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The 24 Best '90s Country Songs to Take You Back to That Iconic Decade

Walk down memory lane with hits from Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, and more.

Ready to do some reminiscing? There are few things that can you take you back to a time or place like a song. So, if you're a fan of country music and miss the '90s, prepare for some memories to come flooding back. That decade was particularly huge for the genre. Many country artists (such as Garth Brooks and Faith Hill) established themselves as icons of the form—while others (take Shania Twain and The Chicks) found success crossing over from country to pop. On top of that, other stars, like Reba McEntire and George Jones, who had already hit it big in past decades kept the momentum going into the end of the 20th century.

So whether you love love songs, are all about partying, or get a kick out of singing along to power ballads at the top of your lungs, read on. These are 24 of the best country songs produced by the '90s.

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1. "Breathe" by Faith Hill

Release date: Oct. 4, 1999

Record company: Warner Bros. Nashville

Faith Hill was a big deal in country music throughout the '90s, but toward the end of the decade she achieved some major crossover success. One of her songs that was everywhere at the time was the love song "Breathe." For the ballad, Hill won a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.

2. "Just to See You Smile" by Tim McGraw

Release date: June 3, 1997

Record company: Curb Records

Now we move on to Hill's husband Tim McGraw, who was also pumping out the hits in the '90s. The two have been married since 1996 and are still a country music power couple to this day. One of McGraw's biggest songs of the 1990s is "Just to See You Smile," which topped the Billboard country chart.

3. "Heads Carolina, Tails California" by Jo Dee Messina

Release date: Jan. 22, 1996

Record company: Curb Records

This song about being spontaneous with your significant other was a hit for Jo Dee Messina in the mid-'90s. The catchy single tells of a woman who wants to flip a quarter to find out where she and her lover will head to next—she's hoping for "somewhere greener, somewhere warmer."

4. "Wide Open Spaces" by The Chicks

Release date: Jan. 27, 1998

Record company: Monument Records

Wide Open Spaces is the title track from The Chicks' 1998 album of the same name and one of its many singles. The song was a hit on country radio and crossed over onto the pop charts. While many of the songs listed here are about loved ones—whether that's family, friends, or a partner—"Wide Open Spaces" is the story of a young woman setting out on her own to find her place in the world.

RELATED: Top 25 Most Popular Wedding Songs.

5. "Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks at the 1997 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

Release date: Aug. 6, 1990

Record company: Capitol Records Nashville

Garth Brooks cemented his place in country music history in the '90s and is one of the best-selling artists of all time. Helping propel him to massive fame was the 1990 single "Friends in Low Places" about staying authentic to one's roots with the support of "friends in low places, where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases my blues away."

6. "She's in Love With the Boy" by Trisha Yearwood

Release date: March 1991

Record company: MCA Records

Another country music power couple is Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, though they tied the knot in 2005, after their '90s musical heydays. Like her husband, Yearwood was a huge success in the decade thanks in part to her debut single "She's in Love with the Boy." The 1991 song tells the story of a girl named Katie who loves a guy named Tommy despite her father's disapproval—he very harshly says "when it comes to brains" Tommy "got the short end of the stick."

7. "Fancy" by Reba McEntire

Release date: Sept. 4, 1990

Record company: MCA Records

"Fancy" has become one of Reba McEntire's signature songs, but it's actually a cover of a 1969 song by Bobbie Gentry. As the lyrics and video show, the song is about a young woman, Fancy, who is pushed into sex work by her mother to make money.

RELATED: 8 '90s Hit Songs That Are Offensive by Today's Standards.

8. "You're Still the One" by Shania Twain

Release date: Nov. 4, 1997

Record company: Mercury Records

Shania Twain released a dozen singles from her 1997 album Come on Over—so, pretty much the entire album!—including "You're Still the One", which is still one of her most recognizable songs today. The love song is about her relationship with Mutt Lange, her husband at the time, who was also her song writing partner and producer. The song won two Grammys: Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance. (Today, let's just say, Lange is not "still the one.")

9. "Boot Scootin' Boogie" by Brooks & Dunn

Release date: Aug. 13, 1991

Record company: Arista Nashville

Brooks & Dunn's "Boot Scootin' Boogie" is a cover of a song by the band Asleep at the Wheel that came out a year earlier. As song title implies, the song is about dancing—line dancing, in particular. The lyrics describe a "honky tonk near the county line" with "whiskey, women, music, and smoke … where all the cowboy folk go to boot scootin' boogie." Sounds like a good time!

10. "She's Got It All" by Kenny Chesney

Release date: May 17, 1997

Record company: BNA Records

Kenny Chesney's first No. 1 on the Billboard country music chart was 1997's "She's Got It All." This simple love song is about finding the "perfect girl" who's got it all, "every quality/from A all the way to Z."

11. "God Blessed Texas" by Little Texas

Release date: May 11, 1993

Record company: Warner Bros. Nashville

Can you tell they like Texas? "God Blessed Texas" is a 1993 song by the band Little Texas and making it even more Texas-themed, the music video features the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. It's all about celebrating the Lone Star State with lyrics including, "If you wanna see heaven, brother, here's your chance."

12. "Should've Been a Cowboy" by Toby Keith

Release date: Feb. 12, 1993

Record company: PolyGram/Mercury Records

Toby Keith's debut single also became his first No. 1 song on the Billboard country chart. The 1993 song is all about a guy who wishes he became a cowboy, so he could pick up women, sleep outside beneath the stars, and have "a sidekick with a funny name."

RELATED: 22 Hit Songs Musicians Hate Playing Live.

13. "Strawberry Wine" by Deana Carter

Release date: Feb. 27, 1995

Record company: Capitol Records Nashville

Another debut single to hit No. 1 on the Billboard country chart is "Strawberry Wine" by Deana Carter. The song takes the point of view of a teenager experiencing her first love through a summer fling, which she calls "bittersweet" and "green on the vine/like strawberry wine."

14. "Independence Day" by Martina McBride

Release date: Sept. 14, 1993

Record company: RCA Nashville

While it sounds like it might be a patriotic song, Martina McBride's "Independence Day" is actually about domestic abuse. It's told from the perspective of a daughter whose mother is being abused by her father, but when the mother eventually gains her independence, she celebrates her own Independence Day. McBride also sings about the daughter going to a fair on the Fourth of July to escape her traumatic home.

15. "Blue Clear Sky" by George Strait

Release date: Sept. 27, 1995

Record company: MCA Records

George Strait had already been an influential country artist for quite some time when he released "Blue Clear Sky" in 1995. In fact, it's from his 16th album. The song is about finding love when you least expect it with a new love interest appearing "out of the blue clear sky." That's right," blue clear sky," not "clear blue sky"—the easy-to-mix-up title comes from a line in Forrest Gump.

16. "Meet in the Middle" by Diamond Rio

Release date: Feb. 11, 1991

Record company: Arista Nashville

The band Diamond Rio got a No. 1 on the country chart with their 1991 debut "Meet in the Middle." The song tells the story of a couple who fall in love when they are young by meeting in the middle between their two houses. Their way of meeting in the middle becomes less literal as their lives together go on with it becoming more about compromising in their marriage. As the band sings, "Babe, I love the way we work it out/That's what love's about."

RELATED: Fans Call Blake Shelton an "Embarrassment to Country Music" After Controversial Performance.

17. "I Swear" by John Michael Montgomery

Release date: November 1993

Record company: Atlantic Nashville

There's a good chance you know "I Swear," but your main point of reference could be either the country version or the R&B song—or both. The song was first released by country singer John Michael Montgomery in 1993, but the following year, the R&B group All-4-One also found success with their cover. Either way, the love ballad is about sticking by a partner's side through everything and swearing to do so "by the moon and the stars in the sky."

18. "Too Much Fun" by Daryle Singletary

Release date: May 23, 1995

Record company: Giant Records

In "Too Much Fun," singer Daryle Singletary questions whether too much fun is even possible. The verdict? It's not. Despite being pulled over by the police and kicked out of a bar, Singletary determines, "It's like too much money, there's no such thing."

19. "Go Rest High on That Mountain" by Vince Gill

Release date: June 7, 1994

Record company: MCA Nashville

Vince Gill wrote "Go Rest High on That Mountain" in honor of both fellow country singer Keith Whitley, who died in 1989, and his half-brother, Bob Coen, who died in 1993. The song is about mourning a loved one while also feeling that they've found peace after death. For the single, Gill won Grammys for Best Country Song and Best Male Country Vocal Performance.

RELATED: Why Maren Morris Is Really Quitting Country Music: "It's Burning Itself Down."

20. "Shut Up and Kiss Me" by Mary Chapin Carpenter

Release date: Aug. 29, 1994

Record company: Columbia Records

Mary Chapin Carpenter sings that she's a "jaded lady when it comes to love" in this song about finally letting your guard down and opening up to a relationship. At this point, she wants her new love to whisper, "Shut up and kiss me," because the infatuation's got the best of her. Carpenter won a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for this 1994 song.

21. "Little Bitty" by Alan Jackson

Release date: Oct. 14, 1996

Record company: Arista Nashville

This Alan Jackson hit is about enjoying the little things in life—or should we say, the "little bitty" things in life. The lyrics are all about embracing simplicity, and as Jackson sings in the chorus, "It's alright to be little bitty/A little hometown or a big old city/Might as well share, might as well smile/Life goes on for a little bitty while."

22. "How Do I Live" by LeAnn Rimes

Release date: May 23, 1997

Record company: Curb Records

LeAnn Rimes was only 14 years old when her ballad "How Do I Live" was released in 1997. It's pretty shocking considering the passion and depth of the love song's lyrics, which include, "How do I live without you?/I want to know/How do I breathe without you?/If you ever go/How do I ever, ever survive?" The song was record-setting when it came to the Billboard charts. Its accolades include remaining on the Hot 100 chart for a record 69 weeks—a record which wasn't broken until 10 years later by Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours."

23. "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair" by George Jones

Release date: Oct. 27, 1992

Record company: MCA Nashville

Unlike some of the other country stars on our list, George Jones didn't come to fame in the '90s. He was well-established as a country music legend by this point with hits spanning as far back as the '50s. In the '90s, Jones was letting everyone know that he wasn't retiring from his decades-long career just yet. Released when he was 61 years old, "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair" is about just what it sounds like. Jones sings, "I don't need your rockin' chair/Your Geritol or your Medicare/I've still got neon in my veins/This gray hair don't mean a thing."

24. "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus

Release date: March 23, 1992

Record company: PolyGram/Mercury Records

Love it or find it to be an annoying earworm, "Achy Breaky Heart" did something right, because it was an enormous hit in the early '90s. Billy Ray Cyrus' biggest song—and debut single—wasn't just popular in country music, it also reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. While it's very much associated with Cyrus, "Achy Breaky Heart" is a cover of a song, "Don't Tell My Heart," that was released a year earlier by the band the Marcy Brothers.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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