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Best Texas Songs of All Time: #19-1

Billy Preston
Billy Preston

Songs #100-80

Songs #79-60

Songs #59-40

Songs #39-20

The Spotify playlist for songs #19-1

19. Billy Preston, "Nothing From Nothing" Houston pianist Billy Preston got to hang around some decent talent (The Beatles, The Stones), but his solo material went in another direction altogether. This is his most well-known hit, but check out "Space Race" as well. - Audra Schroeder

18. Ray Wylie Hubbard, "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother" One of the most poignant of tales bringing hippies and rednecks together. Buddy Jerry Jeff Walker then went on to record the song in 1973. - Audra Schroeder

17. Janis Joplin, "Piece of My Heart" Joplin doesn't just sing a song, she muscles all of the longing, flirting and humor out of a melody and heaves it at you. If you have ever questioned her vocal delivery, consider how she makes giving away her broken heart sound inevitable but downright fun. Plus, that chorus is history-making. - Deb Doing Dallas

16. Cindy Walker, "You Don't Know Me" If the shy boys and girls of the world ever acknowledge their secret society, Walker's 1956 hit "You Don't Know Me" (co-written with Eddy Arnold) should be the theme song. - Doug Davis

15. Buddy Holly, "That'll Be the Day" The lyric -- both lovestruck and vaguely threatening in a passive-aggressive way -- captures the panicky feel when one half of a couple doesn't want a relationship to end, over an incongruously upbeat melody. Add to that a great guitar solo, vocal harmonies, a run-time of just a bit over two minutes and you've got the formula for countless rock gems to follow. - Jesse Hughey

14. Gene Autry, "(I've Got Spurs That) Jingle Jangle Jingle" Texas has spawned more than a few singing cowboys over the years, none as successful as Gene Autry. "(I've Got Spurs That) Jingle Jangle Jingle" is an ode to wandering and bachelorhood, and Autry's original is great, but it's the version sung on horseback by Olive Oyl, siren of the cartoon world, that rattles around in my head. - Doug Davis

13. 13th Floor Elevators, "You're Gonna Miss Me" The song encapsulates the raw, psychedelic energy heard throughout much of the 60s and 70s, with a long-standing impact that's endured nearly a half-century, as any self-respecting garage rock aficionado can attest. - Zach Hale

 

12. Lightnin' Hopkins, "Bring Me My Shotgun" Any song from the Centerville guitarist could be mentioned here, but this one has some added emotional heft. He was incredibly prolific in his 70 years on this planet, and even recorded with the 13th Floor Elevators. - Audra Schroeder

11. Roy Orbison, "In Dreams" Orbison's great falsetto delivery and the song's epic climax showcase what a singular talent the Vernon, Texas native was. The perfect marriage of emotion and song cemented the status of Blue Velvet, too. - Doug Davis

10. Ernest Tubb, "Waltz Across Texas" Ernest Tubb was the role model for old school country, with simple sentiments sung off key, and pedal steel playing a prominent role in the arrangement. "Waltz Across Texas" remains a dance hall standard that serves as a touchstone to an era gone by. - Doug Davis

09. Joe Tex, "Skinny Legs and All" This song was Joe Tex in his soul phase, the polar opposite of the funky "Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)." It was an anthem of sorts, an empowering talk-sing build up over triumphant horns. - Audra Schroeder

08. Freddy Fender, "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" Baldemar Garza Huerta, aka Freddy Fender, collaborated with Augie Meyers and Flaco Jimenez in the late-'80s as the Texas Tornados, but his solo run, which included this song and "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights," showcased his incredible voice, in English and Spanish. - Audra Schroeder

 

07. Roy Head, "Treat Her Right" Those horns, those splits. Roy Head was the Houston flipside of James Brown, and this 1965 single would have been number one on the Billboard Hot 100, if not for those meddling Beatles. - Audra Schroeder

06. Big Mama Thornton, "Ball and Chain" Listen, around the 3:20 mark, your chest is going to be split open, your heart is going to be ripped out, and you're going to be better for it. Willie Mae Thornton left no soul unshaken. - Audra Schroeder

05. Willie Nelson, "Crazy" With its efficient but biting lyric, jazzy progression and off-kilter timing, "Crazy" defined the career of Patsy Cline and gave Nelson the freedom to establish his own solo career. - Doug Davis

04. Freddie King, "Going Down" "Going Down" never charted and is probably better known as the theme song to Eastbound and Down. The Dallas icon's 1971 version of the Don Nix song features scorching guitar and an insistent piano part from producer Leon Russell, with the late Donald "Duck" Dunn holding down the low end. - Jesse Hughey

03. Barbara Lynn, "You'll Lose a Good Thing" This Beaumont southpaw is often overlooked when it comes to both soul singers and guitarists, but for the mid-'60s, she was a trailblazer. This single, which she wrote, is an almost perfect pop song. - Audra Schroeder

02. Sir Douglas Quintet, "She's About a Mover" There are about 20 songs from the late, great Doug Sahm that should be included in any list of great songs from Texas artists. "She's About a Mover," done when he was in the Sir Douglas Quintet, is simply the most recognizable in an impressive body of work. The single best show I've ever attended was Sahm performing at Antone's in Austin on New Year's Eve in 1987. "She's About a Mover" was the encore. - Darryl Smyers

01. Archie Bell & the Drells, "Tighten Up" We could spend hours arguing whether this song has the best bassline in history, but let's look at the bigger picture. The Houston group did something truly remarkable in less than four blissful minutes: They constructed a song in real-time, pivoting on that shrugging guitar riff, that atomic bassline, and Bell's multi-tasking sing-song. It's one that has the power to make even the most conservative turn a hip. - Audra Schroeder


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