21 Of The Best Country Songs Of The 1950s

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Written by Laura Macmillan
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Before the internet, YouTube, or digital music, country singers were already topping the charts in the 1950s. Whether singing something slow and sweet about love or an upbeat dance number, country musicians wrote and performed incredible music.

The 1950s were the golden age of country music, and these country songs of the ’50s hold up decades later.

Whether you’re looking for something to match your dark mood post-breakup or something to make a road trip fun, there’s something for everyone on this list of 21 of the best country songs of the ’50s. Read on to learn about them! 

1. “I Walk The Line” By Johnny Cash

Of course, “I Walk the Line” by Johnn Cash would rank as one of the best country songs of the 1950s. It also ranks among the best country songs of all time.

Johnny Cash and country music are almost inseparable. His utterly unique voice, tragic story, and overall persona propelled Cash to becoming nearly mythical. 

Popularized by the movie of the same name, “I Walk the Line,” is recognizable to multiple audiences and generations. This song’s lyrics basically tell listeners what happens when you love too much.

When one loves and trusts someone a lot, one would surely want to walk the line for that person. For sure, “I Walk the Line” will remain one of the most influential and popular country songs for years to come. 

2. “Walkin’ After Midnight” By Patsy Cline

The musical story of Patsy Cline is a tragic one. Ahead of her time and with a voice for the ages, her career only lasted a few years. Still, many of the songs she performed have become iconic. 

Many of the songs on this list deal with loneliness or getting over a relationship, and “Walkin’ After Midnight” is one of them. The narrator isn’t just sitting around pining; she’s pining as she’s going on a stroll during the evening, thinking of a special man in the past.

This song can be an essential feature on a breakup playlist, as listeners could empathize with the lyrics, perhaps as they also walk at night thinking of days gone by. 

3. “Heartbreak Hotel” By Elvis Presley 

There is no country music without Elvis Presley. This entire list could be made up of his chart-toppers of the 1950s. Still, “Heartbreak Hotel” has transcended its genre and is now adored by music lovers of all types. 

In 1956, “Heartbreak Hotel” remained at #1 on the charts for eight straight weeks. At the height of Elvis mania, this song was a beacon of hope to the ladies (and men) in the audience. 

To this day, this song can be heard across every medium, and covers are common. Listeners don’t even need lyrics to instantly recognize the opening notes of this song. 

4. “All I Have To Do Is Dream” By The Everly Brothers

Fans of Back to the Future will recognize “All I Have To Do Is Dream” by the Everly Brothers. The dreamy voices of the duo perfectly complement the themes of love and wishful thinking. This song has become nearly symbolic of the 1950s and good, clean musical fun.

Whether this crowd-pleaser makes it onto your wedding reception playlist or you’re enjoying the smooth tune while driving, this song is perfect. No matter your generation or musical genre of choice, “All I Have to Do Is Dream” still hits the heart and can’t help but make you swoon a little.

5. “Hey Good Lookin’” By Hank Williams

Themes of infatuation and love at first sight are universal, and our next song plays to that. “Hey Good Lookin’,” by Hank Williams, withstands the test of time due to the light-hearted flirtation at the heart of the song. Simple rhymes and an upbeat rhythm make it a toe-tapper.

Though covered by many, Williams’s version topped them all, landing the #19 spot on CMT’s 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music. With its popularity, “Hey Good Lookin’” rightfully was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001 and remains popular in the country genre. 

We recommend playing this song for your significant other or dancing alone, knowing you’re the best-lookin’ person around. 

6. “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” By Kitty Wells

We would be remiss not to include Kitty Wells’s hugely popular song on this list. An answer to Hank Thompson’s “The Wild Side of Life,” Wells’ song “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” focuses on the woman’s side of infidelity.

The song blames unfaithful men for breaking the hearts of innocent women, and our narrator reminisces of her experience with such unfaithfulness.

“It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” hit #1 on the Billboard country charts in 1952 and stayed there for six weeks, helping to shoot Wells to popularity. 

7. “The Fool” By Sandford Clark

Need a breakup song? Sandford Clark’s “The Fool” is an amazing song for a brokenhearted. Equal parts catchy and dreamy, Clark might just charm his way back into his love’s heart.

The song focuses on a man who regrets breaking up with his baby, realizing only after how much he loves her. He watches her find someone new and thrive without him in her life.

There’s something undeniably charming about a man who can admit his mistakes, and listeners agree—“The Fool” reached the top of the charts across R&B, pop, and country genres in 1956.

8. “Why Baby Why” By George Jones

Not all country stars bemoaning being jilted by their lovers were ladies. “Why Baby Why” by George Jones centers on a man whose woman doesn’t appreciate him being a good man.

Unlike other country songs of the era, which focus on women who are betrayed, Jones’s song offers a refreshing shift in perspective.

“Why Baby Why” was Jones’ first hit, and it remains one of the most covered country songs to this day. A karaoke standard, this song is perfectly singable, with a twang behind the lyrics that keeps it energized. 

9. “Let’s Have A Party” By Wanda Jackson

The Queen of Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson, is the unsung hero of 1950s country music. Her gorgeously gravely voice was ahead of its time. Contemporary music superstar Adele describes Jackson as the “female Elvis.”

Many listeners will recognize “Funnel of Love” by Jackson, but “Let’s Have a Party” is equally, if not more, laudable. The song might not have topped the US charts, but it is one of her best, peaking at #6 in Australia’s Top 100 singles and #37 on Billboard Hot 100.

With a bopping groove, this song is the perfect track to kick off your shindig. Danceable and funny, “Let’s Have a Party” deserves a spot on everyone’s playlist.

10. “I’m Movin’ On” By Hank Snow

This song was the #1 country song in 1950, and while it’s one of the earlier songs on this list, it remains prescient. “I’m Movin’ On” by Hang Snow covers themes related to saying you’re just done. You’re throwing in the towel. Someone has done the narrator wrong, and he’s moving on. 

While many of the songs on this list focus on yearning for lost love, this song stands out by having a more independent outlook. The narrator isn’t going to wait around. He’s going to move on to find better, more sustainable love. 

Play this song when you want an easy and singable song to get over a breakup, celebrate your self-worth, or simply say, “I’m over it,” with a little twang. 

11. “Your Cheatin’ Heart” By Patsy Cline

This song, “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” popularized by Hank Williams in the early 1950s, turned into something special when sung by Patsy Cline. Her lilting voice captures the feeling of being betrayed by a lover, but the strength of her voice demonstrates a woman’s independence.

As Cline sings this song, the power in her voice doesn’t betray utter despair or helplessness. The narrator realizes that her relationship is over, and she’s gearing up to make a change. 

Patsy Cline’s brief career will haunt country music for decades, and “Your Cheatin’ Heart” demonstrates what Cline was capable of at her best.

12. “Making Believe” By Kitty Wells

Another song of love lost, “Making Believe,” shows the pain that occurs when one hasn’t yet gotten over the breakup. And for the narrator, sometimes the heartache was so intense, she ended up pretending the love was still there.

“Making Believe” has been covered by many famous country singers of the time, but Wells’s version peaked at #2 in 1955. With nearly half a million views on YouTube today, the song holds up.

Kitty Wells frequently topped the charts in the 1950s, and it makes sense—her voice, whether she’s on her own or singing with another, encapsulates both requited and unrequited love.

13. “Crazy Arms” By Ray Price

No list of top country hits of the 1950s is complete without Ray Price. From his extravagant outfits to his voice, Price is an icon of the era. His image alone is synonymous with the golden age of country music. 

“Crazy Arms” made Price’s career, and his truly unique voice became instantly recognizable. It sings of wishing for someone to be yours yet knowing it never can be.

In 1956, this country song was number one on Billboard charts (also Price’s first #1 single). It makes sense — this song about loneliness and longing remains universal. 

14. “Gone” By Ferlin Husky

Ferlin Husky’s voice is unique to this genre. Half country, half crooner, he’s reminiscent of Bing Crosby. Recordings of performances of the time depict Husky as dry and witty, often more than a match for icons of the Grand Ole Opry.

Husky’s “Gone,” another song on love and regret, focuses on the ramifications of losing someone and realizing too late the value of the relationship. It was a chart-topper in 1957, staying in the top 10 for 27 weeks!

His sassiness was noted at the Grand Ole Opry, but his smooth demeanor and smoother looks kept him a favorite of the ‘50s.

15. “I Can’t Stop Loving You” By Don Gibson

In 1958, “I Can’t Stop Loving You” by Don Gibson skyrocketed to the top of the charts. With themes of longing, it also focuses on the role memories play in love. Even when you can’t be with the person you love, this song reminds us that you can always visit those you love in your memories. 

“I Can’t Stop Loving You” also details heartbreak in relation to time. Time stands still when you’re lonely and miserable, but memory can be a relief. This song portrays the sensitive side of country music led by male singers. 

16. “Don’t” By Elvis Presley

It’s impossible not to include Elvis Presley on the list of top songs of the 1950s multiple times. His voice and his looks are iconic for the era and remain at the core of American culture. “Don’t,” which is one of the King’s lesser-known songs in the contemporary music scene, was one of the top country songs in 1958. 

Unlike other songs on the list, which touch on longing and despair, “Don’t” features a pair of lovers who don’t want to be parted, physically or emotionally. Elvis’s velvety voice tries to persuade his lover not to leave or push him away. But seriously, why would anyone want to leave Elvis’s arms?

17. “The Three Bells” By The Browns

Family trio The Browns features one of the hallmarks of country music: a story. Focusing on Little Jimmy Brown, their hit song “The Three Bells” follows him throughout a lifetime. The way the voices of the trio blend together lends itself to the timelessness of this song.

The song was a significant hit when it was released in 1959. It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks in August of the same year.

Although this song is lesser known today, it remains central to the memories of many who grew up in this decade. It is still remembered and enjoyed by many, testifying to its timeless appeal.

18. “Battle Of New Orleans” By Johnny Horton

The opening notes of “Battle of New Orleans” are one of the most widely recognized in all of country music. Nearly any banjo player worth his salt can pick out these famous notes. The song has been covered by many a singer, but Johnny Horton‘s version landed him a Grammy for Best Country & Western Recording.

This song is iconic, consistently ranking as one of the best country songs of all time. Distinctly American, “Battle of New Orleans” captures an independent spirit at the core of our country.

Part history, part tall-tale, this song’s silliness is contrasted with its military-style drum cadence. There’s something beautiful about the way it champions freedom and also depicts the mutability of memory and history. 

19. “Jambalaya (On The Bayou)” By Hank Williams

Another classic country song from the era, “Jambalaya (on the Bayou),” is heartily singable. Simultaneously funny and catchy, this song remains popular in the genre — so much so that it has over 400 versions!

The original “Jambalaya (on the Bayou)” by Hang Williams focuses on the singer’s experience with Cajun food; it is also a song about life and experiences.

The song stands out on this list as a country song that doesn’t depict love lost or won. It’s merely a celebration of the grander parts of being alive.

20. “Slowly” By Webb Pierce

Next is a lovely country ballad by Webb Pierce. “Slowly,” released in 1954, is well-loved for its simple yet heartfelt lyrics and the iconic slow-paced melody that gives it its name.

Pierce’s smooth and emotional vocal performance adds depth to the song, making it resonate with listeners. In the lyrics, the narrator describes how he’s slowly but surely falling in love with someone the more he’s with her.

With its traditional country sound, “Slowly” has a timeless quality. The slow tempo matches perfectly with the title and theme, creating a lulling atmosphere that draws in listeners.

21. “Bye Bye Love” By The Everly Brothers

Closing this list is a country rock classic by The Everly Brothers. “Bye Bye Love” came out in 1957 from their self-titled album. The song tells a story of love lost and the emotional journey that follows.

The Everly Brothers’ harmonious vocals bring out the melancholy and longing in the song. With its upbeat rhythm, which contrasts with the sad lyrics, the song creates a unique blend that sets it apart.

“Bye Bye Love” has made a significant impact since its release, inspiring numerous cover versions. Some well-known covers are by The Beatles (1969), Simon & Garfunkel (1970), and George Harrison (1974).

Summing Up Our List Of The Best Country Songs Of The ’50s

Musicians of the 1950s performed in their prime nearly a century ago, but the top songs of this time still capture many truths about love, loss, and living.

These nineteen chart-toppers of the era deserve a place on any contemporary county fan’s playlist. Whether you’re in the mood to embrace independence or you’re looking for songs to add to that breakup mix, these songs will have you tapping your toes or singing along for years to come.

However, it is far from complete. Did we miss a favorite of yours? Let us know so we can add it!

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Laura has over 12 years experience teaching both classical and jazz saxophone and clarinet. She now resides in California where she works as a session and live performer.