Gone Country aims to thoughtfully explore the country music genre and where it’s headed, with a focus on national trends and buzzworthy news of the week. For info about album releases and concerts, check out this week’sCountry Music Roundup.

When Prince died a week ago, celebrities and fans alike all took to social media to mourn The Purple One. His musical impact knew know genre, and many artists are still performing covers of his songs in concerts and posting messages about how much his music meant to them.

Prince at La Zona Rosa, March 16, 2013. Photo by Jay Janner/American-Statesman

Country musicians were no different.

Proving that Prince’s appeal was universal, a number of country covers of “Nothing Compares 2 U” and “Purple Rain” cropped up in the last week. That’s not to mention the recordings that were being shared from artists who had previously covered them live. Everyone from Little Big Town to Chris Stapleton put a cover out in the last week. And this week, I’m here to rank the Top 5 country Prince covers for you.

5. Little Big Town, “When Doves Cry”

The band performed this one acapella at the Adams Center at The University of Montana on the 22nd, bathed in purple light. This 50-second clip isn’t the whole performance, but it gives a good indication of how the whole song went.

4. Jackson Taylor, “He Stopped Loving Her Today/Purple Rain”


Originally recorded live at Billy Bob’s Texas in 2013, Taylor and his band The Sinners segued into Prince’s hit song after finishing George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Oddly enough, the two pieces complement each other, as Taylor re-imagines “Rain” as the woman’s answer to Jones’ character.

3. LeAnn Rimes, “Purple Rain”


Rimes covered “Rain” on her 1998 album “Sittin’ On Top of the World.” Her version predictably amps up the twang and drum claps, but it’s one of the older recorded versions of the song in country music.

2. The Dixie Chicks, “Nothing Compares 2 U”


The Chicks performed their very emotional version of “Nothing Compares 2 U” in Denmark the day after Prince’s death, complete with purple rain and Prince symbol props.

1. Chris Stapleton, “Nothing Compares 2 U”


Stapleton brought his soulful twang to the Prince-penned hit at a show in Berkeley, Calif. on April 23. The blues-oriented song with lyrics that were ready-made for country music suited Stapleton’s style well, as he turned the song into his own while paying tribute at the same time.

Other News:

-First and foremost, it’s Willie Nelson‘s 83rd birthday on Friday, so you know what that means—It’s Willie Nelson Week! (That might not be an officially recognized holiday, but it is at the Statesman.) Check out all of our Willie news here.

-Kris Kristofferson and Craig Morgan both announced new albums this week. Kristofferson’s, “The Cedar Creek Sessions,” will be a live album of his old songs recorded in Austin, set to be released on June 17. He’ll also appear in a May PBS documentary about The Highwaymen. Morgan’s new album, “A Whole Lot More To Me,” is set for a June 3 release and features the upcoming single “I’ll Be Home Soon,” plus a collaboration with Mac Powell, the lead singer of Christian rock band Third Day.

-Kid Rock’s personal assistant Mike Sacha was found dead in Nashville Tuesday morning after an ATV accident, according to CNN. Kid Rock (real name Robert Ritchie) wrote in a statement, “I am beyond devastated to report that my personal assistant Mike Sacha passed away today in an ATV accident here in Nashville. He was a member of our family and one of the greatest young men I have ever had the pleasure to not only work with, but also to become friends with.”

-Several musicians, from Bruce Springsteen to Nick Jonas, have refused to play any North Carolina shows following that state government’s passing of House Bill 2, which requires trans-gendered people to use the same gendered bathroom as described on their birth certificate. Dolly Parton isn’t one of those musicians. “I have no plans to cancel the show,” Parton told the Winston-Salem Journal Monday. “I believe that everybody ought to be treated with respect, but I feel we will serve better from the stage. I don’t like to get caught up in controversial issues. I will address whatever I need to from the stage.” She is scheduled to play Greensboro, N.C. on June 3.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or by email: jharris@statesman.com.