Top 10 Smoke Songs
Smoking seems to have replaced drinking as the preferred sin for country's biggest stars. Not all of these songs on our Top 10 Smoke Songs list are about puffing, but many are. Five of them come from the last five years, but the best use the cloud of white smoke as a dark metaphor for love or love lost.
A classic from Willie Nelson joins songs from newcomers like Kacey Musgraves, Maddie & Tae and a Thousand Horses. Carrie Underwood's new song is a great fit for the Top 10 Smoke Songs list, but it's not No. 1 — that honor goes to one of country's most under-rated male vocalists of the last two decades.
It's just an album cut (so far) on Maddie & Tae's debut album, but "Smoke" is one fans will relate to. The duo's song is about a guy who doesn't stick around. He's like "smoke blowing on the wind," they sing. "You might be bad for me / But I just wanna bring you in."
Nelson calls this song from the Heroes album a gospel song before he begins. At one point, Snoop Dogg joined him on stage to perform it. Jamey Johnson and Kris Kristofferson also add lyrics to the studio version of the romping country tune, No. 9 on our Top 10 Smoke Songs list.
"We all need that time to ourselves to get to take a break," Carrie Underwood says of "Smoke Break," the first single from her 2015 album Storyteller. The song is one everyone — even non-smokers — can relate to, which is why it lands at No. 8 on our Top Smoke Songs list.
Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town team up for an almost surreal collaboration in "Smokin' and Drinkin'," from Lambert's Platinum album. It tells a nostalgic story of simpler, more carefree times and immediately stands out on the radio. It's a chill song, when the focus of modern country music too often seems to be to amp someone up.
Parton sings of the blue smoke from a train she's riding on after experiencing devastating heartbreak. It's a metaphor for what she's going through, performed in the most upbeat way possible. One hardly hears the singer's pain — that's kind of a hallmark of so many of her best songs, isn't it? The song is the title track of Parton's 2014 Blue Smoke album.
Kelsea Ballerini’s soulful songwriting has made her a household name for country fans, and the young artist’s latest album is filled with poignant tracks. Though “Secondhand Smoke” has not been released as a single, the moving ballad is a testament to the rookie’s pure talent. A sincere look at the emotional damage a child experiences when parents have an unhealthy relationship, the song is in an introspective reflection on the fear of ending up in the same type of dysfunctional situation. Ballerini skillfully uses the titular metaphor to describe the effects of the relationship like smoke from a burnt bridge, making this song an obvious choice for our Top 10 Smoke Songs list.
In Kacey Musgraves’ sassy anthem “Blowin’ Smoke,” the singer-songwriter uses the title phrase as a play on words, first describing literal smoking, but utilizing the phrase to summarize a culture. The subjects of the song commiserate over their small town hardships, saying one day they will get away from it all and change their lives, but as Musgraves says, they’re just blowin’ smoke. Musgraves has a knack for painting vivid pictures with her well-crafted lyrics, and “Blowin’ Smoke” is no exception. The song is a standout on her debut album, Same Trailer, Different Park, and was released as its second single. It hit the Top 25 on the Country Airplay charts and No. 7 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.
Eric Church took a chance releasing this track from the Carolina album, but it paid off handsomely. Not only did "Smoke a Little Smoke" cement his reputation as a country singer who plays by his own set of rules, it became a platinum-selling single before the historic Chief album dropped in 2011. It's pretty clear the "Smoke" Church is drowning his sorrows in isn't from Marlboro Reds.
This Southern rock ballad introduced a Thousand Horses to the country A-list after years of honing their laid-back sound. The quartet released “Smoke” as the leadoff track from their debut record with Republic Nashville in early 2015 as a bluesy, aching tribute to an elusive woman. Lead singer Michael Hobby’s gritty vocals bring an honest delivery and unique sound to the song that propelled it to No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay charts, making it the first debut country tune to do so since Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried” in 2008.
After 16 years, many Gary Allan fans still feel “Smoke Rings in the Dark” is the California singer’s best song. It’s certainly his most poetic. “The night is like a dagger / Long and cold and sharp / As I sit here on the front steps / Blowing smoke rings in the dark,” he sings. Allan introduced himself as a forever forlorn cowboy with this song and songs like it. It’s a mood he still slips into with ease today.