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There are certain songs that transcend space and time.  Certain songs that evoke such a strong, emotional reaction in a live setting that you as an audience member can’t help but sing, dance, clap and stomp along.  In rhythm.  On the 1 and 2.  Tears in your eyes. Smile on your face.  It’s your moment to shine.  Luckily for you, the rest of the crowd has joined you.  While taking in a recent Wade Bowen show, it struck me how, after all these years, the crowd still goes crazy for Paul Thorn’s “Mood Ring” when Wade busts it out on the setlist.  It is max crowd participation time.  It led to a brainstorming session at Galleywinter world headquarters trying to nail down the biggest sing along songs in our scene.  Past and present.  What are the songs that are moments in the show?  They might not even be the “best” song or necessarily most popular, but they always get the biggest reaction. After much consultation and consideration, we narrowed a larger list down to these 30 tracks in no particular order. Some great songs were left on the cutting room floor, but these 30 songs are the epitome of a Texas/Red Dirt anthem.

Bart Crow - “Wear My Ring”

Crow’s signature tune remains a bouncing force of melody and undeniable catchiness.  Angels with bottles have been put on notice for three decades now.

Robert Earl Keen - “The Road Goes on Forever”

The songwriter that connects 70’s Outlaw to 90’s Texas/Red Dirt wrote the anthem and it remains a hallmark tentpole of storytelling and singalong rowdiness.  Keen may have retired from touring, but he still plays one offs and this song is still the highlight of a hit-filled set. We could have selected any number of Keen songs, but this one is the goat.

Shane Smith and the Saints - “All I See Is You”

Smith and his Saints are epic in all of the definitions.  Their songs are grand and bombastic.  Full of harmony and tempo.  This song has it all and is a proverbial freight train that is climbing a mountain until it all comes crashing down in that last verse and chorus.  Singing along with this in a sold out crowd at a Saints show is a near religious experience.

Reckless Kelly - “Crazy Eddie’s Last Hurrah”

Grapefruit. Stoli. Joley.  Willy Braun’s wordplay mixes with supreme musicianship to become a rousing tale that has been covered by Cross Canadian Ragweed and bar bands across Texas for over 20 years.

Wade Bowen - “Mood Ring”

Paul Thorn wrote it, but Wade Bowen made it ubiquitous.  Just try not to run through your color chart at the top of your lungs when this one starts.

American Aquarium - “I Hope He Breaks Your Heart”

BJ Barham is a wordsmith of the highest order and has written dozens of songs that might be considered “better” than IHHBYH, but you won’t scream along with any song’s chorus louder than this one.

William Clark Green - “Ringling Road”

PT Barnum couldn’t have drawn up a more entertaining show than then one that takes place during the length of this song.  Legend has it that the Ringling Brothers Circus used to travel by train and take an extended break in Eastland, TX to water the elephants at a nearby lake.  WCG colors in the lines and you’ll be humming the breakdown melody for days after yelling it at the show.

Cross Canadian Ragweed - “Alabama”

Cody Canada had a few tunes that could have found themselves on this list.  The most hotly contested debate was between this song and “Boys From Oklahoma”. This track wins out due to the crowd participation of one line…”Sweet home Alabama!”

Roger Creager - “Love”

Love ain’t what this song is about.  No sir.  This song is about beer showers, screaming with your buddies and stomping a mudhole.  Narrowly edging out "Everclear", beer, whiskey and playing the fool are optional but encouraged.

Kevin Fowler - “Beer, Bait and Ammo”

Fowler burst onto the scene in the late 90’s with this tale of a woebegone ramshackle bait shop that had just about everything you could ever want.  The chorus has endured through the ages due to his liquored up and feeling good vibe.

Stoney LaRue - “Oklahoma Breakdown”

The Live at Billy Bob’s version of this Mike Hosty Red Dirt classic was one of the biggest selling singles of the 2000’s.  It’s enduring quality comes from Rodney Pyeatt’s bouncing guitar riff, Stoney’s warbled well-well-well vocals and a hook that won’t leave your head.

Koe Wetzel - “February 28, 2016”

A bad late winter night in Erath County for Koe Wetzel turned into a magic musical moment.  Wetzel burst from near obscurity to arenas on the strength of this critter-critter sing along statement of rowdy defiance and youthful zest for life.  With a side of Taco Bell.

Jack Ingram - “Barbie Doll”

Allegedly, Jack wrote this about a blonde sorority girl he saw at a late night restaurant bossing her man and friends around. That one particular girl may have been the inspiration, but just about every overserved girl since 1999 that’s been in the crowd when Jack and the Beat Up Ford Band climb the riser thought it may just be about her, whether it was a compliment or not.

Randy Rogers Band - “This Time Around”

A musical call to arms that’s paired with some of Rogers’ classic heartsick, heartbroke, relationship uncertainty lyrics mesh to provide a fist pumping, rousing dirt off the left and right shoulder triumph.

Turnpike Troubadours - “Long Hot Summer Day”

Written by John Hartford way back in 1976, this song wouldn’t reach critical mass until 35 years later with Turnpike at the helm.  Evan Felker’s harmonica barks out the melody alongside Kyle Nix’s fiddle, the rest of the boys fall in line and before too long the entire crowd is transported to the Illinois River.

Whiskey Myers - “Broken Window Serenade”

The saddest song to make this list.  On the surface, a song about a meth-addicted stripper in small town East Texas wouldn’t sound like the type of song that would engage thousands of fans in an audience to sing and sway along with each other, but the power of Cody Cannon’s lyrics and vocal performance grab your attention and fail to let go.  

Jason Boland and the Stragglers - “When I’m Stoned”

“Somewhere Down in Texas” almost landed on this list, but the verve with which smokers and non tokers alike bellow out the chorus to this song is undeniable.

Silverada - “Beaches of Biloxi”

The crowd participation on this Moonpies classic isn’t merely vocal, it’s the clapping that earns a spot on this list. Make sure you watch bassist Omar Yoki as to not miss your cue!

Pat Green - “Carry On”

Walt Wilkins co-wrote this escapist gem with Pat Green and it has become a roadmap to letting go of your cares, chasing Hill Country cleansing and finding yourself back home when you need it most.  Home feels better in a big crowd shouting along “okay, alright…”

Flatland Cavalry - “One I Want”

Cleto Cordero knows how to write sensitive bangers that speak to the heart while also pairing them with the best elements of country music.  This track finds him professing his love in a unique way that has yet to find a crowd that didn’t want more Flatland Cavalry.

Cody Jinks - “Loud and Heavy”

Jinks co-wrote this song based on an off-handed comment his young song made in the backseat of his truck while driving through a thunderstorm.  His young son may be officially listed as a co-writer, but the world is better for having this moody forecast to sing along with.

Charlie Robison - “Loving County”

This murder ballad may not be the first song you think of when you think of Charlie Robison, but there was never a live performance of his where this one did not steal the show.  By the time you get to the final utterance of “beneath the lights of Loving County…” you have been transported to another place and time.

Jerry Jeff Walker - “Sangria Wine”

This musical conga line of a song was quite literally Jerry Jeff listing off the ingredients of his favorite good time beverage.  Elements of reggae, Texas and Key West bounce throughout the tune and ol’ Scamp Walker is guaranteed to have you dancing in no time.  Jerry Jeff’s been gone for a few years now, but there is still no concert PA that has blasted this out and not bore witness to an entire crowd singing along and dancing.  And there never will be.

Rusty Wier - “Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance”

Wier wrote this Texas classic coming back from a long run that took him out to the west coast.  Sliding back into Austin through the barren lands of west Texas, Wier and crew saw a rainbow in the distance and the rest fell into place.  A singalong for the ages that has been covered by everyone from Bonnie Raitt to Todd Snider.

Josh Abbott Band - “My Texas”

Abbott wrote this Texas bucket list, set it to music, called in Pat Green to sing with and created an instant classic.  Folks in the crowd will try to out Texas each other with how loud they can sing along with the chorus.

Ray Wylie Hubbard - “Redneck Mother”

Perhaps the original anthem from the Texas scene.  Written about a precarious situation when a young, longhaired Hubbard found himself crossway with some New Mexican brutes and sung to Gary P. Nunn over the phone to get the words right for Jerry Jeff’s Viva Terlingua album, this song remains Hubbard’s albatross, for better or worse.  As Ray Wylie advises all young writers, be careful what you write and record because you’ll have to sing it for the rest of your life.

Paul Cauthen - “Cocaine Country Dancing”

Illicit drug usage isn’t a typical topic for a mass appeal country sing along, but Big Velvet plays by his own rules.  An intoxicating howl of the song’s title will keep you rolling and jiving long after the speaker’s hum has ended.  A Texas soul fever dream.

Tommy Alverson - “Una Mas Cerveza”

Alverson is a guitar picker of the highest order who wrote this song about heading to Mexico with a loose understanding of the language, but a quick handle on how to get the attention of the waitress.

Uncle Lucius - Keep the Wolves Away

The whistling is what makes you stop and listen. The words connect. The voice strikes right to your soul. Each time Kevin Galloway belts this one out about his dad, you stop down and take the trip with him. Singing, and whistling, along.

Gary P. Nunn - “London Homesick Blues”

The theme song for Austin City Limits for decades, an encapsulation of many elements that other songs on this list have and a balance of homesickness and pride that is as catchy as it is true.


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