Here Are The Best Gary Stewart Songs That Once Dominated The Honky Tonks

Country Music News

With his emotive vibrato along with a hard-hitting blend of honky tonk and Southern rock, Gary Stewart was often cast as a modern-day champion of the raw honky-tonk sound of such 1940s and ’50s country performers. Gary Stewart songs recounting an alcohol-drenched honky-tonk life that paralleled his own struggles have made many country fans laugh, cry, and fall in love.

Gary Stewart was born in Jenkins, Kentucky. In the late ’60s, he escaped a possible lifetime of working in an airplane factory by pitching some songs he’d written in Nashville – following the advice country singer Mel Tillis gave him, whom he met in a honky tonk.

Eventually, a demo tape he made in the early 1970s, with countrified versions of several Motown songs, caught the attention of a Nashville producer. Since then, Stewart’s trip to stardom has been unstoppable. However, success later took an enormous toll on his personal life. Stewart was found dead, reportedly shot himself at his home, a month after his wife of more than four decades died of pneumonia.

RELATED: Here Are Some Facts About Gary Stewart, The King of Honky Tonk

Today, let’s celebrate Stewart’s life and musical career by digging into some of his best hits. Check them out below.

1. She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles)

From: Out of Hand (1975)

In 1975, Stewart achieved his third top ten hit on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, which was also his only song to hit No. 1. The honky tonk ballad – which tells the tale of a divorced man who is starting to see other women – stayed atop the chart for a single week. “She’s Actin’ Single” was also covered by several artists, with Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn being the most notable one.

2. Out of Hand

From: Out of Hand (1975)

This song about an extramarital affair is a great reminder of classic country songs released by the most celebrated artists like Dolly Parton and Merle Haggard. It was released as the title track of Stewart’s second album and peaked at No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.

3. Whiskey Trip

From: Little Junior (1978)

Without a doubt, whiskey is the country music’s favorite drink. It has been the subject of countless songs and bad decisions. Stewart had his share with “Whiskey Trip,” which is about drinking your pain and sorrow away. Stewart’s distinctive vibrato voice, evident in this song, will definitely take you on a miles away trip.

4. Brand New Whiskey

From: Brand New (1989)

Stewart went through a hiatus in the early 1980s and decided to stop recording, but six years later, he came back stronger. He recorded the album Brand New, which included fan favorites like the minor hit “Brand New Whiskey.”

5. In Some Room Above the Street

From: Steppin’ Out (1976)

For the rest of the 1970s, Stewart continued playing the honky tonks with his road band. He recorded various albums that spawned several hit singles, including “In Some Room Above the Street,” which would remind you of Stewart’s strong ties to the South. It’s a bit outlaw and a bit lovesick, which makes it perhaps the most cinematic piece in Stewart’s catalog.

6. Your Place or Mine

From: Your Place or Mine (1976)

This untamed classic has charmed the pants off many listeners with Stewart’s blend of sincerity and nervous vibrato. It also featured guest artists Nicolette Larson, Emmylou Harris, and Rodney Crowell.

7. Drinkin’ Thing

From: Out of Hand (1975)

In 1973, Stewart came back to Nashville and recorded a cover version of the Allman Brothers’ “Ramblin’ Man.” However, it is only charted No. 63 on the country chart. A year later, he followed that up with “Drinkin’ Thing” – and that became Stewart’s first top ten hit. Many people relate to the song, which sings about a man battling to resist the temptation of alcohol.  

8. I See the Want To in Your Eyes

From: Out of Hand (1975)

Before this love ballad became a hit for Conway Twitty – whose version reached No. 1 on the country chart, where it stayed for two weeks – it was first recorded by Stewart. Twitty heard Stewart’s version on the radio in Oklahoma and cut it that same year.

9. Ten Years of This

From: Your Place or Mine (1977)

This ode to marital distress has been a favorite of Bob Dylan. Dylan even confessed to Stewart that he had played the honky tonk ballad over and over. Indeed, the record cast a spell over him.

10. You’re Not the Woman You Used to Be

From: You’re Not the Woman You Used to Be (1975)

Lastly, here we have another heartbreaking ballad by Stewart, which sings about a man watching the woman he loves to turn into somebody else he’s no longer familiar with.

More Gary Stewart Songs From The King of the Honky-Tonks

While Gary Stewart lived fast and died hard, he left us with so many beautiful songs that will truly endure the test of time. Here are some of his best tunes you need to know.

  • An Empty Glass (That’s the Way the Day Ends)
  • Flat Natural Born Good-Timin’ Man
  • Oh, Sweet Temptation
  • Quits
  • Single Again
  • She’s Got a Drinking Problem
  • Stone Wall (Around Your Heart)
  • Brotherly Love
  • Those Were the Days
  • Cactus and a Rose
  • Ramblin’ Man
  • I Got a Bad Attitude
  • Shady Streets
  • Smokin’ in the Rockies
  • Let’s Forget That We’re Married

How about you? What are your favorite Gary Stewart songs?

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