Top 10 Country Drinking Songs
Some of country’s greatest artists — George Jones, Hank Williams Jr. and Loretta Lynn, among others — have recorded hits involving drinking. You’ll find their names and more legends, as well as some newer stars, on this list.
Crack open a beer (it’s five o’clock somewhere, right?), and listen to The Boot’s Top 10 Country Drinking Songs.
Chesney and Grace Potter first teamed up for “You and Tequila,” and the finished product received two Grammy nods, Best Country Song and Best Country Duo / Group Performance. Chesney first heard this song while driving down the Pacific Coast Highway at sunset, and he recorded it for his 2010 record, Hemingway’s Whiskey. The song won a CMA Award for Music Video of the Year and was nominated for three ACM Awards.
“Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” was made popular by several artists: Kris Kristofferson wrote the track, and Ray Stevens recorded it in 1969. Kristofferson himself also released the song on his debut record, Kristofferson, but Cash is the one who made it a No. 1 hit. The Man in Black’s version was released on his live record The Johnny Cash Show and won a CMA Award for Song of the Year in 1970. Other artists who have recorded “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” include Waylon Jennings and Lynn Anderson.
“Don’t Come Home a’Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” is the title track to Lynn’s seventh studio album, which was released in 1967. The song peaked at No. 1 and became Lynn’s first top hit on the country charts; plus, the song’s success contributed to her win of Female Vocalist of the Year at the 1967 CMA Awards. “Don’t Come Home a’Drinkin'” is based on Lynn’s personal life, as her husband was a heavy drinker. Tammy Wynette, Gretchen Wilson and other country singers have since covered the song, and Lynn’s brother, Jay Lee Webb, recorded the slyly titled “I Come Home a’Drinkin’ (to a Worn Out Wife Like You).”
“White Lightning” was Jones’ first-ever No. 1 song. It was written by J.P. Richardson (aka the Big Bopper) and produced by Buddy Killen. At the time of the sessions, Jones was drinking heavily; “… Killen later said we did 83 takes before we got one we could use,” Jones once recalled. “Killen said he wore the skin off his fingers playing that same opening, and had to wear Band-Aids to cover raw blisters. Years later he said he could still remember the pain from playing that kickoff over and over the stiff, woven-wire strings of an upright bass.”
“It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” became a hit in 2003. Featuring guest vocals from Jimmy Buffett, the song was released on Jackson’s Greatest Hits Volume II compilation record. It spent eight weeks (non-consecutive) on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart and won the CMA Award for Vocal Event of the Year. Anyone who needs a stiff drink on a hard day can relate to the lyrics, which justify drinking at just about any time: “Pour me somethin’ tall and strong / Make it a Hurricane before I go insane / It’s only half-past 12, but I don’t care / It’s five o’clock somewhere.”
“All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)” — the title alone says it all. Williams Jr. wrote and recorded the tune, which was released in September of 1981, as his first single from The Pressure Is On. It became the artist’s fifth No. 1 and spent 10 weeks on the country charts. Williams Jr. name-checks famous friends such as George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson, but listeners will nod their heads in understanding whether they’ve got famous friends or not when Williams Jr. sings, “All my rowdy friends have settled down / And it seems to be more in the laid-back songs / Nobody wants to get drunk and get loud / Everybody just wants to go back home.”
It’s ironic how many of Paisley’s hits are about alcohol, considering that he doesn’t drink. This particular tune hit No. 4 on the charts and was nominated for two Grammys: Best Country Song and Best Country Male Vocal. The lyrics of “Alcohol” are utterly hilarious, as Paisley personifies it: “Well, I’ve been known to cause a few breakups / And I’ve been known to cause a few births / I can make you new friends / Or get you fired from work.”
Bryan’s “Drink a Beer” was written by written by Jim Beavers and Chris Stapleton, but it is strikingly applicable to Bryan’s life. The No. 1 hit is a ballad about losing a loved one — something that Bryan knows much about, as both his brother and sister passed away tragically. “Drink a Beer” is raw and gripping, and it stands in stark contrast to the other drinking songs on this list: It’s not about getting drunk, but a raise of a glass to late loved ones.
“Drunk on a Plane” is one of the most fun songs on this list. It’s from Bentley’s seventh studio record, Riser, and it has been certified platinum since its release in April of 2014. “Drunk on a Plane” is an upbeat song about lost love … and then a great big party on a plane: “It’s Mardi Gras up in the clouds / I’m up so high, I may never come down / I’ll try anything to drown out the pain / They all know why I’m getting drunk on a plane.” Bentley’s music video is one of the funniest we’ve seen: He plays both the heartbroken guy and the pilot — a role he reprised at the 2014 CMT Music Awards.
Who can think of country drinking songs without immediately singing “Friends in Low Places,” made famous by Brooks? It was released in August of 1990 as the lead single from No Fences and, in addition to being a No. 1 hit, “Friends in Low Places” won both an ACM Award and a CMA Award for Single of the Year. It’s been around for more than two decades — and will likely always be one of country’s best drinking songs.