Riley Green knows his way around a good old, fashioned sad country song.
He covers them pretty often here and there, which is always a treat, and if you follow Whiskey Riff in any capacity, then you know how much all of us here love a good sad country song.
Since some of my favorite artists in the genre right now have written some of my very favorite sad songs that hurt so good, I wanted to know what some of their favorite’s were that inspired them to write soul-crushing music just like George, Willie, Merle, Waylon and all the other country greats.
“My favorite’s gonna be, I feel like there are several George Jones songs that I fell in love with. Just trying to ride around and make yourself feel sad almost. ‘Still Doin’ Time.’
Something about the thought of like, the guy that screwed up and lost the girl, but like knows he did and he’s just like, ‘Oh, she was probably too good for me anyway.’
I think that’s kind of the best layout for me on one of those type of songs.”
Written by John Moffatt and Michael P. Heeney, George included it as the lead single from his 1981 Still the Same Ole Me album.
It became his eighth number one country single as a solo artist when it peaked at the top spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart later that year.
Riley also suggested Mark Chesnutt’s “Just Wanted You To Know” as one of his go-to’s:
“Mark Chesnutt has one called ‘Just Wanted You To Know’ that’s kinda the same thing. He’s trying to get the girl back, just called her to let her know that he was thinking about her kinda stuff.”
And as to what exactly it is about a sad country song that makes us all love ’em so damn much, Riley believes it comes down to feeling above all else:
“I feel like the thing about country music people like is it makes them feel something, you know? And the same way that people like to listen to electronic, techno music and put glow sticks all over themselves and dance around, people enjoy having some type of feeling.
I think a good story in a country song, especially those sad songs are the ones that make you feel something. I have a song called ‘Numbers On The Cars,’ that is not a hit song by any means, but that’s the song that people come up to me and tell me a story about somebody more than any other song.
So it’s like, it made them feel something because they could relate, and I think losing a significant other is probably pretty relatable for a lot of people.
A song giving you some type of feeling, whether it be sad, happy, whatever it is, is something that I think people really kinda latch onto.”
I don’t think I could’ve put it any better myself.
Turn this one up if you need a good cry today:
And when it comes to picking my favorite sad country song of Riley’s, I’ve always been partial to “That’s How Ya Left Me,” from his 2017 breakout Outlaws Like Us EP.
For me, it’s easily his best breakup song to date, and I just love all the details about the oil stain her car left, or her running out of the house in bare feet, painting such a vivid picture of how it all went down.
On top of all the beautiful imagery, the Alabama native’s raspy, strong vocals shine with this specific production.
If you like good old fashioned, sad country breakup songs (which I assume you do if you’re reading this), then you’ll absolutely love this one: