Updated: Nov 8
Honky Tonkin' IIX
The Honky Tonkin' series was so much fun to do! It's incredible to see how Honky Tonk Country came to be, and the enormous impact it still has on country music. In Texas especially we are seeing revivalists in Fort Worth, and Austin that adhere to not only the sound, but the swaggy aesthetic that goes along with it-Nudie rhinestone trimmed suits, and a crisp cowboy hat to top the look harkens back to the days when Lefty Frizzell, and Hank Williams were the Kings. We love to see it.
The reach of traditional country is so broad that we are hearing some of those familiar twangy sounds across state lines, and continents. Even on mainstream radio right now, we are hearing Honky tonk country by way of Scotty McCreery, and Joe Nichols, both currently charting on Billboard. Morgan Wallen's Everything I Love, currently at #9 on Billboard's Country Airplay chart is very clearly a nod to Outlaw Country w/ its Waylonesque guitar riffs, and Hoss's backbeat rhythm.
And the last albums from George Strait, and Alan Jackson have continued to keep the torch high for Traditional Country. There is some more modern country music right now on mainstream radio that I've shared in previous blog posts, and podcasts that I really like, and support. There are current trailblazers that are moving country forward in their own unique and revolutionary way like those that came before.
The music my papaw, and daddy grew up listening to, and shared with me is not what some would identify as their cup of country. That just means we have to keep sharing great music with everyone as much as we can. I also do understand that if we look back not just at country music, but all genres have expanded into something that each generation can claim as their own. As Tony Soprano said It is what it is..
But actually, it is necessary if the industry is to remain relevant, and thrive. I mean how else are the Honky tonks on Broadway going to remain filled up? Lol, but I digress.. There should always be a place set for traditional country music on the current smorgasbord of sounds. And quite honestly, you are hard pressed to try to two step or do a little snuggly slow dance to some of the newish songs.
I really feel passionate about the importance of dusting off the gems from those that came before, and to listen to how it was done, what they were saying, and why. Re-recording some of those forgotten treasures even reimagined with a new spin can introduce a new audience to some of the best music ever recorded. I can't imagine a new country fan who has not heard of George Jones, Vern Gosdin, Merle Haggard or even Keith Whitley, and or Daryle Singletary..
The thought breaks my heart..
With that being said, what follows are thirty albums that are the greatest honky tonk albums of all time! Thanks so much for responding to our pesky little surveys as we cannot do any of this without you! As a rule we do not rank albums BUT Hank Williams Moanin' The Blues received twice the votes of almost anyone else..
There are some artists like George Strait that serve a little Western swing with their honky tonk which is a great combination. Others lean in with more bluesy tones. Regardless, what you'll hear is that each artist puts their personal stamp on the music, and makes it something special, heartfelt, and relatable.
I've also included an infographic below to provide some context on the evolution of Honky Tonk Country. From the very beginning music has merged, and blended with a variety of genres, and it almost always flips over the apple cart. And it is usually the progenitors that get the brunt of the broom. Ernest Tubb, Lefty Frizzell, and Miss Loretta all were met with resistance for steering country music in new directions in their day.
But as we move forward with country music, we should also take a step back into some of the classics that shaped the sound. I think of it like walking into a Time Machine that connects us with the emotions, struggles, and triumphs of our ancestors, and their experiences. Persevering amidst struggles, and pushing forward is a story that is common, and familiar to all humankind, and that is what country music is all about..
The Greatest Honky Tonk Albums of All-Time
Hank Williams-Moanin’ The Blues
Merle Haggard- Swinging Doors
Out of Hand Gary Stewart
Alan Jackson-Here In The Real World
Nightlife Ray Price: This album is a bridge between Honky Tonk Country and Countrypolitan
Patsy Cline's Greatest Hits
Tammy Wynette-The Ways To Love a Man
Don’t Come Home A Drinkin'-Loretta Lynn
Webb Pierce- The Wondering Boy
Keith Whitley-Don’t Close Your Eyes
Mark Chesnutt-Too Cold At Home
Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. Dwight Yoakam
Ken Mellons self-titled
Listen to Lefty Lefty Frizzell
Conway Twitty-You’ve Never Been This Far Before
George Strait-Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind
Floyd Tillman's Greatest 1958
George Jones-I Am What I Am
Faron Young This Is Faron Young
Linda Martell- Color Me Country
Ernest Tubb- Midnight Jamboree
Al Dexter Sings Plays His Greatest Hits
Kitty Wells-Country Hit Parade
Wayne Hancock- Thunderstorm and Neon Signs
Donny Young (Johnny Paycheck)- Shakin’ The Blues
Johnny Horton-Honky Tonk Man
Moe Bandy-I Just Started Hating Cheating Songs Today
Buck Owens-Together Again (!964)
John Anderson 2
Johnny Bush-The Sound of a Heartache
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