As a native of Tennessee, I like to think I know a thing or two about music: from Elvis to Johnny, many music legends got their start in the Volunteer State. Tennesseans are proud of their state's musical heritage – Nashville is, after all, thought to be the center of the music industry. They don't call it "Music City" for nothing.
Since moving to Texas, though, I'm beginning to wonder if the other "T" state could give Tennessee a run for its money when it comes to the music scene. [Note: That last sentence may have permanently revoked my 'Tennessean Card.']
Austin, known as The Live Music Capital of the World, boasts nearly 200 live music venues. San Antonio has become well-known for its Tejano music. Dallas and Houston also have large music scenes. And the state has its own brand of country music, which many would argue is better than the Nashville version.
One thing Texas does have is a great selection of songs that mention the Lone Star State. While they may not compete with such classics as "Rocky Top" or "Tennessee Waltz," (I may be slightly biased), musicians love writing about Texas and they have written some really good songs.
I compiled a list of some of my favorite Texas songs (in no particular order) - see what you think. Did your favorite song make my list? What songs would you add or remove? Feel free to comment below or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ernest Tubb – The Yellow Rose of Texas
"But the Yellow Rose of Texas beats the belles of Tennessee."
I don't agree with that lyric, but this one's been around for a while. It is also one of the most iconic songs about Texas. Ernest Tubb recorded a version of this song, which reached Top 10 on the Country Western charts in 1955.
Marty Robbins – El Paso
"Out in the West Texas town of El Paso I fell in love with a Mexican girl."
I remember my dad playing this song for me over and over on vinyl when I was a child. There is something about the Spanish guitar that accompanies the song that just draws the listener into the music and lends great emotion to the song. Originally released by Robbins in 1955, "El Paso" reached number one on the country and pop music charts in 1960. A tip of the hat to "Streets of Laredo," also by Robbins.
Tracy Lawrence – Texas Tornado
"I'm like a tumbleweed in a wild west Texas wind. You're blowing me away again."
I recently saw Tracy Lawrence perform live in Nacogdoches and, when he got to this song, the place went wild. Apparently, many Texas teens had their first kiss while listening to this song. "Texas Tornado" reached number one on the Billboard charts in 1995
George Strait – All My Exes Live in Texas
"All my exes live in Texas. And Texas is the place, I'd dearly love to be. But all my exes live in Texas. Therefore I hang my hat in Tennessee."
George Strait is a legend. He's been making hits since 1981and hasn't slowed a bit. "All My Exes Live in Texas" reached number one on the Billboard charts in 1987. And no, only one of my exes lives in Texas.
Josh Abbott Band – My Texas (feat. Pat Green)
"You say you haven't hiked through Big Bend, Had your hair blown back by a Lubbock wind, Been somewhere where they call you "friend", then you ain't met My Texas yet."
Josh Abbott, a graduate of Texas Tech, began singing Texas Country in 2008. This song seems to give a great picture of what it means to be a "Texan." Plus, it takes a nice dig at "polished-pop country crap." How many of the things mentioned in this song have you done?
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnAPvDXcadg
Various Artists – Deep in the Heart of Texas
"The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas"
There may not be another song as ingrained in the culture of a region as this song, except for "New York, York" by Frank Sinatra. The Texas Rangers play the song in the fifth inning of their home games. Even if you don't know all the words, you know exactly when to chime in with the "clap clap clap claps."
Little Texas – God Blessed Texas
"I've been sent to spread the message. God blessed Texas"
This song screams Texas and sums up the pride that Texans have for their home. The band is named after the state. What more could you want for in a song about a state?
Alabama - If You're Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)
"I remember down in Houston we were puttin' on a show, when a cowboy in the back stood up and yelled, "Cotton-Eyed Joe"!"
The only bad thing about this song is the fact that the band's name is Alabama. This song made it to number one on the Billboard Hot Country singles list in 1984.
ZZ Top – La Grange
"Rumor spreadin a'round in that Texas town, 'bout that shack outside La Grange"
This song, about the whorehouse that later became the subject of the Broadway hit The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, blasted ZZ Top onto the national scene. Even if you can't really understand what they're saying, you can always chime in with the "haw haw haw haw."
Waylon Jennings – Luckenback, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)
Between Hank Williams' pain songs and Newberry's train songs and Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain,
Out in Luckenbach, Texas ain't nobody feelin' no pain
Waylon Jennnings released this song in 1977, at the height of outlaw country and it reached number one on the country charts, where it remained for over a month. It also reached #25 on the pop charts. Willie Nelson is featured on the song in the final refrain.