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8 country songs you didn’t know were written by famous artists

Country music has a rich tradition of storytelling, often capturing the heart and soul of everyday experiences. What many fans might not realize is that some of the genre’s most beloved songs were penned by artists known for their success in other musical realms. Here, we uncover eight country songs that you didn’t know were written by famous artists from outside the country music scene.

1. “Wagon Wheel” – Bob Dylan

“Wagon Wheel” is a country anthem famously performed by Old Crow Medicine Show and later popularized by Darius Rucker. However, its origins trace back to none other than Bob Dylan. The song’s chorus comes from an unfinished demo recorded by Dylan during the sessions for the soundtrack to the film “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” in the early 1970s. Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show completed the song, adding verses to Dylan’s original chorus. This collaboration across decades created a timeless hit that resonates with country fans worldwide.

2. “9 to 5” – Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton is a country legend, but her song “9 to 5” is a testament to her cross-genre appeal. What might surprise some is the song’s connections to the pop and film industries. Written for the 1980 movie of the same name, starring Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin, the song became a crossover hit on both the country and pop charts. Parton’s knack for capturing the daily grind of the working class has made “9 to 5” an enduring anthem for many.

3. “Crazy” – Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson, now a country music icon, was once primarily known as a songwriter. One of his most famous compositions, “Crazy,” was brought to life by Patsy Cline in 1961. The song became a massive hit and is one of the most played jukebox songs of all time. Nelson’s poignant lyrics and Cline’s powerful voice created a timeless classic that continues to be a staple in the country music repertoire.

4. “I Will Always Love You” – Dolly Parton

While Dolly Parton is undeniably a country star, her song “I Will Always Love You” reached new heights when Whitney Houston covered it for the soundtrack of “The Bodyguard” in 1992. Parton wrote the song in 1973, expressing her feelings about parting ways with her mentor and business partner, Porter Wagoner. Houston’s rendition brought the song into the pop sphere, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time and introducing Parton’s songwriting genius to a global audience.

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5. “Man of Constant Sorrow” – Traditional, Adapted by Bob Dylan

“Man of Constant Sorrow” gained mainstream popularity through its inclusion in the soundtrack of the film “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” performed by the fictional Soggy Bottom Boys. However, the song’s modern adaptation is heavily influenced by Bob Dylan, who recorded a version of the song in the early 1960s. Dylan’s interpretation helped revitalize interest in the traditional folk tune, cementing its place in the Americana and country music canon.

6. “You Were Always on My Mind” – Brenda Lee, Johnny Christopher, Mark James

Although often associated with Willie Nelson, “You Were Always on My Mind” was originally written by Johnny Christopher, Mark James, and Wayne Carson. Brenda Lee first recorded the song in 1972, but it was Nelson’s 1982 rendition that became iconic. Elvis Presley also recorded a version in 1972, showcasing the song’s broad appeal across different musical genres. Nelson’s heartfelt performance and the songwriters’ poignant lyrics created a country music classic that continues to resonate with audiences.

7. “Love Hurts” – Boudleaux Bryant

“Love Hurts” is best known as a rock ballad performed by Nazareth in 1975, but its origins are deeply rooted in country music. Written by the prolific songwriting duo Boudleaux Bryant, the song was first recorded by The Everly Brothers in 1960. The poignant lyrics and haunting melody made it a hit across multiple genres, including country, rock, and pop. The song’s enduring popularity is a testament to Bryant’s songwriting prowess and its universal theme of heartbreak.

8. “Jolene” – Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” is a quintessential country song, but its influence extends far beyond the genre. Written and recorded by Parton in 1973, the song tells the story of a woman confronting a romantic rival. Its catchy melody and relatable lyrics have led to numerous covers by artists across various genres, including The White Stripes and Miley Cyrus. Parton’s storytelling and musical talent have made “Jolene” a timeless classic that continues to inspire musicians worldwide.


Country music’s rich tapestry is woven with contributions from a diverse array of artists, some of whom may surprise even the most ardent fans. From Bob Dylan’s contributions to timeless classics by Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton, these songs highlight the interconnectedness of music genres and the universal appeal of great songwriting. Whether you’re a country music aficionado or a casual listener, these stories behind the songs offer a deeper appreciation of the artistry and collaboration that defines the genre.

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