The Most Iconic Conservative Country Songs Created
via Gary Abshire/ Youtube
Throughout the history of country music, openly conservative songs have been more elusive than outsiders might expect. Nashville’s focus on entertainment often overshadows contentious issues, even from a sympathetic standpoint. Yet, since the Vietnam era, conservative country tracks have emerged, including recent ones like Jason Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town” and Oliver Anthony’s “Rich Men North of Richmond.”
Here’s our take on the most conservative country songs while acknowledging the presence of progressive-leaning tracks too:
1. Merle Haggard, ‘Okie From Muskogee’ (1969)
The exact significance of “Okie From Muskogee,” Merle Haggard’s enigmatic song, has been the subject of discussions. The song has been viewed as both satire and a national anthem with lines like “We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee,” making it an important cultural landmark in the ongoing culture wars.
2. Hank Williams Jr., ‘I’ve Got Rights’ (1979)
Hank Jr.’s “I’ve Got Rights” narrates a revenge fantasy, expressing frustration with a justice system seemingly favoring criminals. The song takes a stance against criminals’ rights, encapsulating the right-wing sentiment that the system was leaning too far in the wrong direction.
3. Guy Drake, ‘Welfare Cadillac’ (1970)
A spoken-word monologue, “Welfare Cadillac,” sarcastically depicts a welfare recipient who appears to be exploiting the system. The song found favor with conservatives, including President Richard Nixon, for its critical take on government assistance programs.
4. Charlie Daniels, ‘Simple Man’ (1989)
“Simple Man” by Charlie Daniels vehemently denounces social issues, focusing on dishonest public officials, criminals, and opponents of traditional values. Daniels promotes a strict approach to crime, although through extremely straightforward lyrics.
5. Harlan Howard, ‘Mr. Professor’ (1971)
“Mr. Professor” criticizes educators who might indoctrinate children with liberal ideologies. Harlan Howard’s song reflects concerns about education becoming a platform for promoting liberal values rather than focusing on traditional teachings.
6. Merle Haggard, ‘The Fightin Side Of Me’ (1970)
The song “The Fightin Side Of Me” by Merle Haggard acts as a protest song against anti-war sentiment and condemnation of the United States. The song, which embodies right-wing patriotism, is strongly aligned with a pro-country and pro-military viewpoint.
7. Hank Williams Jr., ‘A Country Boy Can Survive’ (1981)
“A Country Boy Can Survive” envisions a self-sufficient rural lifestyle, contrasting it with the perceived dangers of city living. Hank Jr.’s lyrics echo conservative values of independence and self-reliance, resonating with those who cherish individual freedoms.
8. Toby Keith, ‘Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue’ (2002)
After 9/11, Toby Keith’s song “Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue” was released; it was a powerful expression of patriotism. The song’s adamant tone, which expresses unflinching support for the nation, shows a rise in patriotic emotion after the tragedy.
9. John Rich, ‘Raisin’ McCain’ (2008)
“Raisin’ McCain” supports Republican presidential candidate John McCain and his military service. John Rich’s song underscores conservative admiration for McCain’s courage and stands against those who questioned his heroism.
10. Darryl Worley, ‘Have You Forgotten?’ (2003)
“Have You Forgotten?” connects the 9/11 attacks with the Iraq War, promoting backing for military intervention. Darryl Worley’s song added to the pro-war discourse, generating controversy over its portrayal of events.
11. Neal McCoy, ‘Take a Knee, My Ass’ (2017)
Taking a conservative position, Neal McCoy’s “Take a Knee, My Ass” opposes NFL players’ demonstrations against racial injustice. From a viewpoint that values traditional patriotic symbols, the song criticizes these activities.
12. Oliver Anthony, ‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ (2023)
“Rich Men North of Richmond” by Oliver Anthony oscillates between highlighting income inequality and criticizing government dependency. The song’s complexity reflects differing interpretations, sparking debates about its intent.
13. Jason Aldean, ‘Try That in a Small Town’ (2023)
“Try That in a Small Town” by Jason Aldean stirs controversy with imagery linking urban protests to small-town innocence. The song’s interpretation hinges on perspectives regarding racial undertones and cultural tensions.
14. Carrie Underwood, ‘Jesus, Take the Wheel’ (2005)
“Jesus, Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood weaves faith into a car accident narrative, promoting reliance on God in times of crisis. Despite its popularity, the song’s approach to decision-making has been criticized.
15. John Rich, ‘I’m Offended’ (2023)
The song “I’m Offended” by John Rich, which represents conservative opposition to what they see as excessive political correctness, hilariously confronts the cultural and political sensitivities connected with “wokeness.”
16. Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, ‘Stand Up and Say So’ (2016)
“Stand Up and Say So” by Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers criticizes the Clintons with general accusations of dishonesty and wealth accumulation. The song reflects conservative skepticism toward political figures.
17. Hank Williams Jr., ‘Keep the Change’ (2012)
“Keep the Change” is a song that pushes back against what the singer sees as violations of individual rights and conservative principles. Hank Jr. uses this song to criticize instances of government overreach, drawing attention to specific examples that concern him.
18. John Rich, ‘Progress’ (2022)
“Progress” by John Rich takes a humorous approach to challenging progressive ideas. Through satire, the song playfully questions liberal concepts, representing a right-leaning perspective on societal transformations.
19. Aaron Lewis, ‘Am I the Only One’ (2021)
In “Am I the Only One,” Aaron Lewis expresses a sense of loss and resistance to cultural changes from a conservative standpoint. The song reflects the nostalgia and a feeling of being out of step with shifts in society.
20. Hank Williams Jr., ‘Don’t Give Us a Reason’ (1990)
“Don’t Give Us a Reason” by Hank Jr. serves as a critique of Saddam Hussein as tensions mount before the first Iraq War. The song voices concerns about the United States becoming involved in international conflicts and making military decisions.
21. Clint Black, ‘Iraq and Roll’ (2003)
“Iraq and Roll” by Clint Black touches on the post-9/11 sentiments surrounding the Iraq War. The song presents various perspectives on the conflict, offering a nuanced conservative viewpoint while reflecting the complexity of public opinion during that time.
22. Hank Williams Jr., ‘If the South Woulda Won’ (1988)
In “If the South Woulda Won,” Hank Jr. imagines an alternative history where the South emerged victorious in the Civil War. The song reflects a nostalgic perspective on Southern culture and history, even as it raises questions about the implications of such an outcome.