Songwriters in Texas and elsewhere sometimes fly under the radar of the music industry, overshadowed by the big stars recording their songs. But truth be told, songwriters are the backbone of good country music and deserve recognition.
The Lone Star State can lay claim to some of country music’s most famous songwriters like Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Towns Van Zandt. Many Texans have spent their entire lives writing (and recording) songs for the enjoyment of country music fans. Let’s dig into the songs of some of the best Texas troubadours:
Jamie Lin Wilson
D’Hanis, TX songwriter Jamie Lin Wilson is one of the best lyricists working today.
Raised in the small town of Golden, Kacey Musgraves of the Lone Star State has been captivating listeners since her major label debut in 2013. Same Trailer Different Park.
Lindale-raised Miranda Lambert is as famous for her writing as she is for her incredible voice.
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Ray Wylie Hubbard will take you on a ride with his song “Screw You, We’re From Texasand other fan favorites. He wasn’t born in Texas, but you can’t tell. The state claims it as its own and so will we. He’s a great guitarist, a great songwriter, and a great Texan.
Terry Allen grew up in the wild west of Lubbock and goes down in history as one of the greatest. With 12 records to his credit, he has created a body of work that will influence the next flight of Texas songwriters.
Originally from Houston, Rodney Crowell had a career about as big as Texas sky. With a few Grammys, five No. 1 hits and stars like Waylon Jennings and The Oak Ridge Boys recording his songs, he is a legend of country music.
From Stephenville, Courtney Patton brings heart and soul to Texas the music. She is a born and bred storyteller. His last album, What’s it like to fly alone, debuted at No. 4 on the iTunes country chart and entered the Top 20 of BillboardAmericana Album Sales Chart.
Dressing gownrt Earl Keen
Robert Earl Keen always brings humor to honky-tonk. His biological says that “some people spend their lives playing music with the goal of one day achieving fame and fortune; but from the start, Keen just wanted to write and sing his own songs, and keep writing and performing them. sing as long as possible.” That’s all you need to know about REK.
jerry jeff walker
Corn jerry jef was from New York, he arrived at Texas as fast as he could. He moved to Austin in the 70s and reinvented himself. He became an outlaw legend, right next to Nelson and Ray Benson. Jerry Jeff died in 2020.
Lyle Lovett was born in Houston and attended Texas A&M in College Station…it doesn’t get more Texas than that. Beyond his songwriting contributions, the Grammy winner has starred in more than 20 films.
From Lubbock, Joe Ely paved the way not only for country music, but also for rock music. He was in the group The Flatlanders with other Lubbock musicians (and stellar songwriters) Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock. He also spent time on tour with The Clash and sang harmonies on their hit song “Should I Stay or Should I Go”.
Michael Martin Murphey
From Dallas, Michael Martin Murphey took the rock scene by storm before he even took the country scene by the reins. His songs have been cut by The Monkees, Kenny Rogers, Roger Miller and Bobbie Gentry. He was known as the Cosmic Cowboy in the 70s as he played Austin along with many names that have preceded him on this list.
Before becoming an American icon, Willie Nelson was an aspiring singer-songwriter from Abbot, Texas. Without Nelson’s lyrics, country music wouldn’t be the same.
‘Me and Bobby McGee,’ ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down,’ ‘Why Me’ – Kris Kristofferson’s timeless songs are American standards.
Towns Van Zandt
Fort Worth-born Townes Van Zandt was nothing short of an American songwriting master and poet.
Guy Clark is the heartbeat of Texas song writing. His songs have been recorded by artists like Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris. He has won Grammys, was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in 2005 the Americana Music Association presented him with their Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting. Clark died in 2016.
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READ MORE: ‘Without Getting Killed or Caught’ is a breathtaking look at the life and legacy of Guy Clark