13th Floor Elevators? Yes.

The Houston 100: The Best Bayou City Songs Ever

Over the next few weeks and months, the music staff here will be assembling a top 100 of Houston songs. To qualify, a song must be either by Houstonians or about Houston, or must have been recorded here or released on a local label.

Thus, “You’re Gonna Miss Me” by the 13th Floor Elevators would qualify – even though the band’s members were from Austin and Port Aransas, and that particular song was recorded in Dallas, the band’s label was located here. Likewise, anything that came out on Duke-Peacock qualifies, so long as it came out after the label’ s offices moved from Memphis to Houston.

Barbara Mandrell? Um, no.

To qualify as a Houstonian, an artist must have spent at least five or ten of their formative years here. Thus the songs of Percy Mayfield qualify – he self-identified as having coming up here in numerous interviews after he moved to California. Others born here include Billy Preston, but he moved away too soon in his childhood to count. The same goes for Barbara Mandrell, though it’s not likely she would crack the top 100 of anything except suckdom, where she would rank very near the top. (Devendra Banhart and Todd Snider also are barred. Their time here was too short.)

Ray Charles likewise does not qualify, even though he lived here a few years in the ‘50s. Charles treated Houston more as a base of operations during a period of heavy touring than as a true hometown. So he’s out, unless he’s singing one of Percy Mayfield’s songs…

I’ve cobbled together a tentative list but am very open to suggestions. We want this to be definitive – as far as I know, this has never been done before. So please send in your suggestions in the comments. – John Nova Lomax

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