The United States of Songs: Texas

by Randall Cleveland

Hey, all! Time again for the United States of Songs! I'm on a quest to come up with the perfect song for each state, provided that song has the state's name in its title and describes the state itself. Some entries have been stronger than others, but strap on your cowboy hats because this week we're headed to Woot's home state of Texas!

The state: Texas
The song: "Beautiful Texas" by Willie Nelson




You know why this song is perfect for Texas? Because like a lot of Texans I know, it won't shut up about how awesome Texas is. I have a real love/hate relationship with Texas. The lonely, dusty towns I've visited like Wimberley and the surrounding areas are beautiful. Dallas seems to be constructed entirely of strip malls and highway (and super awesome deal-a-day warehouses). Everyone tells you Austin is the best thing Texas has to offer, but it's sort of like bragging about being the tallest guy at Peter Dinklage's birthday party. And then there's the state's politics. But I come not to bury Texas, I'm just saying the Texas I prefer is the dry, dusty scrub grass, feels-like-you're-in-a-John-Wayne-movie Texas, not the big haired, neon bola tie and designer cowboy hat Texas. I have never seen more stars in the sky than the night I was in the middle of nowhere on a ranch for a wedding staring up at the Milky Way. It was breathtaking. That's my preferred Texas.

Texas Star
This Texas, though, is the one you run into more often.


So in some small way I get why people want to talk about how awesome it is. I mean, I love the Northwest; I didn't know it until I moved here two years ago, but I gush similarly about how awesome it is up here when prodded. And Texans do pride themselves on their pride, as circular as that sounds. It's a big deal to be a Texan. In Texas, anyway. It's a back slappin', friendly smile, "let's get some brisket" kinda place and I definitely appreciate that. I've never felt unwelcome in Texas. It helps that some of my wife's family lives there and we visited last fall and had a blast.

Texas was actually the state that inspired this whole project for me. I had recently returned from the afore-mentioned wedding and was listening to this song in my car when I thought, "Man, this just screams 'Texas' to me," and the idea for this series spilled out. The very next day I wrote the first installment. The irony of the inspiration not qualifying under the rules I came up with is not lost on me, but it's still a song that reminds me of being in Texas every time I hear it. Mainly because I was drinking a lot of whiskey while I was there.

Texans, let me know what you think of your song. I'm sure you guys have opinions on better options, and I'd like to hear 'em. But I think we can all agree choosing native son and Redheaded Stranger Willie Nelson ain't ever a bad choice.


Runner-up: "Texas on a Saturday Night" by Willie Nelson
Most Laughable Suggestion: "Texas" by Lo-Pro


Flickr photo Texas Star by Michael Coghlan used under a Creative Commons License.