Top 10 Tammy Wynette Songs
Tammy Wynette’s songs are as iconic as the singer herself. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, only a few female acts were considered headliners in the country music genre, and Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and Tammy Wynette were at the top of that elite list. Wynette, also known as the First Lady of Country Music, was not only telling her story of relationship troubles while trying to raise children on her own, she was telling the story of many other everyday women — she was their voice of inspiration.
From strong independent songs like ‘Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad,’ to the empowering and tearful ‘’Til I Can Make It On My Own,’ to the duets that reflected her troubled marriage to George Jones, these are the Top 10 Tammy Wynette Songs. This list of diverse songs represents all phases of a career was cut way too short, when Wynette passed at 55 in 1998, the same year she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
‘Justified and Ancient’ (with KLF)
‘Justified and Ancient (Stand by the Jam)’ is the most controversial selection on our list of Tammy Wynette songs. However, one cannot ignore the impact this song had on her career. When the British Band KLF featured the First Lady of Country Music front and center on lead vocals, her voice soared through contemporary hit music stations. Her face was on MTV in the hit video. Her name appeared at No. 1 in 18 different countries — proving that this Country Music Hall of Famer was still a hit with the next generation of music fans.
‘Apartment #9,’ co-penned by Johnny Paycheck, was not a major hit, but it did open the door for the Mississippi cotton picker who dreamed of a glamorous life as singer. After her first divorce in 1965, Wynette bravely packed up her kids, moved to Nashville and marched into producer Billy Sherrill’s office to pitch some songs. Sherrill liked what he heard, encouraged her to change her name from Virgina Wynette Pugh to Tammy Wynette, and she was soon recording for Epic Records.
By the time Tammy Wynette released ‘Your Love,’ she was already a legend worthy of Hall of Fame induction. At the time, her career had slowed down, but this comeback album featured some collaborations that would remind everyone of her awesome vocal power. 1987’s ‘Higher Ground’ featured the voices of Emmylou Harris, Gene Watson, the O’Kanes, and the Gatlin Brothers. The ‘Your Love’ lyrics, backed by the voice of Ricky Skaggs, were dedicated to the fans for their years of unwavering support. Tammy insists she “never would have made it, without your love!” which is why this is one of the top Tammy Wynette songs of all time.
‘Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad’
After Tammy Wynette got on radio with her modest-charting debut single ‘Apartment No. 9,’ she released ‘Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad.’ The song about a woman who takes the attitude of ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, you might as well join ‘em’ was Wynette’s first Top 10 hit, peaking at No. 3. Ironically, the strong feminine lyrics were written by two men — producer Billy Sherrill and Glenn Sutton — both members of the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.
‘We’re Gonna Hold On’ (with George Jones)
In 1973, Tammy Wynette and her husband at the time, George Jones, released a song after one of their many fights. Their relationship troubles stemmed from Jones’ drinking problem, and as Wynette was threatening to leave him, he begged and pleaded for forgiveness. For days after the big argument, he kept singing this one line over and over: “We’re gonna hold on.” Jones and songwriter Earl Montgomery developed lyrics around the phrase and turned the dispute into a No. 1 song.
Tammy Wynette was known for singing sad songs about complicated relationships. In 1968’s ‘D-I-V-O-R-C-E,’ she made a hit out of a silly everyday thing that many parents actually do, which is spell out ‘uncomfortable’ words in front of their children. The song struck a chord with families everywhere and stayed at No. 1 for three weeks. It was penned by legendary songwriters Bobby Braddock and Curly Putnam. This catchy little sing a long is a must have on our list of the Top 10 Tammy Wynette Songs.
‘I Don’t Wanna Play House’
After scoring her first No. 1 record with ‘My Elusive Dreams,’ a duet with David Houston, Wynette returned to the top with a song that would bring her career to the next level. ‘I Don’t Wanna Play House,’ penned by the men who wrote ‘Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad,’ stayed at the top for three weeks, earned a Grammy Award for Best Female Vocal Performance, and helped Wynette build a legion of female fans who were happy she was singing and telling their stories in song.
‘Golden Ring’ (with George Jones)
‘Golden Ring’ was an interesting story about the day in the life of a wedding ring. This George Jones and Tammy Wynette duet was actually recorded after they divorced, and it’s full of unique connections. The song was written by Bobby Braddock, who penned George Jones’ ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today.’ The single featured her future husband George Richey on piano, as well as background vocals by the Gatlin Brothers, including Rudy Gatlin who briefly dated Wynette. George and Tammy would reunite one last time in 1995 for ‘One.’
‘‘Til I Can Make It on My Own’
After a rocky and stormy marriage to George Jones, Tammy Wynette was ready to start a new life. Already known for singing about heartbreak, relationship troubles, independence and strength, Wynette penned what she calls her favorite piece: ‘’Til I Can Make It on My Own.’ In 1976, this song made a statement to her fans and to her own personal self that she was ready to embark on a new chapter after her divorce. This powerful anthem is a must on our list of the Top 10 Tammy Wynette Songs.
‘Stand by Your Man’
‘Stand by Your Man’ is a timeless classic in the American Songbook that is unarguably Tammy Wynette’s most popular recording. Released during the women’s movement, the song received backlash from the nation’s feminists. However, Wynette and co-writer Billy Sherrill defended the song in Tom Roland’s Billboard Book of No. 1 Country Hits by claiming they wanted to write a song for the truly liberated woman, saying, “Stand by Your Man is just another way of saying ‘I love you — without reservations.’” It’s not only No. 1 on our list of the Top 10 Tammy Wynette Songs, but it’s considered one of the greatest country songs of all time.