Oh, the endless arguments about Texas music. But don’t feel the need to master it—no one really can. Instead, here are ten songs to help you hold your own at almost any party.
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“See That My Grave Is Kept Clean,” Blind Lemon Jefferson (1927)
One of the great old blues songs, by one of the greatest blues artists; as a guitarist, Jefferson influenced everyone who came after him.
“Ida Red,” Bob Wills (1938)
The first thing to know about western swing? It was dance music.
“Okie Dokie Stomp,” Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown (1954)
A rocking instrumental—boogie-woogie on the guitar—from one of the masters, who grew up in Orange.
“You’ll Lose a Good Thing,” Barbara Lynn (1962)
How many black, female, left-handed guitarists from Beaumont had R&B hits in the sixties? Only Barbara Lynn.
“Fire Engine,” 13th Floor Elevators, The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (1966)
This is one of the best from the pioneers of psychedelic rock: chaotic, bathed in reverb, and totally weird.
“Because of the Wind,” Joe Ely, Honky Tonk Masquerade (1978)
Ely evokes the High Plains and all the longing you feel standing on that flat land and staring into the sky: “The trees bend because of the wind, almost all the time.”
“Como La Flor,” Selena, Entre a Mi Mundo (1992)
The queen of Tejano inspired a generation of fans and left behind an enduring legacy.
“Live Forever,” Billy Joe Shaver, Tramp on Your Street (1993)
He has written about the wild life; this one is for the after-life. Texas may be a hell-raising state, but it’s a God-fearing one too.
“We Don’t Run,” Willie Nelson, Spirit (1996)
Willie at his most defiant: “We don’t run, we don’t compromise, we don’t quit, we never do.”
“Do You,” Spoon, They Want My Soul (2014)
The latest pure-pop song from one of the greatest pop bands.
This piece is just one bit of wisdom offered in our April 2015 cover story, “Welcome to Texas!” a friendly user’s guide for our state’s most recent transplants. To read more advice, go here.