By Julia B. Jones and Louie Bond
It’s no secret that Texas has produced a multitude of great musicians — think Buddy Holly, Willie Nelson and Bob Wills, for starters — but the Lone Star State is also the topic of many musical compositions. Some refer to the entire state, such as Ernest Tubb’s Waltz Across Texas, Lyle Lovett’s That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas) and Asleep at the Wheel’s Miles and Miles of Texas, but others narrow their focus to a particular town. Here’s a handful to get you started.
Photo by Earl Nottingham / TPWD
“Out in Luckenbach, Texas/There ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain,” Waylon Jennings (with a little help from Willie Nelson) sings in this 1977 ode to a tiny Hill Country town penned by Chips Moman and Bobby Emmons. None had ever visited Luckenbach, but Waylon says, “Every state has a Luckenbach, a place to get away from things.”
Photo © Kathy Adams Clark
“Out in the West Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with a Mexican girl” begins the 1959 murder ballad written and popularized by Marty Robbins. This first-person Wild West narrative tells the tragic story of a cowboy who falls in love with saloon girl Felina and kills a rival for her affection. He flees but one day returns for Felina, only to be shot by a posse and die in her arms after “one little kiss.”
Photo by Chase Fountain / TPWD
New San Antonio Rose
Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys
"Moon in all your splendor knows only my heart/Call back my Rose, Rose of San Antone/Lips so sweet and tender like petals falling apart/Speak once again of my love, my own.” Bob Wills penned these words and performed the song with his Texas Playboys in 1940 (Tommy Duncan on vocals). Wills developed the melody by tinkering with a previous hit, Spanish Two-Step.
Photo by Sonja Sommerfeld / TPWD
“Galveston, oh Galveston, I still hear your sea waves crashing/While I watch the cannons flashing/I clean my gun and dream of Galveston.” This 1969 anti-war hymn was penned by hitmaker Jimmy Webb and recorded by Glen Campbell. Webb says the song is “about a guy who’s caught up in something he doesn’t understand and would rather be somewhere else” so he dreams of the girl and hometown he left behind.
Photo © Kathy Adams Clark
Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind?
“You left me here to be with him in Dallas/And I know it hurt you at the time/Well I wonder now if it makes a difference/Does Fort Worth ever cross your mind?” George Strait may be the modern king of Texas songs with his recordings of I Can’t See Texas From Here, All My Exes Live in Texas, Take Me to Texas and more. This 1984 song (by Sanger D. and Darlene Shafer) is a boot-scootin’ Cowtown classic.
Photo Courtesy Amarillo CVB
Amarillo by Morning
“Amarillo by morning, up from San Antone/ Everything that I’ve got is just what I’ve got on.” While George Strait had a megahit with this rodeo cowboy ballad in 1983, it was first written in 1973 by Terry Stafford and Paul Fraser. Stafford had been playing a rodeo gig with his band in San Antonio and was driving back home to Amarillo when inspiration hit. The song is a staple at Texas rodeos.