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The Dirty Thirty

The worst songs of all time from Texas

Well, I'm sure some of you have seen Texas Monthly's latest list of the 40 greatest songs from Texas, and others of you have perused Blender's recent compilation of the 50 worst songs of all time. We Texans pat ourselves on the back enough, so I thought it was high time somebody combined those two lists. After close consultation with a number of associates, Racket has compiled this, the 30 worst songs from Texas -- a score and ten of the most annoyingly catchy, most disappointing and downright bad music ever to emanate from between the Red River and the Rio Grande. So without further ado:

30. Timbuk 3, "Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades." This song's so bad, I gotta wear earplugs. All right, all right, maybe it's not that bad, but it would take years to find rock any geekier than this. That "Ain't nothin' gonna breaka my stride" song tops it, but not by much.

29. Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, "Luckenbach, Texas." Not a terrible tune, but terribly overrated and overplayed, and responsible for the plague of name-checking other Texas songwriters.

28. Various Artists, "Deep in the Heart of Texas." I've always hated everything about this tune -- the stupid melody, the moronic hand-clapping, the Up With People vibe. Couldn't we sing "San Antonio Rose" at baseball games instead? "Waltz Across Texas"? "Mind of a Lunatic"? Anything but this.

27. Fabulous Thunderbirds, "Powerful Stuff." After scoring a hit with "Tuff Enuff" on their previous album, the T-Birds watered down their signature sound still more for this turd off the Cocktail soundtrack.

26. Steve Earle, "Esmeralda's Hollywood." This slice of Earle's "vacation in the ghetto" interlude is of interest today only to those of a ghoulish bent. You could pretty much put about half of The Hard Way in here; not for nothing has Earle allowed that record, alone among his studio recordings, to slip out of print.

25. Ray Wylie Hubbard, "Screw You We're from Texas." It takes some doing to write a song that's even more obnoxious than "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother," but Hubbard topped himself with this one from last year's Growl.

24. H-Town, "Knockin' Da Boots." Included here for introducing a dorky euphemism for screwing into the American lexicon.

23. Charlie Sexton, "Beat's So Lonely." Man, Charlie, you had it all. The chops. The looks. The three-album deal with MCA when you were 17. The Fabulous Thunderbirds and ZZ Top paved the way for you. You could have been a guitar idol for the ages. Instead, you got hornswoggled into thinking you were Duran Duran, and you released a piece of drum machine-encrusted, synth-addled crap. It's hard to hold it against you -- after all, you were 17 and just following orders. But, man, was I disappointed.

22. Edie Brickell, "What I Am." "I'm not aware of too many things / I know what I know, if you know what I mean." Dude, that's pretty heavy. If you're a 19-year-old philosophy student wearing a beret and smoking Gauloises.

21. John Denver, "Sunshine on My Shoulders." Denver -- an army brat -- went to Texas Tech, so we'll throw him in here. Washington Postcritic Tim Page once said that 1974 was the worst year in pop music history. It was the year of "Seasons in the Sun," "Piano Man," "Waterloo," "The Way We Were," "Billy Don't Be a Hero," "You're Having My Baby," "I Honestly Love You"…Page honestly has a point. And the quasi-Texan Denver certainly carried the standard for the Lone Star State.

20. Johnny Lee, "Lookin' for Love." The standard-bearer for a bad era of country, unfortunately one that was centered on Houston. I still can't hear this song without thinking of Eddie Murphy as Buckwheat singing "Ookin' pa Nub."

19. Steve Miller, "Abracadabra." "I wanna reach out and grab ya." I want to reach out and grab a sledgehammer when I hear this song.

18. Stephen Stills, "Love the One You're With." This hippy-dippy blast of free-love propaganda is like the venereal disease it no doubt did much to promote. And like syphilis, after a dormant period, it has come roaring back with a vengeance in the repertoires in many of today's younger Texas Music artists. (Like Hubbard and Brickell, Stills and Miller are both Dallasites. Notice a pattern?)

17. Don Henley, "Witchy Woman." The Sting of Texas has a few options here, most notably this one and the Stevie Nicks duet "Leather & Lace," or hell, even that overblown piece of quasi-mystic '70s mumbo-jumbo "Hotel California." We'll go with "Witchy Woman." Or make that "Witch-eh Woman."

16. Willis Alan Ramsey, "Muskrat Love." This ode to rodent lust -- made famous by the Captain and Tennille -- well deserves a place on this list, or any such assemblage of the worst music of all time. Who could forget lines like these: "Nibbling on bacon, chewin' on cheese / Sammy says to Susie, 'Honey, would you please be my missus?' / And she say yes / With her kisses."

15. Barbara Mandrell, "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool." Actually, Barbara, you were never either country or cool.

14. Michael Martin Murphey, "Wildfire." One of a million smarmy relics from a smarmy decade. As a matter of fact, that's not a bad nickname for that particular ten-year stretch: the Smarmy Seventies.

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