Texas Country Love Songs

Published: 16th February 2010
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Texas has a heart that's as big as the boundless horizon, and tends to wear that heart on its sleeve. No wonder when love hits a bumpy patch of road, you can hear its tires squeal on country music stations across the nation. Here's a list of some of the Lone Star State's greatest love songs with a country twist.

• Kenny Rogers, "Lady." Written and produced by Lionel Richie, "Lady" was the first hit of the 1980's to top all four Billboard singles charts, country, adult contemporary, Top 100 and (yes) Black Singles. No other Texas artist has surpassed the long career of Houston-born Kenny Rogers. Rogers' album "The Gambler" remains one of the biggest selling country records of all time, and over a sixty year career Rogers is still recording and selling out concert venues.

• Lonestar, "Amazing." "The smell of your skin... the taste of your kiss... the way you whisper in the dark..." How many girls turned up the radio and moved in closer to the boys they loved, driving down the back roads of East Texas (and all across the nation?) Texas transplants to Nashville, Lonestar originally called itself Texassee before opting for a name that reminded them more of their roots.

• Dixie Chicks, "Cowboy Take Me Away." But the cowboy Martie McGuire, Emily Robison and Natalie Maines are singing about is not George W. Bush as the girls made very clear ten days before the 2003 Iraq invasion. "Just so you know," quipped Maines, "we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." The remark generated a huge controversy that led to a short-lived boycott of their records. The Grammies made up for that.

• George Strait, "The Man In Love With You." "I never could work miracles.... There may be others who can do what I can't do..." Well, not when it comes to selling 58.5 million records, generating forty-four number one singles on the Billboard country chart and winning more Country Music Association awards than any other artist. Born in Poteet, Texas and raised on a cattle ranch, the practical-minded Strait also has a bachelor's degree in agriculture to fall back on in case he ever needs a day job.

• Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black, "When I Said I Do." True, Black was born in New Jersey. But since he moved to Katy, Texas when he was less than a year old, his musical influences are strictly Lone Star. This Grammy-nominated duet with his wife is testament to one of the most enduring unions in country music.

• Waylon Jennings, "Amanda." Jennings started his career as Buddy Holly's bass player, the guy who didn't make the plane the night the music died. In the 1970's, fed up with the way Nashville producers softened his sound, he retreated home to Austin to get his edge back, which earned him the label "outlaw." To this day Austin remains in many ways the Second City of Country music, rejecting the glitz and glamour of Nashville for a grittier, more authentic sound.

• Freddy Fender, "Before the Next Teardrop Falls." Born to a circus family that wintered in Harlingen, the then Baldemar Huerta made his first guitar out of a sardine can and some screen door wire when he was five years old and taught himself to play. Some time later he changed his name to Freddy Fender, took the Tejano sound - a musical legacy of Texas' earliest Spanish settlers - and transmuted it into country music gold.

• Lyle Lovett, "She's Already Made Up Her Mind." Word on the street - or at least on numerous Internet fan sites - is that this song is a reminiscence of the one-time Mrs. Lovett. However the album it appeared on came out a whole year before Lyle met the actress Julia Roberts. It is still a haunting, beautiful song.

• Willie Nelson, "Always On My Mind." With his close pal and sometimes-musical collaborator Waylon Jennings, Nelson is better known as an "outlaw" than a romantic. But he has written a number of lyrical love songs. This is the sweetest.

• Townes Van Zandt, "Send Me Dead Flowers." True, a bittersweet ode to a self-destructive girlfriend is not the stuff of mainstream romance. But then singer songwriter Van Zandt was not a mainstream kind of guy. Not everyone's convinced that this a country song but how can you doubt it when you hear it on a steel guitar? While the Rolling Stones' version may be the best known, The Cowboy Junkies did the definitive cover on their album named (of all things) Canada.

Find more great Country Music Love Songs.

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