47 Best 70s Country Songs

Best 70s Country Songs

The 1970s had some of the greatest country artists. This decade saw the popularity of country music explode to places never seen.

Out of the hundreds of country songs released in the 1970s, we reviewed a few of the greatest ones. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the best ‘70s country songs.

Contents

“East Bound and Down” by Jerry Reed

Song year: 1977

Jerry Reed had a string of hits in his career, but none were bigger than the song that capped off the soundtrack to Smokey and the Bandit. The movie tells the tale of outlaw Bandit helping his trucker buddy, Snowman—who is also played by Reed—deliver cases of illegal alcohol from Texas to Georgia in 28 hours. The movie was a massive hit for Burt Reynolds, who played The Bandit. The song became one of the defining songs of the decade.

 “Convoy” by C.W. McCall

Song year: 1975

Written as a novelty song to protest government regulations on tractor-trailer drivers, C.W. McCall’s “Convoy” also managed to strike a nerve with the CB radio crowd. Tell me if you have ever heard of a song spawning a 1978 movie about trucking directed by Sam Peckinpah. Sometimes a hit spawns a hit in another media avenue. “Convoy” did just that and told one heck of a story.

 “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers

Song year: 1978

If country music gave us anything, it is artists who used the medium to tell a story. Kenny Rogers’ hit “The Gambler” did just that. Painting the picture of a pair of men on a train bound to nowhere, “The Gambler” tells us about an older man’s attempt to give a young man advice on living life and playing a solid game of poker. “Never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table” is still good advice.

“Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson

Song year: 1978

An ode to the hope of a better tomorrow, this duet by two of the best outlaw country singers won the hearts and minds of moms everywhere. While written in 1976 for Ed Bruce and his wife, Patsy, the song blew up thanks to Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings' version. The pair also won a Grammy due to this song.

“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by The Charlie Daniels Band

Song year: 1979

If there was ever a song to help spawn a renaissance for a specific musical instrument, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” did that for the fiddle. Made famous by the Charlie Daniels Band, this song’s devilish use of the fiddle almost turns the instrument into a character of its own. Still, the song was a massive country hit and proved that even a deal with the devil spawns some success—just do not tell your church-going family about it.

“I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton

Song year: 1974

Before Whitney Houston took this song and made it her own, Dolly Parton wrote and released it. In the years since, Parton has said the song was written for her former boss, Porter Wagoner, to prove to him that she could make it as a solo artist. The gambit worked, and Wagoner gave Parton his blessing to go out on her own. This song was a hit in its own right in the ‘70s. However, another song on the same album was much bigger.

 “Jolene” by Dolly Parton

Song year: 1974

Speaking of that other hit, Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” is an artist-defining song for Tennessee’s favorite daughter. Parton was worried that her husband was running out on her with a bank teller. The teller’s name was not even Jolene! Jolene was the name of a young fan that Parton said she immediately realized was going to work as the name in the song. The song exploded upon release, giving women another anthem for their cheating lovers. 

“Thank God I'm a Country Boy” by John Denver

Song year: 1975

John Denver may be one of music’s greatest crossover artists. Spawning hits in the folk music category, Denver scored a big hit with “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” Singing the charms of easy country life on the farm, Denver somehow manages to sing a charming little ditty thanks to the writings of one of his backup bandmates. The song debuted on his Back Home Again album but was overshadowed by another of his chart-topping hits, “Annie’s Song.”

“Coal Miner's Daughter” by Loretta Lynn

Song year: 1971

Some of country music’s greatest songs ever written are autobiographical. Perhaps one of the best in this genre is Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” The song is written in tribute to Lynn’s upbringing in Butcher Hollow, KY, and helped launch her career. Nine years later, Lynn’s career and life got the biographical treatment on the big screen with the release of “Coal Miner’s Daughter” with Sissy Spacek in the Oscar-winning lead role.

“Take This Job and Shove It” by Johnny Paycheck

Song year: 1978

A tribute to the working man, Johnny Paycheck’s “Take This Job and Shove It” is a song written for anyone who hates their job. It’s about a man who works in a factory. However, after losing his girlfriend, the only reason he had to work, he tells his boss to “shove it.” It might have been Paycheck’s lone hit, but the classic still rings true for anyone who wants to tell their boss off.

 “Hello Darlin’” by Conway Twitty

Song year: 1970

No one had better hair in the 1970s than Conway Twitty. Forget the hair for a second, though, and realize that the man could sing a country ballad. His hit “Hello Darlin'” is an epic ode to a man that knows the woman of his dreams has already come and gone. There is no way Twitty was crying every night when those checks arrived after this song struck the right chord with listeners.

 “Amazing Love” by Charley Pride

Song year: 1973

Charley Pride broke barriers as an African-American country artist. Despite racial issues, Pride’s voice and songs hit hard with country music fans. His hit, “Amazing Love,” is just one of many examples of this. The song hit No. 1 on Billboard’s country chart and stayed on the chart for 27 weeks.

 “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” by Vicki Lawrence

Song year: 1972

Vicki Lawrence was just a comedian on The Carol Burnett Show when this song came. No one expected this song to be a hit, but it exploded and became another example of country music being able to tell a story. The song tells us about an adulterous affair that ends in murder. Reba McEntire made it her own with a cover in 1991.

 “Rhinestone Cowboy” by Glen Campbell

Song year: 1975

Dipping into the country and pop rock genres, “Rhinestone Cowboy” by Glen Campbell is a love letter to rodeo cowboys. This quickly climbed the Billboard Country and Hot 100 charts. Who can blame anyone for enjoying this one?

 “The Pill” by Loretta Lynn

Song year: 1975

Country musicians are not known for being left-leaning—especially in the 1970s. This curious hit from Loretta Lynn makes many people scratch their heads. In the years after Roe v. Wade became the law of the land, Lynn’s ballad about the birth control pill became a pro-woman anthem. With six children of her own, no wonder Lynn sang this tune.

 “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn

Song year: 1973

Country music was a genre created for duets to shine. Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn made this song a hit thanks to their voices and enthusiasm. “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” is a song about geography not stopping a pair of lovers from enjoying each other's company. You cannot discount this pair of icons singing this one, either.

 “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)” by Waylon Jennings

Song year: 1977

No one defined Outlaw Country better than Waylon Jennings. His ballad to a small town in Texas is no slouch. The “high society” pair in the song is having financial difficulties and pressures on their marriage, which leads to Jennings advising the couple to move to Luckenbach and get back to “the basics of love.”

 “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver

Song year: 1972

If there was one artist who makes us pine for a camping trip in the Great Outdoors, it is John Denver. Denver spent the ‘70s performing some of the greatest songs and ballads about spending your time outside. “Rocky Mountain High” takes us on a journey, showcasing the glory and majesty of the Colorado Rockies through music.

 “If We Make It Through December” by Merle Haggard

Song year: 1973

There was no way for Merle Haggard to write a happy, upbeat song, and “If We Make It Through December” is a pure example of this phenomenon. This song talks about the economic hardships of job loss as the Christmas bells start ringing and what it takes for a man to provide for his family during what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of year.

 “Sunday Morning Coming Down” by Johnny Cash

Song year: 1972

We could not make this list without an appearance from the Man in Black. Johnny Cash’s career already spanned almost two decades as the ‘70s rolled around, but this song makes an appearance thanks to who wrote it. Kris Kristofferson came to Nashville as a songwriter and penned this classic for Cash. The song helped solidify Kristofferson’s writing bonafides.

 “The Grand Tour” by George Jones

Song year: 1974

George Jones finally made it to the list with this song about divorce. You cannot list the top country songs of the ‘70s without one about the end of a relationship. “The Grand Tour” is about the walkthrough of a home once filled with love. That home is empty after his wife leaves and takes their kid with them.

 “One Piece at a Time” by Johnny Cash

Song year: 1976

No one makes a song about petty theft better than Johnny Cash. “One Piece at a Time” is about America’s obsession with the automobile. The song’s subject works for an auto plant and is steadily stealing car parts one part at a time until he has the car of his dreams. Why buy parts when you can get someone else to do it for you?

 “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver, A Top Country Song Of The 70s

Song year: 1971

John Denver had a way with words when it came to country music. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” was an immediate hit—especially in West Virginia. The Mountain State gets a nod in this song for its sacred geography; it also became one of West Virginia’s official state songs.

 “You’ve Never Been This Far Before” by Conway Twitty

Song year: 1973

Phew. Talk about a song making its subject matter known upfront. Conway Twitty’s sultry song, “You’ve Never Been This Far Before,” tells us about unfiltered passion. The song invited controversy, with many radio stations refusing to air it due to its overt sexual undertones. Regardless, it still hit No. 1 on the country charts. Controversy, as it turns out, can create cash.

 “Coward of the County” by Kenny Rogers

“Coward of the County” by Kenny Rogers

Song year” 1979

A late-decade hit for Kenny Rogers, “Coward of the County” is the tale of a young man named Tommy, who gained a reputation for being “yellow” instead of standing up for himself. The song builds up to a fight between Tommy and the Gatlin Brothers with the honor of Tommy’s woman, Becky, hanging in the balance. Years of pent-up anger unleash as Tommy loses the moniker of “Coward of the County.”

 “Whiskey River” by Willie Nelson

Song year: 1973

Country music is all about drinking. Willie Nelson’s ode to the bottle, “Whiskey River,” is all about alcohol and how it helps cure the sadness of a broken relationship. Fun fact about this one, though: it was the first song performed on the long-running concert series Austin City Limits. There is a first for everything!

 “Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson

Song year: 1970

One of the first big crossover hits of the best ‘70s country songs, “Rose Garden,” was initially released in 1967 by Joe South. It was not until Anderson got hold of the song that it achieved mainstream success on the country and pop music charts. The song is considered a country music standard these days, with Martina McBride covering it in 2005.

 “Golden Ring” by Tammy Wynette and George Jones

Song year: 1976

“Golden Ring” from legends Tammy Wynette and George Jones starts sweetly, featuring a couple clearly in love and ready to leap into marriage. But it’s not a George Jones song without heartbreak. The couple gets married and starts their lives together. However, the song ends with the couple's titular “Golden Ring” in a pawn shop. So much for happy endings. But what do you expect from a Jones song?

 “Don’t Make My Brown Eyes Blue” by Crystal Gayle

Song year: 1976

This track from Crystal Gayle is another one of those crossover songs that hit both country and pop fans. “Don’t Make My Brown Eyes Blue” hit No. 1 on the Billboard country chart and No. 2 on the Billboard pop chart. Gayle was clearly on to something here, as country pop would become a genre of its own in the late 80s and into the 90s. Gayle scored other hits during this decade, but none hit country fans harder than this one.

 “Behind Closed Doors” by Charlie Rich

Song year: 1973

Another country song with crossover appeal, Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors,” has taken on a life of its own over the years. Dolly Parton took a spin with it as well as Diana Ross. But the Rich release was his first No. 1 single and spent 20 weeks on the Billboard country chart. Now that is staying power from the man known as the “Silver Fox.”

 “Is Anybody Going to San Antone?” by Charley Pride

Song year: 1970

Charley Pride got his third straight No. 1 country hit with this song. Have you ever fought with your partner so bad that it pushed you to go to another town? Pride’s song is about the fights that damage a relationship so bad you think the love is irreparable. Love does not always need an escape hatch.

 “She Believes In Me” by Kenny Rogers

Song year: 1978

Kenny Rogers gets another hit off of The Gambler album with “She Believes In Me.” While many country songs are about the last days of a relationship, this Rogers tune is about a man in the thick of one with a woman who has 100 percent faith in her man. Who would not love a song like this ballad (or a relationship like this, too)?

 “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’” by Charley Pride

Song year: 1971

Here is another song about the joys of being in the best relationship possible. Charley Pride takes us on a morning stroll where people wonder why he is always smiling. That smile comes from the joy he receives from his sweetheart’s morning kiss. Sometimes a kiss is all you need to set you off to your day.

 “Happy Birthday Darlin’” by Conway Twitty

Song year: 1979

Conway Twitty is back on this list with another song about his eponymous “darlin’.” This time, instead of hoping for a good life for her, Twitty is giving his loved one a new spin on the happy birthday song and looking to instill some faith back in their relationship. Ladies, it is not always about the presents or the dinners—it is about knowing your man is always true. Twitty delivers here with another classic.

 “Love is the Foundation” by Loretta Lynn

Song year: 1973

Outside of being the “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Loretta Lynn’s life story is also about her relationships—mainly the one that was the focus of her biographical film starring Sissy Spacek. But this song is about a relationship that makes her heart sing instead of weep. It was her seventh No. 1 single on the country charts.

 “Let Your Love Flow” by The Bellamy Brothers

Song year: 1976

The Bellamy Brothers scored a hit with this song about those warm, fuzzy feelings you get when you fall in love. This fun song has stayed with us over the years, too. The song features heavily in numerous soundtracks and television advertisements through the decades. Nothing lets the love flow like those royalty checks.

 “I’m a Ramblin’ Man” by Waylon Jennings

Song year: 1974

Waylon Jennings is Outlaw Country personified. Those outlaws loved rambling, too. The thing about rambling is not about talking so much that you lose focus—it is about never finding a place comfortable enough to kick your feet up. Jennings’ “I’m A Ramblin’ Man” is the anthem for the man that never stays put for too long.

 “Country Bumpkin” by Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty

Song year: 1974

Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty cannot stay off this list for too long, can they? The king and queen of ‘70s country duets scored another hit with this song. The song tells the story of what seems like a mismatched pair that met at a bar, but 40 years of love and marriage tells us otherwise. There is nothing wrong with being a country bumpkin if you find the love of your life hanging out on a bar stool.

“The Fightin' Side of Me” by Merle Haggard

Song year: 1970

Merle Haggard had a way of speaking to the common man. In what many consider to be one of the first outright conservative political songs, “The Fightin' Side of Me” is Haggard's way of telling those who do not love America can always leave it. This song was one of Haggard's most popular tunes and inspired countless others over the years.

 “Delta Dawn” by Tanya Tucker

Song year: 1972

“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” is still a saying worth holding. Tanya Tucker’s “Delta Dawn” is about one of those women. Tucker’s son tells us about a 41-year-old woman who will stop at nothing to find the man who jilted her decades prior. Sometimes, just letting go is the best way to move on.

 “Good Hearted Woman” by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson

Song year: 1972

Okay, so you might think this is another duet by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, but it is not. Jennings originally released the song as a solo artist. But the pair wrote the song together during a poker game. Four years later, the pair sang it together, and it charted again. There is something to be said about star power helping sell a song.

 “She’s Acting Single (I’m Drinking Doubles)” by Gary Stewart

Song year: 1975

A word of advice to those looking to drown their sorrows in the bottle: listen to this song instead. Gary Stewart’s song about finding answers at the bottom of a liquor bottle tells us that sometimes sorrow is best sat with instead of ignored. Also, maybe a woman is not worth getting drunk over at the end of the day.

 “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” by Jerry Reed

Song year: 1971

We have seen many songs about drinking, so how about we take a detour and talk about another vice. Yes, we already talked about “The Gambler,” but Jerry Reed’s tale of being on a lucky streak during a dice game (and maybe life, sometimes) is another example of country artists being like the bards of the Middle Ages. Oh, and do understand that your luck does run out after a while.

 “Tulsa Time” by Don Williams

Song year: 1978

Don Williams and his band were victims of a snowstorm that left them hunkered down in Tulsa, Oklahoma when the spark of inspiration hit songwriter Danny Flowers. Flowers gave the song to Williams, who played it for Eric Clapton. Clapton loved the song and wanted to record it, but Williams beat him to the punch. The result was a hit that struck twice for Williams and Clapton.

 “The Jamestown Ferry” by Tanya Tucker

Song year: 1972

Another hit of Tanya Tucker’s Delta Dawn album, “The Jamestown Ferry,” is yet another classic about what happens to men when they go astray. The titular ferry in this song is literal, too, and gives the man in this tale an escape route. The hook in this song is that the man tells his lover that he would take the ferry if he ever left. At least he was honest?

 “Blanket On the Ground” by Billie Jo Spears

Song year: 1975

Here is a saccharinely sweet song from Billie Jo Spears about the first days of a relationship. Spears talks about the days when she met her love. The pair enjoy moonlit nights of romance on top of a blanket on the ground. The song continues through the years of the couple's up-and-down relationship, but Spears always returns to that blanket. Ah, the joys of young love. 

 “Here You Come Again” by Dolly Parton

Song year: 1977

Sorry, but we just cannot get enough of Dolly Parton on this list. At this point, she might be the queen of ‘70s country music (or just the queen of country music in general). Parton’s tune is about what happens when a man will not stop coming around even after the end of a relationship. Love is a game with second chances. Unfortunately for Parton, she does not mind giving second, third, or fourth chances.

Top 70s Country Songs, Final Thoughts

The 1970s were a banner decade for country artists. Stories of love and economic hardship shined during these years. The best ‘70s country songs were written to tell stories. The fact that many of these songs were covered by younger artists is a testament to the power of ‘70s country.

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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