For most people who grew up in the rural areas of the world -- or like to pretend they did -- being country is a thing of pride. Plenty of big country names know what it's like to live out in the country, and, of course, some of the most iconic songs in the genre are about that simple, yet determined, way of life.
There's Hank Williams Jr.'s "A Country Boy Can Survive," Alan Jackson's "Country Boy" and Tim McGraw's "Where the Green Grass Grows" -- classics. Newer songs celebrating the country way of life include Luke Bryan's "Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day,” Darius Rucker's "Southern State of Mind" and Blake Shelton's "Boys 'Round Here." And that's just barely scratching the surface.
Which country song about being country is the best of them all, though? Read on for our Top 10 picks:
Bryan landed his 16th career No. 1 song with "Huntin', FIshin' and Lovin' Every Day." The song is an ode to Southern living — and Bryan, who grew up on a peanut farm in small-town Georgia, certainly knows a lot about that subject. “Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day” is the 12th tune on Bryan's Kill the Lights album; he co-wrote the upbeat, mid-tempo song, which praises the easy ways of life as a small-town Southern boy, with friends Dallas Davidson, Rhett Akins and Ben Hayslip, who are together known as the Peach Pickers.
In "Rednecker," songwriter-turned-artist Hardy isn't afraid to go to bat for his hometown and tell y'all about his redneck street cred. Hardy (full name: Michael Hardy) comes by that small-town pride honestly: He grew up in Philadelphia, Miss., a town of about 7,500, located in rural Neshoba County.
"My town's smaller than your town / And I got a bigger buck and bass on my wall / Got a little more kick in my drawl / Y'all, I got little more spit in my chaw," Hardy sings in the chorus of "Rednecker." "My truck's louder than your truck / And my collar's a little more blue / You might think that you're redneck / But I'm rednecker than you ..." -- and, uh, we believe him.
"Hicktown" was the debut single from Aldean's debut album, and it helped set the tone for much of his subsequent career. The uptempo, guitar-driven track talks up of all the various ways small-town folks entertain themselves: "We let it rip when we got the money / Let it roll if we got the gas / It gets wild, yeah, but that's the way we get down / In a hick town." Big & Rich wrote "Hicktown" with Vicky McGehee; the song reached No. 10 and has since become a staple of Aldean's live show, and one of his signature songs.
Country legend Jackson, released "Country Boy" in 2008, as the third single from his album Good Time. In the tune, Jackson sings about the benefits that come along with being with a country boy: "I'm a country boy, I've got a four-wheel drive / Climb in my bed, I'll take you for a ride / Up city streets, down country roads / I can get you where you need to go / 'Cause I'm a country boy." "Country Boy," which was written by Jackson, peaked at the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
“Where the Green Grass Grows” was a hit for McGraw in 1998. The song finds the artist wanting to escape city life and return to his country dream: "I'm gonna live where the green grass grows / Watch my corn pop up in rows / Every night be tucked in close to you / Raise our kids where the good Lord's blessed / Point our rockin' chairs towards the west / And plant our dreams where the peaceful river flows / Where the green grass grows." The song appears on his 1997 album Everywhere.
Although Rucker first made a name for himself outside the country music genre, he lays out just what makes him country in his song "Southern State of Mind." Sweet tea, holding the door for women and just being plain-old polite remind him of his home in South Carolina. He explains to country outsiders, "You can see it in the clothes I wear, you can hear it when I talk / Ballcap, boots and jeans and a little Southern drawl / I could be up in Ohio or back home in Caroline / No matter what state I'm in / I'm in a Southern state of mind."
Shelton released his platinum-certified song "Boys 'Round Here" in the spring of 2013. "Well, the boys 'round here don't listen to the Beatles / Run ol' Bocephus through a jukebox needle / At a honky-tonk, where their boots stomp / All night, what? (That's right)" Shelton sings, with an assist from the Pistol Annies. "Yeah, and what they call work, digging in the dirt / Gotta get it in the ground 'fore the rain come down / To get paid, to get the girl / In your four-wheel drive (A country boy can survive)." "Boys 'Round Here" was penned by ace tunesmiths Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson and Craig Wiseman -- no wonder it was a hit!
Williams Jr.'s "A Country Boy Can Survive" is a song about the perseverance of country folk: Although he sings about the worries of the world, Bocephus is quick to point out that it really doesn't matter -- country boys (and girls) are self-reliant and will get through life by their own accord.
"Because you can't stomp us out, and you can't make us run / 'Cause we're them old boys raised on shotguns," Williams Jr. sings. "We say grace, and we say ma'am / If you ain't into that, we don't give a damn."
Wilson's "Redneck Woman" stayed at the top of the charts for five weeks and became the most successful song of the singer's career. Needless to say, the country life-lovin' song was popular, selling in excess of one million units and earning the 2005 Grammy Awards trophy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
Wilson, who grew up listening to country music, name-checks some of her own favorite artists in "Redneck Woman," including George Strait, Charlie Daniels, Tanya Tucker and Hank Williams Jr., along with rock stars Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd. However, she credits Faith Hill -- specifically, the singer's "Breathe" music video -- with inspiring the track: “She’s gorgeous. She looks like a supermodel. She’s rolling around in satin sheets. And that was the inspiration behind “Redneck Woman,”” the Illinois native recalls.
In 1975, Denver released his ode to country life, "Thank God I'm a Country Boy." It's a classic, with Denver singing, "Well I got me a fine wife, I got me an ole fiddle / When the sun's comin' up, I got cakes on the griddle / Life ain't nothin' but a funny, funny riddle / Thank God I'm a country boy." The song was incredibly popular, placing in the top spot on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 in addition to the Hot Country Songs chart. Oh, and did we mention it also hit No. 1 in Canada and ... Yugoslavia?!