'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry' (1949)
Inspired by Williams' troubled relationship with his wife Audrey Sheppard, the song evokes loneliness with such lines as: 'Hear that lonesome whip-poor-will / He sounds too blue to fly.' Country crooners B.J. Thomas, Charlie McCoy, and ex-NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw have all covered this classic.
'I Hope You Dance' (2000)
Recorded with the band Sons of the Desert, this pop country hit won a Grammy Award for Best Country Song.
'Stand By Your Man' (1968)
Co-written by Tammy Wynette (one of the most influential country singers) and Billy Sherrill, this country song stayed at No. 1 on the U.S. country charts for three weeks. The song was ridiculed by the Feminist movement of the late '60s and early '70s, but Wynette defended the song saying that the lyrics are more about women who truly love their husbands, and can overlook their husband's flaws and shortcomings: "And if you love him, oh be proud of him / 'Cause after all he's just a man."
'Folsom Prison Blues'(1955)
Cash wrote our No. 7 best country song after he saw the 1951 flick 'Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison' while serving in in the United States Air Force in West Germany. One of the most renowned versions is Cash's live performance at the Folsom Prison on January 13, 1968, which was later included on the album 'At Folsom Prison' that same year.
Willie Nelson originally wrote this song for country singer Billy Walker, who turned it down; Cline picked it up to follow 'I Fall to Pieces,' and worked with producer Owen Bradley, who arranged the song as a ballad, with jazz-pop and country overtones. The song was later recorded by LeAnn Rimes on her 1999 self-titled album.
This song expresses a man's love for his partner with lyrics that recall milestone events in their relationship, emphasizing how much stronger his love has grown since their first meeting: "Like a river meets the sea, stronger than it's ever been / We've come so far since that day / And I thought I loved you then."
'I Cross My Heart' (1992)
This track was the lead single to Strait's album 'Pure Country' -- a soundtrack to the same-titled film. Our No. 4 best country song peaked at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
'The Dance' (1990)
To emphasize the song's meaning, the music video features several American icons who died for a dream, such as World Champion Bull rider Lane Frost, Country singer Keith Whitley, the crew from the Space Shuttle 'Challenger,' JFK, and of course Martin Luther King, Jr.
'Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue' (2001)
Written about his late father's patriotism, the song was not recorded until the Commandant of the Marine Corps strongly requested it. Prior to recording, Toby only sung it to military personnel. The song was also one of many causes of patriotic dispute between Keith and Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines -- who stated the song was "ignorant, and makes country music sound ignorant."
'He Stopped Loving Her Today' (1980)
What's a No. 1 country song without love and deceit? Jones, one of the all-time favorite country singers, sings about a man who was betrayed by his lover: 'He said I'll love you 'til I die / She told him you'll forget in time / As the years went slowly by.' In 1980, the song won Jones a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.