If you’re anything like us, you still appreciate the art of making a full, complete album. No fillers, just 10-12 songs of solid country music. Unfortunately, only so many songs can be released to radio, and only certain songs are ever released as singles, which leaves the majority of the album under-appreciated for the gems it might contain. Below is a list of some of our favorite songs from hit artists that were never released as singles. If you like what you hear, keep checking back as this will continuously be updated!
Mark Chesnutt- “That Side of You”
Sometimes, all you need to hear is the opening line of a song to know it’s going to be great. This steel guitar-driven track opens with “Last night I dreamed I went to sleep for good,” which plays directly into the first chorus. This song was so cleverly co-written by our good friend Roger Springer, who has been a writer on over 30 songs by Chesnutt, including “It’s a Little Too Late,” “Thank God For Believers” and “Let It Rain.”
Joe Diffie- “Twice Upon a Time”
If you’re a 90s country fan, you’re a Kim Williams fan, even if you don’t know it yet. Williams is a writer on songs like “Papa Loved Mama,” “Honky Tonk Truth,” “Who Needs You Baby” and even “Three Wooden Crosses.” The guy just knows how to put words together. For example, take the end of the second verse of this Joe Diffie song from 1997, “The choice is ours, the pen’s still in our hands. We can right the wrong, or we can write the end.” Every time we hear that line, we can only say “Wow.”
Alan Jackson- “Dancin’ All Around It”
Country music is famous for its great wordplay, and this is a great example of it. Picking one Alan Jackson song to use in this first round of songs was almost like picking our favorite child, but this one and the hook kept coming back to us, so here it is.
Wade Hayes- “Family Reunion”
If you want to have your heart ripped out over the course of just over four minutes, this is a song for you. This song is storytelling at its finest, twin fiddles all over, with an excellent vocal from Hayes. This isn’t just one of Hayes’ best album cuts, it’s one of his best songs in our opinion.
Brad Paisley- “Flowers”
Quick break from the ballads for this up-tempo, fiddle-driven track from Brad Paisley. Something we’ve always admired about Paisley’s songwriting is how truly country it is. Country music is about every day life for every day people, and the words Paisley uses (and how he uses them) don’t fill the common clichés that are so often tackled by his mainstream counterparts.
Tim McGraw- “You Had to Be There”
Back to the ballads. This song is in the vein of “Family Reunion” in the heartbreaking story it tells. Life isn’t always perfect, and this song paints a picture of a strained relationship between a father and son, and is delivered perfectly by McGraw.
Sara Evans- “What That Drink Cost Me”
There’s some truly heart-wrenching songs on Evans’ Stronger album, but none more than this one. Describing “losing a good man to a bad habit,” the song talks about losing a partner due to a drunk driving accident. It’s powerful, and it’s sensitive to the issues that many face, even describing attempting to hide car keys to prevent the male subject going into his truck and driving while impaired.
Gary Allan- “Don’t Tell Mama”
Here’s Kim Williams again. Though it was never released as a single, “Don’t Tell Mama” is one of Allan’s biggest album cuts. The story in this song is so tragic, yet touching, as it describes a car crash, and before the driver of a pickup truck dies, he tells another driver “Don’t tell mama I was drinkin'” while the second verse talks about how the living driver is shocked that “the last thing on his mind before he left this world behind was knowing someone else’s heart would break.” What a concept for a country song.
Steve Wariner- “I’ll Always Have Denver”
When Steve Wariner and Bill Anderson get in a writing room together, something great is bound to come of it. This song describes the troubles in the narrator’s relationship, and the lengths (literally) the couple goes to to make things work, but all fails in the end. However, he clings to the fact that he’ll “always have Denver, and that summer to remember.” Though the location may be different, that is a concept that many of us can cling to.
Shania Twain- “Leaving is the Only Way Out”
Shania’s The Woman In Me album spawned so many singles that this one was left as an album cut, and what an album cut it is. This song talks about love and how to make it last, and if “crying is the only way into your heart, than leaving is the only way out.” It’s a situation that is sensitive to many, and the emotion in Shania’s voice takes it over the top.
Chris Young- “Flowers”
Same title as the Brad Paisley song on this list, but not nearly the same message; this one is much closer to “What That Drink Cost Me.” This is another one of those potential mood ruining songs that we all love in country music (what a weird concept, right?) This describes a drunk driving accident that claims the life of the passenger, but the driver lives. The driver says that he hasn’t sat behind a bar in over a year, but admits “look what it took for me to finally bring you flowers.” Heartbreaking.
Lee Ann Womack- “If These Walls Could Talk”
Lee Ann Womack just has one of those voices that makes you want to listen to the story she’s telling. As she delivers a song about a volatile relationship and the secrets the walls of their house can tell, the song is drenched in steel from the legendary Paul Franklin to really give it the “cry in your beer” feel.
Faith Hill- “A Man’s Home is His Castle”
Wow. Just wow. The story of this song and the way it builds are something special. This song describes domestic violence in pretty deep detail, at one point saying “I came home an hour late, and I let his supper burn. He hit the roof, hit the wall, and then it was my turn.” This was written by a writer who only had one other cut that we can find anywhere, which speaks to the beauty of country music; if you have a story to tell, no matter how tough it is, people are willing to listen.
Kenny Chesney- “From Hillbilly Heaven to Honky Tonk Hell”
Mix 90s Kenny Chesney with Tracy Lawrence and George Jones and you’re going to have yourself a jam. It’s a story that you wouldn’t expect to hear on a Chesney record, and he thrives on it. Lawrence and Jones take it up a couple levels, and we absolutely love it.
Luke Bryan- “The Car in Front of Me”
When you started this list, we bet you weren’t expecting to see Luke Bryan on here. However, listen to his song, and you’ll understand. We love evolving choruses where it means something different every time, and this one does it masterfully.