Texans are a proud bunch. And why shouldn’t they be? Some of the world’s best and brightest hail from the great state. And that includes musicians and country songs. Texas gave us innovators like Buddy Holly, outlaws like Waylon and Willie, classics like George Jones and George Strait, pioneers like The Dixie Chicks and modern pop icons like Beyoncé.
It’s true, everything really is bigger in Texas, including the impact of its greatest artists. So music is pretty much woven into the fabric of Texans. Let’s take a look at some country songs every Texan knows by heart.
10. “All My Ex’s Live In Texas,” George Strait
Probably the most famous song about not living in Texas (with apologies to Mac Davis), George Strait’s “All My Ex’s (Live In Texas)” is the kind of song that transcends genre and even continental boundaries. People across the globe know the woeful tale of Rosanna in Texarkana and Allison in Galveston. And don’t worry George, Texas is a place we all dearly long to be.
9. “God Blessed Texas,” Little Texas
Look, it’s ok if some of the younger Texans hear this song and immediately sing “Ford is the best in Texas” instead of the signature chorus tag, “God blessed Texas.” A good portion of Texans grew up hearing that Ford commercial ever 12 minutes, so it’s ok. But the 1993 smash hit tune eventually became ingrained in every Texan’s head and heart because, well, it’s super catchy and, you know, obviously true.
8. “The Yellow Rose Of Texas,” Elvis Presley and Pretty Much Everybody
“The Yellow Rose Of Texas” is an American folk song that also ended up becoming a chart-topping hit. And Elvis Presley sang it, so what excuse do Texans have to not know it? Mitch Miller had a huge hit with it in 1955 and Willie Nelson also had plenty of success with it. But the memorable melody keeps you humming. And it’s a sweet love song with some problematic racial language that pretty much every version has since scrubbed from its existence. And for a bonus, we’ll include “The Eyes Of Texas.” Because even Red Raiders, Aggies, Bears, Cougars, Horned Frogs, Mustangs and any college fan base in Texas know at least the first few lines of The University of Texas’ school song.
7. “Galveston,” Glen Campbell
Well, at least Galveston Island knows this song by heart. They should, since it’s the official anthem of the island and the city of Galveston, after all. Glen Campbell’s 1969 hit topped the chart and even inspired some anti-war sentiment. But the huge hit became an endearing country song that ranks among the best country songs of all time.
6. “On The Road Again,” Willie Nelson
Though it’s not specific to Texas per se, Willie Nelson is Texas’ favorite son, and arguably his most well-known song rings true for every Texan who ever traversed the wide expanses of the great state. It’s almost a requirement for Texas dads to sing at least the chorus of the song as they back out of the driveway and embark on family road trips that can see you driving 12 plus hours and never get out of town.
5. “Deep In The Heart Of Texas,” Gene Autry
We’ll give credit to singing cowboy Gene Autry for this one, but the song had an astonishing five different versions hit the Billboard charts in 1942 alone. Still, the fact remains that you can walk into any crowded place in Texas and yell, “The stars at night are big and bright!” and you absolutely will hear “(clap clap clap clap) Deep in the heart of Texas!” No other state comes close to having such a unifying musical moment.
4. “Wide Open Spaces,” The Dixie Chicks
One of the biggest songs of the 1990s, The Dixie Chicks’ third single from their debut album solidified them as an undeniable force in music. With a huge soaring chorus, “Wide Open Spaces” is basically a de facto Texas anthem. And the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) listed the song as 259 out of the 365 songs of the century. That’s big. Like, Texas big. Who doesn’t know what I’m talking about?
3. “If You’re Gonna Play In Texas (You Gotta Have A Fiddle In The Band),” Alabama
Hey, Texans aren’t snobby folks. They’re not going to mind if a bunch of Alabamans end up singing one of the most iconic songs about Texas. They’ll adopt it as their own and play right along. Plus, it’s not like they’re fibbing. You really should see the dance floor light up at any dance hall in Texas when fiddle is involved. Cotton-eyed Joe, indeed.
2. “Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Love),” Waylon Jennings
The little song about remembering what matters ended up becoming a huge hit. It also encompasses pretty much everything that makes all the small towns in Texas have such character. They’re all about getting back to the basics. Who would’ve known a song about marital struggles could become an anthem for the simple things in life.
1. “Amarillo By Morning,” George Strait
If we started the list with George Strait, we’ve got to end the list with George Strait. Still one of the most legendary songs to never make it to No. 1 on the radio, “Amarillo By Morning” truly found its voice when Strait cut it in 1983, about 10 years after the first version came out. Since then, one of Texas’ top country songs is synonymous with the state and the undying spirit of resilience.