It's no coincidence some of the best songs in country music are love songs to Texas. The state produces some of the world's best songwriters, and you better believe they keep home in their hearts.
Texas is massive, but it's still hard to fit all the love Texans hold for their dear home state within its borders. So they have to spread the message far and wide, from classic country to recent hits. There's just so much to sing about when it comes to The Lone Star State.
Here are 25 of the greatest country songs about Texas.
25. Blake Shelton -- "Austin"
Once upon a time, Blake Shelton was considered a promising new edge to traditional country. His debut single "Austin" was an amazing success, staying at No. 1 for five weeks (a first since 1992 and a record that held up for 10 years for him). It's also a pretty phenomenal love story about a woman from Austin and a man who kept her forever in his memory. The line "P.S. if this is Austin, I still love you" was adapted as a bit of a love note to the city itself and that message still resonates.
24. Mark Chesnutt -- "Blame It On Texas"
"Blame It On Texas" perfectly captures the sentiment so many Texans feel when they leave the state but can't help but be drawn back. Chesnutt tells the lovers he has to leave behind to blame it on the state that keeps calling him home. As Chesnutt says, "the Golden Gate is great, but it ain't home."
23. Gary P. Nunn -- "What I Like About Texas"
Needs a primer on why Texans love the Lone Star State? Gary P. Nunn's 1984 classic, "What I Like About Texas," will do the trick. Nunn covers it all, from East to West and North to South.
It's Blue Bonnet and Indian paintbrushes
Swimming in the sacred waters of Barton Springs
It's body surfing the Frio
It's Saturday night in Del Rio
It's crossing over the border for some cultural exchange
22. Bob Wills -- "Miles and Miles of Texas"
Bob Wills' Texas swing classic gives you all the sights, flavors and sounds of the state in one song. "Miles and Miles of Texas" is an essential Texas road trip song. It's a big state, and the miles do stretch out for a seemingly infinite distance. This tune will inspire you to explore everything in between.
21. Josh Abbott -- "My Texas"
Abbott definitely hit the jackpot with "My Texas," which manages to pay homage to something special in nearly every corner of the state. From Port A to Lubbock, it's all covered. Not to mention Abbott tributes a lot of legendary modern Texas singers, including Pat Green -- who features on the track.
20. Pat Green Feat. Lyle Lovett -- "Girls From Texas"
This one came out fairly recently, but it immediately became a favorite. It's something both the guys and gals can agree on. The women of the world are lovely ladies, sing Green and Lovett, but the girls in Texas are just a little bit better. It's got a classic country feel and says something nice about the women across America. But, still... Texas.
19. George Strait -- "All My Exes Live in Texas"
One of Strait's most iconic Texas tunes by far, "All My Exes Live In Texas" was meant mostly to be a tongue-in-cheek tune, but it resonated with a lot of Texas ex-pats. Defining Texas cities by your exes who live in them. Who can't relate? Believe it or not, they love the song just as much in Tennessee. But come on, we know George dearly loves to be in Texas.
18. Tanya Tucker -- "Texas (When I Die)"
Any song that calls Texas the closest thing to heaven we may get has got to land on the list. Tanya Tucker's version came only a short while after the original, but the Seminole native did it justice and took it to the top 5. "I'll ride through all of hell and half of Texas just to hear Willie Nelson sing a country song" is about as Texas of a line as you'll find.
17. The Flatlanders -- "Dallas"
No song better describes the beauty and darkness of Dallas better than this Flatlanders classic. Singer Jimmie Dale Gilmore compares it to a jungle, a deceptively beautiful woman and a fool-hearty rich man.
"A steel concrete soul with a warm-hearted love in disguise;
A rich man who tends to believe his own lies.
I say, Dallas is a rich man with a death wish in his eyes."
Dallasites may be reluctant to choose this as their anthem, but anyone who's ever been down and out in Big D can relate.
16. George Strait -- "Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind?"
This one inspires a bit of the intrastate rivalries we all hold so near and dear. The classic line is said by a man thinking of love lost to a man in nearby Dallas, but it has since come to mean so much more, particularly for the homesick residents of Ft. Worth.
15. Glen Campbell -- "Galveston"
This song meant a lot of things to a lot of people (it came out during the height of the Vietnam War), but mostly it just resonated as a love song in which a soldier turns his memories to a woman in Galveston. Its beautiful refrain was enough to make it the official song of Galveston Island. Galveston, oh Galveston indeed!
14. Robert Earl Keen -- "Corpus Christi Bay"
You can't have a list of country songs about Texas without the one the state's favorite songwriting sons, Robert Earl Keen. "Corpus Christi Bay" is all about two brothers who grew up on the wild side in Corpus Christi. One manages to grow up and the other doesn't. But it's a pretty phenomenal portrait of the life of young men working the oil rigs.
A lot of younger country fans may recognize this tune as a jingle. That's because Ford wisely used it with new lyrics "Ford Is The Best In Texas." But before that, it was a top 5 single in 1993 that echoed a sentiment all Texans can get on board with: "If you wanna see heaven, brother, here's your chance."
12. Charlie Daniels Band -- "Texas"
Charlie Daniels is a North Carolina native, but he nailed it when he sings "People in Texas sure do make you feel at home" in this classic tune. But just in case you were wondering, Texans may be friendly, but they aren't around just to please others.
"And you can call them country and they don't care,
And if you don't like the way they wear their hair,
You can take your like and shove 'em on up the line.
People in Texas don't care if the sun don't shine."
You know it!
11. Ray Wylie Hubbard -- "Screw You, We're From Texas"
Ray Wylie Hubbard's defiant classic is often misinterpreted as a rallying cry against other states. Instead, he meant it as a pointed message to corporate music. Hubbard is holding his finger up to the suits. Make trendy music that sells so I can increase your bottom line? "Screw you, were from Texas." We do things our way down here, and we do it damn well.
10. Alabama -- "If You're Gonna Play In Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)"
In Texas country, a fiddle is practically a requirement. Alabama recognized that and wrote this ode to the country loving crowds in Texas who just need to hear that fiddle. Nothing helps Texans' ego like a band called Alabama playing a song about the exceptionalism of Texas. It doesn't hurt that it became one of the most well-known songs of its era, too.
9. Marty Robbins -- "Streets of Laredo"
Country star Marty Robbins was best known for his Gunfighter Ballads that told tragic stories of outlaws, law men and drifters in old West Texas. "Streets of Laredo" is the first of two Gunfighter Ballads to make this list. It was the most heartbreaking in the tragic series. While visiting Laredo, the narrator finds a dying cowboy who asks him to fulfill his final requests. Johnny Cash recorded a somber version of the song for his second to last American recording, Cash IV.
8. Jimmie Rodgers -- "Blue Yodel #1 (T for Texas)"
Jimmie Rodgers was country's original mega star. This song launched his career and influenced how early country music was written and performed. Known as "The Singing Brakeman," Rodgers created a unique style of yodeling he dubbed Blue Yodels. This was his first of 13 Blue Yodels. "T for Texas" would serve as the catalyst that inspired Hank Williams, Bill Monroe and many of the genre's founding artists. Lynyrd Skynyrd also performed a rock and roll version of this song in concerts during the 70s.
7. "The Yellow Rose of Texas"
What can you say about a song that's almost as old as the state itself? "The Yellow Rose Of Texas" has its roots in plantation singers and at one point actually had some fairly controversial lyrics, but the sentiment was about loving a girl in Texas. Hey, look at that, 150 years later and we're still singing about the same thing! Gene Autry first recorded it in the 1930s, and it had its first mainstream success in 1955 thanks to Mitch Miller. Elvis also recorded a version. The song has become a bit of an "unofficial" state song of sorts.
6. George Strait -- "Amarillo By Morning"
Realistically, half of George Strait's catalog could constitute the greatest country songs about Texas. But this one in particular captures that relentless Texas spirit in the vein of a rodeo rider who makes the nearly 10-hour drive from San Antonio to Amarillo all for the love of riding. It says something of the tune that throughout Strait's entire career, "Amarillo By Morning" stands out as the quintessential Strait song.
5. Ernest Tubb -- "Waltz Across Texas"
The "Texas Troubadour's" most famous song was "Walking the Floor Over You," but this one was a close second. Tubb's tune has become a country music standard and is often the first song people use to learn the waltz. If you're in a Texas dance hall on a Saturday night, you're likely to hear the band play this one.
4. Bob Wills -- "San Antonio Rose/New San Antonio Rose"
Bob Willis signature hit is also one of the most covered songs in all of country music. Everyone from Merle Haggard to Clint Eastwood (seriously) have been inspired by Wills' tribute to San Antonio. "San Antonio Rose" was an instrumental, but became so popular that Wills and his band the Texas Playboys added lyrics to it, dubbing the new version "New San Antonio Rose." The song is considered one of the greatest Western songs of all time.
3. Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson -- "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)"
If there was ever a song that made you pine for getting back to Texas, it's this one. Waylon Jennings' and Willie Nelson's classic gently rolls like the South Grape Creek that meanders behind the tiny town of Luckenbach. The subject of the song, stripping away pretenses and getting back to the basics, embodies the heart of what it means to be a Texan. It's appealed to ears all over the world. In 1977 the song did a month-stint at the No. 1 position. It's since become an all-time classic in the American songbook.
2. Gene Autry -- "Deep in the Heart of Texas"
One of the country's oldest hits, "Deep in the Heart of Texas" became known the world over in 1942. In fact, the melody was so catchy that the BBC banned it in British factories because they thought it would disract workers from production. The song also lit a fire in Hollywood, inspiring the name of a film. Gene Autry also sang the song the hit in "Heart of the Rio Grande," shown in the clip above. Several artists, including Ray Charles and George Strait, have recorded their versions. Today, you can hear the University of Texas Longhorns play the song before every game.
1. El Paso -- "Marty Robbins"
The second of Robbins' Gunfighter Ballads on this list of greatest country songs about Texas is also our No. 1 pick. "El Paso" was a mega hit for Robbins, and it would later become on of the biggest country hits of all time. Amazingly, he wrote it in his head while driving through El Paso. In 1958, Robbins was trying to emulate the career of Gene Autry, the singing cowboy. Inspired by the landscapes and locals of El Paso, he drummed up a narrative about a cowboy who kills a man over love.
"El Paso" bears similarities to Autry's style, but it also uses blends in Ranchera, a traditional style of Mexican music. The mixture of country Western and Ranchera coupled with Robbins' singing and tragic lyrics were a hit. "El Paso" propelled him to stardom and won him the first Grammy that was ever awarded to a country star. "El Paso" was also the first song that ushered in songs over four minutes to get airplay on the radio. The original was edited to 2:58, but DJs preferred the original. It helped longer songs like "House of the Rising Sun" by the Kinks become hits.
This post was originally published on August 25, 2017.