The bass line is the backbone of almost every country music composition. It might not offer the glitz of a guitar solo or the glamor of the drums, but it is still noticeable when it is missing.
You can tell a country song has a great bass line because it keeps plugging along. Although it is almost always in the background, the rhythm and foundation of the music makes it an essential inclusion.
Over the past few decades, thousands of country songs have reached the charts. The melodies and styles have changed over the years, but the importance of the bass has been known for more than five decades.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to enjoy a bass line in country music before, these are the top hits that feature the foundational rhythms that everyone loves.
Country Music’s Top 10 Bass Lines
Country music might not celebrate the bass as much as other genres, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. When you listen to a great composition, you’ll hear some fast and wild rhythms that make every listener want to tap their feet. You can also listen to some slow and steady ballads that bring some tears to your eyes with the emotions involved.
When you’re ready to explore everything there is about country music and a fantastic bass line, here are the top ten songs you’ll want to put onto your playlist.
If you don’t have the albums already, your favorite streaming service should have these selections available to add to your playlist. You also have the option of pulling the songs from YouTube to enjoy at your leisure.
You could create a top ten list of the best country bass lines by selecting songs from this one band. The group has always been on the cutting edge of creating licks that make you want to move your feet. Their sound is more traditional, closer to bluegrass in some ways, but it is still a sound with a great hook.
The band’s best effort is this remake of a Hank Williams song. It shows off the band’s versatility because of the number of instruments played. Even though some of the melody is repetitive, the bass keeps everything going so that it becomes an enjoyable listening experience for everyone.
In this version, there’s a fantastic bass solo late in the song that rewards the listener for waiting through all the verses.
If you love listening to great bass arrangements and fantastic playing, you’ll appreciate everything about what the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band brings with this composition. It’s the first addition to almost all of my general listening playlists.
You’ll hear the bass open up this song. The percussion comes along after a couple of measures, but you can hear the lower tones plugging along nicely in the background throughout the entire piece.
The beat is what brings this song alive with the bass’s help. You can’t help but to tap your feet to the rhythm. If you can picture a jam session with a rock emphasis and a steel guitar in a garage, you’ll capture the sound of this composition.
Reed’s lyrics help to draw the bass lines out from the piece because his voice has a similar timbre. It’s a fantastic little piece that tells a fun story. You’ll enjoy having it added to your playlist today.
I have mixed feelings about this song, but what I don’t question is the quality of the bass line that you get with it. The video opens with someone keying a beautiful car, along with the other revenge tropes that you typically see in this genre.
The lyrics are bitter and angry, although that’s certainly understandable considering the topic of the song.
What makes the composition stand out is its impressive bass line. The tempo is closer to a ballad than a rip-roaring dance piece, but you won’t notice it with the introductory bass line that crawls into your ear.
There’s a bit of restraint incorporated in the lower tones, offering a subtle message that the woman involved could be doing a lot more to get her revenge. It creates the appropriate atmosphere for when Underwood hits the hook and starts singing about how she dug the key into the side of his 4WD.
Some of the best bass lines stand out because you can barely tell that they are included in the composition. That’s the case with this fun little song about drinking whiskey and smoking at the end of the day.
The entire track is fast and frenetic. It never loses its tempo, which means you’re carried along for the ride. When you get some of the bass in the quieter sections, the lower tones set you up for the crash that’s about to happen when all the instruments come back to play.
I love this song because it fuses the elements I love about traditional country with what the genre has evolved into over the years.
It’s too fast for a dance, although you might get away with a polka. It helps me get past that afternoon wall when you’d rather do anything else than sit in the office to get some work finished.
I once met Keith Urban. It was a memorable experience for me, although it was probably forgettable for him. It was at a Montana gas station.
We needed to stop for fuel, and this place was the only one around for about 100 miles. I ran in to use the restroom, and there was Keith Urban coming out. The cashiers all swooned when he bought a soda.
I never appreciated Urban’s bass inclusions until I caught one of his concerts. He’s an accomplished player that doesn’t always receive recognition from his recordings. When you get those low tones buzzing through your body next to the speakers, you can’t help but to let your body start to sway.
Although a few songs might be a little better with the bass inclusion, you have to appreciate how Urban uses some electric guitar techniques to create a plucky bass. It’s funky, smooth, and makes you picture life in a rural town.
When I was little, my parents took me up to Virginia City, NV, to ride the steam train. I’ve always been fascinated by them, and this moment has always stood out for me as one of my best days. I can remember feeling the rhythm of the engine, nodding my head, and yelling, “Chug-a-lug, Chug-a-lug!”
This song is about drinking instead of trains, but that doesn’t change what it means to me. The bass line is also fantastic, although it is a bit traditional with its repetition.
Some might argue that this bass line doesn’t deserve inclusion because of its simplicity. Considering this song was Miller’s second single, the performance is fantastic.
There’s this impression in country music that you need to have a busy bass line to have it be an effective part of the composition. That isn’t necessarily true. In this song, you’ll hear everything plug along nicely in the background, delivering the perfect complementary beat to the song.
What I like the most about this number is how the bass quietly urges the song to keep going. It’s always subtle, never overwhelms, and doesn’t disappear.
The brass intro captures your attention right away. With the classical guitar bringing the hook with some outstanding fingerpicking, you want to keep listening to the entire story about Ruby.
When you take a country song and put “blues” into the title, you’d better have the confidence that you’ve got a hit on your hands. It also needs to have a steady bass lick that gives you the rhythm you’d expect to hear from its name. You’ll get both of those things with this outstanding number by Merle Haggard.
This song delivers something that isn’t too flashy, but it also refuses to be ignored. It works hard in the background, creating the perfect accompaniment for what the piece discusses.
I love the live version because it has more of a vinyl feel to it, even with a YouTube video or MP3 file. You’ll feel the neck bobbing and the foot tapping from the very start.
The bass makes a gritty appearance as this song opens, setting the stage for the attitude you’d expect for the rest of the composition. What I love about this piece is that the lower tones are up an octave from where they typically are in country music.
Yoakam has a song that feels like it would do well in the rock or blues genre with his take on a country bass. Even the bridge with the guitar solo drives forward because of the ambitious ness of the bass.
If you’ve never listened to country before, this song is an excellent introductions to consider. It feels a little repetitive at times, but it still is a lot of fun to sing or play along with it.
This song leans on the bass more than any of the others here in some ways. It stays busy in the background while the artist sings about falling in love. It all starts with the opening riff, and the composition never gives up until the final chords.
There’s a touch of syncopation in the bass line that gives the piece a bit of a swing feeling to it. All the movement the listener gets from the song comes from the movement in the lower register. When. You add in the different hooks and drops, you’ve got a fun addition to almost any playlist.
What Are Your Favorite Country Songs?
I started listening to country music in high school because of a dare from a girl I had a crush on at the time. She told me to change for a week. If I didn’t like what I heard, then she’d listen to whatever I wanted her to hear the next week.
Before that moment, the only thing I listened to on that old Walkman was some punk and a bit of rock. After that, I found a nice mix of everything that helped me to eventually define what I loved.
We never dated, but have stayed friends for all these years. Some of our greatest debates have involved what country songs and bass riffs are the best ones out there. Do you have a favorite one that didn’t make this list?