Many country fans first got to know Rory Feek as one half of the beloved country duo Joey + Rory in 2008. That year, the married pair appeared on the debut season of CMT's reality competition Can You Duet. Although they won third place in the competition, their stunning harmonies and sweet personalities earned them a record deal just a few months after the show ended.
Their debut album The Life of a Song was well received by country fans and critics alike, debuting at No. 10 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and earning them a nomination for Top Vocal Duo at the 2009 ACM Awards. They would go on to win that same category at the 2010 ACM Awards, and continued to build a solid career with the release of their second record Album Number Two, their first holiday album A Farmhouse Christmas in 2011 and third LP His and Hers in 2012. Their 2013 gospel record Inspired: Songs of Faith & Family was a multi-genre success, charting on the Billboard 200, Top Country Albums and Top Christian Albums lists.
In 2014, Joey and Rory welcomed their first child, Indiana. Just a few months later, Joey was diagnosed with cervical cancer. After a successful surgery, doctors told Joey she was cancer free. A few months later, the couple began work on a film called Josephine, written and directed by Rory, which followed a love story set during the Civil War. After Joey began to feel ill again during production, doctors discovered that her cancer had returned and spread to her colon. She began undergoing treatment and found support from country fans across the globe, as Rory shared their story via his own blog This Life I Live. During this time, the pair also worked on what would become their final album together, Hymns That Are Important to Us. Tragically, Joey Feek died on March 4, 2016.
Since his wife's passing, Rory Feek has kept a steady focus on his family while also continuing to pursue his own creative projects. He released his moving memoir This Life I Live: One Man's Extraordinary, Ordinary Life and the Woman Who Changed It Forever in 2017, which became a national bestseller. In 2021, the multi-talented 57-year-old released his first solo album Gentle Man, which includes collaborations with Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Trisha Yearwood, Alison Krauss, Lee Ann Womack, Ricky Skaggs and more.
Although he is known as a performer, producer and author, many country fans don't know how many incredible country songs Rory Feek has written throughout his career. After moving to Nashville in the mid-1990s, he quickly earned a reputation as one of the most talented country songwriters in town. Some of the genre's biggest names have cut his songs and taken them to the top of the charts over the past two decades.
Read on to learn about 15 songs that were penned by Rory Feek and recorded by other country artists.
"Someone You Used To Know"Recorded by Collin Raye
In 1999, "Someone You Used To Know" became one of Rory Feek's first major hits as a songwriter. Collin Raye recorded the tune for his fifth studio album The Walls Came Down. "Someone You Used To Know," which Feek penned with Tim Johnson, became Raye's second single from the record. The heartbreaking track connected with country fans and made it all the way to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
"The Chain of Love"Recorded by Clay Walker
A year after Collin Raye took "Someone You Used To Know" to the top of the country charts, Clay Walker repeated that success with "The Chain of Love." Written by Rory Feek and Jonnie Barnett, this moving story-song tugged at the heartstrings of listeners from all walks of life. The song climbed to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and became a Top 40 hit on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100.
"The Truth About Men"Recorded by Tracy Byrd
Co-written by Feek, Paul Overstreet and Tim Johnson, this cheeky, testosterone-infused tune became the lead single and title track of Tracy Byrd's eighth studio album in 2003. Blake Shelton, Montgomery Gentry and Andy Griggs make guest appearances on the song, which peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
"Some Beach"Recorded by Blake Shelton
Another co-write with celebrated singer-songwriter Paul Overstreet, "Some Beach" became a pivotal career hit for Blake Shelton in 2004. The track spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, becoming one of the biggest hits of Shelton's early career.
"I Will"Recorded by Jimmy Wayne
"I Will," which Feek co-wrote with Dave Pahanish, was released as the second single from Jimmy Wayne's 2008 record Do You Believe Me Now. The heartfelt love song spent 28 weeks on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, peaking at No. 18.
“A Little More Country Than That”Recorded by Easton Corbin
Easton Corbin made a splash in the country music scene in 2009 with the release of his debut single “A Little More Country Than That.” Co-written by Rory Feek, Wynn Varble and Don Poythress, the song went all the way to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and was certified platinum by the RIAA.
"How Do You Get That Lonely"Recorded by Blaine Larsen
Blaine Larsen became one of the first artists signed to Giantslayer Records, a label created by Rory Feek and fellow singer-songwriter Tim Johnson in 2004. "How Do You Get That Lonely" was released later that year and made it to No. 18 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. Feek co-wrote the powerful song with Jamie Teachenor as a tribute to Lance Emmitt, a 19-year-old Tennessean who died by suicide in 2003.
"Rich Man"Recorded by Mark Wills
A sweet and sentimental track "Rich Man" was co-written by Feek and D. Vincent Williams. Mark Wills recorded the track for his 2000 album Permanently. Although the song wasn't released as a single, Permanently stands as one of Wills' highest-charting and best-selling records to date.
"You Can Let Go"Recorded by Crystal Shawanda
Candian country artist Crystal Shawanda found major success with the release of "You Can Let Go" in 2008. The song became her first major hit, peaking at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and going all the way to No. 5 on the Canadian Country chart.
"When Mama Prayed"Recorded by Randy Travis
Co-written by Feek with Paul Overstreet, "When Mama Prayed" is a moving, spiritual track that Randy Travis recorded for his fourteenth studio album Rise and Shine. Released in 2002, "When Mama Prayed" is track three on the project, which was Travis' second career gospel record.
"When I Think About Leaving"Recorded by Kenny Chesney
Another collaboration from the songwriting dream of Rory Feek, Paul Overstreet and Tim Johnson, "When I Think About Leaving" was cut by Kenny Chesney for his hit 2004 album When The Sun Goes Down.
"Strong Enough to Cry"Recorded by Lorrie Morgan
This emotional, cathartic track from Feek and Max D. Barnes caught the ear of Lorrie Morgan, who recorded it for her 1999 album My Heart. Joey Feek also cut her own version of the song for her solo 2005 record If Not for You.
"When You’re Not Trying To"Recorded by Reba McEntire
Another gem from Rory Feek and Tim Johnson, "When You’re Not Trying To" was recorded by Reba McEntire for her 25th career studio album. "When You’re Not Trying To" is the tenth track on McEntire's highly successful record So Good Together, which was released in 1999 and certified platinum by the RIAA.
"Better Than You"Recorded by Terri Clark
Terri Clark joined forced with Rory Feek to pen this captivating song that follows the journey of a woman and a man on a dinner date. Clark recorded the cleverly written track for her fifth studio album, Pain to Kill, which was released in 2003.
"Met Him in a Motel Room"Recorded by Trisha Yearwood
Rory Feek wrote this moving, imagery-driven track with Jamie Teachenor. That expert songwriting motivated Trisha Yearwood to cut the song for her highly anticipated 2014 record PrizeFighter: Hit After Hit. Yearwood recorded a very special duet version of the track with Feek for his 2021 solo album Gentle Man.