Texas Top 100 songs (26-50)
26 One Star Flag, Casey Donahew Band: Burleson native Donahew has a current Red Dirt hit with this song about coming back to “a girl in Fort Worth who swears that I’m on her mind.” Donahew sings that he’s headed south like a freight train bound for Texas, but few freight trains move with the speed of this song — or have as much attitude.
27 Texas River Song, Townes Van Zandt: The late Fort Worth native was one of the Lone Star State’s most critically beloved troubadours, but not many of his songs spoke directly of his home state. However, it doesn’t get much more Texas-y than his take on this traditional song, which he recorded for 1993’s Roadsongs. With its references to the quick-sandy Brazos and the muddy Trinity, and the li-li-li, le-le-le chorus, Van Zandt’s sad, waltz-like rendition beautifully evokes a sense of place and time.
28 London Homesick Blues, Jerry Jeff Walker: The song doesn’t even mention Texas in the title, but it’s very much about wanting to get out of an unfriendly (and boots-envious London) and back to the Lone Star State, with its good country music and “friendliest people and prettiest women you’ve ever seen.” Gary P. Nunn wrote it, but Jerry Jeff’s brash sing-along treatment of the choruses made it famous.
29 I’m an Old Cowhand From the Rio Grande, Tex Ritter: Ritter (yep, John’s father) was the consummate singing cowboy, on radio and in films. That’s why we picked his version of this classic song, which was written in 1936 for the Bing Crosby film Rhythm on the Range. Everyone from Roy Rogers, Frank Sinatra and Harry Connick Jr. recorded a version of the song. Lucy and Ethel famously sang it in an episode of I Love Lucy. But give us Tex’s version any day.
30 A--hole From El Paso, Kinky Friedman: This politically incorrect parody of Merle Haggard’s Okie From Muskogee isn’t kind to El Paso (or at least to certain kinds of El Pasoans), but a lot of people from El Paso find it amusing anyway. “You walk down the street knee-deep in tacos” is about the only line we can print.
31 Where I’m From, Play N’ Skillz: An intensely proud rap track calling out one city after another — “I give a [bleep] where I’m from” — and featuring another top Texas hip-hop talent (Big Tuck), Where I’m From reps North Texas hard.
32 China Grove, the Doobie Brothers: The previously little known city of the title was thrust into the national spotlight in 1973 when this Northern California band sang about “a sleepy little town, down around San Antone.”
33 Goin’ to Dallas to See My Pony Run, Lightnin’ Hopkins: Texas blues master Lightnin’ Hopkins wrote a tribute to his favorite horse, who just has to win that race in Dallas so he can get some money and “bring his baby some.”
34 Ridin’, Chamillionaire feat. Krazie Bone: The Houston rapper got a No. 1 hit in 2005 with this track about driving around H-town “ridin’ dirty” and trying to avoid the cops. “Houston, TX you can check my tags,” he raps.
35 The Eyes of Texas, Milton Brown: One of the fathers of Western swing, Brown was born in Stephenville and grew up in Fort Worth, where he met Bob Wills in the 1930s. Together, against the backdrop of the Depression, they gave rise to the “hot-jazz hillbilly” hybrid sound that became known as Western swing. Brown, an Arlington Heights High School grad, died in a car accident at 1936 at age 32, but his version of The Eyes of Texas (Are Upon You), with his band the Musical Brownies, endures as the most authentic. The great fiddle work and tight harmonies stand the test of time. The song is also the official University of Texas song.
36 Hangin’ Round Deep Ellum, Light Crust Doughboys: Penned by Art Greenhaw, who has kept the Light Crust Doughboys humming along since joining the band in 1993, Hangin’ Round Deep Ellum is a warm slice of life, and one that could use an update in light of the area’s recent revival.
37 My Texas, Josh Abbott featuring Pat Green: There are better-known songs on this list, but few capture Texas’ diversity as well as this one, which covers Texas from El Paso sunsets to Robert Earl Keen’s Corpus Christi Bay, from Lubbock winds to Luckenbach Shiners. Alternate title: 25 Things To Do in Texas Before You Die. Josh, we smell a sequel …
38 La Grange, ZZ Top: This track may sport one of rock’s best-known opening guitar riffs but it’s the lyrics — about a little love shack outside the namesake town — that make it all Texas.
39 Texas, Play Radio Play: At 59 seconds, this might be the shortest tune on our list, but Daniel Hunter (who now performs as Analog Rebellion) makes the most of it, telling listeners if he dies alone, he hopes it’s in Texas.
40 Welcome to Dallas, Big Tuck: It’s funny to think Big Tuck released Welcome to Dallas way back in 2006, when the city’s hip-hop scene wasn’t nearly as cohesive (or as vibrant) as it is now, but the track holds up, riding a thumping beat and featuring some questionable gunfire sound effects.
41 Dallas, They Might Be Giants: On a lark in 2005, They Might Be Giants wrote brief songs about the venues they were touring at the time, and Dallas, which opens the album (titled Venue Songs), is a bizarre little ditty about, of all places, Trees.
42 Houston, Mary Chapin Carpenter: A gorgeous ballad full of stark, bitter images, Carpenter’s evocative tune about Hurricane Katrina refugees paints Texas as a place of hope after devastation, a chance to begin anew.
43 Beautiful Texas, Milton Brown: For many, the sound of fiddle-driven waltzes are as much a part of the Texas landscape as oil derricks or cowboys astride horses. This 1935 gem from the Fort Worth father of Western swing is a quintessential slice of Lone Star sonic pride.
44 Ay Te Dejo en San Antonio, Flaco Jimenez: A titan of Tejano music, Jimenez’s vivid accordion work and sprightly vocals doubtless conjure strong memories for those who cut their teeth on his catalog, including this spirited valentine to dancing in San Antonio.
45 Possum Kingdom, Toadies: A stomping rock song that catapulted the Fort Worth rockers into the national spotlight, it remains one of the most intense tunes ever penned about a Texas body of water.
46 Screw You, We’re From Texas, Ray Wylie Hubbard: The other states, well they’re OK, but Hubbard wants to stay here, despite corrupt corporations, loco politicians and bad history in Dallas and Waco. Because Willie, Robert Earl and a bunch of other musicians are from here, and that’s reason enough to stay.
47 They Don’t Know, Paul Wall: They don’t know — unless they’re from Texas — in rapper Paul Wall’s insistent, defiant (and in certain formats, heavily bleeped) ode to the Lone Star State.
48 Cities of Texas, Paul Kelly: Kelly may be from Australia but he has always had a soft spot for Texas and he proves it in this melancholy rock-song portrait of a devil wind (“I turn your high glass back to shifting sand”) blowing its way across the state.
49 If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band), Alabama: This hit is hooky advice for musicians from the other 49 states: don’t bother coming here unless you can get down with a two-step.
50 I Can’t Go Back to Austin, Doug Sahm: Yet another Texan who messes with the wrong guy’s girl, but in this case the guy knows enough to stay away after the initial trouble. Or does he? The earnest Western swing of Sahm’s song plays well off the ironies of his lyrics.
There’s more! For songs 51-75, click here .
DFW.com’s Top Texas 100: Go back to read Nos. 1-25.