Bobby Bare, "I Can Almost See Houston From Here" One of the great homesick songs, Bobby Bare infuses this one with downtrodden ennui as he pines for the warmness of his old hometown. Usually veteran Houstonians are forced to deal with some newbie from Portland telling us all the things that are wrong with the Bayou City, so this one is a refreshing twist; Bare pines to get back to his old hometown and leave the Denver cold behind. It also contains the drop-dead perfect honky-tonk realization: "Funny how much better I can see without my pride." WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
Beyonce, "I Been On" Relatively early in her 2013-14 march to world domination, Queen Bey dropped "I Been On" to ensure that H-Town would forever have her back. True, we probably would have done so no matter what, but after she shouted out Frenchy's chicken and Willie D and channeled a little UGK ("I didn't do ya girl but your sister was all right"), it was a moot point. Now the city is practically naming streets after her. CHRIS GRAY
Weldon "Juke Boy" Bonner, "Houston, The Action Town" Juke Boy Bonner wasn't known as the Bard of Fifth Ward for no reason. He sang what he knew firsthand, and that was the doings of the Bloody Fifth. One of the most vivid and accurate snapshots of Fifth Ward shenanigans ever, this tune could easily be our city anthem if everything didn't have to be so lily-white and washed with bleach. This is straight-up truth. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
Bonner, "Struggle Down In Houston" Along with "Stay Off Lyons Avenue," "Struggle Down In Houston" is like reading a police blotter about the goings-on in the Fifth Ward. Bonner paints the local scene as he sees it, full of hoods who would shoot you "just to hear their pistol bark." "It's a struggle here in Houston just to stay out of Ben Taub." Not as true as it once was, but those are still some pretty mean streets up along Quitman and Irvington east of I-45. [Note: this article has been edited after publication to correct the title.] WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
Rodney Crowell, "Telephone Road" Crowell's vision of Telephone Road is wider than Steve Earle's (stay tuned), probably because Jacinto City native Crowell knew the street all of his young life. His tune is more a memoir, with references to Hurricane Carla, Prince's Drive-In, the Astrodome, Magnolia Gardens, mosquito trucks and "sawdust spread out on a dance hall floor, jukebox rippin' at an all-out roar, barmaid smilin' at a ten cent tip." Sounds about like I found it when I ventured there for the first time in 1968. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
Steve Earle, "Home to Houston" Let's face it, Houston, we're a bunch of mercenaries. If the money is right, we will go almost anywhere and do almost anything. This spot-on tale about a truck driver who goes to Iraq to drive gasoline tankers for the big money is as true to our natures as anything ever written about this place.
And leave it to our former citizen Steve to write one of the most honest, nonjudgmental tunes about the Iraq War. "If I ever get home to Houston alive, I won't drive a truck anymore." WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
Earle, "Telephone Road" Earle came to Houston as a teen runaway and fell in with some hard travelers. A decade later he wrote one the quintessential Houston songs about some Louisiana transplants who came to work in the oil business. The gist of the tune is that they made good money but they wasted most of it in the joints along the infamous southwest Houston boulevard. "Telephone Road is ten miles long/ 50 car lots and 100 honky tonks." H-Town, baby. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
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