We've seen it over and over on Facebook profiles. Music: “I like just about anything…except COUNTRY, of course!” As if admitting to liking mainstream country music (because, sure, everyone likes Johnny Cash) is like admitting to having a Beanie Babies collection. It's shameful, and would ruin every ounce of street cred you have. Well, that's bullshit. What's so wrong with country? Though it tends to be shunned in urban areas, it's extremely popular across the nation,and hasn't experienced the decline in sales suffered by both rock and rap.
Country music tells a story, can be quite soulful, is often very funny, and can be exactly what you need on a long drive or in a dark bar with a pitcher of beer. Below we've listed the top 10 picks for country songs that may ease you into the scene, even if you've thought it wasn't for you. Don't worry, you won't have to stop bumping Jay-Z. No one's taking away your Radiohead. You can still rock out to Slayer whenever you want. You may just find, however, that a little Alan Jackson on you iPod is a good time. And isn't that the best thing about music? You really can have it all.
10) It Ain't Me, Babe – Johnny Cash and June Carter
This is your country music gateway drug, mostly because it's actually a Bob Dylan song, but we love the twang Johnny and June weave into it.
9) Fishin' in the Dark – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Right away the name just hooks you. (No pun intended.) Try this one next time you're headed out on a weekend camping trip.
8) I'm Gonna Miss Her – Brad Paisley
You'll find there's no shortage of fishing references in country music, and in this song, Brad Paisley (kind of the lyrical punchline) explains why sometimes it trumps your marriage.
7) You Never Even Call Me By My Name – David Allan Coe
This tune tells us explicitly what makes a good country song (that is, any mention of mama, trucks, trains, prison or getting drunk) and tips its hat to some of the country greats: Waylon Jennings, Charlie Pride, Merle Haggard and Steve Goodman.
6) 9 to 5 – Dolly Parton
Ambitious beyond its years, we put this one right up with “You Don't Own Me” and “I Am Woman.” Get that money, Dolly. (You too, Minnie.)
5) Beer for My Horses – Toby Keith ft. Willie Nelson
Toby Keith can be tough to swallow. He turns a lot of people off by putting boots in asses courtesy of the red, white and blue, but here he's singing with Willie Nelson, who we hope is chilling him out a bit. (He does sing about smoking weed with him, for what that's worth.) This song may be a bit off-putting as well if you're not a fan of going all Dexter Morgan on local criminals, but this has to be tongue-in-cheek. It's called “Beer for My Horses,” for goodness sake. How serious can they be, right?
4) Drive (For Daddy Gene) – Alan Jackson
We had to slip in at least one sentimental song (which a great deal of country music is) into the mix, and this is one of the sweetest and most universally relatable country tunes out there.
3) You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma – David Frizzell & Shelly West*
The Santa Monica freeway sometimes DOES make a country girl blue. Also, much like a 5-year-old acting out a song, this video is pretty much the equivalent to visual “motions,” and is f'ing hilarious.
2) John Deere Green – Joe Diffie
Boy meets girl. Boy loves girl. Boy decides to tell girl he loves her by painting a 10-foot heart on a water tower in John Deere green-colored paint. If you're not sold on country by now, you may be a lost cause. Enjoy the tractor gallery.
and the number one country music song to change your mind is…
1) It's A Great Day to Be Alive – Travis Tritt
Epitomizing the ease and simplicity that is country music, Travis Tritt reminds us to be thankful for every day. Plus it's another awesome visual motions video.
Anything we missed? Have we roped you in or pushed you further away? Let us know below.