The 1980s were a great time for country music. Many classic songs were released during that decade, and many of them still hold up today. These tunes might bring back memories for anyone who grew up in the 80s. The following are the 51 best 80s country songs you may consider checking out:
1. “I Will Always Love You” – Dolly Parton
Despite this track being released originally in 1974, it was re-released in the 80s and was so iconic that it made waves on the charts again!
Dolly Parton’s iconic song remained on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart for six consecutive weeks. It was later named Song of the Year by the Country Music Association. Dozens of artists have covered this song over the years, and it never fails to touch people’s hearts.
2. “Think it Over” – Steve Earle
The song is about a man struggling with his decision to leave his family, and Earle perfectly captures the conflicting emotions that come with such a predicament. Whether you’re a fan of country music, this track might be worth listening to, especially when you have tough decisions.
3. “Highwayman” – The Highwaymen
The song “Highwayman” was the band’s first number one hit and is still considered one of the best 80s country songs ever written. The lyrics are powerful and tell the story of four men who meet up in the afterlife and reflect on their lives. This song may spice your moods and might get your feet tapping.
4. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” – George Jones
After the song was released, it became one of Jones’s most popular songs. The lyrics are poignant and heart-wrenching, and the melody is moving and memorable. Jones’s powerful vocals make the song even more stirring. The song is a masterpiece that will never lose its appeal, especially for those struggling with love.
5. “Meet Me in Montana” – Dan Seals and Marie Osmond
This is an example of an upbeat country song that will get your feet tapping and heart racing. The song is about two people who fall in love but are forced to separate due to work. They promise to meet each other in Montana one day so they can be together forever. This song might make you feel optimistic about love.
6. “Daddy’s Hands” – Holly Dunn
This song is based on Dunn’s experience of being raised by a widowed father. The lyrics reflect the love and strength determined to do things his way and raise his kids right. The song has become a classic country ballad and continues to be famous to this day.
7. “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ole Days)” – The Judds
Released in 1984, the track hit number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. The song tells the story of a granddaughter asking her grandfather about life in his younger days. It’s an emotional song with beautiful lyrics, and it’s no surprise that it became a smash hit.
8. “If Tomorrow Never Comes” – Garth Brooks
This ballad tells the story of a man reflecting on his life and how he wants to make the most of each day in case tomorrow never comes. The song has been a hit since it was released, and it continues to be one of Brooks’ most popular tracks. Whether you’re a country fan, this song is worth a listen.
9. “Seven Year Ache” – Rosanne Cash
This 1981 song has been named one of the best country songs by publications such as Rolling Stone and Billboard. The song is a ballad about love and overcoming heartbreak, and many artists have covered it.
Next: Top 1980s female singers
10. “Seven Spanish Angels” – Ray Charles & Willie Nelson
Released in 1984, the song quickly rose to the top of the charts and has since become a classic. The lyrics are moving, and the melody is hauntingly beautiful. Featuring spine-tingling harmonies and rousing instrumentals, the song is a masterpiece that still resonates with listeners today.
11. “I’d Love to Lay You Down” – Conway Twitty
The song was released in 1981 and became an instant hit, reaching the top of the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. With its soulful lyrics and heartfelt melody, it’s easy to see why this song has become a favorite for so many people.
12. “Queen of Hearts” – Juice Newton
Released in 1981, this song has been covered by many other artists but remains one of Newton’s most popular tunes. Its powerful lyrics and moving melody, “Queen of Hearts,” might touch your heartstrings. So put on your cowboy boots, crank up the volume, and enjoy.
13. “Beneath Still Waters” – Emmylou Harris
The song tells the story of a man who drowns his sorrows in whiskey and regrets his decision to let go of the love of his life. The lyrics are powerful and moving, and critics have praised the song for its dark beauty. This song remains a fan favorite for more than two decades after its release.
14. “Fishin’ in the Dark” – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Released in 1987, the song has remained popular and has been covered by numerous artists. The lyrics are catchy and easy to sing along with, and the melody is upbeat and fun. If you’re looking for a great country song to listen to, “Fishin’ in the Dark” might be worth checking out.
15. “She’s Crazy for Leaving” – Rodney Crowell
Released in 1988, the song reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and won several awards, including a Grammy Award for Best Country Song. Many artists have covered the song, and it remains a favorite among country music fans.
16. “Woke Up in Love” – Exile
In their 1981 album release, the Exile country music band scored a major hit with this song. The soulful ballad has been praised for its lyrics and melodic hooks, and it continues to be one of the group’s most popular tunes. This country song may be worth adding to your playlist.
17. “Dixieland Delight” – Alabama
Released in 1982, the song spent six weeks at number one and was named the Song of the Year by the Country Music Association. Written by Randy Owen, “Dixieland Delight” is a feel-good anthem about life in the south. The lyrics paint a picture of a carefree lifestyle where people enjoy good food, friends, and family.
18. “Swingin’” – John Anderson
Released in 1985, the song became a number one country hit and was named the best country song of the year by the Academy of Country Music. The lyrics are very poetic and eloquently tell the story of heartbreak and recovery. It is one of those tracks that you can’t help but sing along to.
19. “Killin’ Time” – Clint Black
Released in 1989, the song spent three weeks at number one on the Country chart and was nominated for two Grammy Awards. The lyrics encourage listeners to make the most of their time on earth and enjoy every moment. While the song is lighthearted and fun, it also has a message that resonates with many people.
20. “A Country Boy Can Survive” – Hank Williams Jr.
The song is about the resilience of rural, working-class Americans and their ability to survive no matter what challenges come their way. It’s a powerful anthem that still resonates with listeners today. If you’re looking for a country song that sums up the nation’s spirit, “A Country Boy Can Survive” may be the one.
21. “9 to 5” – Dolly Parton
Released in 1980, the song topped the charts and has been widely covered by artists from many different genres. The song’s simple but poignant lyrics reflect the struggles of the working class everywhere. Its infectious melody is sure to get stuck in your head for days to keep you motivated to work.
22. “Could I Have This Dance” – Anne Murray
The lyrics are romantic and nostalgic, expressing the wish to have someone to dance with forever. As Murray sings about the beauty of a slow dance, it’s hard not to feel moved by her sentiment. So if you’re looking for a heartfelt song that captures the magic of romance, this one might be worth listening to.
23. “I Believe in You” – Don Williams
Released in 1980, the ballad spent five weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. The lyrics are sincere and straightforward, praising the power of love and declaring that no matter what life throws at you, you can always count on your faith to see you through.
24. “Bop” – Dan Seals
“Bop” was one of the biggest country hits of the late 1980s. The song blends elements of traditional country music with contemporary rock and pop sounds, making it a unique and popular track. The song topped the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart for four weeks and became one of the Seals’ most well-known songs.
25. “Elvira” – The Oak Ridge Boys
Released in 1981, the song became an instant hit, topping the charts and winning several awards. The lyrics are lighthearted and fun, with a catchy beat that makes it easy to listen to repeatedly. Whether you’re single and looking for love or in a committed relationship, “Elvira” might put a smile on your face.
26. “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses” – Kathy Mattea
The song is romantic and heartbreaking, and it showcases Mattea’s powerful voice. Released in the 80s, it became an instant hit. The song was nominated for several awards, including Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Best Country Song.
27. “Country Boy” – Ricky Skaggs
This is a classic country tune that perfectly describes life in the country. If you’ve ever been a farmer, rancher, or love spending time in the great outdoors, this song will resonate with you. Skaggs’ smooth vocals and upbeat melody make it one of the most popular country songs.
28. “Guitars, Cadillacs” – Dwight Yoakam
Released in 1986, the song reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart and won Yoakam a Grammy Award for Best Country Song. Several other artists have covered the song. While there are many great country songs, this one holds a special place in many people’s hearts.
29. “Do Ya” – K.T. Oslin
“Do Ya” is the perfect blend of country and pop that makes it one of the best country songs. The song topped the charts with a catchy chorus and relatable lyrics and became an instant classic. Although it was released over 25 years ago, “Do Ya” still holds up today, and it might get your toe-tapping.
30. “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” – George Strait
The song became an instant hit after its release in 1987. This song is about a man who has been through many heartaches, and the only thing that makes him feel better is knowing that his exes are all living in the same state. While the lyrics are lighthearted, the song is quite catchy and has remained popular for over 30 years.
31. “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On” – Mel McDaniel
Released in 1984, the song went to number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. This is a good old-fashioned country song with an upbeat tempo. The song has been covered by many artists and remains one of the most popular country songs ever recorded.
32. “I’ll Still Be Loving You” – Restless Heart
The best 80s country song is “I’ll Still Be Loving You” by Restless Heart. This song was released in 1988 and became an instant hit. It has since been considered one of the most iconic country songs. The lyrics are incredibly touching, and the melody is unforgettable.
33. “Starting Over Again”- Dolly Parton
Released in 1984, the song reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and number 49 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Several noble artists have covered the song. The song has been praised for its powerful lyrics and Dolly Parton’s strong vocal performance.
34. “Looking for Love” – Johnny Lee
In the early 1980s, Johnny Lee released the song “Looking for Love.” The song quickly became a hit and has been cited as one of the best country songs. The lyrics are written from the perspective of a man who is looking for love in all the wrong places. The song is relatable and timeless and continues to be popular decades after it was first released.
35. “Smoky Mountain Rain” – Ronnie Milsap
The song was released in 1980 and became a number one hit on the country charts. The lyrics depict the lives and struggles of people living in the Smoky Mountains, and the song has become an anthem for those who call the area home.
36. “Islands in the Stream” – Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton
The song spent six weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Many artists have covered the song over the years, and it remains a popular choice for weddings and other special occasions.
37. “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool” – Barbara Mandrell
Released in 1981, the song became a number one hit on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. It is considered to be one of Mandrell’s signature songs. The lyrics reflect on how upbringing can shape your life. This music resonates with many fans proud of their past.
38. “Redneck Girl” – The Bellamy Brothers
This is a classic southern song that many artists have covered. The song is about a girl from the south who is beautiful and confident, despite her redneck roots. While the lyrics may seem like a stereotype, the song is empowering for women.
39. “Set ‘Em Up Joe” – Vern Gosdin
Released in the 1980s, this catchy tune quickly became a favorite among country fans. With its upbeat rhythm and lyrics about love and friendship, “Set ‘Em Up Joe” might get your feet tapping and heart racing.
40. “When You Say Nothing at All” – Keith Whitley
It was released in 1988 and reached number one on the country charts. The song has been covered by dozens of artists, including Ronan Keating. The lyrics are about the power of words and how they can be used to build or destroy relationships.
41. “Whoever’s in New England” – Reba McEntire
Released in 1986, the song topped both the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and the Canadian RPM Country Tracks chart. The lyrics are moving, and the melody is catchy, making this one of Reba McEntire’s most popular songs.
42. “Always on My Mind” – Willie Nelson
Released in 1982, this ballad quickly became one of the biggest hits of the 80s. With its passionate lyrics and soulful vocals, it’s easy to see why this song has endured for so many years. So if you’re feeling down, you may put on some “Always on My Mind” and let Willie Nelson help you take your mind off things.
43. “I Love a Rainy Night” – Eddie Rabbitt
The song was released in 1981 and quickly became a hit, topping the United States and Canada charts. The song has been praised for its smooth vocals and catchy melody, and it remains popular to this day.
44. “The Church on Cumberland Road” – Shenandoah
This song was released in 1988 and was a major hit. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and spent four weeks at the top spot. It is an enduring classic still enjoyed by country music fans today.
45. “Forever and Ever, Amen” – Randy Travis
Released in 1987, the song was a huge hit and spent two weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. Nearly 30 years later, the song remains a fan favorite and is often cited as one of the best country songs ever written. You may check out this track if you want to hear a classic country ballad that will move you to tears.
46. “Lady” – Kenny Rogers
Released in 1980, the song has a smooth country sound perfect for the decade. The lyrics are romantic and sentimental, making it a favorite among couples. To this day, “Lady” remains a classic wedding song choice. Rogers’ crooning vocals and the acoustic guitar accompaniment make for a beautiful listening experience.
47. “You and I” – Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle
Released in 1981, the song was a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart for two weeks, and it also peaked at number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100. You and I have been praised by music critics for its production and Rabbitt’s vocal performance.
48. “God Bless the USA” – Lee Greenwood
This is one of the most beloved patriotic songs of all time. Released in 1984, the song has been used to rally troops and support America through tough times. Greenwood’s soaring vocals and powerful lyrics make this song an instant classic that still resonates with listeners today.
49. “You Decorated My Life” – Kenny Rogers
The song topped the Billboard Country chart for three weeks and reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100. This song is a heartfelt ballad about finding happiness in life, and it is still a favorite among fans today. The song is about a man reflecting on his relationship and how much his girlfriend meant to him.
50. “I’ll Leave This World Loving You” – Ricky Van Shelton
The song was a number one hit on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and won several awards, including Song of the Year. A moving love song, “I’ll Leave This World Loving You,” has stayed popular over the years and is often cited as one of the best songs of the 80s.
51. “Nobody” – Sylvia
Finally, on our list of best 80s country songs is the hit song “Nobody.” The song quickly became a fan favorite and garnered critical acclaim. The track’s upbeat tempo and heartfelt lyrics make it a timeless classic. For anyone looking to relive the magic of the 80s, “Nobody” might be worth listening to.
As the Head Editor at Music Grotto, Liam edits content produced from over 30 professional music/media journalists and contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.