This list of 50 essential '80s country songs is a reminder of how many stars we cherish today got their start when FM, 8-tracks and cassette players ruled the car stereo.

Rich and at times poetic love songs ease into more familiar heartbreak and sin. Men like George Strait and Randy Travis helped us heal, while Dwight Yoakam, Steve Earle and John Anderson were there to turn up the party. The 1980s in country music was a surprisingly dynamic decade. Shifts from glittery, pop-friendly cowboy music to neo-traditionalism and back to pop invited artists of many outside genres to participate. Marie Osmond and Ray Charles are two guests that stand out on this list of the best '80s country songs. Kenny Rogers, Rosanne Cash and Reba McEntire enjoyed their own crossover success, as did one-hit wonders like Sylvia. You remember Sylvia, don't you?

The best '80s country artists stayed one step ahead of these slow shifts. Alabama did it best, ditching an early pop shine for a more traditional sound, but never abandoning the tricks that brought massive crowds to see them live. Later Clint Black and Garth Brooks would do the same, in their own unique way. What a time to be alive!

Consider this list of great '80s country songs an essential, but far from complete history lesson on the decade. It's 50 songs from 50 different artists, each chosen because they represent something definitive about the 1980s in country music. Replicas need not apply here.

50 Essential '80s Country Songs:

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