Part of what makes Yellowstone one of the best shows currently on television is the next-level soundtrack. In addition to stunning scenery, plot twists that keep viewers on the edge of their seats, and the depiction of the Western lifestyle that has fans dreaming of living on a ranch, the music selections cement the show’s place atop the ratings.
Music supervisor Andrea Von Foerster made masterful selections when planning Yellowstone’s soundtrack. The show features many different sounds, from bands with household names to symphonic instrumentals. Viewers can hear folk, of course, but also pop, metal (didn’t expect to see you here, Mötorhead), and even rap. Of course, the show also features music from Kevin Costner, himself, and with his band Modern West.
Jefferson White, who plays Jimmy Hurdstrom, recently discussed co-creator Taylor Sheridan’s love for music. White said that “music is a big part of storytelling for [Sheridan], so that was part of his show from the very beginning.”
The country songs on the soundtrack are really what set this soundtrack apart from other shows. The show strays away from the pop-country mold and features many tracks with a rustic, western sound.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into the top ten country songs featured on the Yellowstone soundtrack.
10. ‘Long Hot Summer Day,’ Turnpike Troubadours
Arguably the Oklahoma band’s most popular song, the tune opens with an unmistakable fiddle riff and electric guitar introduction. Originally written by John Hartford, the song details the grueling life of a man working a towboat on the Illinois River and has become something of an anthem for the blue-collar worker. The repetitive chorus is one that is sure to stick in the head of listeners, making the song a perfect selection for this scene of Yellowstone.
The hit song plays in S2E1 (A Thundering) as Jimmy sits at the bar and flirts with Avery. During the scene, multiple cowboys hit on Avery. A massive brawl ensues that does not go particularly well for the cowboys of the Yellowstone Ranch. They return in an unforgettable scene to unload an angry bull into the bar and exact their revenge on the guys who roughed up the Dutton cowboys.
9. ‘Ain’t Much Left of Me,’ Blackberry Smoke
“Ain’t Much Left of Me” is featured in the same episode as our tenth-ranked song (S2E1). The song opens with a rockin’ electric guitar solo before diving right into the story of a man down on his luck. The Southern rock band from Atlanta, GA released the song as a single in 2013 off of The Whippoorwill album.
The ballad plays in the background while the cowboys play cards in the bunkhouse. Avery insults the gang before they muster the courage to play a game of “cowboy poker” in the arena.
8. ‘Condemned,’ Zach Bryan
This track from up-and-comer Zach Bryan is raw and packed with emotion. Bryan has a similar style to Tyler Childers, and this song is no exception. “Condemned” is off of Bryan’s debut album, DeAnn, and is perfectly simple, featuring just Bryan’s voice and his acoustic guitar.
From S3E2 “Freight Trains and Monsters,” the song plays at the end of the episode. Jamie Dutton’s Livestock Agent Steve Hendon is arrested after trying to teach two criminals a lesson but taking it a little too far. Afterward, Agent Hendon calls Jamie from jail to tell him about the arrest.
7. ‘Me and the Whiskey,’ Whitey Morgan and the 78’s
“Me and the Whiskey” has a modern-day outlaw country feel with steel guitar and a full band. Whitey Morgan’s deep southern voice sounds comparable to that of Jamey Johnson, Waylon Jennings, or David Allan Coe. The song tells a tale of a man who lost everything and everyone until, well, it’s just him and the whiskey.
This song plays in S1E9, “The Unraveling Part 2,” as Rip Wheeler introduces Avery, the new groomer, to the bunkhouse. The cowboys’ card game is interrupted as the former dancer makes herself right at home.
6. ‘Stone,’ Whiskey Myers
Whiskey Myers’ music is featured several times throughout Yellowstone. Their genuine Southern rock sound fits the show perfectly. This song is a slow, emotional ballad depicting someone struggling with life. The piano introduction sets the tone for the whole track.
Whiskey Myers themselves are actually featured in S1E4, “The Long Black Train.” The band plays several songs on stage at the bar that Beth Dutton is at with Dan Jenkins. Once Jenkins leaves, Beth and Rip Share an emotional moment, dancing to the slow song as the episode ends.
5. ‘Sunrise,’ Ryan Bingham
Ryan Bingham‘s voice can be heard on numerous tunes in the Yellowstone soundtrack. Bingham is, in fact, one of the stars of the show, playing troubled cowboy Walker. Showrunner Taylor Sheridan wrote Bingham into the show, telling the singer, “If you do good, then we’ll keep you in there. If you suck, we’ll just kill you off.”
Bingham’s raw, gritty vocals make the selection a no-brainer for the show. This song’s uplifting tone is different than many of the singer’s other powerful tracks, but it is a welcome change in Yellowstone.
“Sunrise” is actually featured two times in the show. First, it plays in S1E4 (The Long Black Train) as day breaks at the Yellowstone Ranch. It’s also featured at the end of S1E5 (Coming Home) after Walker is branded and officially welcomed into the Dutton Ranch family.
4. ‘Long White Line,’ Sturgill Simpson
Sturgill Simpson has never been bound to any one genre, dabbling in country, rock, and even bluegrass. His music has a modern roughness to it that makes it a natural fit on Yellowstone. “Long White Line” was released in 2014 and is about a trucker on the road. Simpson’s voice has a classic feel to it which, combined with his lyrical genius, makes him one of the premier artists making music today.
This hit from Simpson is featured in S3E5 (Cowboys and Dreamers). Jimmy, his girlfriend Mia, and her friend Laramie return to the bunkhouse where the girls help themselves to a beer. Laramie turns the song on and starts to dance as the cowboys return home. The music blasts across the ranch, leading Rip to attempt to intervene and (unsuccessfully) break up the party.
3. ‘Broken Window Serenade,’ Whiskey Myers
This is the second Whiskey Myers song to make our list. “Broken Window Serenade” comes from the band’s 2011 sophomore album, FIREWATER. A sad ballad about love and addiction, the lyrics of this song may tear your heart out. The band uses the song to describe the area they are from in Southeast Texas. Contrary to what this list may have you believe, Whiskey Myers does also have several upbeat rock songs, many of which appear in Yellowstone, such as “Frogman.”
“Broken Window Serenade” is another song that plays while the cowboys play cards, this time in S1E8 (The Unraveling Part 1). The cowboys at the Dutton Ranch sure have good taste in music. The song plays as Jimmy discovers his hat is missing. The cowboys surprise him with a new hat they all pitched in for in one of our favorite scenes in the show. Jimmy also learns a quick lesson about how putting his hat on his bed is bad luck.
2. ‘Lady May,’ Tyler Childers
From Childers 2017 album, Purgatory, “Lady May” is a timeless love song and one of Childers’ best tracks. Written for his wife, the song tugs at the heartstrings. Childers’ unmistakable voice is a perfect fit for the Yellowstone soundtrack as he encapsulates the sounds of Appalachia in his voice as well as his masterful lyrics about love and the land we share.
The scene from S3E2 (Freight Trains and Monsters) featuring “Lady May” is one of the most intimate in the whole series. Rip and Beth Dutton dance under the lights on the ranch while Childers tender song plays on the speaker. Wheeler and Beth both share their vulnerable side together, something that fans hardly get a glimpse of throughout Yellowstone.
1. ‘Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore,’ Chris Stapleton
This emotional song from Chris Stapleton takes the top spot because of its power and the perfect placement in the show. It is a true story about Stapleton’s father. Stapleton said he wrote the song in 10 minutes right after his father passed away. In Yellowstone, we see John Dutton share an emotional moment with his own dad on the ranch while Stapleton’s powerful voice bellows in the background. Stapleton’s “Whiskey and You” is also featured in the show and could have easily made the list, if we weren’t limited to just ten songs.
Chris Stapleton takes the win as Outsider’s pick for best song of the soundtrack. Of course, every song is perfectly selected for the scenes and engrained in the authenticity of the Western series.
Other Notable Songs from the ‘Yellowstone’ Soundtrack
Picking just ten songs from the first three seasons of Yellowstone is a nearly impossible task with so many great choices. With that being said, we decided to throw in a couple of bonus tracks. ‘Cause how could we leave these off the list?
‘Axe,’ The Steel Woods
“Axe” by the Steel Woods is a tough song that just sounds like a ballad for the working man. Their deep Southern sound is heard in S2E8 (Behind Us Only Grey) and made it one we couldn’t omit from this article.
‘Caroline,’ Colter Wall
Colter Wall just had to be on this list. The Texas country star’s deep, gritty voice in “Caroline” is heard on S3E1 (You’re the Indian Now) and is reminiscent of Johnny Cash and other outlaw country stars.
‘Mamma Song,’ Cody Jinks
Last but CERTAINLY not least on the list is this tune from Cody Jinks. The song is a beautiful letter to his mother, and on his newly-released “Red Rocks Live” album, he even brought his mom onto the stage to perform the song with him. “Mamma Song” and “Caroline” are from the same episode, S3E1.
The “Yellowstone” playlist on Spotify has over 50,000 likes and features all of the songs above, as well as all of the other great tracks that we simply could not include on this list.
If you’re interested in reading more Yellowstone content, Outsider has got you covered.