Sure, we don’t have the cultural cachet of New York City or even Los Angeles, but we hold our own in being quite a muse for creatives.
Here are 20 examples of this. Believe it or not, only three of these are country songs.
“Dallas” by The Flatlanders
Lyrics: “Did you ever seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night?”
Do you remember when the Dallas Observer’s music section was called “DC9 at Night?” Well here’s where that name came from.
“TV Party” by Black Flag
Lyric: “That’s Incredible! / Hill Street Blues! / Dallas!”
OK, so one of the signature songs off Black Flag’s album Damaged mentions Dallas specifically within the context of the TV show of the same name as the city, but that still counts.
“The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five with Duke Bootee and Melle Mel
Lyric: “All My Children in the daytime, Dallas at night.”
This song also mentions Dallas in the context of the namesake TV show, but to be fair, “The Message” is considered one of the most historically significant hip-hop songs of all time in that it’s one of the first hip-hop songs to be a vehicle for political activism.
In this lyric, featured artist Duke Bootee talks about his brother stealing his mother’s TV not to pawn for drug money, but to stop their mother from watching an unhealthy amount of television.
“Dallas” by Silver Jews
Lyric: “O Dallas you shine with an evil light” plus others.
This song by the former Plano and Richardson resident David Berman mentions Commerce Street, Oak Cliff and other Dallas haunts, but given the title of the song, that should come as no surprise.
“Me” by Erykah Badu
Lyric: “Kolleen Gibson Wright was a girl from South Dallas, Texas / Married William, gave birth to Erykah.”
In case it wasn’t obvious: the two people referenced in this song are Erykah Badu’s parents.
On a separate note, this song is as autobiographical and self-empowering as this one lyric indicates.
“Dallas” by Steely Dan
Lyric: “I’m sayin’ goodbye, bye, bye, Dallas” and other variations of “Bye, bye, Dallas.”
Like, yeah, we’re grateful Donald Fagan and co. sing the title track to Pretzel Logic and other undeniable bangers every time Steely Dan comes to Dallas, but doesn’t it make sense for them to play the song “Dallas” every time they’re in, y’know, Dallas?
“Murder Most Foul” by Bob Dylan
Lyric: “’twas a dark day in Dallas, November ‘63.”
Before QAnon decided that John F. Kennedy’s son would come back from the dead and become Donald Trump’s 2024 presidential running mate, Dealey Plaza was a place of somber reflection, and Bob Dylan’s recent track about the Kennedy assassination captures that mood.
“West Texas” by Bob Dylan
Lyric: “If you ever go to Dallas / Take the right-hand road.”
This is definitely a more obscure Bob Dylan song, but if you’re into pre-electric Dylan, this was recorded in 1962 at the legendary Gaslight Café in New York (yes, the same one that was used as a setting in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.)
“Hip Hop Saved My Life” by Lupe Fiasco, featuring Nikki Jean
Lyric: “Drive up to Dallas went to open up for amateurs / Let him keep her debit card so he could put gas in it.”
This 2007 song, Lupe Fiasco revealed to MTV News, is partially inspired by the lives of legendary Texas rappers Slim Thug and Bun B. The song tells of a struggling rapper who finds refuge in hip-hop despite systemic impediments and, in the above bar, describes the protagonist’s mother helping support that career by giving gas money for a show in Dallas.
“Pepper” by Butthole Surfers
Lyric: “Tommy played piano like a kid out in the rain / Then he lost his leg in Dallas, he was dancing with the train”
Did you know that the Dallas that Gibby Haynes sang about in the Butthole Surfers’ 1996 single “Pepper” is a real place? It’s true!
Nah, but it’s unknown who the 10 characters mentioned in the song lyrics are about. Some have speculated that the Bobby mentioned in the track was the late Bobby Soxx of Dallas punk band Stick Men With Ray Guns, but it has not been confirmed.
“Dallas After Midnight” by Ray Wylie Hubbard and Jack Ingram
Lyric: “Oh, Dallas after midnight.”
This song tells a story of two men who rob a liquor store in Dallas. By Ray Wylie Hubbard’s own admission, featured artist Jack Ingram is his “partner in crime” and is even mentioned by name in the song.
“East Coast Remix” by A$AP Ferg featuring Busta Rhymes, A$AP Rocky, Dave East, French Montana, Rick Ross and Snoop Dogg
Lyric: “I’m ballin’ in blue like I’m hooping in Dallas (Ballin’) / Bitch, I don’t play for no Mavericks”
We take exception to Dave East’s apparent urgency to clarify that he doesn’t “play for no Mavericks.”
“Sitting on Top of the World” by Grateful Dead
Lyric: “I saw her in Dallas and El Paso, said come back baby, I need you so.”
While the Dead weren’t super well-known outside of San Francisco when this song came out, it’s nice to know our city still got a shoutout at the band’s infancy.
“Dallas” by (the) Melvins
Lyric: “Throw it! Throw it! Throw it!”
A little bit of background on this: the Melvins were selected to open the Nine Inch Nails’ Downward Spiral Tour, which went through Fair Park Coliseum in Dallas on Feb. 11, 1995. As witnesses describe it (and as the below recording seems to corroborate), members of the audience were hostile to the band and decided to rip out the particle board on the venue’s floor and throw it toward the stage. In response to this, vocalist and guitarist Buzz Osborne played a single, monotonous note and improvised lyrics about how stupid the crowd was.
It sucks that this happened the year after the release of Stoner Witch, but we got some fresh material from the band about us, so… yay?
“Wingin’ It Home to Texas” by Jerry Jeff Walker
Lyric: “And they lost my bags again / That Dallas airport sucks”
The late and great Jerry Jeff Walker didn’t even need to mention the airport in question by name. We all know it’s DFW.
“Welcome to Dallas” by Big Tuck
Lyric: “Welcome to Dallas, Northside Texas”
At this point, this song needs no further introduction, but here’s a piece we did on Big Tuck if you are not familiar with his significance to the city.
“Blues in Dallas” by the Mountain Goats
Lyric: “Down in Dealey Plaza, the tourists mill about”
Not to belabor the point made in the blurb for “Murder Most Foul,” but times were different before QAnon folks decided to flood Dealey Plaza. Anyway, All Hail West Texas is The Mountain Goats’ concept about various cities in Texas. The opening track is a well-known fan favorite, “The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton.”
“Fort Worth and Dallas Blues” by Lead Belly
Lyric: Not mentioned in the lyrics
Records from the Library of Congress show this song was written by Lead Belly sometime around 1935, but even less certain is the context surrounding the song lyrics, which seem to tell of a lost romance. Either way, it’s well-documented that the blues legend has ties to Dallas and other Texas cities, so if he did, in fact, have a romance with someone from our neck-of-the-woods, it wouldn’t be shocking.
“100it Racks” by Future, featuring Drake and 2Chainz
Lyric: “You think she your baby girl / She text us like Dallas”
Get it?! Text-us? Texas?
Sidenote: Drake also mentions Dallas in the song “9 a.m. in Dallas,” and he mentions that song in the 2013 track “Wu-Tang Forever.”
“How Many Mics” by Fugees
Lyrics: “From gripping microphones from here to Dallas”
The legendary hip-hop trio featuring genre leviathans Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Pras announced a reunion tour this year and appears to be skipping Dallas on its itinerary. Considering that the band hasn’t played the area since 1996, we should remind them of the fact that they, by their own admission, gripped microphones here.
It’s high time they do it again.