10 Great Songs About Texas
If there’s one thing to know about Texas, it’s that natives are never without a healthy dose of state pride — especially when it comes to songs. Country music has strong ties to the Lone Star State, and it shows by the sheer multitude of songs about Texas people, its places and its history spread throughout the genre.
Whether it’s a celebration of the modern culture unique to Texas or a tribute to those who made it what it is today, Texas songs are never in short supply. Unfortunately, that makes it difficult to narrow down to only 10. Taste of Country has put together a list of the songs, spanning several decades, we think best salute the former republic below.
Charlie Daniels doesn’t discriminate when it comes to writing songs about Southern states. Aside from his infamous “Devil Went Down to Georgia,” the fiddle king also released a tribute to the Lone Star State in 1975 on the Charlie Daniels Band’s sixth record Nightrider, titled simply “Texas.” The song goes down the list of Texas’ best qualities — cows, beer, kickin’ up heels at night, and of course, making you feel at home. The song has Daniels’ characteristic rapid pace and quirky attitude, a fitting theme song for the state.
“Girls From Texas”
Texas is its own brand of state, where everything is unique to the area, including — according to Pat Green and many others— the women. Green released this tune featuring the legendary Lyle Lovett in September 2014, to eventually appear on his first all-original record in six years, Home. The song is careful to admit, state by state, that girls from other places are nothing to sneeze at, but that ladies from Green’s home state are “just a little bit better,” as any true Texan would agree. The laid-back tribute brought Green back into the spotlight, and Home debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard Country Albums chart.
“Waltz Across Texas”
Texas has been a popular country song topic for decades, and a prime example is Ernest Tubb’s “Waltz Across Texas.” Its classic, slow swinging style is an iconic representation of country music at the time of its release in 1965. The song, which actually is a waltz, is one of Tubb’s most well-known tunes and was written by his nephew, Quanah Talmadge Tubb (Billy Talmadge). It’s a love song taking place against the backdrop of Tubb’s home state. The Country Music Hall of Famer was one of the pioneers of the genre, not to mention dubbed the Texas Troubadour, so it’s only fitting his tune makes the list.
Josh Abbott Band’s “My Texas” is an insider’s anthem — a tribute to everything unique about the Lone Star State and all it offers. The band lists off a near-comprehensive list of experiences, food, beer and more specific to Abbott’s home state, and concludes that if you’ve never done any of those things, well, you’ve not experienced his Texas. The song is a Southern rock-laced tune best heard as sung by a crowd of people at an outdoor concert in the titular state who can sing it with true conviction. It also features a verse by fellow native and Texas-lover Pat Green. Though the song itself didn’t chart, its album, Small Town Family Dream, reached No. 5 on the U.S. Country Albums chart in 2012 and lands at No. 7 on our collection of great Texas songs.
“Texas (When I Die)”
Texans don’t mess around when it comes to describing their state of origin — they go straight to comparing it to heaven. Tanya Tucker, a native Texan, covered this tune originally sung by Ed Bruce, in 1978, releasing it as the lead-off single from her ninth album TNT. The song is a tribute to the state, noting that if the narrator can’t make it to heaven, she’d like to go to Texas, because it’s “as close as I’ve been,” counting out other places in the U.S. that just can’t compare. It reached No. 5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and ended up being used as the Dallas Cowboys’ touchdown song throughout the 80s.
“God Blessed Texas”
You may have done a line dance or the electric slide to this country classic from 1993 at some point in your life. The widespread popularity of “God Blessed Texas” earned Little Texas royalties from Texas sports venues for years to come thanks to its catchy, singable chorus and undeniable Texas pride. Though not a No. 1 hit for the band, it continued their successful career through the early ’90s with aN. 4 spot on the Billboard U.S. Hot Country Songs chart. Texans love the tune for testifying to what they’ve always known: even God has a special place in his heart for Texas.
“Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)”
This classic collaboration is a tribute to the simple life — getting away from the lifestyle that comes with success and going back to the town of Luckenbach, where everything feels right. It tells the story of a “high society” life in which the constraints of wealth have started to feel a little suffocating. “So baby, let’s sell your diamond ring,” Waylon Jennings sings, “Buy some boots and faded jeans and go away. This coat and tie is choking me …” Willie Nelson joins in on the last verse to round out the old-country style lament. The song released in 1977 and hit No. 1 on the Billboard U.S. Hot Country Singles chart, and was even a top 25 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.This song is a testament that life really is better in Texas.
A somber tune with a contrasting upbeat feel, Glen Campbell’s “Galveston” is a song sung from the perspective of a soldier at war dreaming about his hometown. The nostalgic air flows throughout the song, remembering the seaside town and the woman he left behind. Campbell’s version released in 1969 and hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, due in part to the conviction and powerful vocals with which the iconic artist sings it. It was certified gold by the RIAA the same year. Written by Jimmy Webb, the tune is considered the official song of Galveston, Texas, and ranked No. 8 on the 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music by CMT in 2003. It’s no doubt this is one of the best songs about the Lone Star State in history, which is why it’s No. 3 on our 10 Great Songs About Texas list!
“Deep in the Heart of Texas”
When someone sings, “the stars at night are big and bright,” chances are you’re going to clap four times, thanks to this tune. It’s impossible to have a list of Texas odes without this classic, sung by Gene Autry in 1942 in the film Heart of the Rio Grande, though originally recorded by Perry Como. Its vintage, western sound is a part of Texas culture and history, and its influence has spread to all corners of pop culture, including appearances in everything from Pee Wee Herman to the Big Bang Theory. Autry’s version made this song the iconic tune it is today.
“Amarillo by Morning”
It’d be a failure to put together a list of songs about Texas without including this one. Released in 1983, George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning” is a story song as told by a bull rider making his way around the fair circuit, having lost many things along the way, but always keeping his return to Amarillo, Texas as his goal. The song was written by Terry Stafford and Paul Fraser, originally recorded by Stafford in 1973, but among many covers, Strait’s version is by far the most widely known. His recording reached No. 4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and No. 1 in Canada. The Western-style tune of a rambling rodeo rider is one of the most iconic Texas tunes in history.