Daily Top Five: Songs with Social Commentary

Radney Foster Everything I Should Have SaidThe last few weeks have been full of discussions, debates and even steps and leaps toward major social changes. Songs that most easily hit my sweet spot are songs with thoughtful social commentary. Happily, even with its stereotypes of drinking, cheating and, now, tailgating, country music has not been shy about commenting on social issues.

Here are five of my favorite songs with social commentary. What are some of yours?

  1. Radney Foster, “Not in My House”
  2. Waylon Jennings, “America”
  3. Gail Davies, “Unwed Fathers”
  4. Peter Cooper, “715 (For Hank Aaron)”
  5. Dolly Parton, “Just Because I’m a Woman”


  1. 1. Jennifer Nettles w Brandy Clark – “His Hands”
    2. Gretchen Peters – “When All You Got Is a Hammer”
    3. Joe Bachman – “A Soldier’s Memoir”
    4. Will Hoge – “Ballad of Trayvon Martin”
    5. Georgia Middleman – “Now That You’ve Met Molly”

  2. 1. Dixie Chicks, “I Hope (Katrina Charity Version)”
    2. Reba McEntire, “What If”
    3. Garth Brooks, “We Shall Be Free”
    4. Shania Twain, “God Bless The Child (video version)”
    5. Joe Diffie, “Ships That Don’t Come In”

  3. I’m probably going well “off the reservation”, so to speak, with the first two, but still….

    1. BLOWING IN THE WIND–Peter, Paul, and Mary
    2. MASTERS OF WAR–Judy Collins
    3. WHAT IS TRUTH?–Johnny Cash
    5. WE SHALL BE FREE–Garth Brooks

  4. Skip A Rope by Henson Cargill
    Do You Believe This Town by Roy Clark
    Welfare Cadillac by Guy Drake
    Ships That Don’t Come in by Joe Diffie
    Harper Valley PTA by Jeannie C Riley

  5. Jesus Came To Tennesee-Will Hoge
    People’s Parties-JonI Mitchell
    Cost Of Living-Ronnie Dunn
    Subterranean Homesick Blues-Bob Dylan
    Washed By The Water-Will Hoge

  6. You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive – Darrell Scott

    Follow Your Arrow – Kacey Musgraves, Shane McAnally, Brandy Clark

    The Ballad of Ira Hayes – Johnny Cash

    Black Waters – Kathy Mattea

    Country Music I’m Talkin’ to You – Ben Bullington

  7. 1. Fancy -Reba
    2. Yvette -Jason Isbell
    3. Have You Forgotten? -Darryl Worley
    4. Simple Man -Charlie Daniels
    5. Quarterback -Kira Isabella

  8. Have You Forgotten? -Darryl Worley
    The Ballad of Ira Hayes – Johnny Cash
    If Nobody Believed in You- Joe Nichols
    Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue (The Angry American) -Toby Keith
    I Saw The Light- Hank Williams
    Okie From Muskogee- Merle Haggard
    Simple Man- Charlie Daniels
    We Must Take America Back- Steve Vaus

  9. 1. “Seminole Wind” – John Anderson
    2. “I Think About You” – Collin Raye
    3. “Worlds Apart” – Vince Gill
    4. “Still in Saigon” – Charlie Daniels
    5. “Little Man” – Alan Jackson

    Honorable Mention: “They Rage On” – Dan Seals
    (On the song’s own merits, I’m not sure if it would be an obvious “social commentary”…but the music video is a fairly powerful depiction of racism towards an interracial couple, which had to break a few barriers back in 1989. And the song, written by Seals and Bob Mcdill, is beautiful.)

  10. I’m now distracted by listening to Dan Seals songs.

    There are worse things to be distracted by. ;) “Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold)” is one of the greatest songs of all time. It was written by the same team that penned “They Rage On.”

  11. “Big Wheels in the Moonlight” is amazing as the Interstate itself. The song can be my autobiography except I haven’t reached middle age yet.

  12. 1. “God bless the Child”
    2. “Concrete Angel”
    3. “Where Were you When the World Stopped Turning”
    4. “We shall be Free”
    5. “Alyssa Lies”–I know this song isnt quite social commentary, but it is in first person (making it slightly more real than Concrete Angel), from an incredibly unique viewpoint, and I dont mention that Alyssa died “Because there’s nothin’ that anyone would do”

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