10 Songs Every Houston Transplant Should Know

Plenty of other Rodney Crowell songs could be on this list, but "Telephone Road" is a good place to start.
Plenty of other Rodney Crowell songs could be on this list, but "Telephone Road" is a good place to start.
Photo by David McClister/Courtesy of New West Records

New to the Bayou City? While you’re learning the complex intricacy of navigating the nation's most diverse city, these songs will need to be on your playlist. Whether you’re stuck on 290 (don’t do it to yourself) or just basically sitting in whatever dumpster-fire traffic you happen to find yourself in, it never hurts to have some great jams to pass the time. As a Houston transplant myself, these all really ring true.

10. “Telephone Road,” Rodney Crowell
Not to be confused with the Steve Earle song, this song details what it was like growing up Houston during Hurricane Carla. With references to Prince’s, Galveston and other iconic Houston locations, this easily earns a spot among the best classic songs written about the city.

9. “Telephone Road,” Steve Earle
Telephone Road, as told through this song, was once the hot spot to go out at night for live music. I didn’t live it, unfortunately, but have heard many stories that this song describe perfectly. Steve Earle is one of music's great storytellers, and this song solidifies his connection with Houston.

8. “Sky Blue and Black,” Jackson Browne
A lot of people may have never heard this song (please, check it out), and even fewer know that it was written during a tour in Galveston. It references seagulls, the sand, The Strand and the “city in the distance ominous and low (Houston)." If you are into great singer-songwriter music from the late '70s, then this needs to be a staple in your collection.

7. “Diamonds and Wood,” UGK
I know it may seem like I am riding UGK’s D a little bit, but this jam is something you can roll the windows down and blast when you’re stuck on 288, I-45, the 610 Loop, etc. Pimp C’s verse is possibly the best in his catalog, and Bun B comes in with an equally hot one: “Got to the point to where I could not decipher day from night/ She say she love me but all we do is fuck and fight.” We’ve all been there.

6. “City of the Swang,” Bun B feat. Mike Jones & Slim Thug
This track is a classic. Bun B spits a verse calling out the entire city, from our amazing sports teams to all the neighborhoods and freeways that connect us all. Mike Jones and Slim Thug also represent Houston's unique hip-hop culture. So if you need to pop trunk and bang, this is your jam. Extra tip: Don’t let Slim Thug catch you slipping when you’re in the turning lane.

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5. “My Ride’s Here,” Warren Zevon
While a lot of new people to the city may not be familiar with the musical genius that is the late Warren Zevon, his song “My Ride’s Here” was written in Houston in the late 1990s. “The Houston sky was changeless” is one of the best lines; “we’ll never get out of East Texas tonight” is another favorite. Let’s hope we never get out.

 

4. “Flawless,” Beyonce
“I’m bout that H Town, coming down coming down, I’m coming down dripping candy on the ground”. Queen B herself hails from Houston and isn’t afraid to represent. Her, and husband Jay Z, own a penthouse in Galveston as well. “Flawless” is her at one of her best, so “bow down bitches”. Extra tip: “Run The World”, “Houston, TX Baby!” Representing.

3. “Bloody Mary Morning,” Willie Nelson
Well, no song list would be complete without referencing the king of country music. While he is the king of Austin, Willie represents everything that is Texas. His resilience in the industry is the epitome of what Houston and the rest of our great state stands for. Extra tip: If you have not, go to a live Willie show. We don’t know how many we have left and you won’t be disappointed.

2. “One Day,” UGK
UGK has been one of the most influential hip hop groups of all time, even being from Port Arthur, it doesn’t get much more Houston than UGK. Bun B recently said in an interview that when "Ridin’ Dirty" hit number one, not on just the hip hot charts but the Billboard 100, that for “that moment, we were the best musicians out of anyone in the industry”. The song rings so true with the passing of Pimp C. In the same interview, Bun B referenced the fact that when he passed he can barely perform the song because it’s so true that “one day you’re here and the next day you’re gone.”

1. “Welcome 2 Houston (remix),” Slim Thug feat. Chamillionaire, Paul Wall, Mike Jones, Pimp C, Bun B, Lil Keke, Z-Ro, Trae, Rob G, Lil O, Big Pokey, Mike D & Yung Redd
The lineup alone is a who’s who of Houston hip-hop culture. Bun B may be the actual mayor of the city( allegedly). Pour some liquor out for Pimp C (RIP). From the beats to the verses, especially Bun B explaining the freeway system, this is possibly the most quintessential Houston hip-hop song. Extra tip: if you want to see if someone is a local, ask them for Mike Jones' phone number.


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