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Top 20 Opening Lyrics in Country Music

Waylon Jennings
Scott Harrison, Getty Images

You know the old saying “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? Well, that’s just as true in music as it is in life!

Very few songs really grab the listener from the first line; it’s a tough task, and we commend those that do it well. In their honor, we count down the best opening lyrics in the history of country music.


'Need You Now'


Opening Line: "Picture-perfect memories scattered all around the floor"

This Grammy-winning smash brings unlikely justification to the "booty call," as Lady A have crafted lyrics that make a drunken phone call to an ex seem perfectly reasonable ... and irresistible.


'Me and Bobby McGee'


Opening Line: "Busted flat in Baton Rouge, headin' for a train / Feelin' nearly faded as my jeans"

Roger Miller as well as Kristofferson himself recorded this tune, but it was the famed songwriter's girlfriend, Janis Joplin, who made it a No. 1 classic. The opening lyrics set a downtrodden stage, but the song actually takes a happy turn ... and then bookends itself with heartache.




Opening Line: "I can make anybody pretty / I can make you believe any lie"

This 2005 hit from Paisley's 'Time Well Wasted' CD promises not only to make someone more attractive but also to "cause a few breakups" and "help white people dance." A self-proclaimed tee-totaler in real life, if Paisley is caught with a lampshade on his head, he only has himself to blame.


'What Do You Say'


Opening Line: "Stuck at a red light outside an adult bookstore / He said, 'Daddy, what are all those XXXs for?'"

The fiery redhead details a few parental nightmares, including explaining pornography and underage drinking to young children, making this song somewhat of a self-help guide for speechless moms and dads.


'Sunday Morning Coming Down'


Opening Line: "Well, I woke up Sunday morning / With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt"

Who hasn't had those painful mornings that follow a night of indulgence? Cash's version of this Kris Kristofferson classic makes even Mondays look more attractive than sad Sundays.


'What Was I Thinkin''


Opening Line: "Becky was a beauty from south Alabama / Her daddy had a heart like a nine-pound hammer"

This song starts with a visual fit for a movie screen. Bentley knows "there'll be hell to pay" for taking out the girl in the "little white tank top," but he chooses romance over repercussions -- which include some bullets to his taillights.


'Love Can Build a Bridge'


Opening Line: "I'd gladly walk across a desert with no shoes upon my feet"

This emotionally charged ballad was written as a goodbye love letter to the Judds' fans, before the pair was forced to call it quits upon Naomi Judd's diagnosis with hepatitis. Right from the first line, the duo shows selfless love that knows no limits.


'Almost Home'


Opening Line: "He had plastic bags wrapped 'round his shoes / He was covered with the evening news"

This BMI Song of the Year winner tells the emotionally captivating story of a homeless man whose daydreams of warm childhood memories help him brave frigid temperatures.


'In Dreams'


Opening Line: "A candy-colored clown they call the Sandman / Tiptoes to my room every night"

The late country-rock icon cleverly starts this sad love song off like a lullaby. When you're finding your lost love only by falling asleep and seeing her in your dreams, waking up is just as solemn as breaking up.


'In Color'


Opening Line: "I said, 'Grandpa, what's this picture here? / It's all black and white and ain't real clear'"

Released in 2008, Johnson's award-winning single takes us back to the Great Depression with vivid imagery that brings shades of gray to living color. For four minutes, we travel along with the singer to a few generations past.


'Always on My Mind'


Opening Line: "Maybe I didn't love you quite as often as I should have"

Actions may speak louder than words, but these lyrics -- also recorded by Brenda Lee and Elvis Presley -- grovel just beautifully enough to make a neglected lover swoon. Apology accepted.


'Here for the Party'


Opening Line: "Well I'm an eight ball-shooting, double-fisted-drinking son of a gun"

These opening lyrics come at you like a slap in the face. I'm Gretchen Wilson, and I'm here to party just as hard as the boys. Deal with it.


'Whiskey Lullaby'


Opening Line: "She put him out like the burnin' end of a midnight cigarette"

This stunning 2004 song starts out with a bang; listeners can almost smell the smoke of a lover's regret. As the haunting lyrics progress, both the cheater and the scorned are sent to an early grave after too many swigs from the whiskey bottle.


'Hello Walls'


Opening Line: "Hello, walls / How'd things go for you today?"

A depressing story about a jilted lover who commiserates with the walls in his house, the tune was not only a success for Young but also for a then-twenty-something new writer, Willie Nelson, who counts this as one of his first hits.


'9 to 5'


Opening Line: "Tumble outta bed and stumble to the kitchen / Pour myself a cup of ambition"

Parton wrote this as the theme song for the 1980 movie '9 to 5,' but it's also pretty much the theme of every working man and woman's life. Why someone hasn't started a coffee company called 'Ambition' is beyond us.


'He Stopped Loving Her Today'


Opening Line: "He said, 'I'll love you 'til I die'"

The Possum released this poignant ballad in 1980 and made it one of the biggest songs in his 50-plus-year career. A tragic tale of a brokenhearted man who carries his pining love to the grave, it tops several lists of the greatest country songs of all time.


'Folsom Prison Blues'


Opening Line: "I hear the train a comin' / It's rollin' 'round the bend / And I ain't seen the sunshine since I don't know when"

He may have "shot a man in Reno just to watch him die," but we still somehow feel bad for the guy.


'Friends in Low Places'


Opening Line: "Blame it all on my roots, I showed up in boots"

When he's performing this song live in concert, you can barely hear Brooks; the volume of the audience singing along from the first word is simply too loud. The superstar's "roots" are planted at the start of one of the most beloved country songs of all time.


'I Saw the Light'


Opening Line: "I wandered so aimless, life filled with sin / I wouldn't let my dear Savior in"

Waxing poetic on his internal struggles, Williams Sr. was only 25 years old when he figuratively "saw the light." His untimely death four years later, allegedly due to substance abuse, never allowed the early star to fully appreciate the success of this classic.


'Luckenbach, Texas'


Opening Line: "The only two things in life that make it worth livin' / Is guitars that tune good and firm-feelin' women"

This 1977 song about going "back to the basics" evokes the urge to trade in our modern-day gadgets and travel to this tiny Texas town.


NEXT: 10 Big Country Music Risk-Takers

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