Country music is known for celebrating two things: real life and love. From classic heartwarming ballads by Conway Twitty, George Jones and Loretta Lynn (Read about her biopic here), to current hits such as Jordan Davis’ upbeat “What My World Spins Around” and Lainey Wilson’s tender “Watermelon Moonshine,” country love songs can make you slow dance or boot scoot.
Here, we take a look at 20 of the best to ever grace country radio airwaves, dance halls and stadiums around the world.
1. “Hello Darlin'” by Conway Twitty (1970)
Known as “The High Priest of Country Music,” this tender ballad was one of Twitty’s signature country love songs and women at concerts would scream when he’d say the opening line. A member of both the Country Music and Rockabilly Music Halls of Fame, “Hello Darlin’” became Twitty’s fourth No. 1 hit. Written by Twitty himself, it spent four weeks at the top of Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart and was named the No. 1 Country song of 1970. Throughout his career, Twitty notched 40 chart-topping hits. He died in 1993 from an abdominal aortic aneurysm following a show in Branson, Missouri. He was only 59.
2. “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'” by Charley Pride (1971)
Few artists left a more indelible impression on country music than Charley Pride. In the early to mid 70s, he was RCA Records’ best-selling artist, with the exception of Elvis Presley. Written by Ben Peters, “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’” was the first single from his album Charley Pride Sings Heart Songs. It became his eighth No. 1 hit and became his only song to reach Top 40 on the pop charts, peaking at No. 21.
3. “Love Is the Foundation” by Loretta Lynn (1973)
Though Loretta was well known for such feisty songs as “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” “Fist City” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” the legendary Coal Miners Daughter could also deliver beautiful country love songs with passion and conviction. Though this song was written by William Cody Hall, Loretta recorded it and made it her own. The song became her seventh No. 1 single and stayed at the top of the chart for two weeks. Check out this sweet video where a very young Faith Hill and Brenda Lee look on as Loretta sings the song to her beloved husband Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn and they both get tears in their eyes.
4. “I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton (1974)
Though this song became a Grammy winning hit for Whitney Houston after being featured in her 1992 film The Bodyguard, Dolly wrote the song and had scored a No. 1 country hit with it nearly 20 years earlier and to this day, it’s one of the greatest country love songs out there. Dolly wrote the song to express her feelings as she cut ties with her mentor and duet partner Porter Wagoner to purse a solo career. The song hit the top of the charts twice for Dolly — first as a single in 1974, and also in 1982 when it was revived on the soundtrack of the Parton/Burt Reynolds film, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. It remains one of her best-loved hits and has been recorded over the years by numerous other artists, including Sarah Washington and Kristin Chenoweth.
5. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones (1980)
Widely considered the greatest country song every recorded, this mournful ballad was written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putnam. It tells the story of a man who loved a woman till the day he died. Jones wrings every ounce of emotion out of this tearjerker and when it topped the chart in 1980, it revived his career, becoming his first No. 1 in six years and earning him a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance, as well as the Academy of Country Music’s Single and Song of the Year in 1980 and the Country Music Association’s Song of the Year in both 1980 and 1981. Alan Jackson performed the song at Jones’ funeral on May 2, 2013.
6. “When I’m Away From You” by The Bellamy Brothers (1983)
Though well-known for such playful hits as “If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body (Would You Hold It Against Me),” “Redneck Girl” and “I’d Lie to You for Your Love,” Howard and David Bellamy also know how to serve up a sweet tune when it came to country love songs. First recorded by Kim Carnes on her 1981 album Mistaken Identity, the Bellamys recorded “When I’m Away from You” for their album Strong Weakness, and it became their seventh No. 1 country hit. It remains one of the highlights of the duo’s live shows.
7. “When You Say Nothing at All” by Keith Whitley (1988)
This song has been a hit for four different artists, including Irish artists Frances Black and Ronan Keating and Alison Krauss, who had her first solo hit with the song in 1995. However, Whitley was the first to score a hit with the beautiful ballad when he took it to No. 1 in 1988. Written by legendary Nashville songwriters Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz, the song topped the chart for two weeks. Sadly, Whitley’s career was cut short when he died at 34 from alcohol poisoning in 1989, but his legacy lives on and he continues to influence new country performers.
8. “Forever and Ever, Amen” by Randy Travis (1987)
This enduring hit was written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz and recorded by Randy on his Always & Forever album. The inspiration came from Schlitz’s young son who would say his nightly prayers and then tell his mom he would love her “forever and ever, amen.” The song became Randy’s third No. 1 country single and remained at the top of the chart for three weeks. It won a Grammy for Best Country Song and also earned Song of the Year honors from both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.
9. “If Tomorrow Never Comes” by Garth Brooks (1989)
This well-crafted song was written by Garth and Kent Blazy and launched Garth’s career. The Oklahoma born superstar recorded the emotional ballad on his self-titled debut album. It was released as the second single and became Garth’s first No. 1 hit.
In the liner notes from The Hits, Garth says this about the song: “‘If Tomorrow Never Comes’ will probably always be my signature song. I ran the idea for this song by what seemed like a thousand writers, and no one really seemed to understand what I was looking for. On the day that Bob Doyle, my co-manager, introduced me to Kent Blazy, I passed this idea by Kent and he had the first verse down within fifteen seconds. I could tell he just felt it. Kent Blazy is a wonderful man, full of love and energy, and if we never write again, I hope that we are always friends first.”
10. “Love, Me (If You Get There Before I Do)” by Collin Raye (1991)
Written by Skip Ewing and Max T. Barnes, this emotional ballad finds a grandfather sharing a note with his 15-year-old grandson he’d written when he and the boy’s grandma had planned to run away because her father didn’t like him. The chorus reveals the note: “If you get there before I do, don’t give up on me. I’ll be there when my chores are through. I don’t know how long I’ll be, but I’m not gonna let you down. Darling, wait and see. And between now and then, ’till I see you again, I’ll be loving you. Love, me.”
In the second verse, the boy tells of seeing his grandfather cry for the first time as they gathered in a church to pray for his grandmother before she passed away. It’s a beautiful story of love and devotion and Collin’s poignant performance earned him his first No. 1 record and a CMA Song of the Year nomination. The song has become a popular choice at funerals over the years.
11. “Two Sparrows in a Hurricane” by Tanya Tucker (1992)
Written by Mark Alan Springer, this beautiful song chronicles a couple’s love story from their early days to their final years and celebrates their enduring love and resilience by comparing them to two sparrows in a hurricane. It was the first single released from Tanya’s album Can’t Run From Yourself and it peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. In the video, the last verse features Mae Boren Axton, a legendary Nashville songwriter, who co-wrote Elvis Presley’s hit “Heartbreak Hotel.” Tanya dedicated the video to her parents, Beau and Juanita, who celebrated 50 years of marriage the year she released the video.
12. “Amazed” by Lonestar (1999)
This power ballad recorded by the band Lonestar topped the chart for eight weeks, becoming one of the biggest hits of 1999. The song was written by Marv Green, Aimee Mayo and Chris Lindsey. At the time, Aimee and Chris had just begun dating and their feelings inspired the sweet love song. “Amazed” also became a crossover hit for Lonestar, hitting No. 2 on the Adult Contemporary chart. It remains a fan favorite during the band’s live shows.
13. “Breathe” by Faith Hill (1999)
Buoyed by a sexy video, this song became Faith’s seventh No. 1 hit on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. Recorded as the title track of her fourth studio album, “Breathe” spent six weeks at the top of the country chart and also became a huge crossover hit for Faith. Despite the fact that it only peaked at No. 2 on the all genre Hot 100 chart, the song finished as the No. 1 song of the year in 2000.
14. “Remember When” by Alan Jackson (2003)
In this beautiful love song, Alan recalls the early days of his relationship with his wife Denise and chronicles their love affair as they raise their three daughters and look forward to growing old together and reminiscing about all their memories. The song spent two weeks at No. 1 and remains one of Alan’s most enduring hits. The sweet video features him dancing with Denise.
15. “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts (2004)
For everyone who has ever suffered through heartache and failed relationships and then finally found the right one, this song is your anthem. Written by Marcus Hummon, Bobby Boyd and Jeff Hanna, the song was originally recorded by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1994 and by Hummon in 1995 before Rascal Flatts’ members Gary LeVox, Joe Don Rooney and Jay DeMarcus recorded the song and took it to the No. 1 spot for five weeks in 2004. It won the Grammy for Best Country Song and also became a crossover hit with successful showings on the Hot 100 and the Adult Contemporary charts. One of the most heartfelt country love songs out there, this song will leave you thankful for that special someone in your life.
16. “Waitin’ on a Woman” by Brad Paisley (2008)
Great relationships inspire great country love songs, and Brad Paisley’s 20-year marriage to actress Kimberly Williams Paisley has fueled many incredible songs, including “Little Moments,” “She’s Everything,” “Then,” “Shattered Glass” and “Perfect Storm.” But one of the sweetest and most relatable is surprisingly one he didn’t write himself. “Waitin’ on a Woman” was penned by hit Nashville songwriters Wynn Varble and Don Sampson. The video stars Paisley with the late Andy Williams sitting on a bench where Andy is sharing tales of all the times his love has keep him waiting over the years as he smiles and says, “I don’t mind waitin’ on a woman.” This song became Brad’s 12th No. 1 hit and the video won the Country Music Association’s Video of the Year honor in 2008.
17. “The Fighter” by Keith Urban ft. Carrie Underwood (2017)
Many country love songs are slow, sweet ballads, but this Keith Urban hit is a vibrant, up-tempo song with an infectious beat and great lyrics. Released as the fifth and final single from Keith’s album Ripcord, Keith co-wrote the song with busbee, who died in 2019. Keith said to The Boot, “I was actually driving to the studio to work on this other song we started, and I had most of the chorus in my head, and it felt like I had most of the song in my head — the verses just had to flesh out. I walked into the studio and played the chord progression, and he built this track really quickly, and then I could sing over the top of it…It was just a very quick, quick song to write, because I literally thought about Nic [his wife Nicole Kidman] and I and our relationship in the beginning, and some of the things we had said all went into that song.” “The Fighter” won the Academy of Country Music’s Vocal Event of the Year honor in 2018 for Keith and Carrie.
18. “Forever After All” by Luke Combs (2020)
Luke’s wife Nicole has inspired some of his biggest hits, including “Beautiful Crazy,” “Better Together” and this soaring ballad. “You could write a generic love song, and not to say it couldn’t be done, but my wife’s impact on my life has weighed heavily on the outcome of these songs,” he told The Tennessean. “Forever After All,” which Luke co-wrote with Rob Williford and Drew Parker, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and at No. 2 on the all genre Hot 100. Luke and Nicole married August 1, 2020 and welcomed their second son on August 15, 2023.
19. “What My World Spins Around” by Jordan Davis (2022)
Shreveport, Louisiana native Jordan Davis has built a successful career singing songs about what he values most — faith and family. His chart-topping hit “Buy Dirt” was named CMA Song of the Year in 2022 and he’s since notched two more No. 1’s: “What My World Spins Around” and “Next Thing You Know.” Inspired by his wife Kristen, Jordan co-wrote “What My World Spins Around” with Ryan Hurd and Matt Dragstrem. The upbeat tune celebrates love and marital bliss and became one of the biggest hits on country radio in the past few years. Davis is a pro when it comes to country love songs!
20. “Watermelon Moonshine” by Lainey Wilson (2023)
After more than a decade of paying her dues, Lainey Wilson has become one of country music’s most recent success stories, scoring No. 1 hits and earning numerous accolades, including the Country Music Association’s New Artist and Female Vocalist of the Year in 2022. Currently climbing the charts, “Watermelon Moonshine” is Lainey’s latest hit. Written by Lainey, Josh Kear and Jordan Schmidt, the song is a sweet look at young love and all the tender emotions that go with it. Lainey said in her single announcement, “This song embodies what country music means to me, creating a timeless story that will resonate with people for generations to come. This song is about the crazy, young, nostalgic love we all hope to experience.”
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