in your head. Go YouTube it now and thank me later!
- Neon Moon – Brooks and Dunn – This is a classic no doubt about it! You can sing a long in your car, or dance it out at the country bar, but either way you can’t deny you know every word.
- Man I Feel like a woman – Shania Twain – The best Girl Power song ever!! This song gets the girls hyped no matter where you are and I am here for it!
- I Hope You Dance – Leeann Womack – My mom gave me the album with this song on it while I was in high school and she always felt like this was our song. Now that I am older I truly understand why she loves this song so much for us. Thanks Mom!
- It Won’t Be Like This For Long – Darius Rucker – Talk about a tear jerker!! My dad played this song while he gave my softball senior day speech in high school and ever since that day, I bawl like a baby every time I hear it. It’s the perfect father- daughter song.