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Country music is filled with literally thousands, if not tens of thousands, of songs written in standard tuning.
This list will not consist of the most popular, chart-topping songs (although some of them might be), but rather it will be comprised of various styles to expose you to a broader range of music that will allow you to work on many different guitar techniques.
Some songs may ride the border of folk or other genres, but as with most music, songs are inspired by many different genres, and this should be celebrated.
While many country music songs are ideal for acoustic strumming, many songs utilize fingerstyle picking and employ a healthy dose of the electric guitar as well.
So without further delay, let’s jump into the fifteen of country songs in standard tuning!
1. Darius Rucker/ Old Crow Medicine Show – Wagon Wheel
The song Wagon Wheel was initially co-written by Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show and Bob Dylan. Dylan recorded the chorus in the early 1970s, but verses were not added until 25 years later.
The Old Crow version has seen significant commercial success but was further catapulted into the mainstream country music scene by Darius Rucker with his 2013 remake of the song. His version has over 385 million views on YouTube, while the Old Crow version also has a very impressive 78 million views.
While both versions are fantastic in their own right, Rucker’s is a bit more rocking, bringing in the use of a drum kit to great success.
Although incredibly popular and fun to play, the song is quite easy to master, with most of the song essentially repeating the same four chords. The most challenging part of the song is learning the correct strumming pattern. A capo is needed on the second fret to play the song correctly.
Check out the tabs for both versions here.
2. John Denver – Take Me Home, Country Roads
By far, his most famous song, Take Me Home, Country Roads, like Wagon Wheel, has been covered multiple times by numerous artists in several genres.
While technically considered a folk artist, John Denver’s music, especially Country Roads, is frequently played on country radio stations, and I think absolutely deserves to be on this list.
Take Me Home, Country Roads is from Denver’s fifth studio album, Poems, Prayers & Promises, released in 1971.
The song requires no capo and is undoubtedly more complicated than Wagon Wheel. The entirety of the song, apart from the bridge, is performed with fingerstyle picking, making it a moderately difficult song.
Follow this link to one of the most iconic American songs ever created, and learn it today!
3. Zack Bryan – Something In The Orange
Although he has played music for several years, Something In The Orange, the single from his 3rd studio album released in May of 2022, has brought him mainstream recognition.
In less than a year, his YouTube video has quickly amassed over 42 million views, and there seems to be no indication of that trend slowing down anytime soon.
Something In The Orange, although a very lyrically powerful song, is a relatively simple song to play, relying on five chords and a straightforward strumming pattern.
What makes this song unique and fun to play is the use of chords that you might not typically play, such as an Em7 and Cadd9 chord, giving this song a somewhat unique feel and sound.
Check out the tabs to Something In The Orange here, and get started learning this song today.
4. Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues
Johnny Cash is one of the most recognizable artists of any genre. His legacy has lived on since his death in 2003 at the age of 71 and continues to inspire musicians, both young and old.
Like many stars, his off-stage controversies helped fuel his fame, but regardless of this, he was a true legend and master of songwriting. Cash was a prolific songwriter, and including his live albums, he released 97 albums during the span of his nearly 50-year career.
Folsom Prison Blues is one of Cash’s most famous songs. Initially written in 1953, it was recorded in 1955 and released on his first studio album, the 1957 release Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar!
The song is simple enough in structure, comprised of only three chords, but apart from the intro, outro, and solo, the entire song is palm muted, which gives you a lot of practice with this important guitar technique.
Follow this link for the tabs to Folsom Prison Blues.
5. Shania Twain – That Don’t Impress Me Much
The next song on our list comes from the best-selling female country artist in history, with over 100 million records sold.
While this song is not her most popular or successful, it has still garnered over 107 million views on YouTube and is the first song on our list not to be a predominantly acoustic guitar-based song.
To play this song correctly, you must capo the first fret. That Don’t Impress Me Much, features strumming parts on both acoustic and electric guitars as well as a few different solo sections on the electric guitar.
This song is perfect for beginners to begin working on their lead guitar and soloing, as it is a relatively easy song or solo to play.
Check out the tabs here.
6. Kane Brown – Heaven
Kane Brown burst onto the music scene in 2014, going viral on social media for his covers of popular country songs. He has grown a massive following ever since, releasing three albums, winning numerous awards, and cementing himself as one of the best country artists today.
Heaven is his most popular song, with over 528 million views on YouTube. The song is primarily played with an acoustic guitar and uses five chords throughout the nearly three-minute song.
The song is pretty simple, consisting of strumming on the acoustic guitar. Still, there are a few string-plucking parts, including the main lick that arises at various points throughout the song.
Check out the tabs to Heaven here and get started today.
7. Chris Stapleton – Millionaire
While not his most famous song (that being his cover version of Tennessee Whiskey), Millionaire has a much more interesting guitar part than many of his other songs.
Stapleton is perhaps best known for his incredible voice and songwriting abilities, but that doesn’t mean the guitar parts in his songs aren’t great, too, including on Millionaire.
Millionaire is the first track on his 2017 album, From A Room: Volume 2, and predominantly features acoustic guitar, but there is a cool electric guitar solo part way through the song as well.
Like many other songs on this list, Millionaire consists of only four chords. The song is played at a relatively slow BPM, so it is a good song for beginners tempo-wise; however, the correct strumming pattern might take a bit of practice. A capo is required on the third fret to play this song correctly.
Get started today with Millionaire by following this link to the tabs.
8. Dolly Parton – Jolene
A list of country songs in standard tuning would not be complete without including one of the towering icons of country music, Dolly Parton. With a career spanning over 55 years, Parton has released over 50 studio albums.
Jolene, one of her most famous songs, comes from the 1974 album of the same name and is one of the most challenging songs to play on this list.
Although only coming at 2:41, Jolene has a tempo of 111 BPM, and the lead acoustic guitar plays a fairly intricate fingerstyle lick for the duration of the song. The background acoustic strums the chords, so if you are struggling with the fingerstyle part, the strumming part is an excellent place to start.
A capo on the fourth fret is necessary to play this song correctly.
Check out the tabs to Jolene here and get started today on this challenging but fun song.
9. Hank Williams – I Saw The Light
Though he was gone too soon at 29, like so many other tragic cases of musicians, Hank Williams still left a lasting impression and legacy in country music despite his brief career.
I Saw The Light is the third song on his debut (one of two albums) 1951 album, Hank Williams Sings. Although the song itself is not overly complicated, using only five chords in a simple strumming pattern, it is a fun and fast-paced song that allows ample practice for developing a relaxed wrist while strumming.
I Saw The Light does not require aggressive playing, making it a great song to practice playing all the right notes while maintaining a lower volume level.
Check out the tabs to this iconic country song here, and get started today.
10. Willie Nelson – On The Road Again
Coming from another legend of the country music scene, On The Road Again is the tenth song on our list. Willie Nelson has had an amazingly long career, beginning in 1956, so choosing just one song from over 60 years was a bit difficult.
On The Road Again was decided upon because it is a prime example of how often less is often more in music. The song is straightforward and quite simple, as you will see in the tabs. Much of the song is played on just one string, and the parts that do have strumming are very easy to learn.
A big part of music is knowing when enough is enough, and Willie Nelson’s On The Road Again is the perfect amount of notes to make it an incredible song.
Check out the tabs to On The Road Again here.
11. Rascal Flatts – Life Is A Highway
One of, if not the most rockin’ songs on our list comes to us from country group Rascal Flatts.
Initially released in 1991 by Tom Cochrane and covered in 1998 by Chris LeDoux, Life Is A Highway gained even greater mainstream attention with this version by Rascal Flatts, released for the soundtrack of the Disney movie Cars.
Life Is A Highway features ample use of distorted electric guitars, some very cool but simple solos, ghost notes, power chords, and plenty of palm muting, providing you with all sorts of fun guitar parts to learn and practice.
Life Is A Highway is upbeat and fun to play. Follow this link to get started today.
12. Time McGraw – Don’t Take The Girl
McGraw rose to prominence in the 1990s and early 2000s and has consistently remained one of the most popular country singers in the genre’s history.
Don’t Take The Girl is from McGraw’s 1994 second album release, Not A Moment Too Soon, which is widely considered his breakout album.
Don’t Take The Girl is an emotionally-driven song featuring two acoustic guitars. The lead part consists of straightforward picking, and the accompanying guitar strums at only a few parts, making it one of the easier songs to learn on this list.
To get started with the tabs, follow this link.
13. George Strait – Amarillo By Morning
Another country classic from one of the most iconic country singers of all time. George Strait is one of those artists that, if you don’t listen to country, you likely have still heard of him.
The majority of Amarillo By Morning is played on the acoustic guitar, with a straightforward strumming pattern consisting of seven chords in the key of D.
This is one of the easier songs on our list, but don’t be fooled; it is still a lot of fun to learn and play.
To check out the tabs for this country classic, follow the link here.
14. Lainey Wilson – Heart Like A Truck
Lainey Wilson is one of the most popular country artists in the genre at the moment. With four studio albums and appearances on the hit TV show Yellowstone, her popularity will likely continue to grow.
Heart Like A Truck is from her most recent album, the 2022 release, Bell Bottom Country.
The 3:19 track has already gained over 20 million views on YouTube, which will continue to increase in the coming years.
All you need to learn Heart Like A Truck is an acoustic guitar. Although there are electric guitar parts, most of the song is performed on an acoustic guitar, with the main lick using fingerstyle playing.
Check out the tabs to Heart Like A Truck here.
15. Billy Currington – Good Directions
If you listened to a country radio station for more than a couple of hours in the mid-2000s, there was a good chance you would hear Billy’s 2005 release of Good Directions. Still to this day, you are likely to hear this song come on the radio, although not as frequently as you would have back then.
Good Directions, which was actually written by Rachel Thibodeau and Luke Bryan before he started releasing his own music, is a fun and simple song to play and great for beginners who are just getting started with country music guitar playing.
Good Directions is played with a capo on the 3rd fret and features seven chords, which is much higher than many of the other songs on this list. Despite the higher number of chords, the strumming pattern isn’t complex and is a good song for all ability levels to play.
Check out the tabs for good direction here, and get started today.
There you have it! Fifteen country songs in standard tuning spanning multiple decades, styles, and guitar sounds. This was by no means an exhaustive list and was designed to get you started. There are dozens of great artists and songs that you should explore beyond this list, and I encourage you to do so.
I hope you have enjoyed this list and wish you the very best in learning these songs. Enjoy!