The Houston 100: From Mack Hayes to Hersal Thomas
Below are songs 90-100 from our Houston 100, five-score of the best songs ever from Houston. We will be running these lists ten at a time here on Houstoned Rocks, and we'll unveil the Top 20 tomorrow in the print edition and on the Web site. – John Nova Lomax
PS: I have decided to bar all songs made after 2002, because it takes a few years for classics to prove themselves as such.
100. “Houston Oilers,” Mack Hayes, 1978. United the city as perhaps no other song has or will. Hayes went on to pen a similar Astros tune called “Go Go Astros” that many of you might recall from the orange rainbow, Jose Cruuuuuuuzzz years.
99. “Drift Away,” Dobie Gray, 1973 / Uncle Kracker, 2002. Great song with one of the most pleasant choruses ever. Gray, a Brookshire native, straddles the line between country, soul and soft rock as only a native Texan can.
98. “Baby Come Back,” Player, 1978. This Yacht Rockin’ smash managed the feat of wedging its way between “Stayin’ Alive” and “How Deep Is Your Love?” atop the pop charts during a period of Total Bee Gees Hegemony. More lately, the song has often resurfaced in films and has been immortalized in The Simpsons. (Homer calls the lost baby hotline to report Maggie’s disappearance and is placed on hold – “Baby Come Back” is the hotline’s song of choice.)
JC Crowley, the song’s co-writer and co-singer, is a native Houstonian and Lamar High grad. After Player got benched, he went on to a middlin’ country career in Nashville before moving to Southern California.
97. “Houston,” Dean Martin, 1965. The biggest hit ever with “Houston” in the title is this lounge-y little Western-tinged ditty from the pen of Port Neches’s Lee Hazlewood.
96. “Superman,” The Clique, 1969. Long before Michael Stipe and company got a hold of it for Life’s Rich Pageant, this was a B-Side for a Houston bubblegum pop combo called The Clique.
95. “Truck Driver’s Blues,” Cliff Bruner and the Texas Wanderers, 1939. Bruner had a major hit with this Ted Daffan song – the very first trucker-country tune ever.
94. “Highway 87,” Hayes Carll, 2002. A modern classic about the Bolivar Peninsula and all the trouble you can get on there on the other side of the ferry from Galveston.
93. “Hot Smoke and Sassafras,” Bubble Puppy, 1969. Alternately ferocious and soothing, the one and only chart hit from these psychedelic rockers and labelmates of the 13th Floor Elevators retains all its lysergic drive after all these years. This is another tune that seems ripe for rediscovery – if it gets in the right movie, a la “You’re Gonna Miss Me” in High Fidelity , look out.
92. “You’ve Got a Lover,” Shake Russell, 1978. Among the last of the great Montrose folkies, Russell enjoyed regional success with this tender, harmony-laden lament. Five years later bluegrass hotshot Ricky Skaggs would take it to number two on the country charts.
91. “Suitcase Blues,” Hersal Thomas, 1925. This composition from Thomas, a child piano prodigy who died at 16 of food poisoning at a Detroit gig, was later cited by boogie-woogie piano kings Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis as a keystone in the development of that influential keyboard style.
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