3 Classic Outlaw Country Songs for Mom This Mother’s Day

There are plenty of sappy country songs for moms out there. From Taylor Swift’s “The Best Day” to Carrie Underwood’s “Mama’s Song” and so many others. However, that’s not what we’re looking at today. Instead, we’re going to dive into a few cuts for those who are a little rougher around the edges. Or, at the very least, songs for those whose taste in music is a little rougher around the edges. These outlaw country classics prove that songs about mom don’t have to be saccharine to be heartfelt.

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In David Allen Coe’s classic “You Never Even Called My by My Name”—co-penned by Steve Goodman and John Prine—he lays out the ingredients of the perfect country and western song—mama, trains, trucks, prison, and getting drunk. These three classics check at least a few of those boxes.

Outlaw Country Songs for Mom

Whether you’re looking to dedicate a boot-stomping outlaw country classic to your mom or just put on some good tunes and think fondly about the lady who raised you, these three tracks will get the job done.

“I’m the Only Hell (My Mama Ever Raised)”—Johnny Paycheck

Written by Bobby Borchers, Wayne Kemp, and Mack Vickery, this might be the perfect outlaw country song to dedicate to Mom. Like any good song, this Johnny Paycheck track has layers.

First and foremost, it’s a song from the perspective of a guy who is out there doing things he knows his mom wouldn’t be proud of. At the same time, she’s one of the first things he thinks about after the cell door closes behind him.

On the other hand, everyone likes to think of their mother as a saint. Like they were never young, wild, and free. Imagining that one is the only hell their mother ever raised is an extension of that.

“Mama Tried”—Merle Haggard

When it comes to outlaw country songs about moms, this might be the most popular. It’s another song about an outlaw with his mother on his mind. Much like the Paycheck cut above, this one sees the song’s narrator taking full responsibility for his actions. He admits that his mom tried her hardest to keep his feet on the straight and narrow. However, he couldn’t help but stray.

[RELATED: Story Behind The Song: Merle Haggard, “Mama Tried”]

Merle Haggard wrote this 1968 classic. More than that, he lived it. He started having run-ins with the law when he was young. So, when he sings about being on the wrong side of a cell door, he means it.

“Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”—Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings

Ed Bruce co-penned this cautionary song with his wife Patsy and released it as a single from his 1976 self-titled debut album. It peaked at No. 15 on the country chart. Two years later Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson recorded the song for their collaborative album Waylon & Willie. Their version of the song topped the country chart and nearly broke the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.

[RELATED: The Story Behind “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” by Waylon Jennings with Willie Nelson and How It Became a Legendary Duet]

Instead of being a country song about an outlaw thinking about his mom, it’s a warning to mothers of young children. “Cowboys” in the chorus seems to be interchangeable with any kind of hard living. The song’s narrators are looking at their lives and letting moms know that they should want something different for their children.

Featured Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach

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