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Rockin’ Remakes: Top 10 Cover Songs in Country Music

Remakes, also commonly known as cover songs, go all the way back to the earliest days of popular music and have stretched across myriad musical genres. Songs written and recorded by country legend Hank Williams, for instance, have been covered by Tony Bennett, Beck and Bob Dylan, to name just a very few. From the most glaringly obvious to the entirely unexpected, The Boot counts down 10 of our favorite more recent cover songs in country music.

Kevin Winter, Getty Images

10. ‘If I Were a Boy,’ Reba McEntire (2010)
The Original: Beyoncé, 2008

She’s tackled everything from Bobbie Gentry (‘Fancy’) to the Everly Brothers (‘Cathy’s Clown’). But it takes some cojones to stare down a huge pop tune by Beyoncé and knock it out of the park. Boy or not, we’d kick it with you any time, Reba.

Reba’s Version
| Beyoncé’s Version
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Robyn Beck, AFP/Getty Images

9. ‘Little Sister,’ Dwight Yoakam (1987)
The Original: Elvis Presley, 1961

The King only had a few gazillion hits, so there are Elvis cover tunes a-plenty. Still, it’s tough to beat the rumble of this high-octane rocker with tasty guitar licks courtesy of Pete Anderson and a few well-placed hoots and hollers (courtesy of Dwight’s painted-on jeans?).

Dwight’s Version | Elvis’ Version
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Frederick Breedon, FilmMagic

8. ‘Rose Garden,’ Martina McBride (2005)
The Original: Lynn Anderson, 1970

It’s tough to pick a favorite track from Martina’s ‘Timeless’ album. It is, after all, loaded with country classics delivered by one of the genre’s most powerfully expressive voices. But, like her most memorable performances, this one opens up to reveal a thing of rare beauty.

Martina’s Version | Lynn’s Version
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Ethan Miller, Getty Images

7. ‘Life Is a Highway,’ Rascal Flatts (2006)
The Original: Tom Cochrane, 1991

Rascal Flatts’ turbo-charged version of the already ubiquitous pop smash became a pop and country hit all its own, thanks to a little Disney movie called ‘Cars.’ The song had also been covered by Chris LeDoux. But it’s the trio’s rendition of this road-trip favorite that never seems to run out of gas.

Rascal Flatts’ Version | Tom’s Version
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Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

6. ‘Landslide,’ Dixie Chicks (2002)
The Original: Fleetwood Mac, 1975

Written by Stevie Nicks while coping with a number of personal and professional issues, the Chicks’ version, showcasing their shimmering harmonies, was released not long before the trio faced a landslide of their own. It still packs an emotional wallop worthy of any natural disaster.

Dixie Chicks’ Version | Fleetwood Mac’s Version
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5. ‘Pop a Top,’ Alan Jackson (1999)
The Original: Jim Ed Brown, 1967

A natural to kick off the release of Alan’s outstanding covers album, cleverly titled ‘Under the Influence,’ the tune’s a bouncy one but the tale of “a row of fools on a row of stools” should come with a “Drink — and Listen — Responsibly” warning label.

Alan’s Version | Jim Ed’s Version
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Rick Diamond, Getty Images

4. ‘Shine,’ Dolly Parton (2001)
The Original: Collective Soul, 1993

The number (and scope) of tunes Dolly has covered is impressive. But what she does here, aided by the members of Nickel Creek, is nothing short of miraculous, turning an alt-rock anthem into a Grammy-winning bluegrass gospel masterpiece.

Dolly’s Version | Collective Soul’s Version
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Frederick Breedon, WireImage.com

3. ‘My Maria,’ Brooks & Dunn (1995)
The Original: B.W. Stevenson, 1973

A Top 10 pop hit for the Texas-born singer-songwriter (who died in 1988), this country-tinged AM radio favorite was a natural two decades later for Ronnie Dunn’s heart-melting falsetto. Listen just once and see if your soul isn’t “set free like a ship sailing out to sea.”

Brooks & Dunn’s Version | B.W.’s Version
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Rick Diamond, Getty Images

2. ‘When You Say Nothing at All,’ Alison Krauss (1995)
The Original: Keith Whitley, 1988

The song that made Keith Whitley a legend also turned a young bluegrass phenom into a country superstar. His version became his second of five No. 1 songs, hers earned CMA Single of the Year. Both are stunningly beautiful and unforgettable.

Alison’s Version | Keith’s Version
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1. ‘Hurt,’ Johnny Cash (2002)
The Original: Nine Inch Nails, 1994

Written by industrial rocker Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, the Man in Black’s version came so near the end of his illustrious career — and admittedly complicated life — that it’s difficult not to be stung by its disarming honesty.

Johnny’s Version | Nine Inch Nails’ Version
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