As David Allen Coe famously told Steve Goodman, the recipe for “the perfect country & western song” must include “mama, or trains, or trucks, or prison, or gettin' drunk.”
While all of those components are fixtures of the genre tradition, the last item is undeniably essential. A proper buzz is both the inception point and the product of any effective country song. In fact, there are very few of them that the sober would deem appropriate. Whether you’re celebrating with friends or drowning your sorrows, a drunk can always count on country music. Some would even call it a ‘Family Tradition.’
So raise a glass to the songs that have stuck around, even when you ended up drinking alone. Here are 15 essential country songs to sip along to - please enjoy responsibly.
This one kicks off any weekend bender on the right foot. The boot-stomper builds anticipation for the sweet freedom found in the first sip following a long week wrapped up in the proverbial grind. When Church sings “I gotta 40-hour-week worth of trouble to drown” in his grizzly tone, you know he means business.
When work is piled up a mile high and Friday feels like a distant dream, Hailey Whitters will pour a strong shot of the good stuff. This anthemic track distills life’s complexities down to plain terms, likening it all to an alcoholic elixir.
The breakthrough artist’s clever lyricism and contagious charm—paired with Little Big Town’s air-tight harmonies—is sure to smooth things over, like a chaser.
“Come as you are” is the key phrase in Toby Keith’s intoxicating ballad to his favorite bar. There are places you go to drink with friends, but this one is an ode to a more sacred place. The bar Keith speaks so lovingly to is a place of refuge where misfits belong and battle lines are no longer.
Take caution when others start humming along. Shoulder-to-shoulder, those barstools will start to sway. And before you know it, you’ll be picking up every patron’s tab.
As Martina McBride once said: this one is for girls. The sass-infused, ice-cold drinking song soundtracks strong independent country women who don’t need no vodka soda refills or Uber rides home from the bar—just a night free from male hassle.
Joe Nichols—a reigning king of the Y2K country movement—doesn’t miss an opportunity to insert a slinky innuendo in the lyrics while maintaining a radio-approved PG rating.
His third-party perspective and tongue-in-cheek storytelling prove tequila a harmless antagonist. By the sounds of it, the pros outweigh a few pesky cons.
There’s plenty of fish in the sea, but Miranda has yet to find a lover as sweet as her agave-derived drink of choice. Don’t be distracted by the boys in the back of the bar drinking domestic beer—“They’re all hat, no cattle.” If you’re after that “Bordertown Buzz”, look no further than a trusty tequila pour.
What’s up with country stars and tequila? Penned like a love letter, this Brothers Osborne ballad goes out to that on-again-off-again romance with the liquor who once again played them as a fool. The temptation of a toxic lover has never been so relatable.
If the best form of revenge is indifference, then Merle must have been the reigning heartbreak champion. Held down by a steady bass, he refrains from retaliation by continuously opting for a refill. To follow his lead, silence incoming calls and text messages, flip yourself face-down on the bar and order another round.
A devastating toast to the ones drinking alone, wishing themselves thousands of miles away, to be in the arms of a past lover, or simply at their hometown hole-up bar.
Fair warning to the recently dumped: this one will rip right through any dangling thread holding your heart together. In true Guy Clark fashion, it’s best to take this one alone—or at least in the company of strangers.
For those who have fallen back off the wagon, it’s time to grab an innertube. ‘Whiskey River’ is a place of sweet surrender. Though many attempt to drown their sorrows, it’s best to follow the legendary Nelson’s lead—just kick your feet up and float yourself on down to brighter days.
Like most country drinking songs, this one involves heartbreak. But not the long-drawn-out, drink alone at the dive bar type.
This feel-good tune flips the titular idiom on its head, detailing a series of humorously fortunate events that followed a short-lived sorrow of a breakup. While looking for the silver lining, Combs managed to uncover boundless sunshine for a boat day booze cruise.
Exhibiting behavior that may be troubling? Midland says not to worry about it. What some call a problem, this trio of cosmic cowboys calls a solution. To charm your way through unflattering accusations, turn these hypnotic harmonies all the way up. Thank others for their concern, but assure them: “I got no problems drinking at all.”
Some families run a 5k on Thanksgiving morning, others drink Jim Beam and “roll smoke”. But, hey—tradition is tradition. Beyond a triple-generation spanning impact on country music, the Williams’ family, like plenty of others, pride themselves on upholding tradition in even the most unconventional of forms.
If Christmas music isn’t your thing, give this a spin to take the edge off at your next family holiday.
Kicking off with the Lonestar trio’s congenial twang, this blues-tinged tune will transport you from your couch to a Texas dance hall. Everyone knows the sting of an ex-lover sighting, but The Chicks know it’s time for a double when it comes with a side of shiny new arm candy.
Misery loves company, keep your tab open as long as they’ll keep pouring. “Let's drink a toast to the fool who couldn't see.”
It should come as no surprise to find this Garth classic reigning atop the boozer charts. This iconic hit has ruled rowdy honky tonks and karaoke bars for over three decades.
Like the country version of Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, the opening line—“Blame it all on my roots”—is sure to spark a sing-along in any decent whiskey-drownin’, beer chasin’ establishment. With friends like these, who needs social graces?
Listen and subscribe to Holler's The Best Country Drinking songs playlist below: