The Everly Brothers' 12 greatest songs ever, ranked

23 August 2021, 10:38

The Everly Brothers
The Everly Brothers. Picture: Getty

By Mayer Nissim

Phil and Don Everly were groundbreaking country rock 'n' roll icons who influenced everyone who came after.

From Paul McCartney and John Lennon to Keith Richards and Gram Parsons, it's hard to imagine the history of guitar rock without The Everly Brothers leading the way.

Don Everly died at the weekend at the age of 84 at his Nashville home. His brother Phil had died back in 2014, aged 74.

But their music will live on forever, and below we celebrate their greatness by rounding up just ten of their very best songs.

  1. Problems

    Written by husband and wife duo and regular Everlys songwriters Felice Bryant & Boudleaux Bryant, 'Problems' was a country-tinged rocker and an early number two hit for the brothers, only kept off the top by The Teddy Bears' 'To Know Him Is To Love Him'.

  2. So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)

    Written by Don Everly, 'So Sad' was a top ten hit in the UK and US in 1960 and opened their third studio album It's Everly Time.

    It's been covered by a billion or so country stars, and even by artists like Françoise Hardy and Jeff Lyne.

  3. Crying In The Rain

    With music by Carole King and lyrics from Howard Greenfield, the Everly Brothers took advantage of the one-off songwriting partnership (King and Greenfield did a swap from their regulars Gerry Goffin and Jack Keller) for this hit.

    It was later covered by Tammy Wynette and a-ha.

  4. On The Wings of A Nightingale

    Famously tempestuous, Don and Everly had a bad-tempered split in 1973 but put their differences aside to reunite in the mid-1980s.

    Many of the artists who they influenced pitched in on their comeback album EB 84, including Paul McCartney, who wrote this gorgeous single. If you search around, you can find is unreleased demo.

  5. Ebony Eyes

    This death disc written by John D. Loudermilk earned the Everlys one of their many US top ten hits when it was released.

    Released as a double A-side with 'Walk Right Back', it did even better in the UK.

    It got to number one despite a BBC airplay ban because of its upsetting lyrics about a man losing his fiancée in a stormy airplane crash.

  6. I Wonder If I Care As Much (1968 Roots Version)

    In 1968, The Everly Brothers took a sideways turn with their Roots album, that along with the Byrds and Gram Parsons' mid-to-late '60s work, pretty much invented country rock.

    The album was mainly a collection of country covers (Merle Haggard, Glen Campbell, Randy Newman), but one of the most striking songs was this "cover" of the Everly's own 'I Wonder If I Care As Much', originally released in a very different form on teh band's own 1958 debut The Everly Brothers.

  7. Cathy's Clown

    An odd pop classic from Don Everly (all chorus and bridge, no verses), about a humiliated lover, 'Cathy's Clown' was a massive smash hit on its release in 1960, topping the charts in the UK and US.

    So important to pop history (the Beatles knocked off the arrangement for 'Please Please Me'), it was added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2013.

  8. Love Hurts

    Another assist from Boudleaux Bryant, The Everly Brothers included the song on their 1960 A Date with The Everly Brothers album but didn't actually release it as a single, letting Roy Orbison sneak in with the first hit version a year later.

    It was a hit a couple of times more after that, with Nazareth and Jim Capaldi giving their own very different takes on it.

  9. June Is as Cold as December

    Marge Barton wrote this stunning album track from In Our Image, which proved that despite being a mainstay of that first wave of rock 'n'roll, The Everlys were more than capable of holding their own against their peers in the mid-'60s.

    They didn't quite have the success of their earlier career, but songs like this absolutely prove that wasn't due to a lack of talent or ability to move with the times.

  10. Bye Bye Love

    Yet another stone cold classic from the Felice and Boudleaux Bryant partnership (though Don came up with the guitar part at the beginning), The Everly Brothers' version was a mega smash and remains one of their best-known, best-loved songs.

    It's been covered by anyone and everyone since, from Simon & Garfunkel to The Beatles to George Harrison.

  11. Wake Up Little Susie

    Another Everly Brothers classic from Felice and Boudleaux Bryant and another hit despite some radio bans for its apparently naughty lyrics.

    The song tells the tale of two young lovers who go on a date but end up falling asleep during the movie, waking up long after their curfew and getting local tongues wagging about their antics (despite the fact that they only had a snooze).

    It was later covered by Simon & Garfunkel at their Central Park concert, and the duos combined for a joint version when they toured together in 2003 and 2004.

  12. All I Have To Do Is Dream

    One of the most tender, beautiful and gorgeous songs from the first wave of rock 'n' roll, 'All I Have To Do Is Dream' is The Everly Brothers' masterpiece.

    Boudleaux Bryant wrote it, but the Everlys vocal harmonies and Chet Atkins' understated twanging guitar work make it the absolute classic it is.

    After it was a massive hit for The Everly Brothers in 1957, it was covered hundreds of times over, from the likes of Cat Power, REM, Andy Gibb, Cliff Richard and Donny Osmond.

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