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20 Greatest Texas Country Songs of All Time

The 20 Greatest Texas Country Songs of All Time

Texans have a real sense of independence that carriers over to songwriting. We were our own country for a while. All of these songwriters embody the incredible pride from the history of Texas with The Alamo to Sam Houston. This list spans ninety years of country music, going so far back as Gene Autry’s 1931, “Birmingham Daddy,” to Dale Watson’s 2013 barroom anthem, “I Lie When I Drink.” This list of the great Texas songwriters from the Thirties, Forties and Fifties, as well as the West Texans, the Seventies songwriters like Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, the outlaws of the Seventies led by Billy Joe Shaver, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson, to Ray Wylie Hubbard, Hayes Carll, and Radney Foster. Texas country music is as diverse as the topography that’s inspired songwriters all over the state.

 


01. Wayne Hancock 

“Thunderstorms and Neon Signs”  (1995)

Wayne Hancock is a folk hero, an outlier, a defiant Texan. He’s not part of any scene. He’s a pioneering country music composer, a hillbilly honky tonk genius, and a songwriter creating works on par with Brian Wilson’s 1966 masterpiece Pet Sounds. The title track to Hancock’s landmark 1995 album Thunderstorms and Neon Signs frames a dark coming of age story through the eyes of an adult faced with loss of his childhood, a life of abandon, and the deaths of his parents, a story authentic to his actual uprooted life.

Hancock grew up in the Seventies, but since the age of nine his parents’ records from the Thirties, Forties, Fifties were his only friends. He creates a future version himself as a character, taking advantage of his literary senses to create a vibe reflective of the stages in his life through depth. Hancock executes it with complex symphonic vision. He relies on the warmth of country music combined with jazz elements that remind of Bob Wills. In his hillbilly twang that contrasts the seedy motel, he sings, “I grew up on the road from town to town / My daddy’s line of work kept us movin’ around / I got fond memories of the way things were back then / The warmth of a neon when a bad storm is movin’ in”

In the remaining 4:24 of the complete 8:06 vibrant memoir, is “Cold Lonesome Wind” where he uses his graphic creativity in a way reminiscent of Jack Kerouac with the atmosphere set by dark chilling jazz. In contrast, Hancock is at points a boy in the country at once in a Bukowski-like urban environment, juxtaposing mixes and arrangements of sounds to match the scenery. He makes the listener see music for the first time.

While it is uncertain, it seems that the fragmented complete dark moral tale uses repetition of imagery, while flipping ideas and sound with the expectation that the listener paid attention, taking in the intelligence of what he did in revealing that the pieces work in concert. He would never recycle ideas, so it stands out. He sings, “It’s after two and it just stared to rain / The wind is blowing like an old freight train / A distant thunder stirs me from my bed / And all those longing memories / That I once thought were dead”

With these two songs, Hancock created a new approach to country music – altruism. As he does in his songs, in real life, he exemplifies empathy, and the importance of paying attention to others. He is still the person in “Thunderstorms and Neon Signs.” In realizing such, and that “Cold Lonesome Wind,” goes with it, seeing him sacrifice his own feelings struggling through it, shows true courage. He always puts others first, even those he doesn’t know. His fearlessness and kindness inspire that in the work of others, motivating them to push their own ideas. He is one of the true artists, so prolific at only fifty-three – a legend in his time. – Courtney S. Lennon

 


02. Billy Joe Shaver

“I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train”  (1973)

In 1973 Waylon Jennings put then unknown songwriter Billy Joe Shaver on the map when he released Honky Tonk Heroes, an album that is composed of all Billy Joe Shaver songs but one. “Honky Tonk Heroes became a remarkable milestone,” says Jennings’ wife, singer-songwriter Jessi Colter of the landmark outlaw country album. While Corsicana, Texas native Billy Joe Shaver gave Jennings ten songs, he saved his most autobiographical for his 1973 debut, Old Five and Dimers Like Me. “I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train” is Billy Joe Shaver’s life story, one that has all the makings of a great country song. Shaver sings, “On a rainy Wednesday morning that’s the day that I was born on in the old sharecroppers one room country shack / They say my mammy left me, day before she had me said she hit the road and never once looked back” Shaver’s use of archaic language is true to rural Texas in the Fifties and completes the authentic portrait of his impoverished childhood. “I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train” is two-minutes-eighteen-seconds of milking and a churnin’, picking cotton’, raisin’ hell and bailing hay. That’s as country as it gets. – Courtney S. Lennon

 


03. Townes Van Zandt

“Pancho and Lefty”  (1972)

Townes Van Zandt’s “Pancho and Lefty” is perfectly imperfect. The song, from Van Zandt’s 1971 album The Late Great Townes Van Zandt, frames a unique structure: The first verse is about Townes himself. However, the rest is about the Mexican bandits Pancho and Lefty, who have been tracked down by the law. Van Zandt sets the tone with the lines, “All the Federales say they / Could have had him any day / They only let him hang around / Out of kindness, I suppose.” A common assumption says that Lefty kills Pancho, but proof doesn’t appear anywhere in the song. In fact, the opposite is true. Lefty doesn’t turn Pancho into the Federales. It was only a matter of time before they killed Pancho. Why would they need Lefty? Pancho’s fate was in their hands. It was only a matter of time before they killed him.  After Pancho bit the dust, it ended up in lefty’s mouth, as the lyrics go. With Pancho gone, Lefty goes on the lamb. He robs enough money to get to Ohio, but it’s not clear where he got the cash. Lefty winds up finishing out his days in Cleveland, far and away from the open outlaw landscapes of the Mexican dessert, the reality he created as he faces looming death at the hands of fate, not the Federales, living out his days in a miserable, cold cheap motel, a prison of his own making. Van Zandt, who alludes to himself as the poets write of Lefty,  sings, “Pancho needs your prayers it’s true / But save a few for Lefty too / He just did what he had to do / Now he’s growing old.” Analyze the song all day long and you’ll find the same: “Pancho and Lefty” makes no sense, yet it makes perfect sense. – Courtney S. Lennon

 


04. Lefty Frizzell

“If You’ve Got The Money I’ve Got The Time”  (1950)

Corsicana, Texas native Lefty Frizzell is oft considered the greatest voice in country music, and the innovator of Texas honky tonk. Frizzell is best known for his 1950 classic, “If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time” a song that stemmed from teenagers trying to go out to the honky tonk with some girls, but they were broke. He quipped, “If you got the money, I’ve got the time,” which led to this song. Shortly after penning it, Frizzell wound up in jail, having slept with a minor. He was married at the time, and started writing poems to his wife out of guilt, many of which turned in to Frizzell songs. Frizzell had a serious drinking problem that spiraled out of control. He became a bad alcoholic. In 1972, Frizzell departed Columbia Records, another catalyst in his rapid decline, looking old, puffy, in bad health. Frizzell died July 19, 1975 in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of only forty-seven – leaving behind one of the most prolific catalogs in country music. The 2018 twenty piece box set, An Article From Life – The Complete Recordings was  our Editor’s no. 1 pick for  best album of the year. Frizzell has been gone nearly fifty years, but to this day, he remains a major influencer to artists like Brennen Leigh who recorded the album Brennen Leigh Sings Lefty Frizzell, earning her the 2017 Ameripolitan Award for Best Honky Tonk Female. As long as there is true country music, Lefty’s legend will live on. – Courtney S. Lennon

 


05. Ernest Tubb

“Walking The Floor Over You”  (1941)

There’s something stunning that happens listening to the original 1941 recording of Texas troubadour, Ernest Tubb’s song, “Walking the Floor Over You.”  It’s primitive with no overdubs and a lead guitar work of Fay “Smitty” Smith that plays louder than the otherwise acoustic solo recording. Tubbs’ vocals reflect long years listening and learning from the Singing Brakeman, Jimmie Rodgers. But “Walking the Floor” hits a nerve that helped create the honky-tonk sound of the Forties and Fifties. The million selling recording is a pre-requisite to understanding much of the songwriting that came after as it bridges the Southern blues sound with western sensibilities. In its own way, the session is a reminder of Elvis discovering something new in “It’s Alright Mama” in 1955. Although the song has been re-recorded by Tubb’s along with Merle Haggard and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, it’s this original stripped-down recording that best captures the essence of the song and the coming honky-tonk sound it helped to bring on. – Terry Paul Roland

 


06. Waylon Jennings

“Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way”  (1975)

Two years after Waylon Jennings blew up the Nashville establishment with his 1973 album Honky Tonk Heroes, composed of all Billy Joe Shaver songs but one, he kept his outlaw momentum going with the release of Nashville Rebel, the title of which is borrowed from the 1966 film Jennings starred in of the same name. In the song “Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way,” Jennings points out that country music lost its way, that it’s turned into a money grab rife with rhinestone suits, new fancy cars and the fading memory of Hank Sr. Jennings sings, “Lord it’s the same old tune, fiddle and guitar / Where do we take it from here? / Rhinestone suits and new shiny cars / It’s been the same way for years / We need a change.”  Jennings elevated  Williams into the father of country music, the benchmark of authenticity. To this day, artists still cite Hank. Case in point: James Carothers’ 2017 outlaw anthem “Back to Hank.” – Courtney S. Lennon

 


07. The Flatlanders

“Dallas”  (1972)

What would the city of Dallas, Texas, look like if anthropomorphized into human form? That is what Jimmie Dale Gilmore (The Flatlanders) explored on the band’s single, “Dallas,” released promotionally in 1972 in anticipation of the release of the band’s first album, but the single was deemed a failure,  so the album had limited release in 1976 as an 8-track tape to fulfill contractual obligations. The Lubbock band broke up and the members – Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore embarked on successful solo careers.

“Dallas” deserved a better fate. Joe Ely released his studio version of the song in 1981 (on Musta Notta Gotta Lotta) and his live version in 1990 (on Live at Liberty Lunch). Growing interest in the earlier career of these three Texas troubadours as a band resulted in that first Flatlanders album, with “Dallas” as the opening track, released by Rounder Records in 1990 (on More a Legend Than a Band). The band began to perform together again in 2000 and “Dallas” became a crowd favorite. It’s easy to see why.

In his song, Gilmore first compares Dallas to a “jewel” when viewed “from a DC-9 at night.” But then he goes on to declare it as a “jungle” with a “beautiful light.” Next, Big D becomes “a woman who will walk on you when you’re down.” And then with a “steel and concrete soul,” Dallas finally becomes “rich man with a death wish in his eyes.” Pretty dark stuff, but accurate. In writing about the song for her column in Dallas Morning News in 2000, Joyce Sáenz Harris, observed that “Dallas dearly loves winners and is mighty tough on losers,” and believed the song should be the “unofficial city anthem” knowing full well it to be “much too dark, too subversive” for such a jewel of a city to accept even though she suspected that Gilmore “may have caught more of the way we really are.” –Bruce Ansley

 


08. Hank Thompson

“A Six Pack to Go”  (1966)

There’s no doubt country music in the Forties, Texas drew from the swing sound of the times. Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys set the bar high with a jazz approach to instrumental arrangements including extended solos for the band. Hank Thompson, who had his first hit in the Wills’ heavy year of 1948, threw out Wills’ template in favor of shorter vocal centered songs that played well in honky-tonks and roadside juke joints. One of his most popular songs, “Six-Pack to Go,” captured the ethos of the times for country music fans. Written by Thompson with Dick hart and Johnny Lowe, the song reached #10 on the country charts in 1960. It came at the peak of Thompson’s long reign on the country charts. Like all of his music, he kept the song about the simple act of getting drunk on Saturday night and staying drunk on Sunday to keep the blues from coming round. The recording brought in a bouncy polka beat with swift homages Texas swing and the Bob Wills inspired solos.  The song would find favor with Leon Russell in 1973 when he recorded it for his Hank Wilson is Back Volume 1. – Terry Paul Roland

 


09. Guy Clark

“L.A. Freeway”  (1975)

In 1970, Monahans, Texas native Guy Clark was living in Los Angeles, California with wife, artist and songwriter Susanna Clark (“Black Haired Boy”). A year later the couple moved to Nashville, Tennessee after Clark landed a publishing deal with RCA imprint Sunbury Dunbar Records. In 1972, fellow Texan and Clark friend, Jerry Jeff Walker sought the songwriter out for material to put on his forthcoming self-titled release. One of the songs selected for the album was “Pack Up All Your Dishes,” the story of Clark’s short miserable stint in L.A. He sings, “Pack up all your dishes. Make note of all good wishes. Say goodbye to the landlord for me. That son of a bitch has always bored me.” Clark was asked by record executives to change ‘son a bitch’ to ‘son of a gun’ to which a likely scowling Clark quipped, “How about motherfucker?” When Walker’s version of “Pack Up All Your Dishes” was released, it was re-titled “L.A. Freeway,” which gave an oft disgruntle Clark another reason to be disgruntle. While Clark didn’t like the change in name, the song brought him notoriety, and he kept it as such when he recorded his 1975 debut, Old No. 1. “L.A. Freeway” captures the intimacy and authenticity found in his live performances. On the chorus he sings, “If I could just get off of this L.A. freeway without getting killed or caught, I’ll be down the road in a cloud of smoke to some land I ain’t bought,” a line so iconic the the master songwriter proved himself wrong on the “Pack Up All Your Dishes” debate. – Courtney S. Lennon

 


10. Hayes Carll

“Drunken Poet’s Dream”  (2008)

Hayes Carll effectively shot his career from a cannon with Trouble in Mind a decade ago. The Woodlands, Texas native’s third album – a vibrant vortex backing machetes (“Faulkner Street”) with memories (“Knockin’ Over Whiskeys”) – immediately catapulted him from rising talent into established tunesmith. High watermarks measured a young poet’s wanderlust (“Beaumont”) against a seasoned brawler’s will (“I Got a Gig”).  No song defined Carll’s artistic mission statement than the album’s peak moment: “Drunken Poet’s Dream,” a bold and dangerous love-struck ballad as limitless as anything drawn from Texas soil this century. The song offer’s a most uncommon pleasure: Romantic poetry cresting rapid-fire rock and roll. “I always like writing with Hayes because he’s fearless,” the song’s co-writer Ray Wylie Hubbard says. “Hayes takes chances with his writing.” Exhibit A: “Drunken Poet’s Dream.” “I’ve got a woman, she’s wild as Rome,” Carll sings. “She likes to lay naked and be gazed upon.” – Brian T. Atkinson

 11. Bob Wills

“New San Antonio Rose” (1947)

“New San Antonio Rose” was originally a fiddle instrumental written on demand when an A&R man asked innovative Texas swing master, Bob Wills, for something similar to his successful 1935 recording of “Spanish Two-Step.”  He created the melody in short order by reversing the bridge of “Spanish Two-Step.” It soon became the signature song for Wills and his Texas Playboys.  In 1940, the band just felt the melody needed lyrics. This was when the song became “The New San Antonio Rose,” complete with the now familiar phrase “Deep within my heart lies a melody. A song of old San Antone,” The song has since been covered by Willie Nelson, Ray Price and Merle Haggard. However, ironically enough, it is the Bing and Bob Crosby and the Bob Cats who took the song to the national charts selling over a million copies.  But, it is the original recording by Wills and company that has gone on to immortality.  With Tommy Duncan and the good-natured echo-call back of Wills, it has become a Texas classic.  Today it is a song that always calls to mind what is the best about the Lone Star State with its blend of country- western and big city swing. – Terry Paul Roland.

 


12. Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson

“Good Hearted Woman”  (1981)

One stray night in 1969 in a Fort Worth motel, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson were playing poker with Willie’s wife Connie looking on. Waylon’s attention had been caught by a promotional piece in a newspaper touting popular soul-singer, Tina Turner as a ‘good-hearted woman loving two-timing men.’ As the two friends talked about the phrase, a song became inevitable. Within the span of one poker game with Connie Nelson writing down the lyrics as Waylon and Willie continued their game, a new song came into being. It became one of the key songs of the Outlaw Movement that would soon find its center in Dripping Springs near Austin, Texas. It was the rumblings of a new branch of country music that would bring us all back to the basics of love, life and Texas song making at its finest. – Terry Paul Roland

 


13. Joe Ely

“Because of the Wind”  (1978)

After the strong showing of his self-titled debut album in 1977, Joe Ely managed to avoid the sophomore slump by releasing the critically acclaimed, Honky Tonk Masquerade, in 1978, which was ranked no. 40 on  Rolling Stone‘s list of “50 Essential Albums of the 70s.”

The second song – the lonesome ballad, “Because of the Wind” – is a highlight of the album and one of Ely’s personal favorites. Born in Amarillo, Texas, but raised in Lubbock 120 miles to the south, Ely found inspiration in the emptiness of the flat landscape with its broad unbroken vista along with the ever-present wind that blows across the West Texas plains with nothing to impede its path.  

Ely begins the song by asking the listener, “Do you know why the trees bend at the West Texas border?” The answer, of course, is the title of the song, but in addition to bending the trees, that unrelenting wind bends something in his soul and stirs up memories and loneliness. The memories of Caroline, his love back in Amarillo, comes to him as vividly as a gulf coast breeze from Corpus Christi. And even though he’d like her to know that he’s “doing fine” (even if he isn’t), he realizes the effect she has on him is as strong and lasting as the bending of the trees because of the wind. Hopes are the few trees that dot the desolate landscape of loneliness, and being apart from his love will keep his hopes bending like the trees “almost all the time.” The swaying sounds from the steel guitar of Lloyd Maines expand the lyrical loneliness expressed in the song. – Bruce Ansley

 


14. Robert Earl Keen 

“The Road Goes On Forever”  (1989)

“The Road Goes on Forever,” remains until this day one of the most iconic songs from Houston, Texas native, singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen. Immortalized in a five-minute track, the tale illustrates a dismal romantic trip of a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde couple named Sherry and Sonny, two nobodies and their dysfunctional, troublesome, action-filled lifestyle that ends with dire separate fate for both characters. Earl’s 1989 release West Textures hosted eleven tracks with a string of tunes. With more than thirty years since its original release, the song proves to be inundated with Keen’s audience as it’s appeal kept on growing that led to a list of covers over the years from the likes of Texas rocker Joe Ely (“Because of the Wind”) and all-star band The Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson). “Road Goes on Forever” also became a subject of a book titled The Road Goes on Forever and the Music Never Ends (UT Press 2009) while the same year a month after Thirty Tigers released Undone: A Musicfest Tribute To Robert Earl Keen. – Raghad Tmumen


15. Kris Kristofferson

“Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down”  (1975)

When Kris Kristofferson arrived in Nashville in the mid-60s, he brought with him a formal education as a Rhodes Scholar with an emphasis on the work of English poet William Blake.  Although he had experienced some brushes with pop success in England, his knowledge alongside his longing and leaning toward dark poetry helped him breakthrough into something entirely new in country music. “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” is one of the songs that captures this. It comes on like a first-person narrative from a short-story meditation on what it means to make friends with the bottom rung of life’s misfortunes. Although it was covered and charted as a single by Johnny Cash, the song remains quintessentially Kris on his original recording that appears on his debut album. He sings in his dark bass tones as though he’s letting us into his soul the morning after sitting in the ashes of the night before. It’s a rare glimpse into the heart of how one country singer-songwriter created new depth in country music through the craft of storytelling. – Terry Paul Roland

 


16. Radney Foster

“Just Call Me Lonesome”  (1992)

Radney Foster is a brilliant songwriter, author (For You To See The Stars) and storyteller. Foster started out as a country songwriter in Nashville in the Eighties, teaming up Bill Lloyd as Foster and Lloyd, a cross over group with Lloyd coming from the rock side. The group’s most successful single, “Crazy Over You,” got them onto the Opry stave just after its release, and then into Guy Clark’s workshop, where Foster co-wrote  “Picasso’s Mandolin.” In the Nineties, Foster departed from the group to pursue a solo career. His 1992 seminal debut solo album, Del Rio Tx 1959, exemplifies Foster’s rare gift of combining authentic country music, with the pop sensibility he wrote while in Nashville. Foster’s album has influenced artists such as former Hootie and the Blow Fish lead singer, Darius Rucker (“Wagon Wheel”) who was so blown away by the “Old Silver,” he turned country after leaving the group.

Foster’s songs have also also been recorded by Keith Urban (“Raining on Sunday”), Dierks Bentley (“Sweet and “Wild”) among others. While Foster wrote hits for popular country artists, as an artist on his own, he now veers on the singer songwriter side in Texas roots music and as a performer, he has a presence in the vein of Guy Clark, and the storytelling talents of Terry Allen which are exemplified with the Southern Gothic tales he weaves through song and literature. – Courtney S. Lennon

 


17. Ray Wylie Hubbard

“Screw You We’re From Texas”  (2004)

What could be more Texas than a song that repeats the phrase “Screw you we’re from Texas” eighteen times in four minutes? Nothing. “Screw You We’re From Texas” from Ray Wylie Hubbard’s 2004 album, Growl, is the Texas electric-country blues man and self described spiritual mongrel doing what he does best: name dropping. On this track he nonchalantly calls out all the incredible treasures Texas has that no one else does. Such as Willie Nelson and Stubbs B.B.Q. “Screw You We’re From Texas” borders more on the blues end of roots music, but outlaw country is about attitude and Hubbard brings it, sounding like Lone Star State Satan emerging from hell, bringing his wrath on all non-Texans who shall forever perish, never again to behold the holy grail Texans lay claim to. The only thing more Texas than this song is the Alamo. Hubbard forgot to bring up the Alamo. So that’s another thing Texas has that no one else does. So screw you, we’re from Texas.  – Courtney S. Lennon

 


18. Dale Watson

“I Lie When I Drink”  (2013)

Dale Watson’s 1995 debut album, Cheatin’ Heart Attack, he made it clear early on, he wanted nothing to do with Nashville on his song “Nashville Rash.”  The rough around the honky tonk hero, and the outspoken fearless leader of Ameripolitan, a genre he created to represent music otherwise not – western swing, outlaw country, honky tonk. Watson’s songs are hardly poetic, but he takes the Hank Thopson (“A Six Pack to Go”) approach – straight up danceable two steppin’ barroom hootin’ and a hollerin’. While Watson writes eighty-percent of his songs while drive his flashy bus down the road three-hundred days a year with his Lone Stars. Watson is a Nashville outsider, with residence in Austin, Texas and Memphis, Tennessee. “I Lie When I Drink,” from his 2013 album El Rancho Azul, was Watson’s biggest commercial hit, and what is now considered a honky tonk anthem. “I Lie When I Drink” was written on stage at the Continental Club in Austin, Texas. Watson was doing one of his impromptu Lone Star Beer plug. And a guy in the audience said “Year but you lie when you drink.” By the second time Watson sang the chorus, everyone was singing along. If one wants to have fun, see a great country show – Dale Watson’s your guy. – Courtney S. Lennon

 


19. Cindy Walker

“You Don’t Know Me”  (1964)

Unilateral love has always been a classic story in country music and “You Don’t Know Me” is another great example of country music simplicity by Mexia born songwriter Cindy Walker. Adapted from a conversation between Walker had with Eddy Arnold (First released the song as a single in 1955) at the annual Disc Jockey Convention in Nashville during the 1950s (CMA Festival today) when he approached her with the title ‘You Don’t Know Me.’ as recalled in an interview. After settling the idea in her head, the song became hit for Arnold as it reached number 10 in the Billboard US Hot Country that led to a  string of notable recordings by the likes of Ray Charles [Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music- 1962] Elvis Presley [Clambake- 1967] Buddy Miller [Cayamo Sessions At Sea (Deluxe Edition) 2016] and a tribute album by Willie Nelson in 2006 [You Don’t Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker] Walker prevailed her way in a male-dominated industry supplying hits one after the other from Bing Crosby “Lone Star Trail” 1941 to Eddy Arnold number one “Take Me into Your Arms and Hold Me.” 1949. – Raghad Tmumen


20. Gene Autry

“Birmingham Daddy”  (1931)

Before he became the “Happy Trails” hero, the singing cowboy who brought joy to countless kids of the Thirties, Forties and Fifties, appearing on the big screen, in comic books and on lunch boxes, Tioga, Texas native Gene Autry was a singer-songwriter playing the hillbilly blues, yodeling around topics like Tuberculosis, trains, bootlegging, murder and the electric chair. The 1996 release, Blues Singer 1929-1931 is where these rare early recordings are found, and includes the 1931 Autry penned tune, “Birmingham Daddy,” an acoustic blues that follows along the lines of Led Belly, also incorporating jazz and Appalachian elements. The song is about a man done wrong by his woman, who heads back home to New Orleans in search of a good gal, who under his watch, will be confined to their home indefinitely. “If you got a good gal, a good ol’ gal,” he sings, “You sure better keep her at home. Cause a red-headed mama, Yes, Sir, boy, I can’t leave her alone. Yes, a red-headed mama I sure can’t leave her alone.” – Courtney S. Lennon

 


Contributors:

Courtney S. Lennon was born in Buffalo, NY, and is the editor of TJ which she started in 2010, after moving to Los Angeles. She is a No Depression, Lone Star Music Magazine, and Texas Music Magazine contributor. Her interest and passion lies in Texas music, with focus on West Texas, Texas country and Ameripolitan. She has written features on the likes of Terry Allen, Ryan Bingham, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Radney Foster, and Wanda Jackson to list a few. Courtney’s focus is on songwriting history. She is currently working on an upcoming book that will be part of the Texas A&M University Press John and Robin Dickson Series in Texas Music (Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt), Live Forever: The Songwriting Legacy of Billy Joe Shaver – an oral history outlining Texas legend Billy Joe Shaver’s life and songwriting narrated by his friends and peers in the music industry. Courtney is the author of the forthcoming novel, Where Dreams Never Die, based on the life of a young Texas music journalist living in Los Angeles. Courtney is also contributing to For The Sake of The Song a forthcoming book on Texas troubadour Townes Van Zandt.


Brian T. Atkinson is the author of he forthcoming book,  The Messenger: The Songwriting Legacy of Ray Wylie Hubbard (Texas A&M University Press, Fall 2019). Atkinson is the author of I’ll Be Here in the Morning: The Songwriting Legacy of Townes Van Zandt (TAMU Press, 2012) and co-author with Jenni Finlay of Kent Finlay Dreamer: The Musical Legacy of Cheatham Street Warehouse (TAMU Press, 2016). Additionally, Atkinson contributed chapters on Hayes Carll and Terri Hendrix to the recent Pickers and Poets: The Ruthlessly Poetic Singer-Songwriters of Texas (TAMU Press, 2016) Atkinson has written frequently for CMT.comAustin American-Statesman, American SongwriterTexas MusicLone Star MusicNo DepressionRelixPasteMaverick Country and several other music magazines. His “For the Sake of the Song: The Outlaws of Americana,” an exhibit of live concert photography, has shown in Austin, Denver and Seattle. Atkinson’s work is archived at the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University in San Marcos.


Terry Paul Roland was born in West Texas, grew up in Southern California absorbing music as diverse as Buddy Holly, Love, The Doors, Hanks Williams, The Beach Boys and Woody Guthrie. His past features and interview subjects have included country and roots singer-songwriters Jimmie Dale Gilmore, John Prine, Butch Hancock, Iris Dement, Ricky Skaggs, Blame Sally, Peter Case, Mary Gauthier, The Jayhawks, Taj Mahal and David Lindley. His articles and interviews have been praised for their insights and unique perspective on some of today’s finest singer-songwriters. He also publishes with San Diego Troubadour, FolkWorks, No Depression and Sun209.


Raghad Tmumen was born in Libya, North Africa and is currently based in London. She is the editor chief of RFPUK, with a passion for music and a keen eye for production.


Bruce Ansley was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas. His interest is in Texas music, especially West Texas.

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TJ Admin

Turnstyled, Junpiled named after the Townes Vazandt - shakes up the the roots commuinty with Texas pride, and gonzo journalism meets outlaw country approach. We are also a proud Ameripolitan Supporter.
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3 Comments

  1. Don’t know about you but here in England, across the pond- I was surprised to see that the song ” My Shoes keep walking back to you” By Bob Wills, from 1956 and any of its later covers ( Ray Price, Buck Owens, Eddie Arnold or Johnny Cash to name a few ) was not included.
    It is both simple, timeless, and an aristocrat of good lyric writin Supported by a nice tune and like all the classics- they appear easy to write but just try to do one.
    Pancho and Lefty’s nice like some of the other songs here but who covers them now or abroad, and will do them in fifty years time?
    Oh, and yes we do know the others here like Robert Earl Keen, but BoB Wills is the real Gran’ Daddy of Western (Texas ) Swing

  2. Danney Edward Ball says:

    Thanks

  3. Where’s Delbert McClinton?