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Tammy Wynette Songs, Ranked: 14 Iconic Hits From the First Lady of Country Music

The emotive singer is still winning over fans with her catalog of heartfelt ballads and sassy singles.

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Tammy Wynette was considered “the voice” long before those words became the name of a current hit reality show. The singer could impressively sound fragile one moment, then let it rip the next, all while making the listener feel every ounce of pain, heartache, love, regret or hope she was trying to convey. Billy Sherrill, a frequent songwriter and collaborator on Tammy Wynette songs, once described her instrument as having “a tear in every word,” and that gift quickly became a trademark for the former beauty school student and barmaid who’d go on to become one of country music’s most revered queens.

“[Tammy] was always so down to Earth and so friendly, always there to talk and visit with you,” Reba McEntire once said of Wynette, who was unofficially dubbed the First Lady of Country Music. “And great songs. My gosh, the songs that she sang would touch your heart in a heartbeat, and she was always so identifiable.… Most times when the song started you knew that was a Tammy Wynette song. You never had to guess who was singing that song.”

Portrait of Tammy Wynette, 1968
Portrait of Tammy Wynette, 1968Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Related: Reba McEntire’s Success Is a Testament to Grit and Talent — Here’s How the ‘Fancy’ Redhead Got Her Start

By the mid ’60s, Mississippi-born Virginia Wynette Pugh was a single mother of three daughters, who, down on her luck, would make the rounds on Nashville’s Music Row trying to get her big break.

That’s when she and Sherrill crossed paths, her stage name changed to Tammy Wynette and things started clicking. The singer went on sell more than 30 million records throughout her 30-plus year career and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1998, just months after her death on April 6, 1998.

During Wynette’s induction, Lorrie Morgan praised Wynette’s “towering, one-of-a-kind voice [that] will always be remembered because, as she herself said many times, ‘I’ve lived every one of my songs.’”

Tammy Wynett onstage, 1979
Tammy Wynett onstage, 1979David Redfern/Redferns/Getty

Wynette’s high-profile relationship with George “The Possum” Jones (her second of five marriages) would lead to some unforgettable duets (“Two Story House,” “Golden Ring” and “We’re Gonna Hold On,” among them), and later in her career, she also joined forces with Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn for the Honky Tonk Angels album, which produced the hit “Silver Threads and Golden Needles.”

RELATED: Loretta Lynn’s 10 Most Notable Collaborations — From Frank Sinatra to Willie Nelson

Wynette even sparkled on 1991’s “Justified and Ancient (Stand by the JAMS),” a unique electronic hit from a British outfit named The KLF. “I really don’t know why they chose me,” the singer said at the time, adding, “I was apprehensive at first, but I’m really excited with the way it’s all turned out.”

Tammy Wynette and George Jones, 1990
Tammy Wynette and George Jones, 1990 Beth Gwinn/Redferns/Getty

Greatest Tammy Wynette songs, ranked

Read on to discover our collection of Tammy Wynette songs that never fail to excite us.

14. “The Ways to Love a Man” (1969)

Wynette co-wrote this No. 1 winner with Billy Sherrill and Glenn Sutton about the struggle to keep love alive. On the track, she really chooses her moments to let her voice soar, and its stirring clarity and power is sure to make any listener sit up in their seat to pay attention. When she really punches the second half of the line, “One little thing goes wrong, then all at once he’s gone,” you can truly hear and feel the heartache the singer had lived through.

13. “Apartment #9” (1966)

Originally co-written and recorded by songwriter Bobby Austin (with Johnny Paycheck), this is a classically sad country gem (“the sun will never shine in apartment #9”) about an ill-fated love and the loneliness and regrets that remain in its wake. It was the first song Wynette professionally recorded, and Jessica Chastain, who played Tammy in Showtime’s George & Tammy series, told Billboard it’s her favorite tune from the woman she portrayed

12. “Womanhood” (1978)

“I am a Christian, Lord, but I’m a woman too.” Wynette’s last song to crack the top 5 — about a young, faithful lady contemplating losing her virginity — surely raised a few eyebrows. Penned by Bobby Braddock, the song peaked at No. 3 but it allowed Wynette to once again explore gender roles and expectations through her music. She often lead into live performances of it with an enthusiastic, “This is for all you ladies…”

11. “I Don’t Wanna Play House” (1968)

Grab your tissues. This heartbreaker written by Billy Sherrill and Glenn Sutton was Wynette’s first No. 1, and it finds her singing about a little girl telling her friend that she doesn’t want to play the childhood game because “it makes my mommy cry, ’cause when she played house my daddy said goodbye.” Delivered with that trademark teardrop in her voice, Wynette’s performance deservedly scored a 1968 Grammy win for Best Country & Western Solo Vocal Performance, Female.

10. “’Til I Get It Right” (1972)

Wynette was nothing if not persistent, and the hope and longing for true love in her voice on this Red Lane and Larry Henley track truly pulls at listeners’ heartstrings. She had only moved on from husband number two (of five) when this was released, but just knowing the heartache that still awaited the singer makes lines such as “my door to love has opened out more times than in, and I’m either fool or wise enough to open it again” extra bittersweet.

9. “My Man (Understands)” (1972)

One of the bouncier Tammy Wynette songs, “My Man (Understands)” lets the songstress have a little more fun than usual as she celebrates a (brace yourself!) happy, loving relationship. “He’s a dream, the real thing, he always makes me feel like a queen,” the legend, married at the time of its release to George Jones, sweetly sings. “His arms are warm, they keep me away from harm, and I’m proud of it,” she adds.

Related: Nancy Jones’ New Book Reveals Tumultuous Life With Legend George Jones

8. “Kids Say the Darndest Things” (1973)

Another Sherrill-Sutton tune about little ones echoing their parents’ woes, this track proved to be just as successful as “I Don’t Wanna Play House,” also reaching No. 1 on the charts. “Last night dressed up in high-heel shoes and wearing my old hat, my four-year-old said ‘I wanna divorce,’ now where did she hear that?’” Wynette sings. During a Hee-Haw performance, the artist even tweaked one line to add her and George Jones’ daughter’s name, singing, “Georgette just said a four-letter word, and it sure wasn’t ‘love.’”

7. “Good Lovin’ (Makes It Right)” (1971)

Wynette puts plenty of oomph and attitude into this fast-paced honky tonk track that addresses the challenges of making a relationship work — and how that burden often unfairly falls to the woman. “You gotta be a saint on Sunday morning, a devil on Saturday night,” she offers, while warning that there’s competition “around that corner wrapped in fur, and you’ve got to be just a little bit better than her.”

6. “He Loves Me All the Way” (1970) Tammy Wynette songs

“To think he might be out with another woman makes my temper rise with jealousy,” Wynette plainly states in this quick-stepping track, since co-writer Norro Wilson reportedly felt that uptempo tunes had a better chance at getting airplay on country radio at the time of its release. Co-written with Billy Sherrill and Carmol Tayler, the song finds Wynette staying perhaps blindly optimistic, noting that in “all these years I’ve never caught him cheatin’” so “I’m not not ever gonna worry about tomorrow as long as he makes everything alright today.”

5. “’Til I Can Make It On My Own” (1976) Tammy Wynette songs

Wynette co-wrote this stunningly gorgeous ballad with her future fifth husband, George Richey, and Billy Sherrill, and she often noted that it was her personal favorite from her catalog. The track was nominated for Song of the Year at the Country Music Association awards, and the No. 1 hit about healing from a devastating split contains beautifully raw lyrics such as “I’ll need time to get you off my mind. And I may sometimes bother you; try to be in touch with you. Even ask too much of you from time to time.” A masterpiece.

Related: 20 Greatest Country Love Songs of the Past 50 Years

4. “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad” (1967)

“If you like ’em painted up, powdered up” and want to have some fun at karaoke night, this song’s right up your alley. Though it peaked at No. 3, it’s hard to find a Wynette tune that’s more fun or sassy. “I’ll even learn to like the taste of whisky. In fact you’ll hardly recognize your wife,” she croons on what became her first big hit, serving her man notice that “I’m gonna be the swingin’est swinger you’ve ever had” if he keeps hitting the bars.

3. “Singing My Song” (1969) Tammy Wynette songs

This No. 1 hit for the artist, who co-wrote it with Billy Sherrill and Glenn Sutton, boasts a nice, steady build as it works up to being one of her most impressive vocals. Its conversational style has Wynette half-speaking the lyrics upfront, noting that “I’m his song when he feels like singing, and I swing when he feels like swinging.” Though she claims to not know what she does to make her love always return to her, she’s not taking any chances. “When he’s home, I make sure he’s never alone, and that’s why I keep singing my song,” she gloriously belts near the end. 

2. “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” (1968) Tammy Wynette songs

Wynette quite literally spells out the pain of a marriage that’s about to be terminated in this emotional hit, which earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female. The lyrics, from Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman, are instantly relatable to any parent who’s ever tried to hide something painful from their kids. “I can’t spell away this hurt that’s drippin’ down my cheek,” Wynette notes with her voice quivering, adding to her soon-to-be ex and father of her son that “I love you both and this will be pure H-E double-L for me.

1. “Stand By Your Man” (1968)

This absolute classic, which won Wynette a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female, even made Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. As that publication notes, the tune — the first that Wynette ever co-wrote, with Billy Sherrill, “was a cultural lightning rod,” catching flack from many for “its pledge of unquestioning fidelity.”

“I don’t see anything in that song that implies a woman is supposed to sit home and raise babies while a man goes out and raises hell,” Wynette insisted in her 1979 autobiography, Stand By Your Man. “To me, it means: be supportive of your man…and be willing to forgive him if he doesn’t always live up to your image of what he should be.”

Though she told a British talk show it was written in just 20 minutes, it’s proved to be a timeless hit that’s been covered by everyone from Tina Turner and Elton John to Lyle Lovett and Lana Del Ray. And no doubt everyone at your local bar belts out near every lyric whenever it’s played.


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