One of the founding father bands of red dirt and Texas country music, Cross Canadian Ragweed own an almost mythic place in the hearts of their strong fanbase. They take their beloved CCR very personally. So what could possibly go wrong by ranking their 25 best songs?
Rhythm guitarist Grady Cross, Singer and guitarist Cody Canada, drummer Randy Ragsdale and bassist Jeremy Plato formed in Yukon, Okla. before moving to Stillwater. Once there, they captured the college market with their underground sound in the late 1990s, building a big fan base on the back of their now legendary live performances (and two early, pre-major label albums).
They became one of the first red dirt acts to land a major label deal and toured until 2010, when they announced they had decided to call it quits (and break thousands of hearts in the process). In honor of the pioneering band, here are Cross Canadian Ragweed’s 25 best songs.
25. Carney Man
A fan favorite, “Carney Man” is mostly just a really bizarre tune about… well, being a carney. It’s raw and silly, but then again, so was Cross Canadian Ragweed. It also helps that it’s the first track on their first record ever.
24. Boys From Oklahoma
A stoner anthem, “Boys From Oklahoma” became another one of those sing-along songs that took a life of its own with CCR’s audience.
23. The President Song
Another fan favorite from their early live album days, “The President Song” is both a little quirky and a great sign of their youth at the time, but serves as a pivotal tune in the band’s development. It’s definitely a “deep cut,” but one that deserves a spot on the list.
22. Train To Birmingham
Ok, so Cross Canadian Ragweed didn’t write “Train To Birmingham” (that was Kevin Welch), but their live version on 2009’s Happiness And All The Other Things is a deeply moving performance and feels like a band worn and aged from their years together.
21. Lonely Feeling
The band paid homage to another founding father of Texas country, Robert Earl Keen, by covering the song “Lonely Feeling” on their live album Back To Tulsa. In keeping with their tradition of great covers, the band makes it their own and puts a personal spin on the song, saying it’s the tune that made them want to play music the rest of their lives.
20. Walls To Climb
With hooks for days, “Walls To Climb” takes a look at Canada’s psyche and emotional state, with the singer declaring sometimes we just need our space, and that we’ve all “got walls to climb.”
19. Record Exec
From their 2007 album Mission California, “Record Exec” is a rocker that takes aim at the music industry they found themselves suddenly successful in. The band was charting on the Billboard charts, and Canada clearly took issue with label opinions on their sound.
18. Fightin’ For
Tunes like “Fightin’ For” really underscore Cross Canadian Ragweed’s influence on the Texas music and red dirt scenes. The steady Tom Petty plod and subtle twang are hallmarks of the genre.
17. Suicide Blues
Capturing some of that darker humor the band is known for, “Suicide Blues” is about as bluesy as the fuzzed out rockers get. Which is to say, not very. But it’s just another example of the band refusing to stay put in any one genre.
16. Anywhere But Here
Another fan favorite, “Anywhere But Here” serves as a road anthem for some and an escape theme for others. The song really rocks live, too.
One of the softer moments on the otherwise gritty Garage is one of the more clever songs about how loving somebody also drives them to some bad habits — chiefly, cigarettes.
14. Amos Moses
I mean, any song about somebody who was used as alligator bait as a kid and then hunts alligators illegally deserves a spot on this list. The performance at Wormy Dog Saloon is pretty legendary in CCR lore.
“Broken” doesn’t get as much love as “17” and “Constantly” (all from the same album), but the rare acoustic heavy track sees the band embracing a more raw, emotional openness in their lyrics.
12. Lighthouse Keeper
A rocker from the days of better production, “Lighthouse Keeper” weaves another strong, mythic tale while rocking some serious red dirt guitar and a lot of attitude.
11. Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground
Woah, another cover? Yep. They played Willie Nelson’s “Angel To Close To The Ground” in honor of Poodie Locke, Nelson’s stage manager who passed away a few days before they recorded it live. Really, it’s hard to listen to it and not recognize the significance of Canada singing a Nelson song in honor of a beloved music industry man.
Though it’s off Carney, the band’s debut record that showcases, among other things, their youth, “Jenny” stands as one of the best-written tunes off their debut. It ages particularly well, too. The re-recorded it and released it on Mission California to do the song a little more justice.
9. Brooklyn Kid
“Brooklyn Kid” is probably one of the most straight up “country” tunes CCR released, but the song off their eponymous album channeled songwriters like Bob Dylan in a way that they hadn’t before.
8. Lonely Girl
“Lonely Girl” never got the single treatment, but it should have. The song has one of the band’s strongest melody and harmony sections while staying uncharacteristically understated.
7. Sick And Tired
The whole “sick and tired of being sick and tired” thing isn’t new, but CCR pull it off marvelously on this track, which features Lee Ann Womack on backing vocals.
6. Hey Hey
One of the best ways to experience Cross Canadian Ragweed is, without a doubt, in concert. And “Hey Hey” from their Live and Loud At Billy Bob’s Texas shows just why. Of course, the original version off their 1998 debut feels so wonderfully 90s alt rock, too.
One of the best songs from their major label, self-titled debut, “Constantly” helped reinforce the band as a charting country act.
A tribute to fallen rock heroes Dimebag Darrell and Kurt Cobain, “Dimebag” shows the band’s more thoughtful side while still keeping a solid hook and ripping guitar solo tribute.
3. Crazy Eddie’s Last Hurrah
It’s a cover of a Reckless Kelly song, but darn it if CCR didn’t make this murderous, hook-filled tune their own. And a real fan favorite. In a lot of ways, the song really took off after the band put it on their Cross Canadian Ragweed live album.
A song so good they released two versions of it. The second helped make Soul Gravy the band’s highest charting album on the country charts (though Mission California was the highest charting on the Billboard 200).
One of the band’s most heartfelt songs, “17” lives on as a timeless red dirt portrait of youth. It’s a singalong in a different way. In that, instead of shouting it, most fans actually make a point to try to sing the lyrics.