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The Top Texas 40

Ranking the Lone Star State in song

Fri., Nov. 28, 2003

BY MARGARET MOSER WITH GREG BEETS


Ding Dong Daddy (From Dumas)
The best songs about Texas

"I'm a ding-dong daddy from Dumas
Ya oughta see me do my stuff!"

"I'm a Ding Dong Daddy (From Dumas)" got stuck in my head last April. Besides making me crazy, it got me thinking about the phenomenon of a state that inspires so many songs. This Ding Dong moment happened in the wake of the Chronicle's Texas Top 40 last November, an effort that was so much fun to be part of that it didn't take long to marry the two in concept. Texas -- like New York, California, and the whole South -- just seems to inspire music.

And here's something that became obvious in listening to hundreds and hundreds of songs. Songs about Texas towns and places usually involve love -- unrequited, young, old, lost, newfound, enduring. Songs about the state of Texas generally celebrate its spirit and geography -- and love. Murder ballads, disco tunes, school anthems, television show themes, post punk, classic country, hot jazz, smokin' blues, New Wave ... name a genre, and someone is singing about Texas in it.

Besides the majority of the Chronicle Music staff, voters included a number of esteemed musicos not even based in Texas. Jody Denberg, for one, almost begged off, saying, "As a New Yorker I feel so unqualified to participate," yet his sensibility in programming KGSR belies his origins. Non-Texas based critics admitted being daunted by the "overwhelming selection" of songs suggested; the honed-down list of 500 or so titles considered was a drop in the bucket to the estimated 3,500 songs that mention the state, a city, or place in its title. And that was one of the few rules: The title had to say "Texas." Rules, of course, were made to be broken, so there's one notable exception.

Age reflected strongly in choices, too. No one older than 35 voted for Duran Duran's "Rio," and the flak from one voter made ears scorch. "Get a fucking life," he squawked, but when Simon LeBon sings "dance across the Rio Grande," he's name-checking the Lone Star State. No one younger than 35 voted for the Johnny Mercer-Harry Warren chestnut "I'm an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)." All ages voted for the Doobie Brothers' "China Grove."

There's no doubt that what critics do best is argue. "Does 'Nuevo Laredo' count?" asked Joe Nick Patoski of the Doug Sahm favorite. "No!" was the resounding reply, mostly from youthful critics, with one veteran saying, "It's not in Texas." Yet three people nominated the song, doubtless reflecting Dave Marsh's sentiment: "Texas is stolen Mexican territory anyhow!"

And what of "I'm a Ding Dong Daddy (From Dumas)," the bouncy swing ditty by Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys that inspired this survey? It didn't place in the Top 10, but it was the 12th favorite song on the list, just behind the 11th, "Streets of Laredo" by Marty Robbins. It did beat out "Texarkana," "Asshole From El Paso," and "Rio," however. And if the images of Dumas and Laredo are as opposite as the sound of "Asshole" and "Rio," well ... that's Texas. -- Margaret Moser

Texas Towns & Places

15 "Rio," Duran Duran
Songwriters: Simon LeBon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Andy Taylor, Roger Taylor
Year Charted: 1983
Highest Billboard Chart Position: No. 2

Who'd a-thunk that in MTV's infancy, the band to put Texas on the video map would be ... Duran Duran? The Birmingham, England, quintet personified New Wave with synth-heavy pop, hip good looks, and big hair. The video was pure fantasy, a paean to a free-spirited girl named Rio with a "cherry ice cream smile," but devoid of Texas connection save for the lyrical command "dance across the Rio Grande."

14 "Asshole From El Paso," Kinky Friedman & the Texas Jewboys
Songwriters: Chinga Chavin, Kenny "Snakebite" Jacobs
Year Written: 1975
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

"Asshole From El Paso" skewered Merle Haggard's "Okie From Muskogee" and the Seventies country establishment with crude aplomb that still packs a punch. Co-written with Jewboy horn player Kenny "Snakebite" Jacobs and dirty ditty purveyor Chinga Chavin (Country Porn), it was an antidote to Cosmic Cowboy fatuousness and became as instant a classic as the other fuck-you anthem of the day, Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Redneck Mother." It made a cult star of its performer-turned-author Richard "Kinky" Friedman.

13 "Texarkana," R.E.M.
Songwriters: Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe
Year Released: 1991
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

An unlikely entry from an unlikely source, "Texarkana" was R.E.M. at its peak in 1991 on Out of Time. Its monster hit was "Losing My Religion," but "Texarkana" is typical of their shimmering, orchestral pop of the time, with a lead vocal by Mike Mills, who probably wrote it. The only apparent connection to the titular city is the presence of steel guitar.

12 "I'm a Ding Dong Daddy (From Dumas)," Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys
Songwriter: Phil Baxter
Year Written: 1935(?)
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

The Panhandle town of Dumas boasted "Population: 571" in the late Twenties, about the time bandleader/songwriter Phil Baxter, himself from Navarro County, passed through and then immortalized it in song. Baxter's own success was little more than regional, but he had a knack for novelty tunes, such as "Piccolo Pete." On the Jack Benny Radio Show, bandleader Phil Harris took a liking to Baxter's tune and played it on the show, encouraging versions by Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, and of course Bob Wills.

11 "Streets of Laredo," Marty Robbins
Traditional
Year Charted: 1960
Highest Billboard Chart Position: No. 25

Close your eyes and imagine "Streets of Laredo" performed with fiddle and bagpipes. That's a nugget of American country music, where Irish ballads such as "The Bard of Armagh" and "A Handful of Laurel" were turned into a Western classic about a Texas border town by Marty Robbins as a follow-up to "El Paso." The film Bang the Drum Slowly was named for a line in the song, which was also covered by Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, John Cale, and Roy Rogers & Dale Evans.

10 "I'm an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)," Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks
Songwriters: Johnny Mercer, Harry Warren
Original Released: 1936

Johnny Mercer wrote the elegant music and Harry Warren the tongue-in-cheek lyrics for the loping ditty that first appeared in 1936's Rhythm on the Range musical. It was snatched up by every Western singing star of the era including Tex Ritter, and maintained its whimsical appeal through the decades. Sonny Rollins and Bing Crosby also saddled up to the song, but it's Dan Hicks' 1972 version with Austinite Maryann Price's unforgettable croon that's most beloved.

9 "China Grove," the Doobie Brothers
Songwriter: Tom Johnston
Year Charted: 1973
Highest Billboard Chart Position: No. 15

When the sun came up one morning in 1973, the people of San Antonio's China Grove were surprised to find their bedroom community celebrated by the Doobie Brothers. The lyrics are nonsense, but the music was an irresistible command to rock out, duuuude, with chunky chords and a steam-engine rhythm that helped establish the band's string of hits. A well-placed rumor has it that the song was inspired by a late-night hunt for drugs after the band's San Antonio debut.

8 "Amarillo by Morning," George Strait
Songwriters: Terry Stafford, Paul Fraser
Year Charted: 1982
Highest Billboard Chart Position: No. 3

Songwriter Terry Stafford (1941-1996), born in Oklahoma and raised in Amarillo, was barely 23 when Elvis Presley had a hit with his co-written song "Suspicion." Ten years later, he helped pen the lonesome, tender "Amarillo by Morning," inspired by a San Antonio rodeo gig and his drive back home. Stafford recorded it as a single on Atlantic, but "Amarillo" languished as a Panhandle favorite until George Strait recorded the definitive version in 1982.

The Top Texas 40

7 "Galveston," Glen Campbell
Songwriter: Jimmy Webb
Year Charted: 1969
Highest Billboard Chart Position: No. 1

Oklahoma's Jimmy Webb was a one-man music-making machine. A lyricist and tunesmith of the first order, he already had hits with the 5th Dimension ("Up, Up and Away") and Richard Harris ("MacArthur Park") when he got in Glen Campbell what songwriters dream for: the right voice and personality for the music. Besides making a country-flavored pop hit about the Gulf Coast resort, Campbell scored with Webb's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and "Wichita Lineman."

6 "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)," Waylon Jennings with Willie Nelson
Songwriters: Bobby Emmons, Chips Moman
Year Released: 1977
Highest Billboard Chart Position: No. 1

The only song to place in both lists. See Texas 25 list, below.

5 "La Grange," ZZ Top
Songwriters: Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard, Dusty Hill
Year Released: 1973
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

ZZ Top didn't invent boogie rock, but in 1973, they blasted it into national consciousness with a raucous song about a Texas whorehouse. "La Grange" owes it all to John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillen," but the little ol' band from Texas grabbed the blues master's mojo and made three-chord history. The lyrics are mumbled, but who doesn't punch air when singing along to, "haw haw haw haw"?

4 "Dallas," Joe Ely
Songwriter: Jimmie Dale Gilmore
Originally Released: 1972
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

In reply to his opening, "Have you ever seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night?" Jimmie Dale Gilmore explains simply that "it told the whole song" and "took me a long time to write the rest of that song, because it had to live up to that line." First recorded in 1972 by the Flatlanders, "Dallas" thrives in the repertoires of Gilmore, Joe Ely, and others without fading or losing its dark mystique.

3 "(Is Anybody Going to) San Antone," Doug Sahm
Songwriters: Dave Kirby, Glen Martin
Year Charted: 1970
Highest Billboard Chart Position: No. 1

"This is a song now about my hometown." With those eight words not written into the lyrics, Doug Sahm (1941-1999) owned Charley Pride's No. 1 hit, "(Is Anybody Going to) San Antone." The song was written in the late Sixties by Nashville songwriter Glen Martin and Brady, Texas, native Dave Kirby, nephew of Big Bill Lister. Pride, the first (and pretty much only) black country star, made it a hit in 1970; Doug Sahm made it his on Doug Sahm & Friends in 1972.

2 "San Antonio Rose," Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys
Songwriter: Bob Wills
Year Written: 1935
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

Bob Wills (1905-1975) wrote "San Antonio Rose" as a one-off in the mid-Thirties to capitalize on the popularity of his first song, "Spanish Two Step," a staple in the Playboys' set. "San Antonio Rose" became one of the most beloved of Wills' more than 500 compositions. Ironically, Wills once claimed the Texas swing classic was "a mistake. We just did it! Nobody knew what we were doing. We just did something to get out of there."

1 "El Paso," Marty Robbins
Songwriter: Marty Robbins
Year Charted: 1959
Highest Billboard Chart Position: No. 1

In the late Fifties, Marty Robbins (1925-1982) topped off a successful career with a No. 1 pop and country hit, "A White Sport Coat (and a Pink Carnation)," while also playing bit parts in Westerns. The experience moved his songwriting toward Old West myths and legends (inspired in part by "Texas" Bob Heckle, his cowboy grandfather), as he penned the theme for Gary Cooper's The Hanging Tree. "El Paso" shot up the charts, stayed at the top spot for seven weeks and on the charts for six months, and went platinum in the mid-Sixties.

Despite its obvious appeal, Columbia A&R head Mitch Miller rejected the story-song as long at four minutes and too wordy. Robbins countered by citing Johnny Horton's "The Battle of New Orleans" as an example of a mold-breaking hit. Columbia relented, releasing a radio edit for deejays, who rejected it for the full version, vindicating Robbins.

Romantic, tragic, elegiac, "El Paso" won a Grammy and became Marty Robbins' signature tune, forever a part of American music.

annotated by Margaret Moser

Texas in the Title


25 "Texas Flyer," Freddie King
Songwriters: Freddie King, Roy Davies, Bob Tench, Steve Ferrone, DeLisle Harper, Mike Vernon
Year Released: 1974
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

This tightly packed amalgam of blues, Southern soul, and funk finds Gilmer, Texas-born guitar great Freddie King traversing the state from Lubbock to Houston and all points in between. Although its train theme was largely an anachronism by 1974, "Texas Flyer" manages to modernize and funkify the blues without undermining its foundation. Sadly, King died of a heart attack in Dallas just two years later at the age of 42.

24 "Northeast Texas Women," Willis Alan Ramsey
Songwriter: Willis Alan Ramsey
Year Released: 1972
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

With just one album recorded more than 30 years ago, Willis Alan Ramsey found his place in the annals of great Texas songwriters. "Northeast Texas Women" closes that album with a raucous tongue-in-cheek ode to big-haired Texas gals with "cast-iron curls" and "aluminum dimples." Ramsey is now putting the finishing touches on his second album, three decades in the making, at his studio in Wimberley.

23 "Long Tall Texan," Murry Kellum
Songwriter: Henry Strezlecki
Year Released: 1963
Highest Billboard Chart Position: No. 51

The Sixties were the golden age of cornpone, and Murry Kellum's "Long Tall Texan" rates just below better-known tunes like Ray Stevens' "Ahab the Arab" and Sheb Wooley's "Purple People Eater" on the guffaw-o-meter. Some have theorized "Long Tall Texan" would've been a bigger hit if not for the Kennedy assassination's chilling effect on funny songs about Texans with guns. Lyle Lovett resurrected it for 1996's The Road to Ensenada.

22 "Under the 'X' in Texas," Johnny Gimble
Songwriter: Johnny Gimble
Year Released: 1976
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

In 1976, master swing fiddler Johnny Gimble established himself as the go-to session man in Nashville. First distinguishing himself nationally as Bob Wills' fiddle and mandolin player in the Fifties, Gimble was ready to settle down and let the work come to him. He sure missed Texas, though, so utilizing map imagery to illustrate his longing, Gimble wrote this sprightly song. Now 76, Gimble resides in Dripping Springs and still plays regularly.

21 "At the Crossroads," Sir Douglas Quintet
Songwriter: Doug Sahm
Year Released: 1969
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

A lot was going on in Doug Sahm's life during the success of "Mendocino," and his personal concerns were often revealed in lyrics. Estranged from his beloved home state, he sang what may be the most heartfelt lines in any of his songs, inspiring critics to ignore the "Texas in the Title" rule and vote the song in. And who are we to argue with the sentiment, "You can teach me lots of lessons, you can bring me lots of gold, but you just can't live in Texas if you don't have a lotta soul."

20 "Texas (When I Die)," Tanya Tucker
Songwriters: Bobby Borchers, Ed Bruce, Patsy Bruce
Year Released: 1978
Highest Billboard Chart Position: No. 5

Upon its 1978 release, 19-year-old Tanya Tucker's TNT had all of Nashville aflutter with its overt rock aspirations and sexy gatefold pinup. While the album failed to break Tucker as a rock artist, it did spawn a lasting country classic with "Texas (When I Die)." Tucker realizes she may not go to heaven when she dies, but as long as the Almighty lets her go to Texas, she won't complain.

19 "Good Texan," the Vaughan Brothers
Songwriters: Nile Rodgers, Jimmie Vaughan
Year Released: 1990
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

"Do it to me like I know you could, so I can do it to you baby like a Texan should." The grand tradition of Lone Star braggadocio reaches a new level of macho oafishness with this lyric. Only a vocalist as laid back and assuredly un-self-conscious as Jimmie Vaughan could pull "Good Texan" off without playing it for hardcore prurience or cheap irony.

18 "Texas in My Rear View Mirror," Mac Davis
Songwriter: Mac Davis
Year Released: 1980
Highest Billboard Chart Position: No. 9

Some people have to leave Texas to figure out they love it. Such is the case with the restless protagonist in this Mac Davis classic. Feeling he'll wind up in jail or dead if he doesn't escape Lubbock, he sets out for Hollywood, thinking happiness is "Lubbock, Texas, in my rear view mirror." But L.A. turns out to be tougher than he thought, so he returns to Lubbock with a renewed appreciation for his hometown.

17 "The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)," the Doors
Songwriters: John Densmore, Robbie Krieger, Ray Manzarek, Jim Morrison
Year Released: 1971
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

"I love the friends I've gathered together on this thin raft," muses Jim Morrison. "We have constructed pyramids in honor of our escaping." Said raft sinks like a stone under the weight of turgid spoken lyrics about brightly feathered Negroes and blues-rock bloat. This is hardly the high point of L.A. Woman, the Doors' last album before Morrison's death. Nevertheless, "The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)" has become a Two-for-Tuesday staple, especially in the state it name-checks.

16 "Screw You, We're From Texas," Ray Wylie Hubbard
Songwriter: Ray Wylie Hubbard
Year Released: 2003
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

While not quite as direct as the Loco Gringos' infamous T-shirts, Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Screw You, We're From Texas," from this year's Growl, works simultaneously as a rebellious middle finger and a celebration of Texas music. Hubbard growls the praises of Willie, Stevie Ray, and the 13th Floor Elevators over a swampy, blues-rock choogle. Highlights include snare shots punctuating the Dallas and Waco reference, and Hubbard's dismissal of the other 49 states with the line, "I don't care if I ever go to Delaware anyway."

15 "Memories of East Texas," Michelle Shocked
Songwriter: Michelle Shocked
Year Released: 1988
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

The cover of Michelle Shocked's 1988 breakthrough, Short Sharp Shocked, is a news photo of her being dragged away by San Francisco police during a fair housing protest. The bucolic "Memories of East Texas" reconciles the pain of being an adolescent outcast with a bittersweet lyrical mix of fondness and frustration familiar to anyone who ever felt compelled to flee their hometown.

14 "The Eyes of Texas," Milton Brown
Songwriter: John Lang Sinclair (lyrics)
Year Released: 1903

First sung at Austin's Hancock Opera House on May 12, 1903, at a minstrel show to benefit the University of Texas track team, the origin of UT's official song is a legend in and of itself. According to the Handbook of Texas, John Lang Sinclair wrote "The Eyes of Texas" to the tune of "I've Been Working on the Railroad" at the behest of his roommate, UT band director Louis Johnson. The song instantly became a campuswide smash and has since been played by everyone from Kostelanetz to Elvis.

The Top Texas 40

13 "Texas Me," Sir Douglas Quintet
Songwriters: Doug Sahm, Frank Morin, John Perez, Augie Meyers
Year Released: 1969
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

It's hard to imagine a more poignant expatriate's lament than "Texas Me." Doug Sahm was one of many musicians who fled Texas for San Francisco during the Sixties, but he never stopped celebrating his home state. "Texas Me" combines Augie Meyers' swirling organ with steel guitar, fiddle, and Sahm's homesickness as he asks, "I wonder what happened to the man inside, the real old Texas me?"

12 "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)," Waylon Jennings with Willie Nelson
Songwriters: Bobby Gene Emmons, Chips Moman
Year Released: 1977
Highest Billboard Chart Position: No. 1

Oddly enough, this song represents the one and only appearance by unofficial state musician Willie Nelson, who sings backup here, on the Top Texas 40 chart. Moreover, "Luckenbach, Texas" wasn't written by Waylon, Willie, or the boys. It was penned by famed Memphis producer/songwriter Chips Moman and his American Sound Studios house band organist, Bobby Emmons. Nevertheless, the song's success in the summer of '77 put Luckenbach on the map. Souvenir-seeking thieves have been trying to take it back off ever since.

11 "West Texas Waltz," Butch Hancock
Songwriter: Butch Hancock
Year Released: 1978
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

In 1978, long before Americana became a viable musical genre, Lubbock Renaissance man Butch Hancock released West Texas Waltzes & Dust-Blown Tractor Tunes on his own Rainlight Records label. Intimately informed by the sparse South Plains landscape and tales of people living there, modern country-folk songs like "West Texas Waltz" have garnered Hancock a devoted following. Emmylou Harris and Hancock's Flatlanders bandmate Joe Ely helped introduce the song to an even wider audience with their respective versions of the song.

10 "Texas Tornado," Sir Douglas Quintet
Songwriter: Doug Sahm
Year Released: 1973
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

More tornadoes touch down in Texas each year than in any other state. While the tourist bureau would pooh-pooh this statistic by saying it's only because of Texas' overwhelming land mass, true Texans take a perverse sort of pride even in the state's most terrifying natural disasters. Doug Sahm illustrates this on the much-loved title track of his second and final album for Atlantic.

9 "The Yellow Rose of Texas," Gene Autry
Songwriter: Unknown
Year Written: 1836
Highest Billboard Chart Position: No. 1

Legend has it that this 1830s folk song was written about Emily D. West, an indentured mulatto servant of James Morgan, an entrepreneur settler of the lowlands east of present-day Houston. On April 18, 1836, Santa Anna's troops captured West as they moved into the area to battle Sam Houston's army. Santa Anna became so enamored of West that he left his troops vulnerable to Houston's surprise attack. West's alleged carnal distraction made her a "sung" hero of Texas independence. Some historians now say the song had nothing to do with West, but the legend lives on.

8 "Rolling Stone From Texas," Don Walser
Songwriter: Don Walser
Year Originally Recorded: 1964
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

Beloved Austin troubadour Don Walser wrote his calling card, "Rolling Stone From Texas" in 1952 at age 18. Growing up on the West Texas plains, Walser absorbed the Western swing of Bob Wills, the blue yodel of Jimmie Rodgers, and the honky-tonk heartache of Lefty Frizzell. After serving in the Texas National Guard for 45 years, he began pursuing music full-time with his "Pure Texas" sound. Health problems forced Walser to retire from performing earlier this year.

7 "Miles and Miles of Texas," Asleep at the Wheel
Songwriters: Tommy Camfield, Diane Johnston
Year Released: 1976
Highest Billboard Chart Position: No. 38

Although "Miles and Miles of Texas" was recorded as a demo around 1950, the song didn't see the light of day until Asleep at the Wheel's Ray Benson and producer Tommy Allsup discovered it at Hank Thompson's publishing company in the mid-Seventies. Recognizing a potential new Texas anthem when they heard it, Asleep at the Wheel recorded "Miles and Miles of Texas" for 1976's Wheelin' and Dealin'. The song's use in a mid-Nineties mobile phone ad campaign further solidified its place in the collective Lone Star psyche.

6 "T for Texas (Blue Yodel No. 1)," Jimmie Rodgers
Songwriter: Jimmie Rodgers
Year Released: 1927

Country music as we know it began in 1927 when RCA Victor A&R man Ralph Peer recorded Jimmie Rodgers singing the country-blues hybrid, "T for Texas" in Bristol, Tenn. The million-selling song, re-recorded at the Victor studios in Camden, N.J., introduced America to Rodgers' trademark "blue yodel" and catapulted him to a fleeting stardom that was cut short by the Depression and his death from tuberculosis-related complications in 1933.

5 "That's Right (You're Not From Texas)," Lyle Lovett
Songwriters: Lyle Lovett, Willis Alan Ramsey, Alison Rogers
Year Released: 1996
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

"That's Right (You're Not From Texas)" hasn't been around long enough to be deemed classic, but it's definitely a contender. Lyle Lovett takes us on a westward swinging ride through Texas musical history that touches on a wide array of cultural signifiers. There's the zealous transplant in an ill-fitting hat, the out-of-state girlfriend who just doesn't get Texas, and the reference to Uncle Walt's Band, to name a few. The title might strike non-natives as arrogant, but as Lyle himself so amicably concludes, "Texas wants you anyway."

4 "Waltz Across Texas," Ernest Tubb
Songwriters: Ernest Tubb, Quanah Talmadge "Billy" Tubb
Year Released: 1965
Highest Billboard Chart Position: No. 34

One of country music's best loved performers, crisp, Texas-born Ernest Tubb started out yodeling like his idol Jimmie Rodgers but eventually developed his own unique vocal style while plying his trade in honky-tonks across the South. Tubb's twang-laden drawl and the faraway steel guitar on "Waltz Across Texas" capture the fleeting nature of passion, adding pathos to the memorable lyric, "Like a storybook ending, I'm lost in your charms."

3 "Texas Flood," Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
Songwriters: Larry Davis, Joseph Scott
Year Originally Released: 1958
Highest Billboard Chart Position: none

"Texas Flood" is best known today as the incendiary Albert King/Jimi Hendrix-style workout that introduced Stevie Ray Vaughan to the world beyond Texas in 1983. However, the song's history goes back to 1958, when Arkansas-bred Larry Davis cut the original version with Fenton Robinson on guitar for Don Robey's Houston-based Duke-Peacock label. Opinions vary as to which version is definitive, but Texas can proudly claim both as milestones in electric blues.

2 "All My Ex's Live in Texas," George Strait
Songwriters: Lyndia Jean Shafer, Sanger D. Shafer
Year Released: 1987
Highest Billboard Chart Position: No. 1

Combining shades of Western swing with a clever, sing-along lyric, "All My Ex's Live in Texas" is one of George Strait's most memorable hits in a career filled with them. The Hill Country native approaches the song good-naturedly, refusing to go too deeply into why Allison from Galveston or Dimple from Temple turned on him like Texas weather, but one gets the unspoken sense that more than one thrown plate hastened our hero's Tennessee flee.

1 "Deep in the Heart of Texas," Gene Autry
Songwriters: June Hershey, Don Swander
Year Released: 1941

One of the first things Texas schoolchildren learn is to clap-clap-clap-clap along with "Deep in the Heart of Texas." June Hershey wrote the lyrics and Don Swander wrote the music to the song in 1941, and it was No. 1 on Your Hit Parade for five straight weeks in 1942. Tioga, Texas-born Gene Autry's version, featured in the movie Heart of the Rio Grande, remains the definitive version of the song, though Bing Crosby, Bob Wills, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman, Duane Eddy, Ray Charles, George Strait, and countless others covered it.

annotated by Greg Beets

Texas Towns & Places: Top 15

1 "El Paso," Marty Robbins

2 "San Antonio Rose," Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys

3 "(Is Anybody Going to) San Antone," Doug Sahm

4 "Dallas," Joe Ely

5 "La Grange," ZZ Top

6 "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)," Waylon Jennings with Willie Nelson

7 "Galveston," Glen Campbell

8 "Amarillo by Morning," George Strait

9 "China Grove," the Doobie Brothers

10 "I'm an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)," Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks

11 "The Streets of Laredo," Marty Robbins

12 "I'm a Ding Dong Daddy (From Dumas)," Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys

13 "Texarkana," R.E.M.

14 "Asshole From El Paso," Kinky Friedman & the Texas Jewboys

15 "Rio," Duran Duran

Texas in the Title: Top 25

1 "Deep in the Heart of Texas," Gene Autry

2 "All My Ex's Live in Texas," George Strait

3 "Texas Flood," Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

4 "Waltz Across Texas," Ernest Tubb

5 "That's Right (You're Not From Texas)," Lyle Lovett

6 "T for Texas (Blue Yodel No. 1)," Jimmie Rodgers

7 "Miles and Miles of Texas," Asleep at the Wheel

8 "Rolling Stone From Texas," Don Walser

9 "Yellow Rose of Texas," Gene Autry

10 "Texas Tornado," Sir Douglas Quintet

11 "West Texas Waltz," Butch Hancock

12 "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)," Waylon Jennings with Willie Nelson

13 "Texas Me," Sir Douglas Quintet

14 "The Eyes of Texas," Milton Brown

15 "Memories of East Texas," Michelle Shocked

16 "Screw You, We're From Texas," Ray Wylie Hubbard

17 "The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)," the Doors

18 "Texas in My Rear View Mirror," Mac Davis

19 "Good Texan," the Vaughan Brothers

20 "Texas (When I Die)," Tanya Tucker

21 "At the Crossroads," Sir Douglas Quintet

22 "Under the 'X' in Texas," Johnny Gimble

23 "Long Tall Texan," Murry Kellum

24 "Northeast Texas Women," Willis Alan Ramsey

25 "Texas Flyer," Freddie King

Of the estimated 3,500 songs written about Texas and Texas Places, most of the votes came from one of these two lists below.


Texas Towns & Places

"Abilene," Dave Alvin

"Abilene," George Hamilton IV

"Abilene," Waylon Jennings

"Across the Alley from the Alamo," Asleep at the Wheel

"Alleys of Austin," Michael Martin Murphy

"Amarillo," Big House

"Amarillo," Emmylou Harris

"Amarillo by Morning," George Strait

"Amarillo Highway," Doug Sahm

"Anahuac," Austin Lounge Lizards

"Asshole from El Paso," Kinky Friedman

"Austin," Blake Shelton

"Austin Breakdown," Bill Neely

"Austin Pickers," Gary P. Nunn

"Austin Texas Mental Hospital," Stars of the Lid

"Austin, Texas," Big Sky

"Bandera," Willie Nelson

"Bandera Waltz," Ernest Tubb

"Beaumont Bag," Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys

"Beeville by Morning," Michael Hall

"Big D," Waylon Jennings

"Big D Blues," Hot Lips Page

"Big Rio Grande River," Austin Lounge Lizards

"Bosque Bandit," Johnny Gimble

"Brazos River Blues," Michael Fracasso

"Broke Down South of Dallas," Junior Brown

"Brown Arms in Houston," Orpheus

"Brownsville," Furry Lewis

"Brownsville," Sleepy John Estes

"Brownsville Girl," Bob Dylan

"Chester Nimitz Oriental Garden Waltz," Austin Lounge Lizards

"China Grove," Doobie Brothers

"Coming Back to Texas," Kenneth Threadgill

"Corpus Christi," Angkor Wat

"Corpus Christi Bay," Robert Earl Keen

"Corpus Christi Waltz," Harry Choates

"Corsicana," Hot Lips Page

"Corsicana Daily Sun," Billy Joe Shaver

"Driving Around Houston," Tom House

"Dallas," Alan Jackson

"Dallas," Floyd Cramer

"Dallas," Jimmie Dale Gilmore

"Dallas," Joe Ely

"Dallas," Steely Dan

"Dallas," Willie Nelson

"Dallas Alice," Doug Sahm

"Dallas Blues," Louis Armstrong

"Dallas Country Jail Blues," Gene Autry

"Dallas Darling," Tex Ritter

"Dallas, Houston, San Antone," David Allen Coe

"Dallas, Texas," Austin Lounge Lizards

"Dance by the Rio Grande," Corey Morrow

"De San Antonio a Penjamo," Flaco Jimemez

"Deep Ellum Blues," traditional

"Denton, Texas," Brave Combo

"Devil Lives in Dallas," Rusty Wier

"DFW," Vaughan Brothers

"Dobro Daddio from Del Rio," Ray Campi

"Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind?," George Strait

"Down the Trail to San Antone," Sons of the Pioneers

"Dracula from Houston," Butthole Surfers

"El Paso," Marty Robbins

"El Paso," The Gourds

"El Paso Cowboy," Don Walser

"Excitement in Nacogdoches," Bob Murphey

"Fair to Midland," Dwight Yoakam

"Fort Worth Blues," Steve Earle

"Fort Worth Jail," Gene Autry, Tex Ritter

"Fort Worth Stomp," Crystal Springs Ramblers

"Fort Worth Thursday Night," Chip Taylor

"Fort Worth, Dallas or Houston," George Hamilton IV

"Fort Worth, Texas," Johnny Dowd

"Gallivantin' Galveston Gal," Gene Autry

"Galveston," Glen Campbell

"Garner State Park," the Triumphs

"Heaven, Hell or Houston," ZZ Top

"Home in San Antone," Johnny Bush

"Hot Nite in Dallas," Moon Martin

"Hour in Texarkana," Don Cognoscenti

"Houston," Dean Martin

"Houston (Means I'm One Day Closer To You) Gatlin Brothers

"Houston Bound," Lightnin' Hopkins

"Houston Chicks," Doug Sahm

"Houston El Mover," Joe King Carraso

"Houston Girls," Doug Sahm

"Houston Kid," Guy Clark

"Houston Solution," Ronnie Milsap

"Houston, Texas," Roy Gaines

"I Can't Go Back To Austin," Doug Sahm

"I Don't Care What it is That You Did In Fort Worth," Cornell Hurd Band

"I Walked from Dallas," L'il Son Jackson

"I'll be Your San Antone Rose," Jerry Jeff Walker

"I'm a Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas," Bob Wills

"I'm An Old Cowhand from the Rio Grande," Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks

"If I Can't Be In Austin," Chip Taylor

"If You Ever Get Back to Amarillo," Alan Jackson

"I'm An Old Cowhand from the Rio Grande," Dan Hicks

"(Is Anybody Going to) San Antone," Charley Pride, Doug Sahm

"La Grange," ZZ Top

"Laredo," Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez

"Laredo," Sir Douglas Quintet

"Laredo Rose," Doug Sahm

"Layover in Pecos," Billy Walker

"Learning to P'like and Luckenbach Women," Jerry Jeff Walker

"Leavin' Amarillo," Billy Joe Shaver

"Levelland," James McMurtry

"Life in Amarillo," Li'l Cap'n Travis

"Livin' on the Edge (of Houston)," the Reverend Horton Heat

"Lonely Lubbock Nights," Aaron Watson

"Lost in Austin," Bobby Bare

"Lubbock," Milton Mapes

"Lubbock Texas," Terry Edwards

"Lubbock Tornado," Terry Allen

"Lubbock Woman," Terry Allen

"Luckenbach, Texas," Waylon Jennings

"(Making the Run to) Gladewater," Michelle Shocked

"Man From Houston," Mark Lindsay

"Marfa Lights," Tom X. Hancock

"Meet Me in Seguin," Augie Meyers

"My Galveston Gal," Milton Brown

"No More the Moon Shines on Lorena," Alex Chilton

"Nuevo Laredo," Doug Sahm

"Panhandle Rag," Hank Thompson

"Paris, Texas," Ry Cooder

"Pflugerville," Austin Lounge Lizards

"Pine Island Bayou," The Gourds

"Port Arthur Waltz," Harry Choates

"Possum Kingdom," the Toadies

"Pretty Little Lady from Beaumont," George Jones

"Raining in Port Arthur," the Gourds

"Red River Rock," Ventures

"Red River Valley," Gene Autry

"Remember the Alamo," Asleep at the Wheel

"San Angelo," Marty Robbins

"San Angelo Swing," Joe Carr

"San Antonio," Willie Nelson

"San Antonio Blues," Big Bill Broonzy

"San Antonio Girl," Lyle Lovett

"San Antonio Romeo," Tish Hinojosa

"San Antonio Rose," Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys

"San Antonio Waltz," Harry Choates

"Seguin," Sir Doug

"Sleepy Rio Grande," Gene Autry

"Snowin' Again in Lubbock," Andy Wilkinson

"South of Round Rock, Texas," Dale Watson

"Southbound 35," Pat Green

"Streets of Laredo," Marty Robbins (Trad)

"Stupid Texas Song," Austin Lounge Lizards

"Texarkana," Claude Williams

"Texarkana," REM

"Texarkana Baby," Bob Wills

"Texarkana Waltz," Joe Carr

"Texarkana, Pecos or Houston," George Hamilton IV

"The Alamo (Green Leaves of Summer)

"The Night Flight from Houston," Laurie Anderson

"The Wolfman of Del Rio," Terry Allen

"Theme from "Dallas"

"There's a Rainbow on the Rio Colorado," Gene Autry

"Tim Moore's Farm," Lightnin' Hopkins

"Truckstop in La Grange," Dale Watson

"Uvalde," Luke Olson

"Uvalde County," Mike Blakely

"Uvalde Polka," Hank Thompson

"Velma from Selma," Augie Meyers

"Viva Luckenbach," Jerry Jeff Walker

"Viva Seguin," Santiago Jimenez

"Waco Express," Waco Brothers

"West of Pecos," Donald Byrd

"What's Fort Worth Worth?," Lawton Williams

"Who Do I Know in Dallas," Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard

"Wichita Falls," Houston Marchman

"Wichita Falls Blues," T-Bone Walker

"Young Dallas Cowboy," David Allen Coe


Texas in the Title

"A Boy from Texas, A Girl From Tennessee," Gene Autry

"A Heart As Big As Texas," Gene Autry

"All My Exes Live In Texas," George Strait

"All Night Texas Turnaround," Ted Roddy & Tearjoint Troubadours

"And God Created Texas," Johnny Bush

"Beautiful Texas," Gene Autry

"Beautiful Texas," Willie Nelson

"Beautiful Texas Sunshine," Doug Sahm

"Beneath a Texas Moon," J.C. Crowley

"Big Beautiful Texas," Gene Autry

"Big Texas Moon," Red Steagall

"Big Yellow Moon Over Texas," Bill Neely

"Blame it on Texas," Mark Chesnutt

"Blind in Texas," W.A.S.P.

"Blue Texas Moonlight," Elton Britt

"Blue Texas Waltz," Billy Joe Shaver

"Blues Come to Texas," L'il Son Jackson

"Texas and Pacific Blues," Frenchy's String Band

"Boogie Back To Texas," Asleep at the Wheel

"Breathe Across Texas," Lisa Germano

"Bury Me in Texas," Choreboy

"But I've Got Texas," Jon Wayne

"Cactus, Texas," Waylon Jennings

"Can't Shake the Sand of Texas from My Shoes," Gene Autry

"Christmas Time in Texas," Dale Watson

"Come on Down to Texas," Steven Fromholz

"Coming Back to Texas," Willie Nelson

"Dad's Little Texas Lad," Montana Slim

"Dallas, Texas," Austin Lounge Lizards

"Dance Time in Texas," George Strait

"Deep in the Heart of Texas," Gene Autry

"Denton, Texas," Brave Combo

"Dirty Little Texas Story," Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez

"Don't Sing Me No Songs About Texas," Johnny Bush

"Down in Texas," Jerry Jeff Walker

"Down Texas Way," Gene Autry

"Down the Trail to San Antone," Gene Autry

"Driftin' Texas Sand," Webb Pierce

"East Texas Blues," Dave Alvin

"East Texas Drag," East Texas Serenaders

"East Texas Pines," Libbi Bosworth

"East, Texas," Adult Rodeo

"Even Texas Isn't Big Enough Now," Riders In The Sky

"Eyes of Texas," Milton Brown, Tex Ritter

"Flower of Texas," Pee Wee King

"Fort Worth, Texas," Johnny Dowd

"Fuck You, We're From Texas," DJ Rob-E, Southside Reverb

"God Blessed Texas," Little Texas

"Goin' Back to Texas," Gene Autry

"Going Back to My Texas Home," Bill Boyd

"Gone to Texas," Terry Allen

"Gonna Build a Big Fence Around Texas," Gene Autry

"Good Texan," the Vaughan Brothers

"Great State of Texas," Pine Valley Cosmonauts

"Headin' for the Texas Border," Flamin' Groovies

"Heart of Texas," Billy Joe Shaver

"Heaven's Almost As Big As Texas," Johnny Paycheck

"Hello, Texas

"High Texas Rider," Augie Meyers & the Western Head Band

"Home to Texas," Cornell Hurd Band

"Hot Texas Christmas day," Dale Watson

"Hot Texas Night," Mac Davis

"Houston, Texas," Roy Gaines

"Huntsville," Merle Haggard

"I Can't See Texas from Here," George Strait

"I Do (Waltz Across Texas)," Midnight Rodeo

"I Got Texas in My Soul," Tex Williams

"I Left My Heart in Texas," Moon Mullican

"I Like Texas," Pat Green

"I Love Texas," Michael Ballew

"I Meet Texas Alexander," Lightnin' Hopkins

"I'll Take Texas

"I'd Like to be in Texas," Don Edwards

"I'd Like to Say A Word About Texas," Flatt & Scruggs

"Ides of Texas," Chad Mitchell Trio

"If You're Gonna Play In Texas (You've Gotta Have A Fiddle In The Band)," Alabama

"I'll Go Riding Down That Old Texas Trail," Gene Autry

"I'm Going Back to You My Texas," Kenneth Threadgill

"It's a Texas Thing," Gary P. Nunn

"I've Been Down to Texas," Deuce Spriggins

"I've Got a Heart as Big as Texas," Gene Autry

"Jesus Lives in Texas (With a Machine Gun)," Dark Black Past

"Jimmie's Texas Blues," Jimmie Rodgers, Merle Haggard

"Keep Texas Beautiful," Jerry Jeff Walker

"Leavin' Texas," Jerry Jeff Walker

"Lonesome Texas," Randy Banks

"Long Tall Texan," Lyle Lovett

"Love You Big as Texas," Tex Ritter

"Luckenbach, Texas," Waylon Jennings

"Memories of East Texas," Michelle Shocked

"Memphis, Texas," Cooder Graw, Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez

"Merry Texas Christmas, Y'all!," Asleep at the Wheel

"Miles of Miles of Texas," Asleep at the Wheel

"Movin' On to Texas," Goin' Postal

"Mr. Moon Over Texas," Texas Playboys

"Murder in Texas," Huns

"My Brown Eyed Texas Rose," Tex Ritter

"My First Taste of Texas," Ed Bruce

"East Texas Blues," Dave Alvin

"Beautiful Texas Sunshine," Doug Sahm

"My Texas Dream," Ben Atkins Band

"My Texas Girl," The Carter Family

"My Texas Sweetheart," Montana Slim

"New San Antonio Rose," Bob Wills

"Northeast Texas Women," Willis Allen Ramsey

"Nowhere Texas," Cross Canadian Ragweed

"On Earth As it is in Texas," Deryl Dodd

"Put Me on a Train Back to Texas," Waylon Jennings/Willie Nelson

"Raisin' Cane in Texas," Gene Watson

"Roll on Texas Moon," Roy Rogers

"Rolling Stone from Texas," Don Walser

"Screw You, We're From Texas," Ray Wylie Hubbard

"Ship Me Back to Texas," Chris Wall

"Somewhere Down in Texas," Jason Boland & the Stragglers

"Somewhere in Texas," Willie Nelson

"Songs About Texas," Pat Green

"South Texas," D.O.W.N.

"South Texas Highway," Libbi Bosworth

"South Texas Night," Neal Coty

"South Texas Swing," Adolph Hofner

"Starry Eyed Texas Girl," Hank Thompson

"Stars Over Texas," Tracy Lawrence

"Stupid Texas Song," Austin Lounge Lizards

"Sweet Mother Texas," Waylon Jennings

"T For Texas (Blue Yodel #1)," Jimmie Rodgers

"Tail Lights to Texas," the Controllers

"Take Me Back to Texas," Katy Moffatt

"Take Me Back to Texas," Roy Rogers

"Talk To Me, Texas," Keith Whitley

"Tears in the Eyes of Texas," Sonny Burgess

"Texans Never Cry," Gene Autry

"Texas," Beat Farmers

"Texas," Big Black

"Texas," Boss Hog

"Texas," Buddy Miles

"Texas," Charlie Daniels

"Texas," Chris Rea

"Texas," Edgar Winter

"Texas," Gene Autry

"Texas," Magnapop

"Texas," Merle Haggard

"Texas," Tanya Tucker

"Texas," the Highwaymen

"Texas (Blatant Localism)," Bad Mutha Goose

"Big Yellow Moon Over Texas," Bill Neely

"Blue Texas Waltz," Billy Joe Shaver

"Texas Rangers," traditional

"Texas (Bold As Love)," Opie Hendrix

"Texas (When I Die)," Tanya Tucker

"Texas 1947," Guy Clark

"Texas 1958," Gary Myrick

"Texas 51," Van Wilks

"Texas Aggie War Hymn

"Texas and Norma Jean," Brooks & Dunn

"Texas and Pacific," Louis Jordan

"Texas Angel," Honeybrowne

"Texas Barbeque," Bela Fleck

"Texas Bitch," Moby

"Texas Blacktop Highway," Django Walker

"Texas Blue Water," Michael Ballew

"Texas Blues," Bob Wills

"Texas Blues," Lowell Fulsom

"Texas Blues," Mance Lipscomb

"Texas Blues," Oscar Peterson

"Texas Blues," Vassar Clements

"Texas Boogie," Dale Watson

"Texas Bop," Calvin Russell

"Texas Special," Texas Alexander

"Texas Easy Street," Henry Thomas

"Texas Worried Blues," Henry Thomas

"Texas Bounce," Bob Brozman

"Texas Bound," Gary Morris

"Texas Bound," Harris & Ryden

"Texas Bound and Flyin'," Jerry Reed

"Texas Bound Blues," Margaret Thornton

"Texas Bound Train," Corey Morrow

"Texas Chatter," Harry James

"Texas Clover," Paul Ray & the Cobras

"Texas Cookin'," Guy Clark

"Texas Cowboy," Hank Snow

"Texas Cowboy Night," Mel Tillis & Nancy Sinatra

"Texas Cyclone," Jon Wayne

"Texas Drought," Jewel

"Texas Eagle," Steve Earle

"Texas Echo," David Ball

"Texas Fiddle Man," Asleep at the Wheel

"Texas Fiddle Song," Merle Haggard

"Texas Fiddler," Texas Playboys

"Texas Fight Song

"Texas Flood," Larry Davis/Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Texas Flyer," Freddie King

"Texas for Christmas," Mickey Gilley

"Texas for Me," Dale Evans

"Texas Friend," Chip Taylor

"Texas Funeral," Jon Wayne

"Texas Gal," Michael Ballew

"Texas Gales," Doc Watson

"Texas Gallop," Bill Monroe

"Texas Girl at the Funeral," Randy Newman

"Texas Gs," Big Al

"Texas Has a Whorehouse in it -"Best Little Whorehouse in Texas"

"Texas I Love You," Marty Robbins

"Texas Ida Red," David Houston

"Texas in 1880," Foster & Lloyd

"Texas in My Rearview Mirror," Mac Davis

"Texas in My Soul," Ernest Tubb

"Texas is a State of Mind," Ray Wylie Hubbard

"Texas is Bigger Than it Used to be," Mark Chesnutt

"Texas is for Lovers," Curbside Service

"Texas Jail Cell," Jon Wayne

"Texas Kid's Retirement Run," Alvin Crow

"Texas Kinda Attitude," Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks

"Texas Ladies," Rex Allen

"Texas Lady," Les Paul & Mary Ford

"Texas Law & Justice," Bill Neely

"Texas Law Sez," Tompall Glasser

"Texas Little Darlin'," Johnny Mercer

"Texas Lonesome," Gary P. Nunn

"Texas Love Kit," Gary Primich

"Texas Love Song," Elton John

"Texas Lullabye," David Allen Coe

"Texas Man Blues," Monette Moore

"Texas Me," Doug Sahm

"Texas Me and You," Asleep at the Wheel

"Texas Memories," Max Steiner

"Texas Moaner," Louis Armstron

"Texas Mood," Rampart Street Paraders

"Texas Moon," Gary P. Nunn

"Texas Moonbean Waltz," (trad polka)

"Texas Morning," Michael Martin Murphy

"Texas Morning," Michael Nesmith

"Texas Never Fell in Love with Me," Tom T. Hall

"Texas Niggaz," Big Al

"Texas Nite Train," Cornell Hurd

"Texas on a Saturday Night," Willie Nelson

"Texas on My Mind," Jerry Jeff Walker, Pat Green

"Texas or New Mexico," Bruce Henderson

"Texas Our Texas

"Texas Panhandle Rag," Bob Wills

"Texas Plains," Hank Snow

"Texas Playboy Rag," Bob Wills

"Texas Polka," Riders in the Sky

"Texas Ranger Man," Doug Sahm

"Texas Ride Song," BoDeans

"Texas River Song," Townes Van Zandt

"Texas Rose," Sheb Wooley

"Texas Rose Café," Little Feat

"Texas Sand," Tune Wranglers

"Texas Sandman," Gene Autry

"Texas Saturday Night," Moe Bandy

"Texas Shuffle," Count Basie

"Texas Sized Heartache," Joe Diffie

"Texas Skies," Uranium Savages

"Texas Song," Calvin Russell

"Texas Song," Junior Brown

"Texas Song," Kay Starr

"Texas State of Mind," Monty and the Pythons

"Texas Stomp," Big Maceo

"Texas Studio," Jon Wayne

"Texas Sun," Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash

"Texas Swing," Clay Walker

"Texas Tango," Sheb Wooley

"Texas Tattoo," Gibson/Miller Band

"Texas Tea Party," Benny Goodman

"Texas Tears," Terry Allen

"Texas Thing," Doug Moreland

"Texas Time," Chris Wall

"Texas Time Travelin'," Cory Morrow

"Texas to a "T"," the Whites

"Texas Top Hand," Don Walser

"Texas Tornado," Big Bill Broonzy

"Texas Tornado," Doug Sahm

"Texas Tornado," Judy Garland

"Texas Tornado," Rex Allen

"Texas Town," String Cheese Incident

"Texas Trilogy," Frummox

"Texas Troubadour Stomp," Ernest Tubb

"Texas Twist," Roy Clark

"Texas Twister," Little Feat

"Texas Two Step," Bob Wills

"Texas Up Here Tennessee," Billy Joe Shaver

"Texas Wine," Jon Wayne

"Texas Women," Brooks & Dunn

"Texas Women," Hank Williams Jr.

"Texas Yodel," Wesley Tuttle

"Texas You & Me," Asleep at the Wheel

"That's Right (You're Not From Texas)," Lyle Lovett

"That's What I Like About Texas," Dale Watson

"The Bluest Eyes in Texas," Restless Heart

"The Flies of Texas Are Upon You," Ray Stevens

"The Night Before Christmas, In Texas, that is," Gene Autry

"The Streets of San Laredo," Gene Autry

"The Texas Crapshooter," Sons of the Pioneers

"The Texas Rangers," Tex Ritter

"The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)," the Doors

"There Ain't A Cow in Texas," Merle Travis

"There's A Girl in Texas," Trace Adkins

"There's A Little Bit of Everything In Texas," Ernest Tubb

"To Japan from Texas," the 1-4-5's

"Too Much Texas," Rhett Akins

"Touch of Texas," Kay Kyser, Stan Kenton

"Twilight Over Texas," Ernest Tubb

"Two-Bit Texas Town," Angela Strehli

"Two More Tears in Texas," Cooder Graw

"Under the Light of the Texas Moon," Montana Slim

"Under The X in Texas," Johnny Gimble

"Waco," Charlie Daniels

"Walked Over Texas," Cakekitchen

"Waltz Across Texas," Ernest Tubb

"Way Down Texas Way," Asleep at the Wheel

"Way Out West in Texas," Gene Autry

"West Texas High and Me," Gary Morris

"West Texas Highway," Lyle Lovett

"West Texas Holiday," Pat Green

"West Texas Sun," Nanci Griffith

"West Texas Teardrops," the Old 97s

"West Texas Trucking Board," by Ducks Deluxe

"West Texas Waltz," Billy Joe Shaver

"West Texas Waltz," Butch Hancock

"West Texas Wind," Cooder Graw

"What I Like About Texas," Jerry Jeff Walker

"When in Texas," Sonny Burgess

"When it's Round-up Time in Texas," Gene Autry

"Who Put All My Exes in Texas?," Willie Nelson

"Wingin' it Home to Texas," Jerry Jeff Walker

"Women in Texas," Jerry Jeff Walker

"Yellow Rose of Texas," Gene Autry

"You Can't Texas Out of Me," Spade Cooley

"You'll Never Take Texas Out of Me," Waylon Jennings

"You're from Texas," Bob Wills, Asleep

Texas songs aren't all bluebonnets, yellow roses, and floods. Recent contributions to the canon suggest the Lone Star State is especially adept at bringing out the macabre in natives and non-natives alike.

1) Toadies, "Tyler"

Tarrant County terrors describe an imminent rape with skin-crawling detail and head-splitting volume. (Rubberneck, 1995)

2) Jon Wayne, "Texas Funeral"

Feedback-drenched slice of Western noir from the album CMJ called "a stupid, hilarious, and twisted classic." (Texas Funeral, 1985)

3) Scarface, "Southside: Houston, Texas"

The most talented member of horror-rap groundbreakers the Geto Boys weighs in on his hometown. (My Homies, 1998)

4) The Reverend Horton Heat, "Livin' on the Edge (of Houston)"

Manic psychobilly rave-up about a "tortured artistic soul" and smack addict whose "daddy always pays your bail." (The Full-Custom Gospel Sounds, 1993)

5) Molly Hatchet, "T for Texas (Blue Yodel No. 1)"

Jimmie Rodgers' already ribald tune gets a hard 'n' heavy makeover from the post-Skynyrd Southern rock standard-bearers. (Live at the Agora Ballroom Atlanta, Georgia, 2000)

6) Butthole Surfers, "Dracula From Houston"

A track from the beloved Austin freaks' most recent disc suggests they've mellowed with age, but not much. (Weird Revolution, 2001)

7) Big Black, "Texas"

Seminal Chicago noise-punks' virulent ode to the Lone Star State says it all: "This is Texas, this is badass." (The Hammer Party, 1986)

8) Boss Hog, "Texas"

Cello-heavy waltz from post-Pussy Galore NYC R&B/punk artistes. (Boss Hog, 1995)

9) Junkyard, "Texas"

L.A. metallers' screeching homage to bassist Chris Gates' home state. (Junkyard, 1989)

10) Ünloco, "Texas"

Rantings of a tortured soul from present-day Back Room badasses. (Becoming I, 2003)
It's certainly one of the spicier tales in Texas lore: Connecticut native Emily West was a 20-year-old indentured servant on landowner James Morgan's plantation near present-day Baytown. Legend has Gen. Santa Anna taking a fancy to the striking mulatto when, in April 1836, his army passed through the area looking for supplies. On the morning of April 21, Sam Houston is said to have spied West making a champagne breakfast outside Santa Anna's tent, and reportedly remarked, "I hope that slave girl makes him neglect his business and keeps him in bed all day." With the general thus distracted, Houston's ragtag band of irregulars surprised the Mexican army at San Jacinto, securing Texas' independence and West's place in Lone Star legend. But she's not the yellow rose of the beloved song. Texas Folklore Society secretary Francis E. Abernethy's essay "The Elusive Emily West," published in 2001 as part of 2001: A Texas Folklore Odyssey (University of North Texas Press), reveals that the song was in fact printed as sheet music in 1858 by Firth, Pond, and Co. of New York City and is credited to a mysterious "J.K." "I cannot find anything," writes Abernethy, "that makes me think that 'Yellow Rose of Texas' is anything more than a successful generic minstrel song of its time."

Gene Autry, the singing cowboy and entrepreneur who recorded more songs about Texas than anyone else, was born Sept. 29, 1907, in the North Texas community of Tioga. As a telegraph operator in Oklahoma, a chance meeting with Will Rogers eventually led him to New York City and a deal with the American Record Corp. In 1931, Autry's "That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine" sold more than 500,000 copies, and he began appearing on Chicago radio station WLS' National Barn Dance program. He broke into the movies with a cameo in 1934's In Old Santa Fe and, atop his faithful horse Champion, was soon a leading box-office draw of the Thirties and Forties. After 1949's smash "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," Autry slowly began phasing out his performing career in favor of business interests, owning hotels, radio and TV stations, oil wells, and the California (now Anaheim) Angels. He died Oct. 2, 1998, at age 91.

1) "Miles and Miles of Texas"

2) "I Got Texas in My Soul"

3) "Beautiful Texas"

4) "San Antonio Rose"

5) "Remember the Alamo"

6) "Texas Me and You"

7) "Screw You, We're from Texas"

8) "Texas Blues"

9) "You're From Texas"

10) "There's a Little Bit of Everything in Texas"

The stars at night are big and bright,

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The prairie sky is wide and high,

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The sage in bloom is like perfume,

Deep in the heart of Texas.

Reminds me of the one I love,

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The coyotes wail along the trail,

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The rabbits rush around the brush,

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The cowboys cry, "Ki-yip-pee-yi,"

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The doggies bawl and bawl and bawl,

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The stars at night are big and bright

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The prairie sky is wide and high

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The sage in bloom is like perfume

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

Reminds me of the one I love

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The coyotes wail along the trail

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The rabbits rush around the brush

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The cowboys cry, "Ki-yip-pee-yi"

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The doggies bawl and bawl and bawl

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

Out in the West Texas town of El Paso,

I fell in love with a Mexican girl.

Nighttime would find me in Rosa's cantina,

Music would play and Felina would whirl.

Blacker than night were the eyes of Felina,

Wicked and evil while casting a spell.

My love was deep for this Mexican maiden,

I was in love, but in vain I could tell.

One night a wild young cowboy came in,

Wild as the West Texas wind.

Dashing and daring, a drink he was sharing,

With wicked Felina, the girl that I loved.

So in anger, I challenged his right for the love of this maiden.

Down went his hand for the gun that he wore.

My challenge was answered in less than a heartbeat,

The handsome young stranger lay dead on the floor.

Just for a moment I stood there in silence,

Shocked by the foul evil deed I had done.

Many thoughts raced through my mind as I stood there,

I had but one chance and that was to run.

Out through the back door of Rosa's I ran,

Out where the horses were tied.

I caught a good one; it looked like it could run.

Up on its back and away I did ride,

Just as fast as I could from the West Texas town of El Paso,

Out to the badlands of New Mexico.

Back in El Paso my life would be worthless.

Everything's gone; in life nothing is left.

It's been so long since I've seen the young maiden,

My love is stronger than my fear of death.

I saddled up and away I did go,

Riding alone in the dark.

Maybe tomorrow a bullet will find me,

Tonight nothing's worse than this pain in my heart.

And at last here I am on the hill overlooking El Paso,

I can see Rosa's Cantina below.

My love is strong and it pushes me onward,

Down off the hill to Felina I go.

Off to my right I see five mounted cowboys,

Off to my left ride a dozen or more.

Shouting and shooting, I can't let them catch me.

I have to make it to Rosa's back door.

Something is dreadfully wrong, for I feel

A deep burning pain in my side.

Though I am trying to stay in the saddle,

I'm getting weary, unable to ride.

But my love for Felina is strong, and I rise where I've fallen.

Though I am weary, I can't stop to rest.

I see the white puff of smoke from the rifle,

I feel the bullet go deep in my chest.

From out of nowhere Felina has found me,

Kissing my cheek as she kneels by my side.

Cradled by two loving arms that I'll die for,

One little kiss, then Felina goodbye.

Greg Beets: Contributor, The Austin Chronicle

Kent Benjamin: Features editor, Pop Culture Press

Michael Bertin: Contributor, The Austin Chronicle

Jim Caliguiri: Contributor, The Austin Chronicle

Michael Chamy: Associate Music editor, The Austin Chronicle

Jody Denberg: Program director, KGSR

Matt Dentler: Contributor, The Austin Chronicle

Ben Fong-Torres: Author, The Hits Just Keep on Coming: The History of Top 40 Radio

David Fricke: Senior editor, Rolling Stone

Christopher Gray: Columnist, The Austin Chronicle

Michael Hall: Senior editor, Texas Monthly

Melanie Haupt: Contributor, The Austin Chronicle

Raoul Hernandez: Music editor, The Austin Chronicle

Christopher Hess: Contributor, The Austin Chronicle

John Kunz: Owner, Waterloo Records

Terry Lickona: Producer, Austin City Limits

David Lynch: Contributor, The Austin Chronicle

Dave Marsh: Author, The Heart of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made

Margaret Moser: Staff writer, The Austin Chronicle

Joe Nick Patoski: Author, Stevie Ray Vaughan: Caught in the Crossfire

Jerry Renshaw: Contributor, The Austin Chronicle

Ira Robbins: Editor, www.trouserpress.com

Robert Rodriguez: Director, Once Upon a Time in Mexico

Jay Trachtenberg: Air staff manager and host of Jazz, Etc., KUT; contributor, The Austin Chronicle

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