The Texas 20: Our “official” songs from the Lone Star state
Some radio DJs here in Houston had an intriguing bit going a few weeks ago: they wanted listeners to nominate an official state rock song for Texas. Apparently Ohio did that recently, and its official state rock song is now “Hang On Sloopy.” Go figure.
Anyway, listeners of Dean and Rog (on KGLK-FM, “The Eagle”) could choose from a short list of a few songs each from ZZ Top, Buddy Holly, Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Fabulous Thunderbirds … and their winner was the Top’s “La Grange.” Official rock song for the entire state of Texas? Hmmm, maybe. To make the song truly official, Dean and Rog now have to get the Texas legislature to buy into that – I’m not sure lawmakers are gonna go for a tune about a whorehouse.
But it got me to thinkin’: Texas is a pretty big place. Its music encompasses not only rock and roll, but blues, country, Tex-Mex and even a little Cajun from our nice neighbors to the east. Why stop at just one official state rock song? Why not have an entire album of “official” songs for the big ol’ Lone Star state?
We recently listed our choices for best party albums from Texas acts, a Texas Top 10 list and some songs about Houston; surely the official album for the state would consist of songs from many of those acts. Should the song be specifically about Texas, or should it embody a bit of the spirit of the place? Maybe a few of both.
And our album would feature only artists who are from Texas – although tunes like “China Grove” by the Doobie Brothers or “Houston” by Dean Martin are pretty cool. And even though a song like “Me and Bobby McGee” (written and sung by two fine Texans) doesn’t really have much to do with the Lone Star state, a classic line like “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” could have been the battle cry for those guys at the Alamo. We need to include some hip-hop from the trill Port Arthur gang, and maybe even instead of Robert Earl Keen’s oft-played “The Party Never Ends” perhaps we’ll look for another selection from him.
So you see, this isn’t going to make much sense on many levels. This is a purely subjective exercise, so feel free to suggest and/or substitute your own favorites. Apologies to Roy Orbison, Marcia Ball, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt and Alejandro Escovedo – next time!
Now let’s assemble our Texas-centric “official” state album, 20 songs that sample from the gumbo of musical styles that this great state has to offer.