Texas Top 100 songs (51-75)
51 Memories of East Texas, Michelle Shocked: The Dallas-born singer’s evocative song about the piney woods, clay roads, spring daffodils, creeks and lakes of East Texas is also about feeling like a misfit among the unenlightened.
52 Abilene, George Hamilton IV: The folk-influenced, smooth-voiced country singer (no relation to actor George Hamilton) scored a No. 1 country/No. 15 pop hit in 1963 with this easygoing song and its memorable chorus: “Abilene, Abilene, prettiest town that I’ve ever seen/women there don’t treat you mean in Abilene, my Abilene.”
53 Lone Star State of Mind, Nanci Griffith: A woman in Denver gets an unexpected phone call, stirring memories of and homesickness for Texas — and the realization that a journey of more than a thousand miles isn’t far if the right person is waiting for you at the end.
54 Texas in My Rear View Mirror, Mac Davis: Lubbock-born Davis was best-known as a pop singer-songwriter in the early ’70s, but he reinvented himself as a country artist with help from this 1980 hit about a young man who can’t wait to leave Lubbock to chase stardom — then realizes how much he took Texas for granted.
55 Falling, Ben Kweller: From his breakout record Sha Sha, North Texas native Kweller alludes to the chilliness of Dallas in the opening line, as he yearns for a love that has him in all kinds of unstable.
56 Texas, Chris Rea: Based solely on Top 40 success, Rea is a one-hit wonder with his 1978 hit Fool (If You Think It’s Over). But this brooding song about escaping some unnamed and dangerous urban wasteland for the safety of (presumably rural) Texas got airplay on DFW rock stations when it was released in 1989 — although the song and the album it comes from, The Road to Hell, were much bigger hits in Rea’s native England.
57 Texas, Willie Nelson: It’s a melancholy, mariachi-influenced ode to Willie’s home state from 2004. The lyrics are about belonging in Texas and nowhere else; the pensive music shows off some beautifully brittle guitar playing by Willie himself.
58 Jacksboro Highway, John Mayall: The British bluesmaster, known for his eye for spotting talent, paints a vivid portrait of Fort Worth’s honky-tonk highway, famous as much for rough and tumble atmosphere as for its nightlife. Several Fort Worth musicians play on this version (the original is by Bill Carter), including Buddy Whittington, who knew the highway’s clubs well.
59 Corpus Christi Bay, Robert Earl Keen: Working a blue-collar job, getting in trouble with your brother, wanting to get out of a dead-end situation — the words sound like something from Bruce Springsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad (although Keen’s song was written earlier), but the steel-guitar-inflected music gives it that Texas alt-country sound.
60 Brownsville Girl, Bob Dylan: The ’80s were Dylan’s weakest decade, but they did produce this funny, surrealistic, 11-minute gem — co-written with playwright/actor Sam Shepard — that somehow ties together a Gregory Peck movie with an epic road trip across Texas, Mexico and the Southwest with the title character, who has “Brownsville curls [and] teeth like pearls, shinin’ like the moon above.” The background singers talk back to Dylan, as if they’re not buying this bizarre story.
61 What I Like About Texas, Gary P. Nunn & Jerry Jeff Walker: The 1977 hit is an unabashed anthem about the Lone Star State, extolling the virtues of the Brazos and burritos, bluebonnets and Barton Springs.
62 Dallas Days and Fort Worth Nights, Chris LeDoux: A honky-tonky look into the double life of a man who works in Dallas by day (Bending steel and driving nails/By phone in a suit and tie), but can’t wait to slip out of his Mercedes into his pickup (and cowboy boots): “All day long he sets his sights on ice cold beer and neon lights.” Our guess is he’s a real estate developer with a serious Billy Bob’s habit.
63 People in Dallas Got Hair, Waylon Jennings: Unless you’re a Waylon-o-phile, this one might not ring a bell. According to the Dallas-based CentralTrack.com, Jennings wrote and recorded the song in the late ’60s, but it wasn’t released in the U.S. until its inclusion on Jennings’ 2006 Nashville Rebel box set. It’s basically Waylon traveling to big cities across the country, but finding out that Dallas, home of laid-back hippies, is where it’s at.
64 Hate It Or Love It Houston, Chamillionaire: With only the city’s name in the title, this brief track nevertheless packs plenty of Lone Star swagger into its verses.
65 West Texas Highway, Lyle Lovett: A patron saint of songs about all manner of Texana, this breezy little ditty finds Lovett tackling the Boomer Castleman and Michael Martin Murphey original with his customary panache.
66 Houston, Dean Martin: Dino might be best-known as a pop crooner, but he comes pretty close to country with this 1965 Lee Hazlewood-written hit about being lonely and mistreated in some unnamed place, and feeling homesick for H-Town and the women waiting for him back home.
67 The Back Side of Dallas, Jeannie C. Riley: Of course Riley was much better known for Harper Valley PTA but, in 1969, she recorded this grim, edgy tune about a Tennessee gal who comes to Dallas to be with her guy. It doesn’t work out, and things spiral downward for this under-educated girl (there’s smoking, pills, booze and more). It was actually nominated for a Grammy in 1970 — alas, so was Tammy Wynette’s Stand By Your Man.
68 Waltz Across Texas, Ernest Tubb: One of the fathers of country music, Tubb knew a thing or two about Texas and waltzing. Born in Ellis County, he was nicknamed the Texas Troubador, and this 1965 song became a favorite in dance halls not just here but all over the country.
69 Blame It on Texas, Marc Chesnutt: On his debut album in 1991, Chesnutt introduced himself as a boy from Beaumont with this twangy single that blamed his insanity (in a good way) on the lure of the Lone Star State.
70 Wichita Falls, Miranda Lambert: A song about driving away from heartache, with a stop at a Wichita Falls cafe, the country yarn is off of the Lindale native’s first album — before she hit it big on Nashville Star.
71 Houston El Mover, Joe King Carrasco: One of Carrasco’s many ebullient New Wave twists on ’60s-style organ rock, this is a two-minute tribute to the title woman, lightweight and fun like most of Carrasco’s party-weekend output.
72 I’ve Been Everywhere … in Texas, Brian Burns: Country singer Burns offers a distinctively Lone Star take on the Geoff Mack classic, which was popularized by Johnny Cash. The original was a roll call of Australian towns, Cash made them American, and Burns made them Texan. How many other songs namecheck Kruegerville and Pflugerville?
73 Texas in My Soul, Willie Nelson: The red-headed stranger offers up a brief (clockin’ in at just over two minutes) but infectious slice of Western swing in which he pledges his allegiance to the Lone Star.
74 The Day That John Kennedy Died, Lou Reed: Many songs exist about the assassination of JFK in Dallas, but few are rendered with the poetry and fondness for unsparing ugliness as Lou Reed’s The Day That John Kennedy Died, taken from his 1982 LP The Blue Mask.
75 Houston Means That I’m One Day Closer to You, Gatlin Brothers: Classic musician’s road song, written by Texas native Larry Gatlin, is about that last stop — in this case, Houston — on a long tour, and how a tour’s end means reuniting with the woman who stayed back home.
There’s more! For songs 76-100, click here .