When Brad Paisley was asked to open for the Stones on a recent tour, he said, “they’re the number one rock band in the world, and they’re in the top five country bands.” To deep-cut fans of The Rolling Stones, that made perfect sense. If you only viewed the Stones as a band built on Chuck Berry, early R&B and blues licks, you’re missing out on a group that took in and mastered a few more genres on its way to becoming The World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band, with country music being key to their sound from day one. And they’ve proven time and again that they can take on Nashville and Bakersfield just as comfortably as Chicago and the Mississippi delta. Hell, they even performed Waylon Jennings’ anthem, “Bob Wills Is Still The King,” in front of 40,000 Texans and lived to tell the tale.
With Blue & Lonesome on everyone’s lips, we think it’s the perfect time to remind folks that the Stones are as much Hank Williams as they are Muddy Waters. You can hear bits of country all over the band’s albums, but they’ve also cut straight-up honky-tonk records since the beginning of their career, and continued to write red-dirt diamonds like “Wild Horses” and “Dead Flowers” that just rank among the band’s best work. We’ve put the best of them together in this playlist that doubles as the great Rolling Stones country album that never was (but we hope someday will be).