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.

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.

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