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Old 09-09-2019, 07:20 PM
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Country songs written by non-country artists


For a long time, I've been making a list of bona-fide country songs written by musicians who don't usually do that sort of thing. Recently, a hip-hop guy created quite a stir among purists who insist Old Town Road is not a Real Country Song. I don't have an opinion about that one, but here's a few songs I'll defend as authentic shoulda-been-country-hits.

You Ain't Drinkin' Enough by Don Henley

Changing Partners by Elvis Costello

Dear Doctor by the Rolling Stones

Joy by Harry Nilsson

Do you have any suggestions?
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Old 09-09-2019, 07:41 PM
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Elvis C. and the Stones both had a few of these. Off the top of my head, Don't Pass Me By by the Beatles...
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Old 09-09-2019, 07:45 PM
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Harder Than Your Husband by Frank Zappa.
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Old 09-09-2019, 09:15 PM
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"Ben Crawley Steel Company," by Roy Wood from The Move, sung by Bev Bevan who sounds so much like Johnny Cash on this track, it's scary.
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Old 09-09-2019, 09:49 PM
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"Don't Fence Me In" is a classic country song written by, believe it or not, Cole Porter.

"A Song for All Seasons" by the Jefferson Airplane
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Old 09-09-2019, 09:49 PM
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Ween has an entire album of country music: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/12_Golden_Country_Greats
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Old 09-09-2019, 10:57 PM
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Don Mcleans "Bronco Bills lament" is very country. He has a few that slide into the genre.
Of, course Neil Young wrote a few country-esque songs that were covered by country artists.

Last edited by Beckdawrek; 09-09-2019 at 10:57 PM.
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:06 PM
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Sting's I Hung my Head
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaycat View Post
Elvis C. and the Stones both had a few of these.
Actually, the Stones have at least one country song on many of their albums. Country Honk, Wild Horses, Far Away Eyes, Sweet Virginia, Dead Flowers....
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Old 09-10-2019, 01:02 AM
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"She's An American Girl", performed by Trisha Yearwood, written by novelist Alice Randall, might be what you're looking for.
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Old 09-10-2019, 01:07 AM
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I don't consider Kid Rock or Sheryl Crow to be country artists, but they did a very twangy duet a few years back. I think both Bon Jovi and Steven Tyler have tried their hand at cracking the country charts. And Shel Silverstein ("A Boy Named Sue") and Michael O'Donoghue ("Single Bars and Single Women") have both written a country hit or two.
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Old 09-10-2019, 02:52 AM
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“Don’t Go Back to Rockville,” R.E.M.

“Tangerine,” Led Zeppelin

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Old 09-10-2019, 03:08 AM
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"You and I" by Lady Gaga & Brian May is one hell of a country anthem.

Last edited by Smapti; 09-10-2019 at 03:09 AM.
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Old 09-10-2019, 03:16 AM
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Elton John tried country on the Tumbleweed Connection album. The album was successful, but singles were not (no singles were released in the US, for example, though one was in New Zealand). However, the track "Amoreena" was featured in the movie Dog Day Afternoon, so there is that.

As one who likes both country and Elton John, I'd say that Elton made a good effort, but just didn't hit the mark. Thankfully, he learned, and went a different way subsequently.
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Old 09-10-2019, 03:49 AM
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Beck had made two albums, Sea Change and Morning Phase, that are quite country flavored.
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Old 09-10-2019, 04:00 AM
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The Beatles' "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party". Some country artist covered it back in the 1980s.
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Old 09-10-2019, 04:10 AM
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A couple that spring to mind.

"Cowboy Dreams" By Prefab Sprout (who have always had something of a country hint to my mind) and............
"Labelled with Love" by Squeeze which is nothing less than genius IMHP
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Old 09-10-2019, 04:13 AM
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"Crumbling Land" by Pink Floyd for the Zabriskie Point soundtrack.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crumbling_Land

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Gilmour
...a kind of country & western number which he [film director Antonioni] could have gotten done better by any number of American bands. But he chose us — very strange.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-d1Jp_uCFbU
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:08 AM
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Don't Pass Me By by the Beatles...
Ringo later recorded a whole country album, Beaucoups of Blues, but I don't think he wrote any of the tracks.


A couple that spring to my mind:
Meat Puppets: That's How It Goes
Gin Blossoms: Cheatin'
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:20 AM
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Radio Sweetheart was the EC tune that immediately came to my mind.
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:58 AM
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Johnny Cash in his later American Recordings years covered a variety of songs from different genres. The most famous country-fied one was Nine Inch Nails' song Hurt. The NIN version was nominated for a Grammy and the Cash version got all sorts of award recognition.

And in turn, other country artists have covered the song Cash-style.
  #22  
Old 09-10-2019, 08:21 AM
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Children's author Shel Silverstein is also a gifted lyricist who has written some country songs
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Old 09-10-2019, 08:36 AM
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Thanks, OP -- I've been wanting to start a thread like this for quite a number of years and never got around to it.

Here's another from Sting (and it was later covered by actual country singer and A-1 level redneck Toby Keith): I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying

The Dandy Warhols, perhaps best known for Bohemian Like You from the album Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia, included Country Leaver on the same album.

Many of the others I can think of have already been mentioned, including some of the Rolling Stones' countrified songs. As an aside, my wife and I were driving through Colorado Springs last Saturday and the Stones' Gimme Shelter came on the radio. That song is not country-ish, but I started thinking about some of their other songs that are, including Wild Horses. There's some debate about whether Wild Horses is a Richards/Jaggar song or if Gram Parsons wrote it; Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers released it on Burrito Deluxe the year before Sticky Fingers came out, but according to most accounts it was originally written by Richards and Jaggar.

Anyway, just as I started thinking about Wild Horses, we passed a building in Colorado Springs belonging to Parsons, which is an engineering firm. Regardless of who wrote the song, I thought that was a nice little coincidence.
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Old 09-10-2019, 09:39 AM
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Has anyone mentioned Blanco Brown's The Git Up:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7U6AoZ27yE

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Old 09-10-2019, 10:08 AM
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I was chasing down links to the songs I suggested, and I discovered Elvis Costello did not write Changing Partners. Patti Page recorded it in 1953!

I'm struggling to get used to a new vertical wireless mouse, and it tripped me up. It has Forward & Back thumb buttons, very close to my big, twitchy old thumb. In the SDMB software, when you Back out of a mostly-finished reply, it's gone when you go Forward again. I'm trying not to scream at my computer (and my ignorance), so I need to take a break. I'll get back to you later.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:19 AM
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Yeah, wguy123, The Git Up is a solid fit here!
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ftg View Post
Johnny Cash in his later American Recordings years covered a variety of songs from different genres. The most famous country-fied one was Nine Inch Nails' song Hurt. The NIN version was nominated for a Grammy and the Cash version got all sorts of award recognition.
At that, Garth Brooks got his seventh Number One hit on the Billboard country charts by listening to Billy Joel’s song “Shameless” and realizing, hey, if you sing it with a twang, those lyrics and that tune are right in my wheelhouse...
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:20 AM
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The Beatles' "I've Just Seen a Face" is a mandolin or banjo away from being pure bluegrass.

The band Cake has more country in them than you'd realize. "Stickshifts and Safetybelts" jumped out to me when I first listened to the Fashion Nugget album.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:48 AM
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Velvet Underground - Lonesome Cowboy Bill. Alrighty then.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:51 AM
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The Beatles' "I've Just Seen a Face" is a mandolin or banjo away from being pure bluegrass.
Boy howdy.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:30 AM
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Radio Sweetheart was the EC tune that immediately came to my mind.
That's a fine song. I also suggest his song "Different Finger."
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:36 AM
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A significant chunk of the oeuvre of Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show could be reconceptualized as country.

This one, for instance.

But they're generally regarded as rockers.
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:01 PM
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The Bee Gees wrote "Islands in the Stream". They also wrote "Come On Over". Both are great country tunes!
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:23 PM
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Bob Dylan wrote many, including the whole "Nashville Skyline" album. Another not so well known example I always liked is his country waltz "Wallflower". It was first released on an album by Dylan's pal Doug Sahm, with "background" vocals by Dylan that in fact were so prominently mixed to the front that it almost can count as a Dylan recording.

Patti Smith also likes the song. She once said that she saw herself as the "wallflower" when she first listened to the song.
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:28 PM
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The Beatles' "I've Just Seen a Face" is a mandolin or banjo away from being pure bluegrass. ...
That's an interesting observation - tho I imaging not really what the OP was asking.

I play in a lot of BG jams, and people bring all manner of songs - including Beatles tunes. When WE play them - w/ fiddle/banjo/mando, and no drums - they sound bluegrassy.

Recently I had Stuck in the Middle w/ You going through my head. I wondered how it would work as BG. Delved into YouTube and found a TON of examples of people doing just that. I worked up the words and chords, found a key I could sing it in, and tried to do it w/ my group, but it wasn't anything we wanted to work up.

Same more recently w/ Tom Waits' Come On Up to the House. Sarah Jarosz does a wonderful version on mando - but I wouldn't call it a BG tune.

How bout Nashville Cates - by John Sebastian/Lovin Spoonful? Del McCoury does a wonderful version.
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Last edited by Dinsdale; 09-10-2019 at 12:30 PM.
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:30 PM
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Sorry, too late to edit: Maybe Dylan's most famous country song, in which he even rhymes moon with spoon(!), "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight".
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Old 09-10-2019, 01:02 PM
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The Kinks also had a few, e. g. Muswell Hillbilly.
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Old 09-10-2019, 01:25 PM
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Not really a country song, per say. But lead guitar riff in St. Vitus Dance by Black Sabbath definitely has a country "twang" to it.
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Old 09-10-2019, 03:25 PM
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R--3fsnA6F4 Nilsson's Joy has Nicky Hopkins doing his best Floyd Cramer on piano, Ray Rhodes on pedal steel guitar, and Peter Frampton (!) on electric guitar.
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Old 09-10-2019, 03:37 PM
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A significant chunk of the oeuvre of Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show could be reconceptualized as country.

This one, for instance.

But they're generally regarded as rockers.
I with you there, and that one, If I'd Only Come And Gone, has brilliant lyrics, one of the hallmarks of country music
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Old 09-10-2019, 03:44 PM
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I'm listening to Kirsty MacColl's excellent "Kite" album I only discovered the other day, and it has a country song with the fabulous title "Don't Come The Cowboy With Me, Sonny Jim!".
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Old 09-10-2019, 04:11 PM
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Well, I muffed another one Danny Kortchmar, not Don Henley, wrote You Must Not Be Drinking Enough. It's still a good call, as Kortchmar isn't a country guy, either.

Here's Henley. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Een4gGPOABQ

Here's Earl Thomas Conley on the same song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uh6ErXJoKgE

I like Henley's better.
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Old 09-10-2019, 05:28 PM
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The Kinks also had a few, e. g. Muswell Hillbilly.
The entire 'Muswell Hillbillies' album is a fine country album.
  #44  
Old 09-10-2019, 05:36 PM
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I’d hardly call the Supersuckers a country band, but “Must’ve Been High” is an excellent country album!
  #45  
Old 09-10-2019, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by The Other Waldo Pepper View Post
At that, Garth Brooks got his seventh Number One hit on the Billboard country charts by listening to Billy Joel’s song “Shameless” and realizing, hey, if you sing it with a twang, those lyrics and that tune are right in my wheelhouse...
That's the formula: turn down the band relative to the vocals, add an acoustic guitar, and above all, "country up" the accent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by garygnu View Post
The Beatles' "I've Just Seen a Face" is a mandolin or banjo away from being pure bluegrass.
"Tomorrow Never Knows" is about as far from country as you can get. But the chord progression (I-bVII) fits in with bluegrass. We did a version that fooled everyone (we added a IV chord change, and changed the lyrics, "it is not dying" to "it ain't dyin'".

Last edited by F. U. Shakespeare; 09-10-2019 at 05:47 PM.
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Old 09-10-2019, 06:16 PM
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ZZ Top - She's A Heartbreaker
Elvis Costello - Stranger in the House
Fountains of Wayne - Hung Up On You
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Old 09-10-2019, 06:21 PM
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These are a lot easier to find than you might think. In the 1960s, it was apparently required by law for every lounge lizard and crooner to put on cowboy gear and record an album of country standards.

Characteristic example: Nancy Sinatra's Country My Way. There are probably hundreds of these.
  #48  
Old 09-10-2019, 06:39 PM
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ZZ Top - She's A Heartbreaker
Elvis Costello - Stranger in the House
Fountains of Wayne - Hung Up On You
Seriously? All the songs mentioned in this thread, and I get ninja'd on "Hung up on You" by only 20 minutes?

Solid country tune. Goddamn, but Schlessinger and Collingwood can write some catchy songs.
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Old 09-11-2019, 04:03 PM
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Now: is The Beast In Me a country song?

Written by long serving British rocker Dave Edmunds, for his father in law.

SPOILER:
Johnny Cash.
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Old 09-11-2019, 04:21 PM
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Now: is The Beast In Me a country song?

Written by long serving British rocker Dave Edmunds, for his father in law.

SPOILER:
(redacted)

The Beast In Me
was written by Nick Lowe (who was the son-in-law of the spoilered person). Both Lowe and Edmunds are long-serving British rockers and were in Rockpile -- easy mistake.
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