Top 200 Country & Western Songs

 

Hank Williams #46 Country & Western Artist 1944-1988If you are a fan of Country music like I am, maybe you would like to know which country music songs were the most popular. With so many great artists over the years, which song was the most popular and who had the most #1 songs would be something I would like to know. This is where the top 200 Country & Western songs can help.

I was intrigued by this and decided to do some research to find out. I decided to cover the period from 1944 through 1988 for the most popular Country & Western songs for all-time. With more than thousands of songs being released, a decision had to be made on how to rank these songs. Was there a source that can be used to determine the best country music songs? Yes there was. It was Joel Whitburn’s “Top Country Singles 1944-1988” book. This will be our resource to determine the top 200 Country & Western songs for this era.

Background of Country Music

Here is some background of country music before it became a music format that Billboard would eventually chart. During the period of 1944-1988, the following occurred:

  • Over 15,000 record titles charted
  • Close to 1,900 artists have charted singles
  • There were 1,073 records that peaked at the #1 position
  • 49 artists have charted 50 or more singles on the country charts

The Judds #128 Country & Western Artist 1944-1988It all started in 1922, a radio station WSB in Atlanta was broadcasting a Barn Dance program, and local talent was heard on WBAP in Fort Worth. Also, at the same time, a radio station WLS in Chicago, began carrying the songs and storytelling of Bradley Kincaid, “The Original Authentic Folksong Singer.” Then, on April 19, 1924, the station began broadcasting the Chicago Barn Dance. This promoted such names as Gene Autry, Homer & Jethro, and Red Foley to a wide national audience.

Carried on the NBC network, the Barn Dance regularly achieved high Crossley ratings (an early forerunner of the Nielsen system), and those ratings were only taken in large cities. “Country” music had found a place in the urban centers.

After a year with the WLS program, George Hay moved to Nashville and started a rival Barn Dance show on WSM. At first strictly a local broadcast, the WSM Bran Dance usually followed a network program of grand opera and classics. The conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra declared: “While we do not believe there is a place in the classics for realism, this work so depicts the onrush of the locomotive that I have decided to include it in the program of grand opera.” From then on it was the The Grand Ole Opry, and it became the most popular and longest-lived of all the country shows.

Gene Autry Country & Western Artist #101 of Top 200During the twenties and thirties there were beginning substantial sales of records with this new format and could not be ignored. A search of backwoods for artists to put on their special “hillbilly” or “folk and western” record lines was in earnest. During the 30’s, the singing cowboy was rising and stars in the movies such as Tex Ritter, Roy rogers and Gene Autry added an additional ingredient to country music.

Billboard magazine began in earnest in 1944 to chart this popular music format. Beginning on January 8, 1944, they published their first chart of “folk” music and the rest is history.

Ranking Of The Songs

Now we have to establish how the songs will be ranked from 1-100. The ranking of the songs will be determined by the following criteria:

  • Highest peak position.
  • Total # of weeks at peak position.
  • Total weeks in the Top 10.
  • Total weeks in the Top 40.
  • Total weeks charted.

Interesting Facts

  • Every song on this list had to peak at #1, and stay at number 1 for a minimum of 3 weeks.
  • To make the top 10, each song had to spend 17 weeks at #1.
  • To make the top 40, each song had to spend 11 weeks at #1.
  • Three songs tied for spending the most weeks at #1 with 21.
  • The song “Bouquet Of Roses#6, by Eddy Arnold, was on the country charts for 54 weeks or over one full year. This is the only charted single to do this in history on the Country Charts.
  • The years of 1985 and 1986 tied for the most #1 singles with 51.
  • The year of 1960 had the fewest #1 songs with 4.
  • Eddy Arnold is the #1 artist for this period with 145 charted singles.

With this background and using our criteria above, we can safely compile a list of the most popular Country & Western songs for the years 1944-1988.

100 Greatest Country Songs AlbumThe listing will include the following: title, artist, year released and total weeks at #1 ().

So, let’s start and see which C&W songs were the most popular during this period.

1. I’m Moving On / Hank Snow 1950 (21)
2. I’ll Hold you In My Heart / Eddy Arnold 1947 (21)
3. In The Jailhouse Now / Webb Pierce 1955 (21)
4. Crazy Arms / Ray Price 1956 (20)
5. I Don’t Hurt Anymore / Hank Snow 1954 (20)
6. Bouquet Of Roses / Eddy Arnold 1948 (19)
7. Walk On By / Leroy Van Dyke 1961 (19)
8. Slowly / Webb Pierce 1954 (17)
9. Slipping Around / Margaret Whiting & Jimmy Wakely 1949 (17)
10. Heartbreak Hotel / Elvis Presley 1956 (17)
11. Lovesick Blues / Hank Williams 1949 (16)
12. Guitar Polka / Al Dexter 1946 (16)
13. Love’s Gonna Live Here / Buck Owens 1963 (16)
14. Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette) Tex Williams 1947 (16)
15. New Spanish Two Step / Bob Wills 1946 (16)
16. Slow Poke / Pee Wee King 1951 (15)
17. The Wild Side Of Life / Hank Thompson 1952 (15)
18. Please Help Me I’m Falling / Hank Lockin 1960 (14)
19. He’ll Have To Go / Jim Reeves 1960 (14)
20. Jambalaya (On The Bayou) / Hank Williams 1952 (14)
21. The Shot Gun Boogie / Tennessee Ernie Ford 1951 (14)
22. Divorce Me C.O.D / Merle Travis 1947 (14)
23. So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packet / Merle Travis 1944 (14)
24. So Long Pal / Al Dexter 1944 (13)
25. Love, Love, Love / Webb Pierce 1955 (13)
26. Singing The Blues / Marty Robbins 1956 (13)
27. Smoke On The Water / Red Foley 1944 (13)
28. City Lights / Ray Price 1958 (13)
29. Alone With You / Faron Young 1958 (13)
30. Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy / Red Foley 1950 (13)
31. Kaw-Liga / Hank Williams 1953 (13)
32. I Don’t Care / Webb Pierce 1955 (12)
33. Always Late (With Your Kisses) / Lefty Frizzell 1951 (12)
34. There Stands The Glass / Webb Pierce 1953 (12)
35. Alabam / Cowboy Copas 1960 (12)
36. Don’t Rob Another Man’s Castle / Eddy Arnold 1949 (12)
37. One Has My Name / Jimmy Wakely 1948 (11)
38. I Want To Be With You Always / Lefty Frizzell 1951 (11)
39. Wanna Play House With You / Eddy Arnold (11)
40. There’s Been A Change In Me / Eddy Arnold (11)
41. Don’t Let Me Cross Over / Carl Butler & Pearl 1962 (11)
42. You Two-Timed Me One Time Too Often / Tex Ritter 1945 (11)
43. Wings Of A Dove / Ferlin Husky 1960 (10)
44. More And More / Webb Pierce 1954 (10)
45. Why Don’t You Love Me / Hank Williams 1950 (10)
46. Gone / Ferlin Husky 1957 (10)
47. Ballad Of A Teenage Queen / Johnny Cash 1958 (10)
48. Sixteen Tons / Tennessee Ernie Ford 1955 (10)
49. The Battle Of New Orleans / Johnny Horton 1959 (10)
50. Don’t Worry / Marty Robbins 1961 (10)
51. The Three Bells / The Browns 1959 (10)
52. Anytime / Eddy Arnold 1948 (9)
53. Shame On You / Spade Cooley 1945 (9)
54. Mexican Joe / Jim Reeves 1953 (9)
55. Wolverton Mountain / Claude King 1962 (9)
56. Young Love / Sonny James 1957 (9)
57. Hello Walls / Faron Young 1961 (9)
58. Almost Persuaded / David Houston 1966 (9)
59. Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way / Carl Smith 1952 (8)
60. Just A Little Lovin’ / Eddy Arnold 1948 (8)
61. Rhumba Boogie / Hank Snow 1951 (8)
62. Oh Lonesome Me / Don Gibson 1958 (8)
63. I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know / The Davis Sisters 1953 (8)
64. Hey, Joe / Carl Smith 1953 (8)
65. Four Walls / Jim Reeves 1957 (8)
66. Hey, Good Lookin’ / Hank Williams 1951 (8)
67. Don’t Just Stand There / Carl Smith 1952 (8)
68. It’s Been So Long / Webb Pierce 1953 (8)
69. At Mail Call Today / Gene Autry 1945 (8)
70. Once A Day / Connie Smith 1964 (8)
71. Devil Woman / Marty Robbins 1962 (8)
72. Guess Things Happen That Way / Johnny Cash 1958 (8)
73. Wake Up Little Susie / The Everly Brothers 1957 (8)
74. Long Gone Lonesome Blues / Hank Williams 1950 (8)
75. Tender Years / George Jones 1961 (7)
76. Loose Talk / Carl Smith 1955 (7)
77. Don’t Be Cruel / Elvis Presley 1956 (7)
78. I’m Losing My Mind Over You / Al Dexter 1946 (7)
79. My Heart Skips A Beat / Buck Owens 1964 (7)
80. Mama Sang A Song / Bill Anderson 1962 (7)
81. Bye Bye Love / The Everly Brothers 1957 (7)
82. El Paso / Marty Robbins / 1959 (7)
83. Still / Bill Anderson 1963 (7)
84. Ring Of Fire / Johnny Cash 1963 (7)
85. I Guess I’m Crazy / Jim Reeves 1964 (7)
86. There Goes My Everything / Jack Greene 1966 (7)
87. Waitin’ In Your Welfare Line / Buck Owens 1966 (7)
88. I Walk The Line / Johnny Cash 1956 (6)
89. I’m Wasting My Tears On You / Tex Ritter 1944 (6)
90. She Thinks I Still Care / George Jones 1962 (6)
91. Oklahoma Hills / Jack Guthrie 1945 (6)
92. I Don’t Care / Buck Owens 1964 (6)
93. Your Cheatin’ Heart / Hank Williams 1953 (6)
94. A Dear John Letter / Jean Shepard & Ferlin Husky 1953 (6)
95. Understand Your Man / Johnny Cash 1964 (6)
96. Dang Me / Roger Miller 1964 (6)
97. Straighten Up And Fly Right / The King Cole Trio 1944 (6)
98. Giddyup Go / Red Sovine 1966 (6)
99. Don’t Take Your Guns To Town / Johnny Cash 1959 (6)
100. Before You Go / Buck Owens 1965 (6)
101. Straighten Up And Fly Right / The King Cole Trio 1944 (6)
102. Think Of Me / Buck Owens 1966 (6)
103. My Hang-Up Is You / Freddie Hart 1972 (6)
104. I Want To Go With You / Eddy Arnold 1966 (6)
105. Daddy Sang Bass / Johnny Cash 1969 (6)
106. Luckenbach,Texas / Waylon Jennings 1977 (6)
107. Bird Dog / The Everly Brothers 1958 (6)
108. Convoy / C.W. McCall 1975 (6)
109. It’s A Sin / Eddy Arnold 1947 (5)
110. I Forgot To Remember To Forget / Elvis Presley 1955 (5)
111. I Love You So Much It Hurts / Jimmy Wakely 1949 (5)
112. There You Go / Johnny Cash 1957 (5)
113. White Lightning / George Jones 1959 (5)
114. Billy Bayou / Jim Reeves 1959 (5)
115. A White Sport Coat / Marty Robbins 1957 (5)
116. North To Alaska / Johnny Horton 1961 (5)
117. She’s Got You / Patsy Cline 1962 (5)
118. Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’ / Charley Pride 1971 (5)
119. All The Time / Jack Greene 1967 (5)
120. Waterloo / Stonewall Jackson 1959 (5)
121. Wine, Women And Song / Al Dexter 1946 (5)
122. King Of The Road / Roger Miller 1965 (5)
123. I’ve Got A Tiger By The Tail / Buck Owens 1965 (5)
124. Rose Garden / Lynn Anderson 1970 (5)
125. Skip A Rope / Henson Cargill 1968 (5)
126. Pistol Packin’ Mama / Bing Crosby & Andrews Sisters 1944 (5)
127. Here You Come Again / Dolly Parton 1977 (5)
128. It’s The Little Things / Sonny James 1967 (5)
129. When You’re Hot, You’re Hot / Jerry Reed 1971 (5)
130. Is You Is Or Is You Aint / Louis Jordan 1944 (5)
131. A Boy Named Sue / Johnny Cash 1969 (5)
132. Fraulein / Bobby Helms 1957 (4)
133. I’ll Sail My Ship Alone / Moon Mullican 1950 (4)
134. A Satisfied Mind / Porter Wagoner 1955 (4)
135. My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You / Ray Price 1957 (4)
136. Soldier’s Last Letter / Ernest Tubb 1944 (4)
137. Wondering / Webb Pierce 1952 (4)
138. Country Girl / Faron Young 1959 (4)
139. Why Baby Why / Red Sovine & Webb Pierce 1956 (4)
140. My Special Angel / Bobby Helms 1957 (4)
141. No Help Wanted / The Carlisles 1953 (4)
142. Sioux City Sue / Dick Thomas 1945 (4)
143. I’m Throwing Rice / Eddy Arnold 1949 (4)
144. Act Naturally / Buck Owens 1963 (4)
145. Abilene / George Hamilton IV 1963 (4)
146. A Story Of My Life / Marty Robbins 1958 (4)
147. A Full Time Job / Eddy Arnold 1952 (4)
148. Birmingham Bounce / Red Foley 1950 (4)
149. With Tears In My Eyes / Wesley Tuttle 1945 (4)
150. It’s Been So Long, Darling / Earnest Tubb 1945 (4)
151. Take These Chains From My Heart / Hank Williams 1953 (4)
152. Hello Darlin’ / Conway Twitty 1970 (4)
153. Baby, Baby / David Houston 1970 (4)
154. Empty Arms / Sonny James 1971 (4)
155. I’m Just Me / Charley Pride 1971 (4)
156. Don’t Keep Me Hangin’ On / Sonny James 1970 (4)
157. Mule Train / “Tennessee” Ernie Ford 1949 (4)
158. Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue / Crystal Gayle 1977 (4)
159. Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys / Waylon Jennings 1978 (4)
160. If We Make It Through December / Merle Haggard 1973 (4)
161. Heaven’s Just A Sin Away / The Kendalls 1977 (4)
162. It’s Just A Matter Of Time / Sonny James 1970 (4)
163. I Love You A Thousand Ways / Lefty Frizzell 1951 (3)
164. Let Me Be The One / Hank Locklin 1953 (3)
165. Texarkana Baby / Eddy Arnold 1948 (3)
166. If You’ve Got The Money I’ve Got The Time / Lefty Frizzell 1950 (3)
167. Blue Suede Shoes / Carl Perkins 1956 (3)
168. Give Me More, More, More (Of Your Kisses) / Lefty Frizzell 1952 (3)
169. Bimbo / Jim Reeves 1954 (3)
170. That Heart Belongs To Me / Webb Pierce 1952 (3)
171. Rub-A-Dub-Dub / Hank Thompson 1953 (3)
172. Candy Kisses / George Morgan 1949 (3)
173. Why Don’t You Haul Off And Love Me / Wayne Raney 1949 (3)
174. Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes / Skeets McDonald 1952 (3)
175. Hound Dog / Elvis Presley 1956 (3)
176. Kentucky Waltz / Eddy Arnold 1951 (3)
177. Forever, And Ever, Amen / Randy Travis 1987 (3)
178. One Kiss Too Many / Eddy Arnold 1949 (3)
179. Goodnight, Irene / Earnest Tubb & Red Foley 1950 (3)
180. Silver Dew On The Blue Grass Tonight / Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys 1945 (3)
181. Easy Loving / Freddie Hart 1971 (3)
182. All I Have To Do Is Dream / The Everly Brothers 1958 (3)
183. Ration Blues / Louis Jordan 1945 (3)
184. Eddy’s Song / Eddy Arnold 1953 (3)
185. Help Me Make It Through The Night / Shammi Smith 1971 (3)
186. I Won’t Mention It Again / Ray Price 1971 (3)
187. The Happiest Girl In The Whole U.S.A. / Donna Fargo 1972 (3)
188. You’ve Never Been This Far Before / Conway Twitty 1973 (3)
189. Carolyn / Merle Haggard 1972 (3)
190. Coward Of The County / Kenny Rogers 1980 (3)
191. My Heart / Ronnie Milsap 1980 (3)
192. Lookin’ For Love / Johnny Lee 1980 (3)
193. Pistol Packin’ Mama / Al Dexter 1944 (3)
194. Endlessly / Sonny James 1970 (3)
195. It’s Gonna Take A Little Bit Longer / Charley Pride 1972 (3)
196. He Loves Me All The Way / Tammy Wynette 1970 (3)
197. Chantilly Lace / Jerry Lee Lewis 1972 (3)
198. The Fightin’ Side Of Me / Merle Haggard 1970 (3)
199. My Love / Sonny James 1970 (3)
200. I Let The Stars Get In My Eyes / Goldie Hill 1953 (3)

Excerpts for this article were taken from my published article in Squidoo.com/top100cwhits.

Go back to the Top 100 Songs of all time home page.

Back to Top

 Posted by at 11:09 pm