10 country songs for the end of the world

10 country songs for the end of the world

Jesus Christ once said, "If you've made your own hell, then only you have the power to escape it." He was also known to remark, "I got along without you before I met you and I'll get along without you a long time after you're gone."

Okay, that wasn't really Jesus; that was all Willie Nelson. But supposedly Jesus had this to say about the end of the world: "Of that day and hour no one knoweth, not the angels of heaven, but the Father alone." December 21, 2012 is nonetheless a troubling day for many fans of country and western music, as it marks the day the clock might stop working on that Gateway computer you bought your kids last year at the Walmarts. That was Y2K? Shoot. Maybe we've been stockpiling all these canned goods and ammo for naught. In any case, we made you this sweet end times playlist before the computers blink out. Enjoy.

10. "End of the World" - Skeeter Davis

The lyrics to this 1962 Skeeter Davis hit were written by Sylvia Dee, inspired by the sadness she felt when her father died. It was later played at Chet Atkins' funeral, and will no doubt be enjoying a near-constant rotation in all our heads next week WHEN WE ALL DIE. Fire, brimstone, meteor shower, planetary collision, whatever it's supposed to be. So thanks, Sylvia Dee and her dad, for helping to overstate what will be the obvious. Notable Lyric:

Why do the birds go on singing? Why do the stars glow above? Don't they know it's the end of the world? It ended when I lost your love.

9. "Volcano" - Jimmy Buffett

Or maybe it'll be a big ol' volcano that does us all in. Improbable. Really, I just wanted to put this Jimmy Buffett song in your head, and I hope it stays there until you die. Why? Because I am a really huge asshole. My final confession to you is this:

I really like this song.

Hey, I'd hang out with Buffett in the Afterlife and/or Underworld. He has all the rum, man. Notable Lyric:

No time to count what I'm worth. Hey I just left the planet earth. But a' where I go I hope there's rum. Not to worry, more soon come.

8. "Ready for the End of the World" - George Strait

Okay, in this song I guess George Strait is singing in a highly metaphorical way about the end of a relationship, but we're adding a box set of Merle and case of Jack to our shopping list for the bunker anyway. Notable Lyric:

I know the end is near, I've seen the warning signs. Been preparin' myself, layin' in supplies. I bought a case of Jack, a boxed-set of Merle. I'm gettin' ready, ready for the end of the world.

7. "If We Make It Through December" - Merle Haggard

Speaking of the Hag, he thinks it's gonna be a rough month, but if we can make it to the first of January, we'll be a-ok. Notable Lyric:

If we make it through December, everything's gonna be all right, I know. It's the coldest time of winter and I shiver when I see the falling snow.
6. "When the Man Comes Around" - Johnny Cash

End times of course carry religious connotations for some folks, just as they carry more mystical and/or cosmic connotations for others. Johnny Cash was born-again, and betting on the Second Coming of Jesus. He wrote this song about it, one of the last he penned before his death in 2003 and, well, Johnny's end times sound scary as hell - here's where you insert the word


. So honestly? We're just hoping for a volcano, because Buffett's version sounds


better. Notable Lyric:

The hairs on your arm will stand up at the terror in each sip and in each sup. Will you partake of that last offered cup, or disappear into the potter's ground? When the man comes around.

5. "Big Iron" - Marty Robbins

And for those of us who get left behind (Probably me! Probably me!), Marty Robbins suggests you carry something on your hip. Notable Lyric:

It was early in the morning when he rode into the town. He came riding from the south side slowly lookin' all around. He's an outlaw loose and running came the whisper from each lip. And he's here to do some business with the big iron on his hip, big iron on his hip.

4. "Gimme Shelter" - Kathy Mattea

Country/bluegrass great Kathy Mattea recorded this timeless Stones' classic for her 2005 album,

Right Out of Nowhere

, and it's perhaps a moodier take than the original, carrying fewer connotations to Hells Angels and stabbings and stuff.

Notable Lyric:

Oh, a storm is threatening my very life today. If I don't get some shelter, oh yeah I'm gonna fade away. War, children, it's just a shot away, it's just a shot away.
3. "Ghost Riders in the Sky" - Johnny Cash

The Four Cowboys of the Apocalypse? Sure, why not. Notable Lyric:

As the riders loped on by him he heard one call his name. "If you want to save your soul from Hell a-riding on our range, then cowboy change your ways today or with us you will ride trying to catch the Devil's herd, across these endless skies."

2. "The Dark" - Guy Clark

This song, from his 2002 album of the same name, seems the perfect song for coming to terms with the realization that there ain't nothin' left but a fire in the sky... and Fort Worth. Notable Lyric:

When the earth turns its back on the sun, the stars come out and the planets start to run around. Now they call that day is done, but really it's just getting started. Some folks take comfort in that. And how dark is it? It's too dark for goblins. And how dark is it? It's so dark you can smell the moon. How dark is it? It's so dark the wind gets lost. How dark is it? It's so dark the sky's on fire. How dark is it? It's so dark you can see Fort Worth from here.

1. "Ready for Confetti" - Robert Earl Keen

At then, when the worst has come, you just give in... to the fact that Key West is the new West Texas, Nassau the new Nashville. Notable Lyric:

I knew this psychic many years ago, he'd been abducted by a UFO. They took him to another galaxy, he read their fortunes and they set him free. He once was a very famous scientist, said livin' in the future is hard to resist. Get ready for confetti, hey hey hey, get ready for confetti, hey hey hey, get ready for confetti, every day. 

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