Some of the most critically acclaimed country songs include Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line.” These songs all rank highly on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time.
Hank Williams’ 1949 classic “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” is simultaneously one of the best-known country tunes in existence and one of the most popular songs about heartbreak. Written as a lamentation of Williams’ own dissolving marriage to his wife Audrey, the song has been performed by artists as diverse as Bob Dylan and Nick Cave.
Dolly Parton’s 1973 hit “Jolene” remains one of the enduring country songs about unfaithfulness. Parton was inspired to write the song when she witnessed her husband flirting with a bank teller, and “Jolene” is a heart-wrenching plea for Jolene to leave Parton’s man alone. One of country music’s strongest stars displays a striking sense of vulnerability in this enduring entreaty.
In “I Walk the Line,” Johnny Cash assures his then-wife Vivian Cash of his faithfulness and commitment in one of country music’s most iconic statements. Although Cash didn’t exactly stay true to his words, the song is one of his defining statements, familiar even to listeners unaware of most country music. Cash later revealed that the song was also partially addressed to God.