Charlie Daniels Band’s 10 Best Songs of All Time
Charlie Daniels' best songs show that he's much more than just the man behind "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." Across a 50-year recording career, the icon and frontman for the Charlie Daniels Band proved he was an original who was less concerned about radio success and No. 1 hits than he was songs that spoke to him and his diehard audience.
Daniels' greatest hits prove he was an exemplary songwriter and an outspoken outlaw until the very end, never afraid to lean into the edges with songs that mixed country, rock, cajun, bluegrass and anything else he felt like mixing. Onstage, the dynamic musician was simply brilliant.
"Simple Man" and "Drinkin' My Baby Good-Bye" join "Devil" as Daniels' three Top 10 songs (per Billboard), but a full list of his best songs should go much deeper. "In America" makes this list, as does the defiant "Long Haired Country Boy" and eccentric "The Legend of Wooley Swamp." Daniels only notched one No. 1 hit — a very low number for a Country Music Hall of Famer — but his impact was felt nationwide throughout the '70s, '80s and '90s in country music. Even in the '00s, as his grip on the masses began to loosen, he remained an active recording artist and live performer with plenty more to say, as this list of his best songs proves.
Daniels was never afraid of controversy. On Twitter, he was a firebrand who stood beside his points of view, even as he recognized it cost him fans and, perhaps, friends. You'll find his political points of view in the above playlist but not on this list of his best songs. "This Ain't No Rag, It's a Flag," a Top 40 hit from 2001, is insensitive (at best) 20 years later, and both versions of "Uneasy Rider" have the potential to alienate an audience.
"Long Haired Country Boy," "The South's Gonna Do It Again" and "In America" begin the above playlist and perhaps most accurately point a CDB novice down the right path into exploring his catalog. Daniels was capable of tender ballads, as well — see "Carolina" — but songs that allowed his fiddle to saw hot are his lasting signatures.
Charlie Daniels died in Tennessee at the age of 83 on July 6, 2020, after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke.
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