Mural to Country Music

How Did Country Music Get its Name?

There are some things in life that seem obvious until you take the time to actually examine them. The term country music is one of those things. If you’ve grown up listening to it and talking about it, then you’ve probably never questioned it. After all, it feels so natural and right. But at one-time music that we’d quickly identify as country wasn’t referred to by that name.

Mural to Country Music

Prepare to take a trip back in time to the creation of one of America’s greatest musical traditions.

Country music is the result of a musical melting pot.

What we now know as country music didn’t come into existence fully formed. In fact, you could say that it started out as a variety of different genres that would eventually converge to create country music as we know it. Like a tree with many roots coming together to support one great trunk.

Most of country music’s roots actually stretch across the Atlantic ocean. America is a country of immigrants and an immigrant always brings some of their homeland with them. Irish and Scottish immigrants were uniquely important because their music emphasized the fiddle, a musical instrument that still helps to define country music’s sound today. If you visit a pub in Ireland or Scotland today, you can still make out some of the influences that have carried over into modern country.

Bristol Sessions Country Music

Folk music from across America would come together in a town in Tennessee.

For centuries American folk music evolved organically as separate communities created music in relative isolation. Before the invention of the radio if someone in Atlanta wanted to hear music from New York they’d either have to make a grueling trek or wait for the rare touring artist to come by. Out in rural areas tours were even less common, so musical traditions formed in isolation.

For the people who created country music the songs that they were playing didn’t necessarily need a label. It was the music their parents listened to, the music their peers played, and the soundtrack to their lives in general. It was the people on the outside who needed to label the strange sounds that they were hearing.

The music truly expanded beyond the musicians themselves with the invention of recording. The first electrical recordings were done in the 1870s, but it wasn’t until the 1920s when it caught on with the public at large. Fiddin’ John Carson was one of the first artists to record what we might call country in 1923, but it wasn’t until 1927 when the musical genre we know today really took form. In Bristol, Tennessee a producer named Ralph Peer decided to capture the music of the south by bringing in a wide variety of artists to capture their music. The records he produced became so influential that the city of Bristol was named the “birthplace of country music” by the American government.

American Country Music

The popularity of country music demanded the creation of a new term.

In the 1930s country music took off, finally stretching beyond its geographic birthplace. As the music spread, outsiders started to look it with new eyes, searching for something to call it. Radio DJs, record company executives, and musical historians would look at the music coming out of rural America and give it a variety of terms. There was southern folk, western, hillbilly, and eventually country music. All of the terms would be used interchangeably for a while, but in the 1940s the term country and western won out over the rest. References to the south were too restrictive, and hillbilly seemed too insulting, so eventually the label country and western became the most popular term.

As time went by people started to drop the “western” from country and western music. This is a common trend in English, think about how rock and roll became rock. The most obvious reason for the change is just making the term easier to say, but you could also argue there’s a deeper reason. The term western was out of place because country music isn’t owned by the west or the east, the north or the south. While the physical heart of the country music industry is in Nashville, its spirit lives on across the the country and around the world.

ow Did Country Music Get Its Name

To this day country music continues to grow and change.

Country was given its name to suggest that it was the music of rural America. The city had music like classical, jazz, big band, and rock and roll. Then there was the music of the countryside, country music. But anyone who listens to country today knows that this distinction isn’t as clear as it might have been once upon a time. Today musicians of the countryside are influenced by musicians of the city and vice versa. After all these years the strength of country music is how it mixes together musical elements from just about every part of American society.

Earlier we talked about how the blues along with Celtic and Appalachian folk acted as the roots that supported the tree of country music. Today you can see how the genre continues to grow by branching out in many different directions. Country is mixing in with just about every other genre as American artists do what they do best, creating beauty out of differences.

Country Music Instruments

Country Music Instruments

Country has been a part of the music history ever since it separated from its roots (mainly folk music and western) and took on its current form.

There are quite a number of unique sub-genres to this music style, but they all have the same roots, and the easiest way to find a common element is by looking at the instruments. As the instruments vary to a very limited extent, it is possible to identify country music by its sound.

Now we will get into some of the most popular music Country music instruments and how they make this particular style different from the others.

Instruments for Country Music

Popular Traditional Instruments

The banjo is one of the most popular instruments when it comes to traditional Country Music.

It is not used as much in more recent generations of Country, but it remains as an icon for its special string sound, which makes Country music easily distinguishable. As an example we have the Nashville Sound, a subgenre of the Country Music which makes use of the banjo. The fiddle is another popular instrument and was usually combined in songs with the banjo. The song “The Devil Came Down to Georgia” by Charlie Daniels is a good example of a country style song using a fiddle.

The quick rhythm that is generally used with these Country music instruments and the high-pitched sounds are part of what makes a song sound Country. One can feel the influence in folk music and see how the tunes have their own personality, which makes this type of music different.

Country Music Guitars

Modern Country Music Instruments

When Country music became popular and was embraced by a larger amount of the population, the Country music industry developed and the composers and musicians who became recognized started using music instruments which were commonly used in other music styles, like Pop and Rock. At the same time, Country music started to be more interlaced with Pop and Rock music. Some widely known artists like Johnny Cash or Dolly Parton, use the guitar, bass and even drums in their Country style music.

As Country music became mixed with other styles, the direction that this particular genre took in terms of sound was rather slow paced. Most of the popular songs that people know nowadays are ballads, or songs with slow rhythms. There are obvious exceptions.

Creedence Clearwater is an example of a combination of Country music and Rock, that is why occasionally, his songs are more hard in terms of rhythm and pace.

Country Music Drums

What is the “Sound” of Country Music?

We have just mentioned that when Country music became popular, the instruments used became different. However, it should be important to note that the main focus on the Country music has always been the guitar and voice. As we said before, the songs became slower paced and the music artists used their voice and the guitar for their songs. As a good example, we have John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country roads” which relies upon vocals, or Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”, which is only his voice and a guitar.

So, what is the “sound” of Country Music? Nowadays, it would be difficult to define Country Music as something extremely specific, as it has several roots and influences.

Nevertheless, there is a common denominator that mainly all the artists follow, which is the importance of string-based instruments (banjo, guitar) and the voice. We have seen how the music has grown with times, but the roots are still strong and there are certainly a number of artists that are worth checking out in order to see how rich this music genre is.

Difference Between Bluegrass and Country

Difference Between Bluegrass and Country

Genres in music are like branches of a tree. Each one of them parts into a number of different little limbs, but they never leave their roots.

Bluegrass is usually considered a branch from country music. For that reason, sometimes it may get slightly complicated to tell them apart. However, while similar and overlapping in many ways, the two are still distinct and should not be confused with one another. We’ve created a comparative analysis documenting just what makes each genre stand out.

The Instrumentation of Bluegrass vs Country

Country and Bluegrass Music Difference

Country and Bluegrass are obviously very similar when it comes their instrumentation. As one may already know, one of the greatest most defining instruments of these genres would be the banjo, which is a time tested staple and has become quite popular even outside of country and bluegrass. Something similar could also be said for the fiddle and the harmonica. Nevertheless, there are some instruments that are more commonly used in one or in the other.

The use of accordions is quite popular in Country music. Even though we would be able to listen to this instrument in a Bluegrass style song, it’s not as common as in the first one.

As for Bluegrass music, it is generally known to be mainly focused on unamplified instruments. Because of this, the sound has a closer relationship with that of folk music. In addition, vocal harmonies are said to be quite distinctive of this genre. Sometimes among the different vocal harmonies, there is one which is sung in a higher pitch called the “high lonesome sound”.

Sound and Rhythm

Bluegrass vs Country Music

The difference between bluegrass and country is defined not only by the types of instrumented used, but also in how those instruments are used. The composition of songs are significantly different, and very easily distinguishable once you listen to a song in each style. Country music consists mainly of dance tunes and ballads focusing mainly on a steady rhythm. But with the many subgenres of country music that exist in this day and age, there is also an endless variety of paces and tones.

Nowadays, people also relate country music to Pop music, as the music industry is pushing some country composers’ careers forward, and making it more commercial and accessible.

However, Bluegrass music in general keeps to its origins and has a very specific type of sound, usually generated with a string instrument, which consists of a very quick plucking in high-pitched tones, sometimes combined with the “high lonesome sound”. It is considered to be more free regarding rhythm as well, generally related to improvisation. That last part is generally the main focus of the song.

Artists and Songs

Bill Monroe Bluegrass Music

Bill Monroe, featured in the picture above, is considered to be one of the biggest predecessors of Bluegrass music.

As a matter of fact, the name of this subgenre was attributed to his band name, which was “Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys”. Kentucky, also known as the Bluegrass state, was Bill Monroe’s place of origin.

Lastly, there is no better way to see how different each genre is than by having a good reference of the most iconic composers and artists.

As for examples of Bluegrass, notable examples are:

  • Foggy Mountain Breakdown – Earl Scruggs
  • Country Boy – Ricky Skaggs
  • Blue Moon of Kentucky – Bill Monroe

As for Country music, there are way more variants and the style is more eclectic, as it has had many generations of musicians along the history of music. There is a high number of iconic Country musicians and songs, some of them including:

  • Jolene – Dolly Parton
  • Hurt – Johnny Cash
  • On the Road Again – Willie Nelson
I Love Country Music

Confession: I Love Country Music

We wanted to find out why country music fans love the genre so much. We sat down with a country loving Grizzly Rose fan to get to the bottom of it! Here’s what we learned…

I have a confession to make… I love country music! The older I get, the less dramatic this confession gets, but growing up where I did all of the cool kids loved to rag on country music. I’ll never forget how people would say “I listen to everything but country and rap” when discussing their musical tastes. So for years, I ran away from the genre even as my parents blasted it from their speakers every day. Then one day I stopped running, and pretty soon I realized that I’d been missing out on a lot of fantastic music. Now I honestly believe that country music has something for everyone. You don’t have to like it all, but I’m pretty sure that if you read on and listen to the songs I’ve picked out you’ll find something that speaks to you.

It’s perfect for telling stories.

While musicians of every sort tell stories with their songs, I would say that no genre can spin a yarn like country. It’s in the genre’s DNA. Since the dawn of country music, its artists have been serenading listeners with everything from wild west epics to incredibly personal confessionals. “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash exemplifies country storytelling. It’s emotional, funny, and catchy as anything. There’s a reason that even people who say they hate country are quick to clarify that they still like The Man in Black.

It can stretch across cultural boundaries.

It’s easy for people to think that because country music is so tied to American culture that it can’t speak to people from other countries and cultures. But that’s far from the truth; country music speaks to universal human emotions while talking about American particulars. Once I was in the Philippines and ran into a girl who mentioned how she came from the boondocks. I was surprised to hear that kind of American slang, but she told me it was actually a Filipino word that was brought back to American when US troops returned from fighting there during the Spanish-American war. I told her I had just the song for her and played her the song “Boondocks” by Little Big Town. We listened to it together, and her eyes lit up. The songwriters probably didn’t even know they were using a Filipino word, but she said they might as well have been talking about her life in the Filipino countryside.

It lets me relive my life with musical flashbacks.

One song that brings me back like no other is “Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue (The Angry American)” by Toby Keith. I wasn’t very young when the September 11 attacks happened, it was hard for me to process all of the emotions I felt. But when I heard this song playing on the radio it was like Toby was speaking to my soul. While good people of all stripes people disagree about the path America took after that tragedy, I think just about everyone felt the emotions that Toby cried out in that song. Every time I hear this song, it’s like a time machine that takes me back to that fateful day.

It taught me lessons I’ll never forget.

Songwriters have always used their art to pass down their hard-earned wisdom, but for my money, I’d say that country lyricists are some of the best. Kenny Chesney taught me how fast life could go by with “Don’t Blink.” But Keith Urban let me know that Tim McGraw taught me to be “Humble & Kind.” Carrie Underwood taught me never to try and pull a fast one on a country girl. But the song that taught me the most was “Unanswered Prayers” by Garth Brooks. In my life, I’ve wanted a lot of things. At the time it felt like I couldn’t live without them. But no matter how hard it was losing out on them, in then something else always came along. Even if you’re not religious, this song can serve as a powerful reminder that sometimes we need to hear no before we find what we’re really looking for.

It can be just plain fun.

So far I’ve focused on the deeper side of country music because it’s the side that most people don’t see. But while I love songs that bring me to tears I spend plenty of time listening to songs because they’re fun. There are songs for drinking, dancing, and having a laugh. “I’m Gonna Miss Her” by Brad Paisley is a favorite of mine, it never fails to bring a smile to my face. Deep and dark art might snatch up all the critical acclaim, but at the end of a long day, a bit of good clean fun is as good as gold.

Why Do You Love Country Music?

Australian Country Music

Australian Country Music

It might seem like country music is a uniquely American creation, but just like most other American creations, it has influenced artists around the world. One country that was especially receptive to American Country was Australia, a country with a shared English heritage and a range of geographic similarities. There are many comparisons that can be drawn between the American West and the Australian outback, so it really shouldn’t be that surprising that Australian folk music evolved to sound similar to American country even before American country music made an impact down under. To give you an idea of what Australian country music is like, let’s look at four artists that show off what the genre has to offer.

Slim Dusty

Slim Dusty’s song Cunnamulla Fella was so influential that it was honored by a statue outside the Cunnamulla Shire hall.

The first thing you need to know about Slim Dusty is that some argue he created the genre. Folk music existed all throughout Australia’s history, but Dusty brought together Australian folk, American country influences, and outback culture to create an image and a sound that would define Australian country for decades to go.

He was born in Nulla Nulla Creek New South Wales in 1927 and started writing and recording in 1946. From that year until his death in 2003 Dusty would record 73 solo studio albums, eight collaborative albums, and another eight live albums. When you add in his compilation records, you get more than 100 albums that would sell millions of copies within Dusty’s lifetime. And he did all of this without going international. Dusty’s career had many highlights, but he reached his largest audience when he performed “Waltzing Matilda” for the world to see as part of the Sydney Olympics’ closing ceremony.

Top Slim Dusty Songs

  • A Pub with No Beer
  • Duncan
  • The Answer to a Pub with No Beer

Lee Kernaghan

“Boys From The Brush” was the opening track on Kernaghan’s breakout album, The Outback Club.

The music produced by Lee Kernaghan will be familiar to anyone who’s a fan of 90s country. As an artist, Kernaghan sought to make American-style music about quintessentially Australian topics. Kernaghan didn’t just sing about the rural life in Australia; he has also done plenty of charity work to help deal with issues like droughts and rural poverty. The “Pass The Hat Around Australia” tour and “Spirit Of The Bush” concert series have helped to alleviate poverty and cement Kernaghan’s position as one of rural Australia’s favorite artists. Since his debut release in 1985 Lee has released 18 albums. Out of those nine have gone platinum and four have gone gold. His art and his activism would help to earn him the Order of Australia Medal, the title of Australian of the year, and a heaping helping of other awards.

Top Lee Kernaghan Songs

  • Missin’ Slim
  • Spirit Of The Bush
  • Spirit Of The Anzacs

Kasey Chambers

“Not Pretty Enough” was Chambers’ biggest hit, peaking at number one on the Australian ARIA Charts and receiving a double platinum certification in the country.

The work of Kasey Chambers is reminiscent of the pop-country crossover music that came to dominate the radio waves during the 2000s. Chambers was born in 1976 in Mount Gambier, South Australia. She grew up in a musical family, both her father Bill Chambers and her sister nash Chambers are Australian country music artists. She released her debut album, The Captain, in 1999. The album would help her earn the Most Performed Country Work award at the 2001 Aria Awards and Songwriter of the year in 2002.

While her debut album did well, her second album shot her to the heights of fame. The song “Not Pretty Enough” off of her 2001 album Barricades and Brickwalls would represent her commercial peak but her follow up albums would continue to sell well. Over the course of her career, she’s released eight solo records and three collaborative albums. Out of those releases, five have been certified platinum, and one reached gold. Her latest album, 2017’s Dragonfly, peaked at number 1 on the Australian Charts.

Top Kasey Chambers Songs

  • Not Pretty Enough
  • True Colours
  • Nothing at All

Sara Storer

“Buffalo Bill” wasn’t just the Storer’s first successful song; it was actually the first song she ever wrote!

There are plenty of Country artists who grew up far away from the rural environments they sing about. Sara Storer is not one of those artists; she grew up on a farm in Wemen, Victoria. Unlike other artists, she wasn’t single-mindedly focused on becoming a musician. Instead, she trained to become a teacher and worked as one. She didn’t write her first song until she was in her twenties. The experience of writing the song went so well that Sorer decided to become a singer songwriter. She would tour the country in between classes until she was finally signed and released her debut record in 2000.

Her next two albums would build on the success of her debut until she reached the top of the Australian country charts with her 2005 album Firefly. To date, she’s released six studio albums and one compilation albums, two of which have gone gold in Australia. Her later albums haven’t sold as many copies as her earlier hits, but her 2016 record Silos was her first to win Best Country Album at the Aria Music Awards.

Top Sara Storer Songs

  • Buffalo Bill
  • Come on Rain
  • Children Of The Gurindji
Country Music City

What is the Best Country Music City?

Every music genre has a handful of cities that have defined their history and evolution. Whether it’s because of their reputation as a prime concert destination or because of their connection to famous musicians, there is no denying these city’s importance to their genre. Country music is much the same. We’ve gone through and compiled a list of some of the most important and famous country music cities.

1. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville Country Music City

The first place most people think of when it comes to country music destinations, Nashville time and time again has carved out a name for itself in country music history.

While it’s inclusion in this list at number one is almost a bit too obvious, there’s still no better choice for such a lofty position. Nashville contains the largest country music museum in the country, with anyone who was or is anyone in country music having a spot in its country music hall of fame.

2. Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield Country Music City

What many consider to be the “Nashville of the West Coast,” Bakersfield is known for its eponymous “Bakersfield Sound” which served as a precursor to the popular sub genre of outlaw country. It also houses a venue known as “The Crystal Palace,” a restaurant, dancehall, and concert stage founded by one of the legends in West Coast country music himself, Buck Owens.

The town has been known to have been a favorite haunt of such country music stars as Merle Haggard and Wynn Stewart.

3. Denver, Colorado

Country Music City Denver

Home to a thriving country music community, a great number of country-themed bars and social gatherings can be found here. The largest of which being the Grizzly Rose itself, a huge concert space, dance hall, memorabilia shop, and bar all rolled into one. Those looking to interact with other country music fans and listen to world renowned artists giving live performances need look no further than Denver.

One of the hallmark outposts in the days of the Wild West, the spirit of the West is still alive in well in Denver and is carried over to its country music.

4. Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis Country Music City

The resting place of “The King” himself, Elvis Presley. While he might have been known as the king of Rock’n’Roll, Elvis incorporated many country and blues elements into his songs. In fact, the entire rockabilly sub-genre which Elvis helped pioneer has its roots planted deeply in country music.

Memphis is a testament to how culturally important Country has been to other forms of popular music.

5. Dallas, Texas

Dallas Country Music City

Those visiting Dallas will find greasy food, shady saloons, and country music festivals galore awaiting them. This historic city resting right in the heart of the West has been inspiration for a great number of cowboy ballads across the years.

It doesn’t get any more authentic cowboy than in Dallas, the same goes for its country music.

6. Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville Country Music City

Known for their world class famous wooden baseball bat brand, the “Louisville Slugger,” Louisville is also home to famous country singer/songwriters, Bonnie Billy and Tim Krekel.

There are plenty of country music events regularly hosted in Louisville such as concerts and line dancing. Those looking to see what the East coast has to offer in terms of country will find plenty of it in spade here in Louisville.

7. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Country Music City

While maybe not one of the largest music capitols, Chicago is definitely the most varied. From bluegrass, to jazz and even hiphop, Chicago has played an important role in the history of many music genres. Country is of course no exception to this rule, with Chicago being the home to a a country music sound heavily inspired by the blues background of the city.

Catch a show at one of Chicago’s many fine saloons and country music bars in order to check out the city’s unique take on country music!

8. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Country Music City

The city of brotherly love is not only an important historical site to America’s heritage, but also the to heritage of country music.

Home to a bevy of folk musicians over the years, the music of Pennsylvania is American as it gets. This patriotism, history, and tradition has bled over into its country music scene, making the sound as authentically American as good old apple pie.

9. Muscle Shoals, Alabama

Muscle Shoals Country Music City

Home to famed country music recording labels, Muscle Shoals sound studio and FAME sound studios, this town has been an instrumental part of country music’s legacy. Both sound studios are still around and actively being used to produce records, keeping the town relevant even to today’s country music scene.

Because of the town’s connection to the recording industry, many modern up and coming country musicians can be found giving live performances in the bars around the town hoping to get their big break.

10. Branson, Missouri

Branson Country Music City

Once a sleepy town with not much to its name, Branson’s popularity began to explode in the 1980’s and 1990’s thanks to its country music scene. The city was home to live performances of both Waylon Jennings and Loretta Lynn, leading to its current reputation as a country music concert destination.

Currently, the city is home to Clay Cooper who hosts regular performances in the city.

11. Dyess, Arkansas

Dyess Country Music City

While not a terribly large town with very few country music venues, this spot nevertheless is worth visiting to fans of country music. Why you ask? It was where legendary country singer Johnny Cash grew up and is where his childhood home still stands to this day.

Those interested in visiting Johnny Cash’s boyhood home will be very pleased to know that it has been opened to the public as a museum and is one of many Johnny Cash related tourism opportunities to be found in the city.

12. Austin, Texas

Austin Country Music City

Austin has earned itself the moniker of “the live music capital.” While other cities might still trump Austin when it comes to their focus on country music, Austin is not without its fair share of designated honky tonks and country music bars.

Those looking for a good beer and some country tunes should be sure to check out the Broken Spoke, Ginny’s Little Longhorn, and Gruene Hall while down in Austin.

13. Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville Country City

The origin city of several southern rock musicians such as the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jacksonville has had as much of an impact on rock as it has country. The musicians that have come from this town all embody an edgy blend of country and rock sounds.

Famous country musician Tim McGraw also got his start in Jacksonville before eventually moving to Nashville.

14. Athens, Georgia

Athens Country Music City

Known as the “Liverpool of the South,” Athen’s reputation is mainly of that as an indie rock and new wave capital. What many people do not know however, is that the city has also made several contributions to the country scene as well, mainly when it comes to experimenting with fusion music.

A sort of mad science laboratory, the musicians of Athens are known for blending country elements into other genres such as rock, grunge, and even hip-hop.

15. Knoxville, Tennessee

Knoxville Country Music City

Knoxville has at one point been an important place to many country music stars such as Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, and the Everly Brothers.

Those looking to learn more about Knoxville’s storied history and relationship with country music are in luck, as one can take a tour known as the “Cradle of Country Music” which goes through some of the most famous spots of downtown Knoxville.

A country road trip to some of the top country music cities across the country is a fantastic idea for any country music fan. Check out our list of country road trip essentials!

90s Country Music

90s Country Music

Every decade of the 20th century has seen the introduction of huge cultural shifts across America. The 90’s were no exception, especially as far as country music is concerned. Those with a fondness for both the 90’s as well as 90s country music might be interested in learning more about the significance that era would have on the country music industry.

The Nashville Sound and The Rise Of Early Country

90s Country Music

First in order to understand the historical context of country music in the 1990’s, one must first look a bit earlier in history. Believe it or not, country wasn’t always a big mainstream genre. Much like many other types of longstanding music genres, it’s gone through it’s fair share of ups and downs.

After a slump in the 1940’s, Country music saw a revival in the 1950’s thanks to something called the “Nashville Sound.” During this time, country music underwent an evolution in which it would incorporate many elements in an attempt to widen its appeal to a much larger audience.
This lead to a period of prosperity and popularity for the country music genre which would last for at least a decade.

Country Rises Again, The Resurgence of Mainstream Country

Country Music in 90s

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and eventually country would fall out of the public consciousness for some time. This all changed in the 1990’s, as a series of events and artists would once again swing the genre back into popular culture.

Much like when the original Nashville Sound brought country back into the limelight, 90s country music took many influences from contemporary pop music and incorporated country elements. This newer, more modern sound mixed with the rise of FM radio in suburban areas saw an even greater level of accessibility for country to reach the masses.

The Artists and Songs That Would Define 90s Pop Country

90s Country Music Songs

Of course, an era in music is not without its fair share of songs, artists, and albums that would end up defining that period of time. The following list provides a shining example of the types of songs and artist which uplifted country to new heights in the 90’s.

Ken Mellons: Jukebox Junkie

The jukebox holds a special place within both rock’n’roll and country music. Both genres can be enjoyed at a variety of social establishments, from restaurants to bars. In a public space, the jukebox is a way for fans of music to share their favorite songs and tastes with each other. In this song, Ken Mellons encaptures this special meaning that the jukebox holds to country music fans.

Dolly Parton: Silver and Gold

Much like Chet Atkins and Patsy Cline were at the forefront of the original Nashville Sound, Dolly Parton has been one of the figureheads of the 1990’s country revival and the modern face of Nashville branded country music.

Shania Twain: Any Man of Mine

America’s sweetheart, Shania Twain’s music was loved by all during this era, country music fan or no. In fact, it wouldn’t be too wrong to say that Shania Twain could be considered the Taylor Swift of the 90’s, as they have both enjoyed much success and popularity both in and out of mainstream markets.

Garth Brooks: The Dance

Some would argue that much of 90’s country’s success was only possible because of the multitude of hits Garth Brooks contributed early on into the 90’s. Regardless of how much you think he’s contributed to the genre, it’s hard to deny that Garth Brooks definitely was one of the top artists of the decade.

Billy Ray Cyrus: Achy Breaky Heart

Before there was Miley Cyrus there was her father, Billy Ray Cyrus. While an incredibly talented artist with plenty of great songs under his name, it was Achy Breaky Heart which ended up being Billy Ray Cyrus’ breakout hit.

Dixie Chicks: Wide Open Spaces

You can’t talk about the 90’s without mentioning the Dixie Chicks. Even the toughest of guys might admit to owning at least one of their albums. They were a cultural force that simply couldn’t be escaped from as they produced hit after hit. Wide Open Spaces is one of many recognizable country tunes which took America by wildfire.

Top 15 Country Drinking Songs

Drinking is an experience which can be greatly varied depending on the context surrounding it. The location you are in and the people you are with will make all the difference. Some people drink when they are happy, some when they are sad, some when they are social, and some just because they feel like it! We’ve come up with a list of our favorite country drinking songs with a variety of different styles. From melancholy to old-school to sing-alongs, these songs all pair well with alcohol.

Garth Brooks
Friends in Lows Places

Of course this is the first song on the list. The ultimate country drinking song and when combined with alcohol it’s nearly guaranteed to create a bar wide sing along.


Luke Bryan
Drinkin’ Beer and Wastin Bullets

Not every drinking environment is a bar or a party. Sometimes you just want to hang out with your friends nowhere in particular just talking and killing time. This song is about a similar situation, with the singer just kind of bored and passing time.


Alan Jackson
It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere

Drinking is always better when you have a good excuse, err- good reason. A good starting song to kick off the night, or afternoon, and say goodbye to the tedium of the workday that came before.


Toby Keith
I Love This Bar

While definitely a lot more mellow than some of the other selections on this list, the same “feel good” vibe is still here. This song is a celebration of all of the little things, good and bad, that can be found within Western bars and bar culture.


Merle Haggard
I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink

There’s something about Merle Haggard’s voice that just pairs well with alcohol. Most of us have felt exactly how Merle does in this song and no matter what’s happening in the world around us, we’d rather ‘just stay here and drink.’


Kenny Chesney
You and Tequila

‘You and Tequila make me crazy’. A romantic, drinking ballad from Kenny Chesney that puts people in a good mood, especially when they are with good friends and significant others. Kenny teamed up with Grace Potter for this country drinking song.


Dierks Bentley
Drunk on a Plane

Who has never wanted to have a big ol’ part on an airplane? This is a great country drinking song about lost love. The video is also hilarious with cameo’s from Bentley as two difference characters.


Brad Paisley
Alcohol

Drinking does things to people, both good and bad. This song is all about the things possible with alcohol and how it can affect people’s judgement.


Blake Shelton
The More I Drink

This song is both a country drinking song and a warning about how the more you drink, well the more you drink. It’s a very honest song that probably hits home with a lot of drinkers for the better or worse. That being said, it’s a fun, catchy tune that also goes great with good friends and booze!


Little Big Town
Day Drinking

A classic country drinking song, especially if the sun hasn’t set yet! This fun video and great sing along song is perfect for when you get off work early. It’s a happy hour favorite for country music fans.


Willie Nelson
Whiskey River

Country drinking songs are not limited to more recent hits. Whiskey River is an old school country drinking classic by none other than the legend that is Willie Nelson. If you’re drinking Whiskey with some buddies this is a fantastic song to listen more than once.


Hank Williams Jr.
Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound

Love and Whiskey are both complicated things for many people and Hank does a great job of describing why. This is one of those songs that needs a bottle of Jim Beam sitting on the table while you are enjoying it.


Billy Currington
Pretty Good at Drinking Beer

Not everyone is cut out for digging holes or working in a bank. Some of us are just pretty good at drinking beer. This is a nice country drinking song for those who like to drink beer with their buddies in their free time.


Waylon Jennings
I’ve Always Been Crazy

Following up on the theme of drinking songs on the sad side, Waylon Jennings’ I’ve Always Been Crazy is a song of self-reflection. The audience and singer looks back on their mistakes and regrets, something that is usually done with the aid of liquor.


Roy Rogers
Happy Trails

If you really want to hit someone in the nostalgia, this song will do the trick. Just imagine it- you’ve been out all night drinking with your closest friends, the bar’s about to close, you guys are downing your last drink, and this song comes up on the jukebox. A bittersweet ending to a fantastic night.

Want to list to some more good country drinking songs? Check out our Country Drinking Music Playlist on Spotify.

Country Music Evolution

The Evolution of Country Music

Artistic inspiration is like a giant river- ever changing, but ultimately comprised of what came before it. Whether the medium is film, art, or music, the ideas of the past influence and inform the content of the future. The same of course is true for country music as well. Let us take a look into this transformative process to better understand country music as a genre.

The Evolution of Country Music

The Songs of the People: Early Country (1920’s)

Originally country music shared structural similarities with folk tales. The performances were usually live and the songs and instrumentation would vary depending on the geographical location. Listening to traditional country music allowed one to learn about the history and culture of that area, making it a very personal genre that proved hard to make accessible on a large scale.

Musicians who studied and drew upon these traditional tunes began to pop-up over time, creating fusions between the styles of different regions. It wasn’t until the 1920’s these musicians such as Fiddlin’ John Carson and Jimmie Rodgers were given an opportunity to record their music.

The resulting success of this music would lay the groundwork for popular country music as it is known today.

Gene Autry Country Music History

The Legends of the West: Singing Cowboys (1930’s)

Westerns used to be one of the most popular film genres in Hollywood. In fact, the only individual to have been awarded a Hollywood star in every category- film, music, television, radio, and live, was known for his roles as a kindly singing cowboy. Autry and peers such as Roy Rogers ended up creating a strong romanticized vision of the wild west which captured the imagination of America for decades to come.

The history of country at this point sees it tied very closely to film. Not only did country music take influences from these Western flicks, it scored many of them.

Popular country music songs of this era not from television and film were usually ballads which would tell their own stories of heroic cowboys.

Hank Williams Country Music

Country vs Rock’n’Roll: Honky Tonk (1940’s)

As rock’n’roll exploded in popularity, even country music began to take inspiration from high energy rock riffs. The style of country known as “Honky Tonk” was a lot more rough and raw than it’s predecessors. Despite the new direction in country music, it was unfortunately still unable to compete with the growing genre of rock’n’roll and many music executives began to see country music as being less commercially viable than previously.

Ironically enough, Honky Tonk would end up inspiring future generations of rock’n’roll artists as well as country artists.

Country may have been in a rough spot during this period, but the works of Honky Tonk artists such as Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, and Kitty Wells are still thought of fondly to this day.

Evolution of Country Music

Country’s Return: The Rise of the Nashville Sound (1950’s)

Despite the difficulties country music faces in the 40’s, there were those that saw an opportunity to reinvent the genre. A collection of producers and records companies out of Nashville, including Columbia Records, RCA Records, and Decca Records, ended up taking America by storm with a new style of country music which focused on smoothness and polish. The performers that these companies paired up with, such as Chet Atkins and Patsy Cline, excelled in helping create this new, more mellow sound.

Instead of trying to compete with rock’n’roll at its own game like Honky Tonk tried, the sophisticated sound coming out of the Nashville labels was unique and stood out on it’s own.

Nashville Country Music Origins

Rebelling Against The Past: The Bakersfield Sound (1960’s)

While many were taken with the slick songs coming out of Nashville, it had also gathered its own fair share of detractors who felt the style was too commercialized and didn’t have enough artistic range. Much like the punk rockers that would eventually try and put rock’n’roll back into the hands of the people, the Bakersfield Sound was an attempt to bring more humanity and passion back into country. Ordinary guys facing ordinary problems were the focus of many of these songs making them much more relatable and down to earth.

The poster child for the sound was none other than Bakersfield’s Buck Owens, whose breakout hit single, “The Streets of Bakersfield,” would define the sub-genre.

Johnny Cash Country Music

Classic Style With A Modern Twist: Outlaw Country (1970’s)

Interestingly enough, many comparisons can be made between outlaw country and the singing cowboys of the 1920’s. The sound and instrumentation of this genre can definitely be seen as a clear evolution of the Bakersfield sound- but the themes and lyrical concepts inverted old school cowboy ballads.

The “story” songs recalling tall tales were back, but the protagonist of such songs were usually stark anti-heroes. They weren’t outright bad guys, but they also weren’t the friendly cowboys with the white hats and sheriff badges of the 1920’s.

Probably the most famous performer of this style of country music was “the man in black,” Johnny Cash, however Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard were also important musicians during this time.

Top Outlaw Country Songs

Top Outlaw Country Songs

Believe it or not, country music at one point was a genre which was hard to popularize and profit from. Country was a traditional style music normally enjoyed live and varied greatly from region to region. It wasn’t until the Nashville style of country came along and created a consistent standard for the genre that it was finally able to see mass appeal.

Top Outlaw Country Songs

Eventually a sub-genre called outlaw country rose up in almost direct response to the slick, mass produced patterns of the Nashville style and brought a bit of attitude to the popular country music scene. Even if the term outlaw country sounds unfamiliar, it is incredibly likely that you are already familiar with the genre without having been aware of it. The following songs are some of the most well known and culturally influential songs to have spawned from the movement. Enjoy these top outlaw country songs.

Folsom Prison Blues, Johnny Cash

A quintessential example of the outlaw style and charm is Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues. Cash actually got the chance to perform this song at Folsom Prison for one of his live albums before going on to record another album at San Quentin.

Cash, also known as the man in black, is probably one of the most well known outlaw country artists. His songs have been sampled for countless movies, commercials, and trailers over the years. If you’ve ever seen any sort of cowboy movie made after the 70s then chances are good that you’ve heard at least one of his songs.

Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain, Willie Nelson

While for many artists the term “outlaw” country is just a label, for Willie Nelson it’s a little bit more on the nose. Nelson has infamously had more than a few run-ins with the law, mainly for marijuana possession. Despite this, Nelson is popularly thought of as more of a good natured hooligan than a serious criminal.

Nelson’s Blue Eyes is a somber ballad full of longing and love gone by. While there’s normally a touch of the sentimental in most outlaw country songs, it really takes the spotlight here.

Ladies Love Outlaws, Waylon Jennings

The song Ladies Love Outlaws is argued by many to be the origin of where the “outlaw” in outlaw country comes from. If this is the case, then that would make singer Waylon Jennings and songwriter Lee Clayton the pioneers of the genre. The song itself also sets a standard for outlaw country both in sound and subject matter. The refrain of the song, “ladies love outlaws,” can be applied not only to ladies, but the populace in general. There’s a certain appeal in outlaws that ring true with almost everyone. The song itself more or less explains why the subgenre caught on.

Mama Tried, Merle Haggard

If you want to dig even deeper into the history of outlaw country, you’ll have to go back and look at the “Bakersfield Sound.” The type of country music pioneered in Bakersfield, California could be seen as almost a predecessor to outlaw country in that it too also shrugged the conventions set by the extremely popular Nashville style of country music. Merle Haggard was a musician heavily inspired by some of the biggest names in Bakersfield style country such as Buck Owens. Haggard’s music specifically can be seen as an update of the ‘50s and 60’s Bakersfield style brought into the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Mama Tried sticks to a popular theme in outlaw country- the laments of a remorseful criminal that the audience can’t help but feel sorry for. While justice usually prevails in this sub genre, we’re still allowed to root for the criminal and enjoy some of the thrill. There’s a certain amount of catharsis involved before the status quo is returned.

The Devil Went Down to Georgia, Charlie Daniels

The Devil Went Down To Georgia is much beloved for its narrative similar to that of traditional country fables. Devil also features some of the finest fiddle performances in country that manage to incorporate elements from blues and rock. This song and story has inspired countless aspects of popular media and has even been featured contemporaneously in video games and internet memes.

Jackpot, Nikki Lane

While many are quick to assume that country music is generally a man’s genre, the history of country has been shaped just as much by female musicians. The outlaw movement is no exception, with many notable women adopting or adding to the style.

More importantly, Nikki Lane is a much more recent example of outlaw country. While the sub-genre saw the most activity during the 70’s and 80’s, artists like Nikki Lane keep it alive. Jackpot is a great example that carries the same energy and devil may care attitude as many of the old classics.

King of the Road, Roger Miller

In this song, the outlaw aspect is present conceptually more than literally. The idea and romanticism associated with outlaws is generally that of freedom, which this song celebrates and reveres. Freedom might not always be glamorous, but there’s a certain magical element to it captured very well in this song.