Great Country Music Like Songs by Non-Country Artists
Country has always been cool
In the 1970’s during my teen age years it wasn’t cool to like country music, but secretly I did. There was always some music playing in our house. My Mom liked Conway Twitty, Charlie Rich and so many others, my Dad liked Johnny Cash, and Merle Haggard. I must admit they have had some great songs. I secretly enjoyed the duets between Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn. I also liked Freddie Fender’s Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.
I found a loop hole when I discovered that non-country artists threw a country song out every now and then too. I could be cool and satisfy my country leanings. Here is a list of some of the great country songs by non-country artists.
“Looking Out My Back Door” by Credence Clearwater Revival. This is the first song I remember hearing by a group that had that country feel and it wasn’t by a country group. It was first released on July 25, 1970. This toe tapper about a guy seeing all these weird things while looking out his back door is cute and catchy. People thought the weird lyrics meant some kind of drug references, but it was actually written by John Fogerty for his then three year old son. Credence had other tunes that could be called country, but this is one of the best ones.
“Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. This song was released in 1974 and was written because the lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd didn’t like two songs Neil Young had written about the south. The great guitar riffs along with a bouncing piano accompaniment make for an unforgettable song.
“Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” by Peter, Paul and Mary. This song was released in 1963. It was a song written by Bob Dylan, but Peter, Paul and Mary made it their own. The beautiful guitar picking with the angelic harmonies makes this a song that will be around forever.
“Octopus’ Garden” by The Beatles. This song was released in 1969 for the Abbey Road album. This was only the second song written by Ringo Starr and what a great job he did with it. A song about forgetting all your troubles and living underwater with no cares in the world. The bubbles playing through the song are playful and the backup vocals by Paul and George push this song into greatness. The bubble sounds were created by blowing through a straw in a glass of milk. A really fun song that makes you feel carefree. The Beatles had experimented with country sounds to their songs before with songs like “Honey Don’t”, “Act Naturally” and “Rocky Raccoon”, but Octopus’ Garden tops them all.
“Take it Easy” by The Eagles . This song was released in 1972 this song starts with the acoustic guitar, the electric guitar joins in, and then it goes into kickin’ country with “I am a runnin’ down the road trying to loosen my load I’ve got seven women on my mind.” By the middle of the song you have great harmonies as well as some fancy banjo picking. This song will make you want to sing along.
“I Fought the Law” by The Bobby Fuller Four. This song was released in 1966. The song starts out with a rollicking guitar and then the drum cymbals join in. The song never lets up and this song covers the sometimes country theme of jail. A guy is lamenting that his life of crime created a showdown with the law and the law won. Now he realizes he has lost his baby and it will be awhile before things become right again.
“Teach Your Children Well” by Crosby Stills Nash and Young. This song was released in 1970 sounds about as country as you can get beginning with a steel pedal sound beginning the song and carrying throughout. Great harmonies and a great message make for a wonderful country feeling song.
“Free Fallin” by Tom Petty. This song was released in 1989 this song is half country and half folk sounding. It has a Byrds influence, but it fits so well with country music especially the country music being made today. The guy in the song has broken up with his girlfriend he claims it doesn’t matter to him, but inside his emotions are telling a different story. It has great guitar work with a haunting lyric of “Free Fallin” unforgettable.
“Fire on the Mountain” by The Marshall Tucker Band. This song was released in 1975 and it starts off as country as it can be with the steel guitar. The vocals have that southern sound and the song of a prospector searching for gold and the gloomy consequences make this qualify as a country song even with a flute in the mix.
“Cover of the Rolling Stone” by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. This song was released in 1973 and you would think this group was pure country with their vocals and the country picking guitar. It is a fun song about a group trying to get their picture on cover of The Rolling Stone magazine. It sounds like a song that could have been written and performed by Ray Stevens or Roger Miller.
“Lay Lady Lay” by Bob Dylan. This song was released in 1969 the guitar with the steel guitar joining in create a mellow mood with a song of love. The melody floats across this song whether love remains is the question, but this song, which has been covered by many artists, will be around for future generations.
“Sweet Baby James” by James Taylor. This song was released in 1970 it has the steel guitar, guitar, piano and drums. The song is a lullaby written by James to his nephew who was named after him. It is a song as sweet as the words in the title. The song has a nice country feel to it.
“Maggie May” by Rod Stewart . This song was released in 1971 it is a song with bare bones sound. You hear a steady drum beat, with organ chords and a bass thumping. The song about a young man involved with an older woman keeps the listener’s interest and the mandolin at the end of the song clinches it as a potential country song. It is a song that remains ageless.
“Landslide” by Stevie Nicks. This song was released in 1975 while Stevie Nicks was still in the group Fleetwood Mac. This song is bare bones the singer is at a cross roads wondering what to do with her life. The song has great guitar picking, the electric guitar sounds almost like a steel guitar. It is a wonderful song.
"Ramblin Man" by The Allman Brothers this song was released in 1973. I remember I had a 45 of this record and I played it many, many times. It is a Southern Rock song that grooves out of the gate. It starts out with guitars and a tinkling piano and the instruments sound like the lyric when they mention a bus rolling down Hwy. 41. This song rolls and never lets up. The only thing I didn't like was the extended guitar solo at the end of the song. I thought my stereo needle was stuck at first. Great song that stills sounds good today.
Now country music has reached a great level of popularity with the public. I am glad I discovered those songs that delved into the country genre back in those teenage years. Great music knows no boundaries; a great song is a great song no matter how it is styled. These songs will always be special whether they are classified rock, country, or folk. I am glad I realized that it is cool when you know a good song when you hear it.