I’m proud to be a native Texan and have packed this playlist with great Texas music. That said, I’ve also included one non-Texan band because the message of their song gives us hope that we’ll get through this pandemic by weathering the storm.
1. Gary Clark Jr., “This Land”
I just recently had a chance to listen to Clark’s latest album. The title track, “This Land,” which happens to be the first song on the album, just blew me away. The song is an account of the racism Clark experienced growing up in Texas—-and even to this day. It also has undertones of how American society is “sliding backwards,” according to Clark.
2. Stevie Ray Vaughan, “Life by the Drop”
I think this is by far the best Stevie Ray Vaughan song. The song is simple, just Stevie and his guitar. Released on Vaughan’s posthumous album “The Sky is Crying,” “Life by the Drop” interestingly enough wasn’t written by Vaughan. Childhood friend and Texas musician Doyle Bramhall wrote the song about his friendship with Stevie. Favorite lyric: “Times been between us, a means to an end. God, it’s good to be here walkin’ together, my friend.”
3. ZZ Top, “La Grange”
ZZ Top is a band that is proud to be from Texas and waves the Lone Star flag even more proudly. My first, extensive, experience with ZZ Top was while working at KTSR as an overnight DJ. Sure, I knew “La Grange” and their more popular songs, but it was when I heard “Waiting for the Bus/Jesus Left Chicago,” I was hooked. “Tres Hombre,” is one of my favorite albums from the “Little ‘Ol Band from Texas.” Favorite lyric: “A haw, haw, haw, haw”
4. Waylon Jennings, “Luckenbach, Texas,” featuring Willie Nelson
No playlist would be complete without a song from Willie and Waylon. Both men are not just Texas music icons but also country music icons. I fondly remember riding in the car with my dad, the radio turned up to 11, singing “Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas, with Waylon, Willie and the boys.” That’s one of those memories you hang on to forever.
5. Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler”
Another classic song from my youth. On March 20, Kenny Rogers passed away at the age of 81. Rogers is a country music icon. The Houstonite’s many collaborations with Dolly Parton, Ronnie Milsap and Sheena Easton produced songs like “Island in the Stream,” “We’ve Got Tonight,” and “Make No Mistake, She’s Mine.”
6. The Eagles, “Desperado”
It’s the Eagles. It features Texas native Don Henley as drummer and vocalist. And, it is just a really good song.
7. Sparta, “Cut Your Ribbon”
While working at Sam Houston State’s campus radio station, I was introduced to a lot of bands. One of those bands was At the Drive In. From El Paso, they had a unique sound which I quickly became a fan of. Unfortunately, they broke up, but from that came two bands with different sounds, The Mars Volta and Sparta.
8. Dixie Chicks, “Landslide”
I have a huge respect for the talent and resolve of the Dixie Chicks. In their career they have seen the highest of highs and have also been through very low times. The one constant is they remain true to what they believe. Combining a classic song with their signature bluegrass sound makes this version of “Landslide” my favorite. After a 14-year hiatus, the Dixie Chicks are back with their new album, “Gaslighter.”
9. Shakey Graves, “Dearly Departed”
Austin has so many amazing bands represented in different varieties. From blues to country and rock the many eclectic sounds of Austin has something for you. This past year, at ACL Fest, I met Austin’s own Ley Line, a world music group. (Their “Oxum” also makes my playlist.) Over time, I have also been introduced to the music of Blue October, Vallejo and Shakey Graves, whose “Dearly Departed,” is one of my favorite songs.
10. Tool, “Invincible”
Yes, I understand Tool is not a Texas band, but I feel this song is a great song with a strong theme that, in my opinion, fits the times we are in now. “Invincible” tells the story of a warrior, who has gone through battles but still remains. It also has a positive message of not giving up and making it through the hard times.
Brian Maass is a native Austinite who has a passion for music, travel and sharing his experiences through his camera lens. He lives in Round Rock, Texas with his wife Dana Kent Maass and their faithful dog Chester.