Happy International Country Music Day… From Someone Who Hates Country Music

To know me well is to know that I do not care for country music.  With a few exceptions (see Johnny Cash’s full list of works for details), I pretty much hate it.  That’s why I had no idea that September 17th was International Country Music Day.  Such things are completely off my radar.  Frankly, if you asked me to name the biggest country stars of right now, I would stare at you blankly as though you had asked me to name my favorite cricket players from the 1960s.  And then eventually I would remember that Hank Williams and Carrie Underwood are people who sing and that I’ve seen them before Sunday and Monday Night Football (and then I would start to hate football too). 

My dislike of country music is not for lack of trying to like it.  I grew up listening to it.  My Dad used to play it all the time when I was little. I think I’ve heard the song Swingin’ by John Anderson more times than John Anderson’s own parents have heard that song.

And because I heard this song so many times, I think you should have to hear it too.

It’s even worse than I remember.  

Here’s the thing.  I’ve even been to the Country Music Hall of Fame.  How many haters of country music can say that!?  And I actually sort of liked the visit.  I learned a lot while I was there.  I watched a movie about a bunch of country-themed variety shows that were on TV and were super popular.  Johnny Cash even had one.  Spoiler alert… they were all terrible.  I also learned all about Chris Gaines, but not because they discussed it at the Hall of Fame.  I had to look that one up on my own.  For some reason, the Country Music Hall of Fame was suspiciously silent on the Chris Gaines’ saga.  If you don’t know about Chris Gaines, by the way, you should look it up.  It’s a wild ride (Here, I did the work for you. Enjoy!).

OK, I need to move on.  This was supposed to be an attempt at learning to like country music, and so far, it’s not going well.

So, you know what I do like?  The UW-Green Bay Music Department

I don’t just like them; I love them. I love and trust them so much that I enlisted their help in generating a list of good country music songs.  Specifically, I reached out to Dr. Randy Meder and Dr. Courtney Sherman for a list of their favorites. 

I put together a playlist of the 35 songs they recommended.  I added the song Hurt by Johnny Cash.  I don’t know if it is country, but I love it, and I wanted to contribute.

I should tell you before we get to the playlist that the best part of making it was when I searched for Fancy by Reba McEntire and got Fancy by Iggy Azalea, and then I spent the morning on a full Azalea-deep-dive that I didn’t come out of for hours. 

So, with all that said, here are 36 Country Music Songs for Someone Who Hates Country Music.  I’m going to listen to it all day and see what happens.  I’m sure I’ll like country music when I’m done.

By Dr. Ryan C. Martin

Ryan Martin is the Associate Dean for the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and a member of the Psychology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.  He researches anger, manages the blog All the Rage, and teaches courses on mental illness and emotion.  Follow him on twitter at @rycmart or All the Rage on Facebook.


      1. I fall to Pieces Patsy Cline
        Anybody Going to San Antone. Charlie Pride
        Walking the Floor Over You. Ernest Tubb
        The Race is On. George Jones
        Four Walls. Jim Reeves
        Stand By Your Man. Tammy Wynette
        Wildwood Flower. Mother Maybelle Carter
        Up Against the Wall. Jerry Jeff Walker
        Okie From Muskogee. Merle Haggard

  1. You also need a George Strait song or two: Amarillo by Morning for sure and maybe The Chair. Glen Campbell – Wichita Lineman and Southern Nights. And some Marty Robbins. I’m not a fan of the new country but I love the classic stuff.

  2. The best Patsy Cline in my book is Crazy, which is kind of a two-fer since Willie Nelson wrote it. I hope you’re watching Ken Burns’ Country Music.

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