“The stars at night … shine big and bright. … deep in the heart of Texas!” Of course, those stars include longtime country favorites like George Strait, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, as well as countless non-natives who have sung about the Lone Star State. Here’s a road map to 10 prime hits about Texas destinations.
“Amarillo by Morning,” George Strait
This 1983 saga about the rodeo circuit remains one of Strait’s most beloved hits. You root for the narrator, yet that evocative fiddle coda hints at a hard road ahead. Sure, he may have lost his wife and his girlfriend somewhere along the way, but he truly won the loyalty of country fans.
This lost-love song looks back at broken hearts, missed opportunities … and answering machines. Remember those? Shelton first made a name for himself with this emotional ballad, which reached No. 1 in 2001. P.S.: This is “Austin,” and his dedicated fans still love it.
“Dallas,” Alan Jackson
In this weeper, a gal named Dallas misses her hometown so much that she ditches Tennessee — and her man. Adding insult to injury, she drives off in the brand new car he bought her. This catchy No. 1 hit comes from Jackson’s classic 1991 album, Don’t Rock the Jukebox.
“Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind,” George Strait
This poor guy. First, his woman left him for someone in Dallas. And now that cold Fort Worth beer won’t wash away the jealousy. A No. 1 hit in early 1985, this barroom singalong offers one of the great finales in Strait’s catalog. Whitey Shafer wrote it with his future ex-wife, Darlene.
“El Paso,” Marty Robbins
One of the grandest story songs in country music history, this 1959 classic spent seven weeks at No. 1 and won a Grammy. There’s more drama than a Lifetime movie: taboo romance, murder, revenge, one final kiss. Decades later, Robbins’ rich voice keeps us hanging on to every word.
“Galveston,” Glen Campbell
Oh, “Galveston,” we still hear Campbell at his finest on this nostalgic glimpse of young love in wartime. Halfway through, the singing soldier boldly admits that he’s so afraid of dying — thus, adding another layer of emotion to this soaring Jimmy Webb composition, a No. 1 hit in 1969.
“Houston,” Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers
By stretching out that famous first syllable, this trio immediately pulled country fans into their account of wrapping up a tour at the world’s biggest rodeo show. Written by Larry Gatlin, this upbeat tune from 1983 roped the No. 1 spot and found country fans everywhere singing along.
“Laredo,” Chris Cagle
When a girl walks out, some guys might try to enlist her friends to talk her into coming back. However, in this pleading Top 10 single from 2000, Cagle asks the whole town of Laredo to pitch in. One perk to all that unexpected free time? Cagle wrote this hit song solo.
“Luckenbach, Texas,” Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson
You know the only two things in life that make it worth living, right? You’ll find out in “Luckenbach, Texas” sung by Waylon and Willie and the boys. This easygoing classic captured the No. 1 spot at country radio for six weeks in 1977, bringing us all back to the basics of love.
“San Antonio Rose,” Bob Wills
This melodic number has charmed listeners since the king of Western swing released it in 1938. Wills also wrote the enduring tune, later covered by Patsy Cline, Floyd Cramer, Merle Haggard, Elvis Presley, Ray Price, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams and even Clint Eastwood. Ah-ha!