Funny how a melody sounds like a memory…
Each of our writers picked which songs they recall turned them into country music lovers whether they remember hearing them when they were younger or just recently became fans. Check out each song and take a listen to the playlist below.
The Country Songs That Made Us Fans of the Genre
Pick: “Do I” – Luke Bryan
Songwriters: Charles Kelley, Dave Haywood, Luke Bryan
“There are so many songs I listened to growing up that made me a country fan before I really knew I was a country fan, but it wasn’t until I was a bit older when I really started to appreciate the genre. In the middle of dealing with a relationship on the outs, Luke Bryan’s music came into my life and turned me into a fan forever.
There are a few songs I remember having on repeat during those early days of truly discovering and embracing country music, but Luke Bryan’s “Do I” is the song that stands out most to me. The powerful and emotional ballad is one of those tracks you can blast on repeat and just be in your feels. All these years later and it’s still one of my all-time favorite songs.
Ultimately, I owe it to Luke Bryan for turning me into a full-fledged country music fan.”
Pick: “Don’t Take The Girl” – Tim McGraw
Songwriters: Craig Martin, Larry W. Johnson
“Back in the ’90s my mom was a huge country music fan, and I can distinctly remember hearing “Don’t Take The Girl” bt Tim McGraw blaring from her car radio as we drove to one of my brother’s little league games. I remember how the story pulled you in, following the same couple as they meet as children, fast forward 10 years as they are dating and then ultimately fast forward 5 more years when they are about to meet their first child.
It struck me even from a young age how incredible the storytelling in that lyric was, keeping the listener captivated and even leaving you in awe, with a cliff hanger. “Doctor says the baby’s fine but you’ll have to leave / ‘Cause his momma’s fading fast and Johnny hit his knees and there he prayed / ‘Take the very breath you gave me / Take the heart from my chest / I’ll gladly take her place if you’ll let me / Make this my last request / Take me out of this world / God, please don’t take the girl’ “
Still, today working in the music industry and spending most of my days writing about country music, the lyric is what is most engaging and I truly think the best part of country music is the stories it allows the songwriters to tell. ”
Pick: “Kick The Dust Up” – Luke Bryan
Songwriters: Ashley Gorley, Dallas Davidson, Chris DeStefano
“If you want to get your friend to start listening to country music, Luke Bryan is a great artist to begin with. Bryan’s discography has a great mix of pop-influenced, sentimental and party hits that’ll soon make your friend show his/her south side. “Kick The Dust Up” is pop-rock country that contains a short, but excellent electric guitar solo while keeping it country with a banjo during the verses. The lyrics are simple; Bryan talks about finishing his work on the farm to then go party, making it a great song for your tailgate playlist.
Before I had my streaming services, I had a regular FM radio. I grew tired of listening to the same 40 songs on Z100 and other stations, so I turned on NASH FM. “Kick The Dust Up”, along with other big songs that summer, were the reasons I kept turning the dial to 94.7 whenever I started my old Suzuki XL-7. If you’re reading this Luke, thank you for enhancing my love for this wonderful genre of music!”
Pick: “Man! I Feel Like A Woman” – Shania Twain
Songwriters: Robert John “Mutt” Lange, Shania Twain
“Man! I Feel Like a Woman” by Shania Twain was one of the first country music songs I heard. It came out 2 years after I was born, but my mom told me that she always used to have that playing in the house. I remember when I got to a certain age, I would blast the song and dance around in my room for hours. It was hands down one of my favorite songs and from that moment on I knew I loved country music. I can’t even count the number of country concerts I have gone to but I have to thank Shania Twain for inspiring my love of country music.
Pick: “Best Days Of Your Life” – Kellie Pickler
Songwriters: Kellie Pickler, Taylor Swift
“It was my first trip to the US 10 years ago, and we visited California. I remember being in Los Angeles and wanting to immerse myself in the whole American cultural experience, so I whipped out my iPod Nano and scrolled on the little click wheel thing (best thing ever!) to find a radio station that I’d like. Voila! I found one. Go Country 105 was playing Kellie Pickler’s song “Best Days Of Your Life,” and I thought I was on a pop station.
I loved that song and stayed on for more great tunes. That’s when I soon heard songs from Josh Turner soon after, and Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley, and Luke Bryan– all of today’s A-list acts who were getting their start on country radio back then. When I came back to Singapore and was completing homework as a high school student at night, I remember streaming American country radio and soon after, tuning in to Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40 Countdown on Sundays too. So, it really was Pickler’s little foray into a pop-leaning sound with her Taylor Swift collaboration that really bridged the pop guy I was 10 years ago, to the country listener and fan I am today. It really introduced me to this whole storytelling genre that I’ve been passionate about since. It all happened by happenstance, and I’m so grateful for that!”
Pick: “800 Pound Jesus” – Sawyer Brown
Songwriters: Billy Maddox, Paul Thorn
“I thought I became a country fan in college, as I was always into pop during high school and didn’t regularly listen to country until I left Kentucky. Thinking back on where my true fandom originated though, I realized my mom loved Lonestar and Sawyer Brown when I was growing up, so I always knew every word to those artists’ songs. Familiarizing myself with these artists once again, this song stuck out as one I could never forget. This 1999 song off the album Drive Me Wild is definitely a bit more classic country with a catchy chorus. I think this song speaks so much to me because it brings me back to being a kid and my lack of responsibilities, and just spending time with my mom in the car or cleaning the kitchen. Those little moments I probably never thought I would cherish almost 20 years later really are something special.”
Pick: “Gone Country” – Alan Jackson
Songwriters: Bob McDill
I remember when I was super young Alan Jackson was always on the radio. Whether it was fishing with my grandpa or getting new dirt for the backyard with my dad, his southern drawl filled the airwaves. “Gone Country” is the hit that I loved listening to for many reasons. The old school country feel and storyline made me feel on top of the world and in love with the genre. Now did I know the meaning behind the lyrics as I do now, no. Today I love it for a deeper meaning; how the song is celebrating how country music has become more widespread and accepted by all types of people. Though it was the initial listen and rhythm that got me requesting it on the riverbanks at age 6. I love all of Jackson’s songs, but it is the nostalgia of “Gone Country” that anytime it comes on the radio brings me right back to that old pickup truck years ago.
Pick: “Bless The Broken Road” – Rascal Flatts
Songwriters: Bobby Boyd, Jeff Hanna, Marcus Hummon
“I was 12 when someone sang “Bless the Broken Road” in a talent show at my summer camp. I had never heard a country song before and fell in love with the story, the melody, and everything about it. I looked it up when I got home and have been a country lover ever since.”
Pick: “Our Song” – Taylor Swift
Songwriters: Taylor Swift
“The song that made me a country fan is “Our Song” by Taylor Swift. Many people may not consider Swift country but she is to me, especially when she first started. “Our Song” was on Swift’s debut album, which came out when I was in high school. I enjoyed all of the other songs on the album but this one really stuck out to me. The upbeat tempo, banjo, and relatable story of a young couple made me immediately fall in love. It may not be as long as some people, but I’ve been a country music fan ever since.
“Our song is a slamming screen door / Sneakin’ out late, tapping on your window / When we’re on the phone, and you talk real slow / ‘Cause it’s late and your mama don’t know / Our song is the way you laugh, on the first date / Man, I didn’t kiss her, and I should have / And when I got home, before I said amen / Asking God if he could play it again”
Pick: “Girls Night Out” – The Judds
Songwriters: Brent Maher and Jeffrey Bullock
“One of the first songs that made me really love country music was “Girls’ Night Out” from The Judds. My mom always had country playing and at the time was a big Judds fan. I have so many memories of this song as a little girl – dancing in the kitchen with my mom, listening to it on my aunt’s walkman while sitting out at the pool at my grandparents’. I think it’s often the memories associated with a tune that really makes you love it. Whenever I hear this one now it takes me back to being 5 or 6 years old and remembering good times with the most important women in my life.”
Pick: “Want To” – Sugarland
Songwriters: Bobby Pinson, Jennifer Nettles, Kristian Bush
When I think about the songs that made me a country fan, there are far too many to name. However, in preparation for this assignment, I started listening to my “All-Time Country Favorites” playlist and one song jumped out immediately, Sugarland’s “Want To.” Released in 2006 on Sugarland’s Enjoy The Ride album, this song basically coincided with my epiphany as to the greatness that is country music.
Co-written by Bobby Pinson, Jennifer Nettles, and Kristian Bush, “Want To” tells the story of young love and the unfettered recklessness that comes with it. “Whole world could change in a minute / Just one kiss could stop this spinning / We could think it through / But I don’t want to, if you don’t want to / We could keep things just the same / Leave here the way we came, with nothing to lose / But I don’t want to, if you don’t want to.”
With sparse but inherently country instrumentation and Jennifer Nettles’ untouchable, emotive voice, “Want To” is truly a masterful track, and one of the reasons I fell in love with country music.
Pick: “Rock This Country!” – Shania Twain
Songwriters: Robert John “Mutt” Lange, Shania Twain
My mom bought Shania’s Come On Over album right after it was released in 1997. I was three years old at the time and remember listening to “Rock This Country!,” on the album. From the first time I heard it I was obsessed and I listened to that album on repeat, specifically that song, for years after. Once I found out that it was considered a country song, that is all I wanted to listen to from that point on and I haven’t looked back since then.”
Pick: “Wanna Be That Song” – Brett Eldredge
Songwriters: Brett Eldredge, Ross Copperman, Scooter Carusoe
The very first song that made me fall in love with country music was Brett Eldredge’s “Wanna Be That Song.” I had never really listened to country music before but I remember the first time I listened to this song. I was preparing to go to the Ripcord World Tour in 2016 with my mother, so before attending the show I put on Eldredge’s music and instantly fell in love with him as an artist. Still till this day “Wanna Be That Song” is one of my favorite country songs, making me a country music fan for life.
Pick: “Our Song” – Taylor Swift
Songwriters: Taylor Swift
Before she turned into the pop phenom she is today, Taylor Swift was famously known for being one of the biggest females in country. Her song, “Our Song,” made me fall in love with country music and never look back. I was (and still am) obsessed with the upbeat tune, quirky lyrics, and effortless vocals by Swift. For me, this song makes me think of being young and discovering my music taste in a time when radio was basically solely controlled by electric pop songs. “Our Song” reminds me of the fun, yet simple country music I began to love and crave when listening to music. Although Swift’s style has definitely changed over the years, I can definitely credit her for my love for country music!
Pick: “Wanted” – Hunter Hayes
Songwriters: Hunter Hayes, Troy Verges
“Sometime during the summer of 2012, I was browsing through music videos on YouTube when “Wanted” by Hunter Hayes popped up in my suggestions. I clicked on it and instantly fell in love with the song and its message, his voice and this genre of music. I remember avidly searching for more songs by Hayes immediately after and wondering to myself, how have I let myself come this far in life without giving country music a chance? The only other form of country music I had listened to and knew was Shania Twain’s 90’s hits. I had listened to “Wanted” a numerous amount of times that night and fell in love with Hayes’ other discography as well. Less than a year later, I was lucky enough to be front row at a live show of his, singing my heart out with the rest of the crowd. Something about that show felt different and special compared to any other concert I had been to. Thankfully, I never let another day go by without country music in my life and I never want to know a life without it.”
Pick: “These Days” – Rascal Flatts
Songwriters: Jeffrey Steele, Steve Robson, Danny Wells
When I think back to the time I heard a song that made me fall in love with country music, I think back to almost 20 years ago when a friend played me Rascal Flatt’s hit song “These Days.” I had never heard of the band before, but there was something special about Gary LeVox’s voice and twang that made me want to keep listening! I remember listening to “These Days” on repeat as well as the entire album Melt.
It did not take me long to find out when they’d be coming to the area on tour. I had my Mom drive me all the way out to Reading, PA to see their show, and Blake Shelton happened to be the opener sporting his infamous mullet. Ever since then, I can happily say I have been a country music fan!
Pick: “Strawberry Wine”- Deana Carter
Songwriters: Gary Harrison, Matraca Berg
Christmas day in the year of 1996, Santa brought me my first CD. It was Deana Carter’s “Did I Shave My Legs for This”. I was nine years old, and I listened to “Strawberry Wine” at least thirty times in a row. From there, I was in love with country music. Patty Loveless, Terri Clark, Faith Hill, Kenny Chesney, and George Strait had albums with songs that became the soundtrack to my childhood. Country music became a love in my life, and it never gave up on me.
Pick: “There’s More To Me Than You” – Jessica Andrews
Songwriters: James T. Slater, Jessica Andrews, Marcel Chagnon
I didn’t really consider myself a country music fan, until later in life, but when I look back at my childhood, I realize I was always into country music. Jessica Andrews was an artist that I loved back in 2000. Her song “Who I Am” got me hooked on her, but It was 3 years later, in 2003, when she released the ballad version of her song “There’s More to Me Than You” that I truly fell in love with country music and became a fan.
At eleven years old I would belt this song at the top of my lungs. Even though I didn’t quite understand the message of the song back then, I remember always feeling so emotionally drawn to the song, the lyrics, and the way Andrews conveyed the lyrics. Now, sixteen years later, the song has grown with me, conveying an even bigger message of self-love and acceptance, even after a break-up or difficult times.
“I’m not sayin’ I’m battered or bruised / But I might as well be the words that you used / I believe in myself / That makes me stronger / Things change and so have I / I’m gonna make hay while the sun still shines / You can clip my wings but I’m still gonna fly / I’m on my own and on my way / And I keep tellin’ myself / Oh oh oh there’s more to me than you.”
“There’s More to Me Than You” sparked my love for country music and more importantly the story-telling element that is so prevalent and important to the genre. I’ll always be a fan of Andrews and country music!
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