Music

25 Most-Covered Country Songs of All Time

Music historians believe the country music genre originated in the 1910s with Southern Appalachian fiddlers; however, it wasn’t until the following decade that artists started pressing commercial recordings.

Top 25 Country Songs With the Most Covers

Stacker looked at data on all songs with recorded covers from Second Hand Songs and ranked the top 25 songs that we categorized as being in the country genre. The ranking is based on the number of covers as of Nov. 3, 2023.

Fiddle player Eck Robertson is credited as the first person to record country music for commercial release in 1922 when he cut the songs “Sallie Gooden” and “Arkansaw Traveler” to vinyl. But Fiddlin’ John Carson is considered the first person to release a country hit when he put out “Little Log Cabin in the Lane” in 1923. These country songs idealized the so-called good ol’ days at a time when the country was rapidly urbanizing.

Pioneering Moments in County Music

But that isn’t the whole story of country’s beginnings. As Ken Burns’ 16-hour documentary series Country Music (and many other scholars and artists) have also revealed, country music’s origins owe much to Black artists intermingling with immigrant cultures on American soil.

The influence of African Americans is most evident with the banjo, an integral country music instrument that figured heavily in Southern life and music created by the enslaved. The acts of minstrel and blackface appropriated the banjo, informing the rise of “hillbilly music” — later called “country music.”

Country music’s early days were surprisingly diverse. Despite deep segregation, recording sessions in the 1920s and ’30s often featured collaborations between white and Black musicians, such as Jimmie Rodgers, the “Father of Country Music,” and jazz legend Louis Armstrong performing “Blue Yodel Number 9.” Then, there was DeFord Bailey, a harmonica player who performed at Grand Ole Opry. He would become the genre’s first Black country star.

In the century since Carson made those first recordings, country music has evolved from fiddlers and bluegrass bands to cowboys (i.e., Hank Williams), crossover icons (i.e., Dolly Parton), and even outlaws (i.e., Johnny Cash). Country has also become a Top 40 genre, with 1990s stars like Shania Twain and Garth Brooks ruling the radio. Crossover sensations like Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, and Lil Nas X have blurred the lines between country and other genres even more.

Many of the songs on this list were originally written or recorded by classic artists like Williams, Parton, Cash, Patsy Cline, and even Fiddlin’ John Carson, and they prove just how timeless — and versatile — the genre can be.

LOOK: 25 Most Covered Country Songs of all Time

Stacker looked at data on recorded covers from Second Hand Songs and ranked the top 25 songs that fit in the country genre.

Gallery Credit: Stacker

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