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The Best Texas Songs of All Time: #39-20

Billy Joe Shaver
Billy Joe Shaver

Best Texas songs, #100-80

Best Texas songs, #79-60

Best Texas songs, #59-40

The Spotify playlist for songs #39-20

39. Billy Joe Shaver, "Live Forever" "Live Forever" is an emotional experience. The line, "Don't let the darkness take them" is tear-inducing, given that his own son, Eddy, was taken by heroin. Shaver's definition of "living forever" isn't what most envision; he's singing about seeing his family again on the other side, not about playing dive bars until he drops. - Kelly Dearmore

38. Selena, "Dreaming of You" "Dreaming of You" is the title track off Selena's sixth, and final album. Dreaming of You was released in 1995 and debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 charts, four months after the singer was tragically murdered by the ex-president of her fan club. The ballad was Selena's biggest single, and is probably one of the songs she's most recognized for. - Catherine Downes

37. The Dicks, "Saturday Night at the Bookstore" "Another Saturday night at the bookstore, and it looks like every fucking piece of trash in town blew in," sings Gary Floyd, introducing this four-minute screed against homophobia. The Austin punks never minced words, especially Floyd. He feverishly directs its taunting chorus at hypocrites and bigots: "I'm at the bookstore/I'm at the bookstore/I'm at the bookstore/You're at the bookstore too!" - Audra Schroeder

36. Bugs Henderson, "Shuffle King" Henderson passed earlier this year, but he left a hefty back catalog to pick from. - Audra Schroeder

35. Butch Hancock, "Split and Slide" Hancock essentially penned a short story here, about two characters stumbling through the Texas desert. Butch knows his audience, and seeing this novella done live is the best way to absorb it. - Audra Schroeder

34.Tex Ritter, "Dallas Darling" Singer, politician movie star, father of John Ritter. Tex had a big life, but his buoyant voice was always the centerpiece of every country song. - Audra Schroeder

33. Guy Clark, "Dublin Blues" This somber, but sweet tale grows even more heartfelt when Clark sings about missing the Mad Dog margaritas of Austin's Texas Chili Parlor. Because let's face it, those things are terrible. - Kelly Dearmore

32. Sir Douglas Quintet, "At the Crossroads" A pure product of San Antonio who managed to embody its country, R&B and Tejano traditions, Doug Sahm first broke through by masquerading as an Englishman, at the behest of "Crazy Cajun" Huey P. Meaux. He penned this absent lover's lament from a drug fugitive's exile in the more freak-friendly Bay Area, but left no doubt where his heart still resided. - Ken Shimamoto

 

31. Daniel Johnston, "True Love Will Find You In the End" Despite the flashes of popularity, curiosity and heartbreak that have sprung up around Johnson in the last two decades, his songs have always remained pure, unconcerned with fads or the passing of time, forever obsessed with monsters and love and the parallels therein. - Audra Schroeder

30. 13th Floor Elevators, "Slip Inside This House" "You're Gonna Miss Me" is usually the go-to when talking about the Houston psychedelic group, but this track, from 1967's sophomore LP Easter Everywhere, shows how they could also nail a long-form song. - Audra Schroeder

29. Jimmie Dale Gilmore, "Dallas" Perhaps we're a little biased on this one, since the blog gets its name from it, but the line, "Dallas is a rich man with a death wish in his eye/A steel and concrete soul with a warm-hearted love disguise" seems eerily prescient. - Audra Schroeder

28. Ornette Coleman, "Lonely Woman" The prophetically titled The Shape of Jazz to Come would manifest its shapelessness with avant-garde improvisation and arrangements that were completely devoid of orthodoxy or structure. "Lonely Woman" is the album's standout, and one of the greatest examples of how unpredictable melody can be just as powerful as harmony. - Zach Hale

27. Buddy Holly, "Everyday" Like all of Holly's best, the song is remarkably simple, yet it exudes a profoundly earnest and deceptively bold song craft. - Zach Hale

 

26. Albert Collins, "Frostbite" Remember that scene in Adventures In Babysitting, where the singer of a blues band tells Elizabeth Shue, "Nobody leaves this stage without singing the blues"? The "Master of the Telecaster" lived on the stage. - Audra Schroeder

25. Townes Van Zandt, "Pancho and Lefty" Written right here in Dallas, this song is as moving as it is ambivalent. Did Lefty sell Pancho out? Did the federales really just pity him and let him go? Were they the same person, or Pancho just the fantasy of a washed-up obscure blues singer? Even the late Van Zandt himself wasn't sure, to hear him tell it, but a it's beautiful ballad nonetheless. - Jesse Hughey

24. T-Bone Walker, "Trinity River Blues" This 1929 cut from Dallas' own Aaron "T-Bone" Walker, back when he was known as Oak Cliff T-Bone, was the original Texas flood. - Audra Schroeder

23. Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, "New San Antonio Rose" Somewhere between jazz, country and swing stood Bob Wills, whose music is still a staple of dancehalls and honky-tonks across Texas. Wills spent some time in Dallas recording, and it can be heard here. - Audra Schroeder

22. Willie Nelson, "Can I Sleep In Your Arms" It really doesn't get much more stupendous, minimalist or beautiful than Willie Nelson's ballads. The scene paints itself as soon as you hit play: a tequila hangover; snug, dirty boots on your feet; and the smell of a cowboy hat over your face. - Nick Rallo

21. Blaze Foley, "If I Could Only Fly" Please consult Duct Tape Messiah, Kevin Triplett's documentary on the Austin singer-songwriter, for proof of Foley's tempered genius. That he and Townes Van Zandt were buddies comes as no surprise; their lives were parallel in the most heartbreaking way. - Audra Schroeder

20. Sir Douglas Quintet, "Mendocino" That swirling organ line alone is enough to secure a spot on this list. This 1968 single was the Quintet dressed in their San Antonio best. - Audra Schroeder


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