Happy Texas Independence Day, everyone. Today The Only State That Matters officially enters its 175th year of pissing off the lesser 49 states and producing the best music anywhere on Earth. One of Texas' biggest honky-tonk heroes is of course Billy Joe Shaver, who is now back on the outlaw-country airwaves with "Whacko from Waco." Recorded with Willie Nelson and his band, it's Shaver's version of the little "situation" he got into outside a bar near Waco in 2007. The first verse made Rocks Off LOL:
I'm a whacko from Waco, ain't no doubt about it
Shot a man there in the head but can't talk much about it
He was trying to shoot me, but he took too long to aim
Anybody in my place would have done the same
I don't start fights, I finish fights, that's the way it'll always be
I'm a whacko from Waco, you best not mess with me
God bless Billy Joe Shaver. And God bless Texas. To celebrate, Rocks Off compiled a list of songs that prove without a doubt the enduring Yankee stereotype that Texas is full of loonies, nutjobs and psychos. We wouldn't have it any other way. Remember, never ask a man if he's from Texas. If he is, he would have already told you. If not, you don't want to embarrass him.
10. Willie Nelson, "Crazy": Duh. Although if you're looking for outright anguish and mental distress, you should probably go with "Hello Walls."
9. Whitey Morgan & the 78's: "Where Do You Want It": A natural companion to "Whacko from Waco," this song sprang from Pasadena's own Dale Watson shortly after Shaver was acquitted, but was recorded by these Michigan barrel-racers on last year's self-titled debut. The title comes from Billy Joe's oath before pulling the trigger, which may be the most awesome five words ever spoken on Texas soil.
8. Bob Wills, "I'm a Ding-Dong Daddy from Dumas": This is probably as close as Western Swing will ever come to scatting - "I'm a ding-dong daddy, got a whiz-bang mama" - which explains why the Phil Baxter tune was also recorded by jazzbos Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman and Sidney Bechet. Born in 1896, Baxter was actually from Navarro County, not the Panhandle. Know who else is from Navarro County? Billy Joe Shaver.
7. Beyonce, "Crazy In Love": Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, oh no, no. Did you hear about B playing a 2009 party for embattled Libyan strongman Moammar Qaddafi in St. Bart's? Now that's crazy. (She donated the appearance fee to Haitian earthquake relief, Beyonce's reps told CNN in a statement.)
6. Jon Wayne, "Texas Jail Cell": If you've never heard Jon Wayne's unbelievably warped 1985 album Texas Funeral, boy are you missing out. This inebriated lo-fi lurcher is a good place to start: "Ossifer, this Indian says he needs some sexual healing."
5. Butthole Surfers, "Who Was In My Room Last Night": A question that will forever remain unanswered, because listening to this Independent Worm Saloon single at even low volume is like dosing yourself with PCP. (Or PCPPEP.) Turn it up and it's turn out the lights.
4. Mark Chesnutt, "Bubba Shot the Jukebox": Mark Chesnutt's account of one man's approach to hearing one too many sad songs was about two decades ahead of its time when it appeared on 1992's Longnecks & Short Stories. Now that practically all we've got is Internet jukeboxes, where's Bubba when we really need him?
3. Roky Erickson, "Two Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer)": Considering his past, Rocks Off felt a little bad about including Erickson on this list, but less so now that he's lucid again and making albums as good as last year's Okkervil River team-up True Love Cast Out All Evil. Besides, there's no denying that this intersection of EC Comics imagery, Little Richard and Black Sabbath will take you around the bend and back again.
2. Doug Sahm, "Crazy Baby": Appropriately discovered by "The Crazy Cajun," Huey P. Meaux, the late great Sir Doug recorded this slice of swamp-pop heaven on one of his best albums, 1989's Juke Box Music. We miss this guy more and more every year.
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1. Waylon Jennings, "I've Always Been Crazy": In our darkest hours, Rocks Off knows we can always turn to the sage of Littlefield for solace and advice. Little did Waylon know that when he wrote the title song to his 1978 album, he was also writing the words that will one day be inscribed on our tombstone: "So far I ain't found a rhyme or a reason to change/ I've always been crazy, it's kept me from going insane."
No place but Texas.