No matter where you may stand on the Lil Nas X viral sensation “Old Town Road” and the associated media firestorm, Twitter debates, and raging country-purity authenticity signalling, we should all be able to agree on one thing: country music has always been a welcoming home to musical memes. Sure, that term may be more recent, a product of the internet age, but ever since the dawn of country as a format silly, tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating, hilarious, and downright foolish songs have been just as integral a part of the genre as heartbreak, cheatin’, booze, and trucks.
We thought it’s high time we celebrate the knee-slappin’, gut-bustin’ history of country music’s meme-ready songs from across the decades. Here are fourteen of our favorites — yes, just fourteen. We can assure you there are dozens and dozens more where these came from.
“A Boy Named Sue” – Johnny Cash
The man in black, one of the most iconic personas in the history of country music, famous for his grit, his stoicism, and his rough-hewn voice wasn’t even “above” recording a song steeped in satire. Hopefully in 2019 life is getting easier for boys named Sue.
“What a Waste of Good Corn Liquor” – Tennessee Mafia Jug Band
Originally recorded by Country Music Hall of Fame and Bluegrass Hall of Fame member Mac Wiseman, this disconcertingly happy-sounding song tells a story with a moral: moonshine will melt you. Don’t spoil the moonshine.
“The King Is Gone (So Are You)” – George Jones
A song about Elvis, Fred Flintstone, drinking, and heartbreak. This one ticks all of the boxes. Even the “use yabadabadoo in a song” box.
“Did I Shave My Legs For This?” – Deana Carter
Country, after all, is all about the relatability of the human condition. Jilted would-be lovers everywhere have felt your pain, Deana. We truly have.
“Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyeballs” – Homer & Jethro
The original Weird Al Yankovics of country and bluegrass, Homer & Jethro wrote (and re-wrote) scores of songs with wacky, eye roll-inducing, laugh-out-loud funny lyrics, ad libs, and arrangements. Check that steel solo!
“I’ll Oilwells Love You” – Dolly Parton
No, Whitney Houston did not cover this one. But that would have been magnificent.
“You Can’t Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd” – Roger Miller
One of country’s humorous kings, Roger Miller recorded a host of silly songs over the course of his career. We chose this particular number because of its evergreen wisdom. Of course.
“You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly” – Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty
But you know what? Looks ain’t everything. And money ain’t everything.
“I’m My Own Grandpa” – Willie Nelson
Get out a piece of scratch paper and sketch this family tree as you go. Does it seem a little… circular? Yeah… that’s the problem.
“Would Jesus Wear A Rolex” – Ray Stevens
A modern country parable. Again, an artist with plenty of silly and sarcastic songs to choose from — and Ray Stevens is being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame this year. Sounds pretty country to us…
“Cleopatra, Queen Of Denial” – Pam Tillis
Yes. More country songs with outright puns as their hooks, please. And of course, we’ve all been there, Pam. Denial is a popular destination.
“Illegal Smile” – John Prine
On the opening track of his debut album Prine immediately set the tone for his entire career with some of the most nonsensical and witty lyrics ever set to song. “Well done, hot dog bun, my sister’s a nun.”
“I’ll Think Of A Reason Later” – Lee Ann Womack
If you’ve never driven down the road shouting along with this one, we highly recommend that you do — as soon as possible. The song’s main character has a remarkable sense of self-awareness for being so viscerally incensed. If you really hate someone — who may or may not have ended up with your former significant other — it may be your family’s redneck nature.
“My Give A Damn’s Busted” – Jo Dee Messina
Look, if you’ve gotten to the end of this list and you haven’t enjoyed yourself, or maybe you don’t get the point, or maybe you think this is just useless clickbait… whatever the case may be, this song counts as our response. “Nah, man. Sorry.” (Isn’t country the best?)