In the 1940’s and 50’s, country music relied heavily on acoustic guitars, upright bass guitars, an optional, and simple drum kit, if it was used at all, and perhaps a harmonica, fiddle and mandolin.
But in the 1960’s, music got plugged in, and sounds evolved. The country genre began to be infused from rock circles, with no shortage of crossover material being played on traditional country radio stations. Many acts from the rock genre, including bands such as The Eagles and solo performers such as Linda Ronstadt gained exposure with new audiences, as their upbeat marriage of country and rock compositions broke new ground and paved new roads.
List of Top Ten Best Country Rock Songs Of All Time till in 2017
10. MAKE A LITTLE MAGIC – The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band can be associated with many genres of music, from rock to country, bluegrass to folk. Having charted many successful singles, Make A Little Magic crossed over from rock to country charts with ease, with its flowing melody and easygoing lyrics. Written by bandmates Jeff Hanna, Richard Hathaway and Bob Carpenter, the song featured Nicolette Larson on background vocals. Released in 1980, the song charted in the U.S. and Canada.
9. BAD MOON RISING – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Rolling Stone rates Bad Moon Rising among its 500 greatest songs of all time. The John Fogerty-penned tune, released in 1969, climbed to number two on the singles chart, and reached number one in the U.K. Classified as everything from folk to reggae to psychedelic rock, Bad Moon Rising has a distinctive, simple tempo that easily finds its way amongst country music. How many songs from the rock charts could find a home on the Grand Ole Opry?
8. GARDEN PARTY – Rick Nelson
In October 1971, Rick Nelson appeared at Madison Square Garden in New York City, billed with rock greats Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Bobby Rydell. Nelson began singing his older hits, such as Hello Mary Lou, but when he began to sing his version of The Rolling Stones’ Honky Tonk Women, he was booed off the stage. In response, Nelson penned Garden Party, inserting the lyrics You can’t please everyone / so you’ve got to please yourself. The song became a hit on rock and country charts for Nelson in 1972.
7. MYSTERY TRAIN – Elvis Presley
Junior Parker penned his song in 1953, and two years later, Presley recorded it at Sam Phillips’ Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. The train arrived, sixteen coaches long, and “carries my baby home.” Mystery Train is an enduring classic, infused with basic instrumentation, making it an easy crossover into country music. The King of Rock And Roll’s version landed at number 11 on the Billboard Country charts in 1955.
6. AMIE – Pure Prairie League
No song better fit the definition of country-pop quite like the Craig Fuller-penned Amie. Recorded in 1972 for their album Bustin Out, and released in 1973, the song found popularity among college radio stations but did not chart until 1975, convincing RCA records to resign the group they had previously dropped. With its easy flowing acoustic guitars and flowing harmonies, Amie remains a crossover country-rock standard on easy listening stations to this day.
5. ACHY BREAKY HEART – Billy Ray Cyrus
This is one of the Top 10 Best Country Rock Songs of All Time till 2017. Few songs have dominated both pop and country charts as Cyrus’ 1992 smash Achy Breaky Heart, peaking at number four on the country charts, and topping the Billboard pop charts. The worldwide hit was certified platinum and became a line dance staple. Critically panned by some critics as “the worst song ever,” the crossover success of the song cannot be denied. The song is easily Cyrus’ biggest hit and was heard at arenas and sporting events ad nauseum.
4. WHEN WILL I BE LOVED – Linda Ronstadt
When Will I Be Loved became a hit for The Everly Brothers in 1960, reaching number 8 on the charts. Fifteen years later, rocker Linda Ronstadt covered it, and gained greater success, driving it to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 charts (being denied the top spot by The Captain And Tenille’s Love Will Keep Us Together.) With its rockabilly roots, When Will I be Loved easily finds its home as a crossover tune, making it an easy fit for the country rock genre.
3. SILVER THREADS AND GOLDEN NEEDLES – Honky Tonk Angels
Recorded by multiple acts including the aforementioned Ronstadt, Silver Threads And Golden Needles was recorded by three country music queens: Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette, who scored a hit on the country charts. A tune that is recorded from acts ranging from Skeeter Davis to The Grateful Dead speaks to its crossover power, and Silver Threads And Golden Needles is a country rock staple.
2. LYIN’ EYES – The Eagles
Few acts can rival The Eagles in terms of staying power, record sales, and crossover appeal. In 1975, The Eagles released the Don Henley / Glenn Frey penned Lyin’ Eyes to major success on country and pop charts. The song reached number two on the pop charts, and number eight on country charts, solidifying it as one of the most successful country rock songs ever recorded, winning a Grammy award along with a nomination for best album of the year.
1. THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA – Charlie Daniels Band
The worldwide smash, released in 1979, rocketed to the top of the country charts, and stayed at number one for a week. It was a hit on the pop charts as well, topping out at number three. The song tells the story of a boy named Johnny who was a fiddle player in Georgia. In a fiddling contest with the devil, Johnny wins convincingly and takes possession of the devil’s golden fiddle. Daniels fiddles his way across multiple charts to international success, as the song easily became the band’s signature hit.
So, these above are the Top 10 Best Country Rock Songs of All Time till 2017. Country rock is a genre that takes from the best of both worlds, fusing elements together to create crossover appeal, allowing traditional artists from rock and country music to share the stage in a blending of musical creativity.