Ring in the July 4 Holiday with These Texas Tracks

If your July 4 party playlist doesn't include Bun B or UGK, you're doing it wrong.
If your July 4 party playlist doesn't include Bun B or UGK, you're doing it wrong. Photo by Sean Thomas

The July 4 holiday is upon us. Fire up the grill, which can’t be much hotter than a Houston summer anyway. Find a pool, lake, river, beach or even a sprinkler to help cool off. Turn on the Astros, who are starting to put it all together. You’re all set.

You’re not all set.

A July 4 gathering is nothing without the music. And since we’re in Texas, why not start the party with some of the best and most entertaining tunes our state has to offer? These won’t get you through the entire day, but they will set the tone for one hell of a four-day weekend.
FAT PAT, “Tops Drop”
This might very well be the unofficial track for the city of Houston, performed by the late, great Fat Pat, who was tragically gunned down before the single was even released. When you hear this song after an Astros win or during the intros to UH basketball, it just sets a local tone. In short, if you start a Houston summer party with anything but “Tops Drop,” you’re doing it wrong.

PAT GREEN, “Texas On My Mind”
Another famous Texan named Pat, Green is one of the godfathers of the Texas country scene that exploded in the 90s and into the 2000s. He’s also a part-owner of the chain of The Rustic honky-tonk bar and restaurant, which has two Houston locations (he's playing the downtown venue in August). “Texas On My Mind” certainly ranks among Green’s most popular tracks, and with good reason – it’s basically a love letter to a lost love, and more importantly, to the state from which they came.

UGK, “International Players Anthem (I Choose You)”
Bun B – one of half of the influential hip-hop duo UGK, alongside the late Pimp C – is basically the unofficial mayor of Houston at this point. He’s a Rodeo record-setter, a prominent business owner, philanthropist, all around badass. “International Players Anthem” is the most popular – and certainly among the best – tracks UGK ever released, made all the better by the presence of the best hip-hop duo in history – Outkast. The song is sultry, swampy and hot. In short, it’s a Houston summer day, set to music.
GEORGE STRAIT, “Here for a Good Time”
The Texas born Strait is not only a musical icon; he’s probably the most revered artist in country music history, one who is still very much relevant today. There are probably about 60 Strait songs that would easily slide into a July 4 playlist, but something about “Here for a Good Time” just says good times, mostly because it’s right there in the title. George believes life is a half-full, not a half-empty glass. Words to live by as you celebrate the holiday weekend.

Bowling for Soup – from Denton, by way of Wichita Falls – is a little corny, inasmuch as the band very much seems in on that very notion. The band’s most popular track is an homage to a life gone by, a suburban woman who has it all and regrets pretty much every last bit of it. She wants to turn back the clock to a time when she was free to rage and push the limits. To young folks, this track is a reminder to enjoy those years. To older folks? Well, just throw on some Van Halen and live in the nostalgia-verse for a few minutes.

The San Angelo trio of brothers – who are still very active – really only have one hit to their name, but man, is it a good one?! “Heaven” has a great hook and a smooth vibe and is the perfect background song to a laid-back day and good conversations with friends over a holiday weekend.

LIL’ TROY, “Wanna Be a Baller”
A little assignment – put this Houston classic on a bit later in the July 4 festivities this weekend, when a couple of drinks have been had, the sun is setting and watch partygoers react. They will be unanimous in their support, no one will complain and you will have achieved your mission of taking your party to the next level.

DRAKE, “0 to 100/The Catch Up”
Yes, Drake is from Canada, but he’s pretty much adopted Houston as his second home, so much so that he recently purchased a ranch about an hour outside of town. Like George Strait above, you won’t lack for Drake content that suits a party vibe, and any July 4 playlist should feature plenty of his stuff, but something about “0 to 100/The Catch Up” just catches Drake at his absolute apex. It’s a single for diehards and casuals alike, one sure to turn up any party from Pearland to Katy, and everywhere in between.
BEYONCE, “Crazy in Love”
The song that put solo Beyonce on the map – one featuring future husband Jay-Z – “Crazy in Love” was the song of the summer in 2003. More than two decades later, it still goes. An absolute summer party staple from one of Houston’s own.

WILLIE NELSON, “On the Road Again”
It’s Willie Nelson, one of the most revered, beloved and celebrated artists in music history. A July 4 Texas party playlist with no Willie is really not a playlist at all.

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Clint Hale enjoys music and writing, so that kinda works out. He likes small dogs and the Dallas Cowboys, as you can probably tell. Clint has been writing for the Houston Press since April 2016.
Contact: Clint Hale