Daily Top Five: First Favorites

kenny-rogers-gamblerToday, we kick off a new feature: Daily Top Five.  Every day, one of our writers will post their top five picks for a given category, and invite readers to share their own lists in the comments.   This idea was ripped off from inspired by the film Top Five.

Since this is the first entry, today’s topic is First Favorites – your top five songs that got you into country music.

For me:

  1. John Anderson, “Straight Tequila Night”
  2. Reba McEntire, “For My Broken Heart”
  3. Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler”
  4. Pam Tillis, “Maybe it Was Memphis”
  5. Dwight Yoakam, “It Only Hurts When I Cry”

What’s your top five?


  1. I’d have to dig out the tapes from 1991 or thereabouts for more details, but, in no particular order:
    1. Kenny Rogers – “Lucille” (well, the Czech version).
    2. Kenny Rogers – “The Gambler”.
    3. Alabama – “Down Home”. (1991, didn’t age so well)
    4. Diamond Rio – “Meet In The Middle”. (Again, 1991. Still a part of my iPad and Youtube playlists.)
    5. Loretta Lynn – “Coal Miner’s Daughter”.

  2. The three songs that made me turn to a country station in hopes of hearing them were:
    Garth Brooks, “Friends in Low Places”
    Alan Jackson, “Chatahoochee”
    Joe Diffie, “John Deere Green”

    And two of the songs, among many, that made me stay on that country station and subsequently fall in love with country music were:
    George Strait, “I’d Like to Have that One Back”
    Clay Walker, “Live Until I Die”

    I got into country music in 1993 and I can well remember the songs that I heard on the first country countdown that I listened to. I was hooked. There’s so much more for me to say about this topic!:)

  3. Nice new feature:

    1. Like the Rain – Clint Black
    2. Ready to Run – Dixie Chicks (After watching the movie Runaway Bride)
    3. The Thunder Rolls – Garth Brooks
    4. She Couldn’t Change Me – Montgomery Gentry
    5. Little Goodbyes – SheDaisy

    I got into Country Music in the late 90s early 2000s.

  4. It’s tough to say with any certitude since i began my shift towards country about 40 years ago, so in the mid 70’s.
    1. Crystal Gayle – Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue
    2. Ronnie Milsap – It Was Almost Like a Song
    3. Johnny Rodriguez – We’re Over
    4. John Denver – Rocky Mountain High
    5. Linda Ronstadt – Crazy (which led me to check out Patsy Cline’s which I hadn’t heard before then)

  5. 1. Waylon Jennings, ‘Luckenbach, Texas (Basics Of Love)’
    2. Willie Nelson, ‘Always On My Mind’
    3. Kenny Rogers, ‘Coward Of The County’
    4. Don Williams, ‘Tulsa Time’
    5. The Kendalls, ‘Heaven’s Just A Sin Away’

    My grandmother loved country music and some of my fondest memories are of sitting in her kitchen while she made dinner with the radio on. I still think of her everytime I hear ‘Luckenbach’.

  6. Great new idea. I’m going to love this new feature.
    1) for my broken heart reba
    2) whyd you come in here looking like that Dolly Parton
    3) midnight in Montgomery Alan jackson
    4) ocean front property- geoege strait
    5) something in red lorriw Morgan

  7. I’m only 16 so the songs that got me interested were
    Wreckers Leave The Pieces
    Dixie Chicks Not Ready To Make Nice
    Reba Fancy
    Carrie Underwood Before He Cheats
    Miranda Lambert Kerosene.
    I got into 2006 ever since then I’ve enjoyed country music but lately I’ve had to rely on independent acts.

  8. Garth Brooks – Friends in Low Places
    George Strait – Carrying Your Love With Me
    Alan Jackson – Don’t Rock The Jukebox
    Clint Black – Good Run of Bad Luck
    Diamond Rio – Unbelievable

    This least could have easily just been five Garth songs since I grew up in the ’90s. I had four cassettes that I played over and over as a kid, then got them on CD and now have them on my iPod. Two of them were Garth, two were the Beach Boys. Those have strongly shaped the kinds of music I like 20+ years later.

  9. Five country songs that make me like country music:

    1. Shania Twain – You’re Still the One
    2. Ronan Keating – If Tomorrow Never Comes (Garth cover), which leads me to…
    3. Garth Brooks – The River
    4. Lauren Alaina – Flat on the Floor (American Idol performance), which leads me to…
    5. Carrie Underwood – So Small

  10. I’m going to go so far out in left field it will probably blow people’s minds; but being from the L.A. area, where our ideas about country music have been known to lean way to the left of Nashville, here’s my Daily Five for today:

    WILLING–Linda Ronstadt
    DALLAS–Caitlin Rose
    BORN TO RUN–Emmylou Harris

    This is also part of a growing personal playlist to counteract the bro-country junk that plagues the country genre.

  11. OT but Erik reminded me of Tift Merritt who is so awesome. ‘Virginia, No One Can Warn You’ and ‘Good Hearted Man’ are among her many great songs. Haven’t heard anything of hers in awhile. Is she still active?

  12. Linda’s 1970s C&W/rock albums were what started the spark for me, what got me interested in studying the actual history of the genre, which I think everybody here at Country Universe is quite good at. I guess to widen things, I would say that, starting from Linda, it would go out to Emmy, and then to the Man In Black himself, with “A Boy Named Sue”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, and all his other legendary material.

    As for Tift Merritt–yes, she’s still active in the Americana circuit, though her last album, Night, a collaboration with classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein, was released two years ago. Though born in Houston and long a resident of North Carolina, Tift currently resides in Brooklyn.

  13. The year was 1968 and the song was Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” and Johnny Bush’s “Undo The Right” . I loved both songs but it took me weeks to find a copy of “Undo The Right” which spent five weeks at #1 on the WCMS survey. The year featured a bunch of classic songs including Jack Greene’s “Love Takes Care of Me” , Mac Wiseman’s “Got Leaving On Her Mind” and , of course the year’s big hit, “Skip A Rope” by Henson Cargill.

  14. Well I grew up listening to Country cause that’s what everybody except my dad listened to, but I’ll go with the songs that got me actually starting to collect for myself.

    01. Brad Paisley’s – “Whiskey Lullaby”
    02. Sara Evans’ – “Perfect”
    03. Terri Clark’s – “I Just Wanna Be Mad”
    04. Keith Urban’s – “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me”
    05. Alan Jackson’s – “Drive”

    Back around 1998 I remember being obsessed with Shania’s “Come On Over” album enough that my parents bought me her other 2 albums. And before that Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, The Judds, Garth Brooks, and Merle Haggard were the artists I mostly grew up with. My grandparents who I spent a lot of time with would listen exclusivley to country and it was basically those artists plus a few more. My Grandfather loved Jim Reeves and my grandmother was a big Vern Gosdin fan.

  15. Here’s mine:

    1. Lorrie Morgan, “What Part of No”
    2. George Strait, “Blue Clear Sky”
    3. Collin Raye, “I Think About You”
    4. Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Rhythm of the Blues” (a bit random but I remember hearing it and thinking, ‘so this is country music?’ I really enjoyed what I was listening to! In fact the whole Come On Come On album was very influential for me)
    5. The Mavericks, “What A Crying Shame”

  16. Andrew sounds a lot like me. All I listened to when I was really young was Garth and the Beach Boys. My top five would probably consist entirely of Garth but I’ll try to evenly distribute it. Also, I was around five when I started listening so I didn’t quite have the ear for quality I have now.

    1. Garth Brooks – American Honkytonk Bar Association
    2. Joe Diffie – Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox
    3. Collin Raye – Love Me
    4. George Strait – Check Yes or No
    5. Tim McGraw – Don’t Take the Girl

  17. I cannot remember most of the songs that got me into country music. But I submit a list anyways.

    1. “Long Black Train”- Josh Turner
    2. “Hell On the Heart”- Eric Church (This song has faded for me over the years)
    3. Alan Jackson song
    4. George Strait song
    5. Random country song

  18. 1. “Hurt” by Johnny Cash
    This was the song that really pulled me in as a teen and exposed me to Country music. My dad was a huge classic Country fan, but like most kids I wasnt as interested in what he listened to and gravitated towards metal and rock with bands such as Alice in Chains and Tool. When I heard Cash’s version of “Hurt” it led me down the road to discover more of his work and eventually other Country artists like Tom T. Hall, Don Williams and Waylon Jennings and the Highwaymen.

    2. Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)-Garth Brooks
    I admit to not being the biggest Garth fan, a number of his ballads are a bit heavy on the sap for me, but when I first heard this song I was pulled in by the world weary narrator, barely hanging on in life.

    3. Please Remember Me–Tim McGraw
    Few Country artists make me feel more conflicted about their output than Tim McGraw who seems to alternate between cutting great songs by great songwriters to cutting crap like “Truck Yeah” to maintain his “stardom” or whatever. This was my first exposure to Rodney Crowell’s songwriting and while the production is a bit heavy on the strings, Tim sings the hell out of this heartbreaking love song.

    4. I Hope It Rains At My Funeral–Tom T. Hall
    I actually discovered this song when it was sung by Ryan Adams. Adams/Whiskeytown covered this song on a Hall tribute album that seems to have disappeared from the map. While the Whiskeytown version is good, I would go back to discover Hall’s version which once again shows such crisp storytelling it’s scary. My favorite songwriter showing how it’s done.

    5. Little Man–Alan Jackson
    I was just getting into Country music when I heard this song and was pulled in. Jackson’s modern day plea doubled as a bit of a eulogy for small town America. In some ways Jackson seems to be trying to rally small town America, but the more I listen to it the more I realize that Jackson probably realizes those same small towns are not coming back and instead does a great job of capturing the heart that lied in so many of these now shuttered towns.

  19. My first memory of listening to country music it was about ’91 or ’92 and I was four sitting in the front seat of the car; because back then you could still do that, or at least my mom did, and Ain’t Going Down ‘Til the Sun Comes Up by Garth Brooks was playing and I thought it was Brooks & Dunn. Since I grew up on country I don’t really know what my top five would be, but this top five is what makes me stay with country:

    1. Jace Everett – Bad Things (wrote Your Man sung by Josh Turner)
    2. Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues
    3. Garth Brooks – The Cowboy Song
    4. Little Big Town – Sober
    5. Lee Brice – Drinking Class

  20. I would say that these are the five songs that got me into country music as a kid growing up in the 1990’s. That 90’s country, neo-trad sound and style really won me over as a kid. Long car rides down I-75 from Michigan to Georgia, with my mom and aunt’s country music CD’s playing in the car, got me into country in the first place. These are some of the songs I remember hearing the most as a kid and enjoying . . .

    1. Neon Moon: Brooks & Dunn
    2. Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old): Garth Brooks
    3. Blue Clear Sky: George Strait
    4. Always On My Minds: Willie Nelson
    5. Crazy: Patsy Cline

  21. One of the first songs I ever played on an AM station was Terry Stafford’s “Amarillo By Morning.” I didn’t know the artist but thought the song was awesome. Up until the moment I stepped into that old station and sat in front of the Gates mixer, I had not listened to much country at all. I unwrapped Alabama’s “Love In the First Degree,” an orange 45 from the inbox of the guy I replaced (who abruptly left town.) It was indeed a good find.
    I most enjoyed playing Kris Kristofferson “Help Me,” Mel Tillis “Southern Rains” and even Johnny Cash “Chattanooga City Limit Sign.”
    Of course, we always kept Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” handy if I needed to use the bathroom. I can’t say I had a favorite, though. I was always worried about other people’s favorites. Probably why I spent so many years as a MD.

  22. I first started getting into country music when I was 16 and realized that I didn’t really like the songs my friends listened to. My parents listened to country, so I eventually gravitated to the genre, but developed my own tastes.

    1. Online – Brad Paisley
    2. Here in the Real World – Alan Jackson
    3. Live Like You Were Dying – Tim McGraw
    4. Life’s a Dance – John Michael Montgomery
    5. Life is a Highway – Rascal Flatts (don’t judge me)

  23. 1. Jolene – Dolly Parton
    2. Daydreams About Night Things – Ronnie Milsap
    3. Wrong Road Again – Crystal Gayle
    4. Turn Out the Lights And Love Me Tonight – Don Williams
    5. Golden Ring – George Jones & Tammy Wynette

  24. Similar to Jordan I was raised on Country music. I have always liked the genre, so I really can’t make a list of the songs that made me like it. I will list 5 songs that I know that I really liked at a young age instead.

    1. The Gambler by Kenny Rogers
    2. Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’ by Charley Pride
    3. Roll On by Alabama
    4. Step By Step by Eddie Rabbitt
    5. Bop by Dan Seals

  25. This series is a really good idea, no matter how original.

    I resisted country music for so long; I’m so thankful to Keith Urban for opening my mind, and ears, to the charms that country could have. The other artists are a mix of my parent’s favorites when I was growing up and other songs I heard in the mid-aughts.

    1. Keith Urban – Somebody Like You
    2. Alan Jackson – Here in the Real World
    3. Garth Brooks – The Thunder Rolls
    4. Brad Paisley – Celebrity
    5. Alison Krauss & Union Station – Goodbye is All We Have

  26. Thinking back, I really enjoyed these a lot:
    Mickey Gilley – Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time
    Osborn Brothers – Rocky Top
    Jerry Reed – Guitar Man
    Jerry Lee Lewis – Drinkin’ Wine (Spo-dee O’ dee)
    Bellamy Brothers – If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body

  27. Great new feature…I go back to the first country songs I remember liking in the mid/late 80’s, although I like older stuff and new stuff now…in no particular order

    1. I’ll leave this world Lovin You
    2. Tennessee Flat Top Box…Roseanne’s version before I knew it was a cover. Her version is still a million times better,
    3. Forever and Ever Amen
    4. I’m No Stranger to the Rain. I loved this song before Keith died, now its also eerily prophetic
    5. Roll on Eighteen Wheeler

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