Country music is one of the most beloved genres of music in the United States today. The style originated from Blues, Folk, Western, Gospel, and Tejano influences. As with all things “American,” the genre combines a variety of influences and if you listen closely, you will find that the genre offers a wide range of sound from pop to traditional. Finding a name for your baby can be particularly stressful when you do not know where to start and we urge you to look to the world of music and art to find baby name inspiration.
Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that country music has had a huge influence on pop culture and almost all the music coming from America today. After we recently saw Dolly Parton receive a vaccine which she donated $1 million to fund, we decided we would look to the brightest stars of country music who inspire us with their iconic songs. These names and songs helped us come up with country-fried baby names to share with you! Check out these 25 baby names for boys inspired by country music’s legendary performers and their meaningful songs!
Merle Haggard had a knack for writing songs that resonated with folks from all walks of life. Hits like “Mama’s Hungry Eyes,” “Branded Man” and “Sing Me Back Home” painted a portrait of sorrow that, for some, would otherwise be difficult to comprehend. Merle is a French baby name that means “blackbird.” It began as a nickname for someone who likes to sing or whistle. This makes it a perfect country music baby name!
Hank Williams has been gone for over six decades now, but he’s still among the first mentioned in discussions of country icons. If there were a country music bible, “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” would be its Genesis. Hank has been a popular baby name in the US since the 1940s and it is more popular today than ever before! Hank is a diminutive form of Henry, which means “estate ruler.”
Along with his contemporaries Marty Stuart and Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill brought country music back to its roots in the late 80s and early 90s. “When I Call Your Name” and “Go Rest High On That Mountain” are country music gold. Vince comes from the Latin name Vincent which means “conquering.” Vince has not been a favorite name among new parents since the sixties, but we think it should make a comeback!
It’s no wonder that Dwight Yoakam was adopted by the 80s L.A. punk scene when he was still hunting for his big break. Yoakam was never afraid of being an outsider, even if it meant going against the grain. While Music Row was harnessing a slick, pop-driven “Urban Cowboy” sound, Yoakam went hardcore honky-tonk. Dwight was once one of America’s most popular baby names for boys, appearing in the US top 500 for decades. It has not made the list since 1992. Dwight is a German name, meaning “blond.”
Known for his smooth voice and unparalleled musicianship, Glen Campbell brought country music to the pop masses with his massive hits “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Wichita Lineman.” Glen is another name that’s fallen from fashion, sounding a bit retro today. That could appeal to you! Glen is a baby name with Scottish origins that means “a narrow valley.”
Regarded as one of the greatest living songwriters, Kris Kristofferson has never made being a commercial success a priority. This is why how he became one of the most successful songwriters in Nashville. “Sunday Mornin’ Coming Down” and “Help Me Make It Through the Night” are country music standards. Kris is a subtle country music baby name, it’s a form of Christopher which means “one who carries Christ.”
A leader of the late 80s neo-traditional movement in country music, Randy Travis reminded everyone that the souls of Hank and Lefty were far from dead with dance hall gems like “On the Other Hand.” Randy, as a name, has taken on a rather saucy meaning ever since Austin Powers immortalized the term. It’s still in the US top 1000 today, however! Randy is a form of Randall or Randolph that means “shield-wolf.”
Charley Pride skyrocketed to stardom in the late 1960s, landing eight No. 1 singles on the Billboard country chart between 1969 and 1971. His smooth baritone and classy country music sound culminated in his 1971 song “Kiss an Angel Good Morning.” Pride was one of three African-American members of the Grand Ole Opry. Charley is a delightful form of Charles that was very popular at the beginning of the twentieth century. It has since fallen from favor. Like Charles, Charley means “free man.”
While you could go with Garth, we like Garth Brooks’ last name as a given name these days. Long before Luke Bryan and Keith Urban were delivering electric performances on par with popular rock shows, Garth Brooks was changing the concept of what a country music concert could be. Don’t let the flashing lights distract you from his unquestionable talent! Brooks is a very popular baby name for boys and will likely be in the US top 100 next year. This English baby name means “of the brook.”
An engineer of the Bakersfield Sound, Buck Owens brought a West Coast swagger to country music with his song “Tiger By the Tail” and “Act Naturally.” He inspired the likes of Dwight Yoakam in the process. Buck has not gotten much use as a baby name since the 1980s. The English name means “male deer.” In the 18th century, “buck” was a term applied to a dashing, fashionable man.
Country music superstar Alan Jackson paved the way for many others. The Georgia-native has been making unapologetic country music for nearly three decades. His signature songs, “Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” “Remember When,” and “Livin’ On Love” sound as good now as the day they were recorded. Alan is a popular Irish baby name today, meaning “handsome.”
Many people only think of one person when they hear the name Conway, Conway Twitty. The singer flawlessly transitioned from rockabilly to country in the late 1950s. The Mississippian’s “It’s Only Make Believe,” “Linda On My Mind,” and the teasing “Lay You Down” proved that country music could be utterly provocative. Conway is an Irish surname name that means “hound of the plain.”
Ernest Tubb‘s “Walkin’ the Floor Over You” is as country music as country music gets. His honky-tonk style and post-Opry show the Midnite Jamboree inspired many young dreamers to take the stage. Ernest is one of those sober, so-far-out-they’re-beginning-to-be-reconsidered baby names. Ernest has been trending down for decades, but we still think there’s a market for this German name that means “resolute.”
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Vern Gosdin was an American country music singer. Known as “The Voice” he had 19 top-10 solo hits on the country music charts from 1977 through 1990. Vern also had a fantastic name! Vern meaning, “place of alders,” has fallen from fashion and has not been used by many new parents since the 1960s. We’d love to hear more Vern!
From the early 1950s through the 1970s, Faron Young was among the top stars and most colorful personalities in all of country music. Signature singles like “If You Ain’t Lovin’ (You Ain’t Livin’)” and “Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young” marked him as a honky-tonk man. Faron was mildly popular in the 60s and 70s but it has never been a huge hit among American parents. Faron is an English name that means “handsome servant.”
Ernest Jennings Ford, known professionally as Tennessee Ernie Ford, was an American singer and television host who enjoyed success in the Western, pop, gospel, and country music genres. You could do no better as a country music-lover to choose the baby name Tennessee. The name comes from Native American tradition meaning “meeting place” or “winding river.”
No one blended rock and country music quite like Gram Parsons. He popularized what he called “Cosmic American Music”, a hybrid of country, rhythm and blues, soul, folk, and rock. Gram has never really stuck for American parents, but it’s used as an alternative form of Graham or Graeme in the UK. This Scottish baby name means “gravelly homestead.”
This is a bit of an unusual suggestion, but we encourage you to use the initials of John Edward Prine to bring you the name Jep. Jep has a history as a popular baby name in the US appearing on the US top 1000 in 1883. Jep is a shortened form of Jeptha, meaning “God will open.” Widely cited as one of the most influential songwriters of his generation, Prine was known for humorous lyrics about relationships, life, and current events, as well as serious songs with social commentary and songs that recollect melancholy tales from his life.
A gifted entertainer, Lonnie Melvin Tillis, known professionally as Mel Tillis, distinguished himself as a songwriter, singer, film actor, and television personality. His biggest success occurred in the 1970s as part of the Outlaw Country music movement, with a long list of Top 10 hits. Mel is a short form of Melvin, a name meaning “counsel protector.”
Townes Van Zandt was an American singer-songwriter who wrote numerous songs. Hits like “Pancho and Lefty”, “For the Sake of the Song”, “Tecumseh Valley”, “Rex’s Blues”, and “To Live Is to Fly” are widely considered masterpieces of American songwriting. Townes makes for a unique country music baby name! Townes is an English surname-name that means “from the settlement.”
John Denver was an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and humanitarian, whose greatest success was as a solo singer. By 1974, he was one of the country’s best-selling performers, with hits like “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” he solidified his country music bona fides. Denver works great as a given name as it comes from a French place-name and surname. The name means “from Anvers.” The name is climbing the charts today, resting just outside the top 500 last year.
We wrote a similar list to this one but for girls, and we used Paisley from Brad Paisley as a name suggestion. We are going to do something similar here for Naomi and Wynonna Judd of The Judds. The Judds were one of the most successful acts in country music with 14 No. 1 hits! Judd has a history as a given name dating back to the Medieval Era as a short form of Jordan, a Hebrew name meaning, “flowing down.” The name has been mildly successful here appearing in the US top 1000 last in 1988. Go for it, parents!
Armed with Texas swagger and a take-no-prisoners attitude, Waylon Jennings set Music City on fire in the 1970s as part of the Outlaw Country music movement. Waylon is a boy’s name of English origin meaning “land beside the road.” The name has made a huge comeback in recent years and it is just outside the US top 100.
Willie Nelson. Even after 60 years in the music business, we’re all still fascinated with the Red Headed Stranger. From his adventurous “On the Road Again” to delicate ballads like “Yesterday’s Wine,” Willie Nelson is one of the greatest country music singer-songwriters of all time. Willie has been on the downward trend, but we think parents inspired by Nelson could breathe new life into it. Willie is a form of William and it means “resolute protection.”
His name is synonymous with country music and his impact on the genre is immense. From “Ring of Fire” and “I Walk the Line” to his latter career resurgence with “Hurt,” Johnny Cash is more than just a country legend. He’s an American legend. We like Cash due to its more contemporary sound. Cash refers to “currency” but also it’s a form of Cassius, meaning “hollow.” Cash is a top 500 baby name today.
Yeehaw! Did you love these country music baby names for boys inspired by the brightest stars of the genre? We certainly hope that you did and you found a great name or two worth considering. We went for some of the bigger names in country music, but you should explore your favorite artists and their names to potentially find the perfect name for you. Happy baby name hunting!
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 25. Merle
- 2 24. Hank
- 3 23. Vince
- 4 22. Dwight
- 5 21. Glen
- 6 20. Kris
- 7 19. Randy
- 8 18. Charley
- 9 17. Brooks
- 10 16. Buck
- 11 15. Alan
- 12 14. Conway
- 13 13. Ernest
- 14 12. Vern
- 15 11. Faron
- 16 10. Tennessee
- 17 9. Gram
- 18 8. Jep
- 19 7. Mel
- 20 6. Townes
- 21 5. Denver
- 22 4. Judd
- 23 3. Waylon
- 24 2. Willie
- 25 1. Cash
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