Perhaps more than any other state, Texas has had more classic songs written about it. Even more so, a long line of Texan singer-songwriters has tapped into what it truly is to be from Texas. There’s a relentless spirit and soul that comes out in many timeless standards.
Whether it’s Waylon Jennings‘ “Bob Wills Is Still the King,” Guy Clark‘s “Texas Cookin'” or Robert Earl Keen‘s “The Road Goes On Forever,” they all exemplify the good-natured spirit and moxie of Texans. Standards like Gene Autry‘s “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” and Ernest Tubb‘s “Waltz Across Texas” are in line in very much the same way. They are, without doubt, the prototype for Texas’ soul. They’re well established and songs you know by heart.
Songs about Texas ethics and beliefs are boundless. You’d be hard-pressed to listen to them all on a road trip from El Paso to Beaumont. Still, there’s plenty that have been written in recent memory that demonstrates them just as well as the classics from Willie, Waylon, and the boys.
Here are 15 more songs that embody the Texan spirit.
Despite many outsiders thinking Texans are too proud and arrogant, Lyle Lovett‘s “That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas)” shows that many Texans are as accepting as they come. You may not have been born and raised in Texas, but you’ll be welcomed as soon as you get here.
Key Line: “That’s right, you’re not from Texas. But Texas wants you anyway.”
Written by fellow Texan Django Walker (and yes, son of Jerry Jeff), Pat Green‘s “Texas On My Mind” follows the likes of timeless classics like Gary P. Nunn‘s “London Homesick Blues” and Guy Clark‘s “Dublin Blues.” You may be abroad and missing your home state, but like many Texans would say, Texas isn’t a state–it’s a state of mind.
Key Line: “I woke up this morning, Texas on my mind. Thinking about my friends and a girl I left behind.”
Originally written by Susan Gibson, the Dixie Chicks took the coming of age anthem to new heights when they released it in the late ’90s. What makes “Wide Open Spaces” even more distinctive than being just another cry for young independence is how it comes at it from both sides. As much as you want to leave the nest as a child, you want to be just as supportive when you’re the parent.
Key Line: “She said, “It didn’t seem like that long ago” when she stood there and let her own folks know she needed wide open spaces.”
Jason Boland may originally be from Oklahoma, but with “Somewhere Down in Texas,” he captures the Lone Star State. Boland weathers the storm, knowing his lost love is somewhere down in Texas and wishing he’d rather be there where the weather is temperate.
Key Line: “Cause no matter how big the storms, I know I can find me a place that’s warm. The sun is shining somewhere in Texas”
Ray Wylie Hubbard‘s tongue-in-cheek “Screw You, We’re From Texas” is often misunderstood. But make no mistakes about it, Texans are as proud as being Texan as Hubbard is of Texas’ rich musical history. As Hubbard illustrates, there’s plenty to be proud about.
Key Line: “Cause we got Stubbs, and Gruene Hall and Antone’s and John T’s Country Store. We’ve got Willie and Jacky Jack, Robert Earl, Pat, Cory, Charlie and me and so many more.”
Written by the late Kent Finlay, “They Call It The Hill Country” walks the line between being concerned for the future and nostalgic for the past. Randy Rogers‘ version of the Texas tune is as classic as they come. Many people are proud of where they’re from, but that’s not what makes “They Call It The Hill Country” special. It’s Rogers and Finlay’s longing to preserve as much of it as possible.
Key Line: “They call it the hill country. I call it home.”
Cody Johnson‘s “Pray For Rain” taps into something that connects all Texans, the plead for a good rainy season. Johnson’s plea may be short and simple, but it’s as earnest and honest as they come. With so many connected to agriculture, a good rain can change the tides and lift the spirits of all Texans.
Key Line: “And daddy’d say goodnight son, I love you and pray for rain.”
Texas songwriter Paul Cauthen wrote “Flatland” back when he was half of the country soul band Sons of Fathers. The fun-loving “Flatland” is straightforward and lively as possible. Like many Texans, Cauthen is up for a good-natured good time, no matter the time of day.
Key Line: “Don’t you threaten me with a good time.”
When it comes to the three versions of “I’ll Sing About Mine,” take your pick. Original writers Adam Hood and Brian Keane both have excellent versions of their own, but for this, we’ll choose Josh Abbott‘s take on the small town anthem. You’re able to see the people and places who’ve had the largest impact throughout “I’ll Sing About Mine.”
Key Line: “That’s what made me who I am today.”
While Kacey Musgraves‘ “Follow Your Arrow” is definitely an anthem larger than Texas, it still exemplifies Texans’ independent spirit. Like many Musgraves tunes, “Follow Your Arrow” finds the Texas songwriter calling out the hypocrisies of society. More than anything, “Follow Your Arrow” is telling you to be true to yourself.
Key Line: “Just follow your arrow wherever it points.”
Much like “They Call It The Hill Country,” William Clark Green‘s “Old Fashioned” relies heavily on trying to preserve a certain kind of Texas, specifically wanting his grandfather’s version where folks still appreciated the simple things in life and had manners. “Them good old boys are few and far between” is a nod to Don Williams‘ nostalgic classic “Good Ole Boys Like Me.”
Key Line: “Yeah, my grandad’s spinning in his grave and they’re all laughing. I’m old-fashioned.”
Much like a cousin to Tanya Tucker‘s “Texas (When I Die),” Shane Smith & The Saints too have the dying wish of being left in Texas. Smith’s Appalachian plea follows him around various other states, which he enjoys, but like most Texans, hopes to find his way back to the Lone Star State if the worst happens.
Key Line: “I want to hit the road and make my claim, but Lord, bury me in Texas.”
Flatland Cavalry‘s old stomping grounds may not be yours exactly, but that really doesn’t matter with their singalong anthem, “Stompin’ Grounds.” It’s a celebration of where you’re from and where you call home–no matter where it is. And that’s about as Texan as one can get.
Key Line: “You can find me there. I ain’t going nowhere. When the sun goes down, I’ll come back around. You and I will be two-stepping in our old stomping grounds.”
John Baumann‘s “Here I Come” perfectly paints the transition from being young and dumb to accepting adulthood responsibilities. Baumann may be singing about coming up as a songwriter, but his maturation is very much in line with most folks in their late twenties and early thirties. In the end, “Here I Come” is about perseverance and striving for a work ethic.
Key Line: “It’s too soon for accolades and it’s too late to quit.”
Sunny Sweeney‘s “Nothing Wrong With Texas” isn’t a toe-tapping honky-tonking singalong anthem. It’s not a song about Texas for the sake of being a song about Texas. But like Baumann’s “Here I Come,” Sweeney’s singing about perseverance. It’s a slightly different kind, but Sweeney’s still showing you what it’s like to get through tough times.
Key Line: “It’s time to go back to where I learn what respect is. There’s nothing wrong with Texas.”