Most Political Country Songs

Close up of pile of miniature American flags
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Hank Williams Jr. - 'Keep the Change'

Hank Williams Jr. got into trouble over comparing President Obama to Hitler, but came out blazing with this song that appeared on Old School, New Rules. On "Keep the Change," Hank Jr. repurposes the president's campaign slogan for a spirited take-down of modern America or, as Hank Jr. puts it, the "United Socialist States of America." But watch out, he also has some strong words for Fox News (see below).

Political Song Lyrics: So Fox and Friends wanna put me down. Ask for my opinion, then twist it all around. Supposed to be talkin' about my father's new CD. Well two can play that gotcha game, just wait and see.


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Steve Earle - 'Amerika v.6.0 (The Best We Can Do)'

Steve Earle's 2002 album Jerusalem features plenty of politically charged material, notably "John Walker's Blues" and "Jerusalem." "Amerika v.6.0" expresses anger at the deepening economic divide, growing public indifference, and so-called compassionate conservatives. The alt-country singer continued to stick it to the man with 2004's The Revolution Stars... Now.

Political Song Lyrics: There's doctors down on Wall Street, sharpenin' their scalpels and tryin' to cut a deal. Meanwhile, back at the hospital, we got accountants playin' God and countin' out the pills.


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Merle Haggard - 'Where's All the Freedom?'

Pilloried and praised for the flinty conservatism of "Fighting Side of Me," Merle Haggard takes a more liberal tack on "Where's All the Freedom?" from 2005's Chicago Wind. Released during the Iraq War, or "Operation Iraqi Freedom" as it was dubbed by the administration, Hagg asks, "Our country's like a prisoner of war. / Where's all the freedom we're fighting for?" He continues the theme on the song "America First," i.e., "Let's get out of Iraq / Get back on track / And build America first."

Political Song Lyrics: After a soldier fights, should we read him his new rights? There's not that many to read anymore. Where's all the freedom that we're fightin' for?

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Toby Keith - 'Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue'

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Toby Keith supplied this bracing call to arms. According to Keith, the song was written partly in honor of his father, a Korean War veteran; he intended only to sing it for military personnel, but the huge response it received convinced him to record it. On "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)" the country singer vows vengeance against America's enemies. By releasing the song, Keith earned himself a few of his own. Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks famously criticized the tune, sparking a feud between the two performers.

Political Song Lyrics: Oh, justice will be served and the battle will rage. This big dog will fight when you rattle his cage. And you'll be sorry that you messed with the U.S. of A. Cause we'll put a boot in your ass, it's the American way.

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Kris Kristofferson - 'Don't Let the Bastards Get You Down'

Kris Kristofferson rails against lying politicians and "righteous killing in the name of freedom" with this song that originally appeared on his 1990 album Third World Warrior. He gave it a stirring rendition on his 2003 concert album Broken Freedom Song: Live in San Francisco. He also added a timely coda, applying the song's lessons to the imminent invasion of Iraq.

Political Song Lyrics: We've seen the ones who killed the ones with vision. Cold-blooded murder right before your eyes. Today they hold the power and the money and the guns. It's getting hard to listen to their lies.


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John Rich - 'Shuttin' Detroit Down'

John Rich ripped this song straight from the headlines. "Shuttin' Detroit Down" directs its outrage at the economic crisis of 2008 and the accompanying bailouts to bankers. The music video features Kris Kristofferson and Mickey Rourke as auto plant workers, a.k.a. collateral damage of the big shots on Wall Street.

Political Song Lyrics: Well that old man's been working in that plant most all his life. Now his pension plan's been cut in half, and he can't afford to die. And it's a crying shame, 'cause he ain't the one to blame.

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Ray Stevens - 'We the People'

Novelty singer and direct marketing kingpin Ray Stevens turned to political songwriting with his song "We the People." It decried President Obama's health care reform efforts, sung the praises of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, and became a viral Internet sensation. The song's success set the stage for a full-length offering in 2010.

Political Song Lyrics: Please tell Nancy Pelosi, we're gonna do the Hokey Pokey. Put the "right" ones in, pull the "left" ones out.

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Todd Snider - 'You Got Away With It (A Tale of Two Fraternity Brothers)'

Todd Snider delivered one of the most cutting satires on the presidency of George W. Bush with this song from 2006's The Devil You Know. It's about the triumph of mediocrity. To say more would be to say too much, so I won't. Just listen to it.

Political Song Lyrics: You got away with it. You got away. You get away with, the things that you say.

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Merle Haggard - 'Fightin' Side of Me'

Merle Haggard's corny "Okie from Muskogee" takes a close second to the barely restrained anger (and implied violence) of "Fightin' Side of Me." It was released in 1970, at the height of the Vietnam War, and became the singer's first No. 1 country hit after "Okie."

Political Song Lyrics: If you don't love it, leave it. Let this song I'm singing be a warning. If you're running down my country, man, you're walkin' on the fightin' side of me.

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Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan - 'Heartland'

Willie Nelson dueted with Bob Dylan on "Heartland," which the pair co-wrote. The song tells the tale of a farm being foreclosed upon and an American dream fading away. It became a standard at Farm Aid performances and still holds resonance today.

Political Song Lyric: My American dream fell apart at the seams. You tell me what it means. You tell me what it means.