Table of Contents
- 1. “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” by Kitty Wells
- 2. “Close to the Borderline” by Billy Joel
- 3. “Outlaw Blues” by Pat Benatar
- 4. “Fun Lovin’ Criminals” by King of New York
- 5. “Bad Company” by Bad Company
- 6. “Wanted Dead Or Alive” by Bon Jovi
- 7. “Desperado” by Eagles
- 8. “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” by Waylon Jennings
- 9. “Breaking All the Rules” by Peter Frampton
- 10. “Cocaine Blues” by Johnny Cash
- 11. “High Cost of Living” by Jamey Johnson
- 12. “Blood Red and Going Down” by Tanya Tucker
- 13. “Take the Money and Run” by Steve Miller Band
- 14. “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard
- 15. “Just an English Outlaw” by The Dogs D’Amour
- 16. “How ‘Bout You” by Eric Church
- 17. “Roy Rogers” by Elton John
- 18. “Wanted Man” by Ratt
- 19. “Renegade” by Styx
- 20. “Draw The Line” by Aerosmith
Outlaws have been a popular subject in music since the birth of the genre. From the tales of Billy the Kid to the adventures of Jesse James, the image of the rogue gunslinger has captured the imagination of songwriters and listeners alike. These songs paint a picture of a life lived on the fringes of society, where the rules of the law don’t apply and the only thing that matters is survival. The outlaw motif has been explored in various styles of music, from country and western to rock and roll. In this article, we will take a look at the top 20 songs about outlaws that have become part of our cultural fabric. These tracks pay homage to the mythos of the gunslinger, the rebels who lived by their own rules, and the legacy they left behind. Whether you’re a fan of classic westerns or modern outlaw country, these songs are sure to be a hit.
1. “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” by Kitty Wells
“It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” by Kitty Wells is a groundbreaking country song that challenged traditional gender roles and social norms in the 1950s. The song features Wells’ clear and direct vocals and a sparse, guitar-driven arrangement that creates a sense of intimacy and urgency. The lyrics speak of the double standards and hypocrisy that women face in relationships, particularly in the male-dominated world of honky-tonk bars and country music. “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” is a powerful and influential feminist anthem that paved the way for other women in country music and challenged the status quo in American society.
2. “Close to the Borderline” by Billy Joel
“Close to the Borderline” by Billy Joel is a moody and introspective rock song that explores the theme of emotional and psychological vulnerability. The song features Joel’s distinctive vocals and a brooding, piano-driven arrangement that creates a sense of tension and uncertainty. The lyrics speak of the struggle to maintain one’s sense of self and purpose in the face of personal demons and external pressures. “Close to the Borderline” is a powerful and evocative meditation on the human condition and a reminder of the healing power of music in our lives.
3. “Outlaw Blues” by Pat Benatar
“Outlaw Blues” by Pat Benatar is a high-energy rock song that showcases Benatar’s powerful vocals and the driving rhythm section of her band. The song features a guitar-driven arrangement and a catchy chorus that encourages listeners to sing along. The lyrics speak of the restless and rebellious spirit of the outlaw, who defies the conventions of society and follows their own path. “Outlaw Blues” is a fun and infectious rock song that celebrates the spirit of individuality and the power of music to unite people from all walks of life.
4. “Fun Lovin’ Criminals” by King of New York
“Fun Lovin’ Criminals” is a song by the King of New York that brings a blend of hip-hop, rock and blues to the genre of outlaw music. The song tells the story of the life of a criminal who is living the fast life, taking risks and living life on the edge. The upbeat tempo, catchy lyrics and smooth beats of the song make it an energetic and entertaining piece of music. The singer’s powerful vocals and the funky guitar riffs paint a vivid picture of the dangerous, but alluring world of the criminal underworld. With its catchy hooks and upbeat vibe, “Fun Lovin’ Criminals” is a standout track that will have you tapping your feet and singing along in no time.
5. “Bad Company” by Bad Company
“Bad Company” is a classic rock song by the British rock band Bad Company. Released in 1974, the song has become one of the band’s signature tracks, known for its powerful guitar riffs and catchy chorus. The lyrics of “Bad Company” tell the story of a loner who is looking for someone to share his life with, but finds that everyone he meets is either dangerous or untrustworthy. The song is a celebration of individuality and a rejection of societal norms, making it a popular choice for those who embrace the outlaw lifestyle. With its upbeat tempo and driving beat, “Bad Company” is an anthem for those who are not afraid to march to the beat of their own drum.
6. “Wanted Dead Or Alive” by Bon Jovi
“Wanted Dead or Alive” is a classic rock song by Bon Jovi, released in 1986 as a single from the album “Slippery When Wet.” The song’s lyrics tell the story of a weary and restless traveler who is on the run and living a life of freedom on the open road. The guitar-driven melody and Jon Bon Jovi’s passionate vocals perfectly capture the feeling of living on the edge and being unapologetic. The song has become one of Bon Jovi’s signature tracks and a staple of their live performances, showcasing their versatility and enduring popularity in the rock genre. “Wanted Dead or Alive” remains a timeless classic and continues to captivate audiences with its rebellious spirit and rock and roll attitude.
7. “Desperado” by Eagles
“Desperado” by Eagles is a classic country rock ballad that has become a staple of popular music. The song features a beautiful and poignant melody, with Don Henley’s evocative vocals leading the way. The lyrics speak of a lone cowboy who has lived a hard and lonely life, with regrets and sorrows weighing heavily on his heart. “Desperado” is a deeply emotional song that speaks to the universal human experience of love, loss, and redemption. It is a testament to the enduring power of music to touch our hearts and souls, and to connect us with the deeper mysteries of life.
8. “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” by Waylon Jennings
“Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” by Waylon Jennings is a classic country song that features a driving, guitar-driven sound and powerful, bluesy vocals. The lyrics speak to the changing landscape of country music, as traditional styles were being replaced by more commercial, pop-oriented sounds. Jennings is challenging his listeners to consider whether or not the legends of country music, like Hank Williams, would have approved of the direction the genre was headed. “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” is a timeless classic that speaks to the enduring power of traditional country music and its importance in American culture.
9. “Breaking All the Rules” by Peter Frampton
“Breaking All the Rules” by Peter Frampton is a rock song that was released in 1981. The song features driving guitars and powerful vocals, creating an energetic sound that typifies the era. The lyrics speak to a sense of rebellion and defiance, as the narrator describes breaking free from societal constraints and pursuing his own path. Frampton’s expressive guitar work and soaring vocals make “Breaking All the Rules” an unforgettable classic of rock music, and the song remains popular with fans to this day. Whether you’re a longtime fan of Frampton or a newcomer to his music, “Breaking All the Rules” is a must-listen.
10. “Cocaine Blues” by Johnny Cash
“Cocaine Blues” is a classic country song performed by Johnny Cash. The song, written by T.J. Arnall, tells the story of a man named Willy Lee who gets arrested and sent to jail for shooting his woman down. It features a driving rhythm and Cash’s distinct deep voice, as he sings about his time in prison and his desire for cocaine upon his release. The song has been covered by many artists over the years, and its popularity has led to its inclusion in several films and television shows. It remains a beloved classic in the country music genre.
11. “High Cost of Living” by Jamey Johnson
“High Cost of Living” by Jamey Johnson is a soulful ballad that highlights the struggles and consequences of living a hard-drinking, fast-paced lifestyle. The song’s protagonist laments the cost of his actions, singing about the emptiness he feels despite his material success. Jamey’s powerful vocals, combined with poignant lyrics, deliver a sobering message about the true cost of living life on the edge. The track is a standout on Johnson’s critically acclaimed album, “That Lonesome Song,” showcasing his unique style of country music that blends traditional influences with a contemporary sensibility. Whether you’re a fan of classic country or modern roots music, “High Cost of Living” is a must-listen.
12. “Blood Red and Going Down” by Tanya Tucker
“Blood Red and Going Down” is a country classic by Tanya Tucker, released in 1973. The song is a story of a woman who is taking revenge on her cheating lover. With its uptempo beat, pedal steel guitar, and Tucker’s powerful vocals, the song perfectly captures the essence of traditional country music. The song was a huge success for Tucker, becoming her second No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. It remains a fan favorite and is often considered one of Tucker’s signature songs. The song’s raw emotion and catchy melody make it a standout in the country music canon.
13. “Take the Money and Run” by Steve Miller Band
“Take the Money and Run” is a classic rock song by Steve Miller Band, released in 1976. The upbeat, guitar-driven track tells the story of a couple, Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue, who rob a bank and flee from the police. The song’s catchy chorus and guitar riffs have made it a staple of classic rock radio and a popular addition to live performances. Its straightforward storytelling and laid-back groove embody the free-spirited, carefree attitude of the 1970s, and have made it a favorite of rock fans for decades.
14. “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard
“Mama Tried” is a classic country song written by Merle Haggard and released in 1968. The song is a nostalgic look at the singer’s upbringing, reflecting on the mistakes he made and the consequences he faced, despite his mother’s best efforts to steer him down the right path. The song’s powerful lyrics and Haggard’s emotive delivery make “Mama Tried” a timeless country classic that still resonates with audiences today. With its straightforward storytelling and traditional country sound, “Mama Tried” is a must-listen for fans of the genre and serves as a testament to Haggard’s enduring legacy as one of country music’s greatest songwriters and performers.
15. “Just an English Outlaw” by The Dogs D’Amour
“Just an English Outlaw” by The Dogs D’Amour is a hard-hitting rock and roll song that tells the story of an outlaw on the run. With a driving beat and bluesy guitar riffs, this track paints a picture of a rebel who is unwilling to conform to society’s norms. Lead singer Tyla sings with raw emotion and grit, making this song a powerful anthem for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. This track showcases the Dogs D’Amour’s raw, unapologetic sound, which has made them a staple of the UK rock scene. “Just an English Outlaw” is a must-listen for fans of classic rock and roll, and a testament to the enduring appeal of the rebellious spirit.
16. “How ‘Bout You” by Eric Church
“How ‘Bout You” is a song by American country singer Eric Church. This upbeat track is about a man who is telling his significant other that he’s not perfect, but he’s willing to try to be the best he can for her. The song features Church’s signature deep, rich voice and strong guitar playing, and is sure to get your foot tapping along with the beat. With its catchy melody and upbeat lyrics, “How ‘Bout You” is a great addition to any country music playlist and a favorite among fans of Eric Church. The song showcases Church’s skills as a songwriter and performer, and is a testament to his talent and success in the country music genre.
17. “Roy Rogers” by Elton John
“Roy Rogers” is a popular song by Elton John, released on his 1971 album “Madman Across the Water”. The song is a tribute to Roy Rogers, the legendary American singing cowboy and film star of the 1930s to 1950s. The upbeat and catchy tune showcases John’s signature piano playing and flamboyant vocals. The lyrics tell the story of a man who looks up to Roy Rogers as a hero and dreams of being just like him. This song is a classic example of Elton John’s unique blend of rock, pop, and showmanship and continues to be a favorite among fans of the singer. With its upbeat rhythm and celebratory tone, “Roy Rogers” is a timeless tribute to the legend of the American West and a perfect anthem for anyone who dreams of living life like a cowboy.
18. “Wanted Man” by Ratt
“Wanted Man” by Ratt is a hard-hitting rock track that showcases the band’s signature sound. The song is about a man who is on the run from the law and is constantly looking over his shoulder as he tries to evade capture. The fast-paced guitar riffs and driving drum beats create an intense and urgent atmosphere, while the lyrics detail the protagonist’s dangerous journey as a wanted man. The chorus of the song is anthemic and memorable, making it a standout track in Ratt’s discography. Overall, “Wanted Man” is a thrilling and energetic song that is sure to get audiences pumped up and singing along.
19. “Renegade” by Styx
“Renegade” is a classic rock song by Styx released in 1978. The song features a captivating riff and driving beat, which has made it one of the band’s most recognizable hits. The lyrics tell the story of a man on the run, pursued by law enforcement for crimes he has committed. The song has become a staple of classic rock radio and is often played at sporting events. With its memorable guitar solo and catchy chorus, “Renegade” has become a fan favorite and remains one of Styx’s most popular songs to this day.
20. “Draw The Line” by Aerosmith
“Draw the Line” by Aerosmith is a classic rock track that was released in 1977. It was featured on the band’s fifth studio album, also titled “Draw the Line”. This song showcases Aerosmith’s signature blues-infused rock sound, with driving guitar riffs and catchy vocal melodies. The lyrics describe a person’s struggle with temptation and the importance of setting boundaries, hence the phrase “draw the line”. The song has become one of Aerosmith’s most enduring tracks and is a staple of their live shows to this day. Its energetic and upbeat sound has made it a classic among fans of rock music, and it continues to be a popular choice for classic rock radio stations.