The 50 best country songs from the 1970s shine a light on changes within the genre. Merle Haggard opened the decade with a song rooted in country traditionalism, but 10 years later, artists including Kenny Rogers and Barbara Mandrell were embracing a more polished sound.

These songs — one per artist — are the most essential '70s country songs. A few started iconic careers, while others jolted a dormant country hero. Several of these 50 great songs crossed over without negotiating. Within the genre, there were so many interesting subgenres.

Related: 50 Essential '90s Country Songs

Trucking songs and outlaw songs may have helped define the '70s in country music, but it was also a decade of collaboration. Men and women would pair up for breathtaking duets or even full albums. That's unheard of in 2023!

Scroll down and find a song you know and then a few you don't and click a link to listen. All 50 of these songs enjoyed great chart success, unless they became something bigger. Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville" is an example of the latter. Find him below, tucked between Conway Twitty and Tom T. Hall.

Related: The 50 Best '80s Country Songs

See 50 Essential '70s Country Songs

It's the 50 best country songs from the 50 best country artists of the 1970s. This list of essential '70s country songs includes No. 1 hits, brilliant covers, crossover ballads and more. Most you'll know, but some you'll need to hear to understand. As was the case with our popular Essential '80s Country Songs and Essential '90s Country Songs lists, only one song was allowed per artist.

Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes

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