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Long before tailgates, moonshine and Daisy Dukes became the prominent themes of country music, singers and songwriters were telling stories in song. Those songs are timeless tunes permanently woven into the country music tapestry.

But these stories aren’t always fairy tales with a happily-ever-after ending. In the case of the Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl,” the message is quite dark and the song did, in fact, stir up a bit of controversy when some radio stations resisted playing one they felt glorified the murder of an ex-husband at the hand of his abused wife.

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Of course, most country music and Chicks fans knew the girls’ song was more tongue-in-cheek. The Top 20 hit remains a favorite barroom sing-along, and even Rare Country 5 host Erin calls it a karaoke favorite. And while the overt message seems to be a little rough, the Chicks were really telling us to know your value and take no crap.

Kenny Rogers knows a thing or two about songs that tell a story, too. Songs like “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town,” and “Lucille” are fan favorites, but none has us singing along or raising a glass like “The Gambler,” which crosses genre barriers and delivers a life lesson. By the end of this country classic, we all know that Kenny has stacked the deck of life in his favor when he offers the advice, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away and know when to run.”

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Some story songs have been turned into movies, including “The Gambler,” and some have music videos that are mini-movies, like “Goodbye Earl.” They’re all songs we never tire of hearing. Erin has the rest of our Top 5 picks for storytelling country songs in this special edition Rare Country’s 5.

What is yours? Be sure to tell us! And check back in this weekend when we look at our hottest news stories of the week from in and around country music in this Rare Country’s 5 weekly recap.

Based in Nashville, Tammy is a 20-year veteran of the country music community. She has worked in marketing, PR and artist development in the past. Follow her @TammyGooGoo and join the conversation @RareCountry
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