With more than 100 songs featured during the three seasons of TV’s Yellowstone, is it possible to pick one song from each season and strap the “best” label on it? Yes. In fact, it’s probably already been done. But I’m still going to do it. There aren’t too many original ideas left in this world. Fortunately, Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan had one when he conceptualized the show in 2013.
It’s probably not news to anyone reading this, but Yellowstone is one of the few watchable scripted programs remaining in the ether. Not into the plot? Fine, stick around for the cinematography. Don’t like mountains? Ok, stay for the music. Don’t like the music? I can’t help you.
But I’m not here to stump for Yellowstone. I’m here to talk about the show’s music. It’s been refreshing to hear good country music on
radio television. Episode after episode slays the ears—in a good way—with tunes from artists you likely won’t hear on Top 40 radio: Tyler Childers, Ryan Bingham, Colter Wall, Cody Jinks, and many more. Of course, a few Top 40 artists slip in there, like Chris Stapleton, Midland, and Jon Pardi.
So, I took the liberty of listening to the 131 songs featured over the show’s three seasons. I spent the week listening to them . . . again. Of course, I heard them during the show, but who can concentrate when (spoiler alert) Beth is exploding and John’s getting pumped full of lead.
You don’t have to agree that my three are the “best,” but you’d best remember they are memorably great.
(Editor note: For the Honorable Mentions and accompanying Spotify Playlist, I tried to spread the love by only choosing what I considered the best song from each artist, so as not to have multiple songs by, let’s say, Chris Stapleton or Sturgill Simpson).
Season 1: ‘Keep the Wolves Away’ – Uncle Lucius
It’s both a shame and a blessing that it took a show like Yellowstone to introduce Uncle Lucius to the masses in July 2018. Of course, after more than a decade together, Texas’ favorite jam band had called it quits a few months before. Nonetheless, the boys earned their first Gold-certified song in 2021 with “Keep the Wolves Away,” thanks to their newfound notoriety.
- “Tennessee Whiskey” – Chris Stapleton
- “Goodbye Yesterday” – Billy Joe Shaver
- “Stone” – Whiskey Myers
- “Sunrise” – Ryan Bingham
- “Bad News” – Whitey Morgan and the ’78s
Season 2 – ‘Long Hot Summer Day’ – Turnpike Troubadours
Turnpike turned John Hartford’s bluegrass classic into a boat-rocking banger in 2010. While TT frontman Evan Felker forced the band to go on indefinite hiatus in 2019, each day feels closer to a Turnpike reunion. We need it.
- “Last of My Kind” – Jason Isbell
- “Pearl Snaps” – Jason Boland
- “Nose to the Grindstone” – Tyler Childers
- “Outlaw Shit” – Waylon Jennings
- “White Trash Story” – Casey Donahew
Season 3 – ‘Drunken Poet’s Dream’ – Hayes Carll
Penned by Hayes Carll and Ray Wylie Hubbard, “Drunken Poet’s Dream” kicked off Carll’s 2008 album, Trouble in Mind. If Yellowstone was your introduction to Carll, you’ve been missing out on 15-plus-years of Lone Star State illumination (see “Don’t Let Me Fall” or “Beaumont”).
- “Mamma Song” – Cody Jinks
- “Caroline” – Colter Wall feat. Belle Plaine
- “Long White Line” – Sturgill Simpson
- “Me My Bottle and Nothing But Time” – Gethen Jenkins
- “The Valley” – Charley Crockett