Texas/Red Dirt Songs That Describe 2020

Looking back and seeing the title of my end-of-year piece for 2019 was “It’s Been a Hell of a Year” seems laughable at this point because, without question, 2020 pulled a “Hold My Beer.”

While the media likes to show us the world on fire and how we can’t agree on much of anything, I think most of us can agree on a common pool of emotions to describe the past twelve months. Sick, tired, lonely, worried, irritated, angry, dismissive, sad, skeptical are all almost certainly there, with a few other choice words thrown in to customize your recipe for what turned out to be a pretty shitty stew.

Through all of it, the music was still there, and some days that perfect song to capture the mood reared its head. I distinctly remember an HEB run during the mad grocery scramble at the beginning of the pandemic and seeing the new “Thanks for social distancing” stickers gridding the aisles. Social distanced, masked up and waiting to check out, “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” by The Police hit my earbuds. I audibly laughed, apparently loud enough to draw strange looks from all just outside my 6 foot radius.

In an effort to keep family spirits up, I used Spotify to construct a “hang in there” playlist. The irony of hearing “I’m Free” by The Soup Dragons while holed up in our house for weeks on end was admittedly funny in that Jack Nicholson demented way.

All of the irony gave me the impetus to write about songs that rang true for this year. A quick Google search will reveal that I wasn’t the only soul to conceive such an idea, so I decided to provide a list of songs specific to our scene that captured the essence of 2020.

Before getting to the list, I should say that as irreverent and jaded as I may sound, I’m truly thankful. My entire family caught The ‘Rona just before Thanksgiving, including my parents, who are in their 70’s and have co-morbidities. We are all still here, and I’m very aware that it isn’t the same for everybody. In fact, the man that framed my new home in 2019 passed from Covid. So, whatever you are doing this NYE, raise your glass for a more normal and healthier 2021, and pray the year chooses water over tequila before going about its business.

So here is the list, have a laugh for God’s sake and if you have your own suggestions, leave them in the comments. I’ll approve any that don’t look like the typical Russian transvestite porn bots that seem to have found us this year.

Quarantine Together – Drive By Truckers

2020 birthed “the quarantine collab” where music blossomed from Zoom calls, with artists recording their parts in isolation and collaging them into something we could all enjoy (thanks Nate Coon). The Drive-By Truckers caught the vibe perfectly with this one. Let’s be miserable all alone.

Lonely Together Tonight – Zac Wilkerson

GenX, Millenials, Zoomers. This year conceived Generation Covid (or ‘Rona Babies, whatever you prefer), so thanks to Zac for providing the “Let’s Get It On” ambiance.

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys – Willie Nelson

For all the greats we lost this year. Jerry Jeff, John Prine, Billy Joe, Charlie Daniels, Bill Withers, Little Richard, EVH, and countless others. You all had the cowboy spirit.

You Can’t Trust No One – Chris Knight

There hasn’t been a song that calls for unity with a heavy dose of skepticism any more than this beauty from Chris Knight. It’s all there… the fires, the fear, the frustration. Go Google the lyrics if you don’t know them, it’s about as 2020 as they come.

Killing Time – Courtney Patton

Hail to Quarantine Crystal. The alter ego of Courtney Patton kept us laughing all year despite getting the Covid and snorting roasted garlic. We all like fruit on the bottom and probiotics Ms. Crystal. This Patton track is not about twiddling your thumbs, but the title is apt for 2020.

Luke Combs Six Feet Apart

Because we need a social distancing song.

All I See is You – Shane Smith and The Saints

Because during a pandemic, your inner circle is pretty tight. Here is to the loved ones that you didn’t want to kill after spending ample time in close quarters.

I’m Drinking Through It – Jack Ingram

Admittedly, many of us relied way too much on alcohol over the last year. I happily cheered Governor Abbott’s decree allowing take out alcohol to help keep some of our eating establishments afloat. Take the victories where you can good people.

Weary Kind – Ryan Bingham

Pretty self-explanatory.

Water Bill – Red Shahan

Regardless of whether or not you are employed, the bills keep coming.

I Can’t Breathe – Parker McCollum

Yeah it’s probably wrong, but we are all thinking it.

I Don’t Give A Shit – Shinyribs

While the song is about two people that have given up on their relationship, I think the spirit captures the year quite well. How many times this year have you heard something and thrown up your arms and said “WTF?!?”.

Ten Cent Talkers – Johnny Chops & The Razors

If you worship politicians, celebrities, or the media, you are doing life all wrong. Chops takes a light-hearted approach to all the bullshit shoveled to us on a daily basis. My favorite line – “Knowing and doing, ain’t always the same. Idle hands are easy to keep clean.” Sounds about right.

Liberty Bell 7 – Quaker City Nighthawks

Who the hell needs an election, a virus and murder hornets when we have multiple governments acknowledging the existence of “off-world vehicles not made on this earth.” Of course we need aliens people, and the Quaker City Nighthawks have been known to go sci-fi. Pick something off El Astronauta, like “Liberty Bell 7” and put on your tin foil hats.

Sick and Tired – Cross Canadian Ragweed

If you were sick from Covid-19, you were tired. If you were taking care of folks sick from Covid, you were tired. We were all sick and tired of hearing all the crap that went down this year. Koe was right, we all miss Ragweed…

Still Not Dead – Willie Nelson

Thank God. If we had lost Willie this year, we might as well have the asteroid. My hope is that is if dope is the fountain of youth, then Willie will live to be as old as Moses.

Folding Money – Radney Foster

Because we had to get a stimulus song in there.

Times Like These – Hayes Carll

Although released in 2019, this pick me up is pretty 2020.

I Got Your Medicine – Shinyribs

Because we (hopefully) got a vaccine to get us past this mess. BTW, that’s me front and center with the flat cap and blue shirt.

Sun Shines on a Dreamer – Wade Bowen

Here is to hope. Wade’s song is like sunshine after a storm. Let’s hope that 2021 radiates the goodness.

Cody Starr

Staff writer and resident website mechanic. Raised in DFW, but recently left the big city for quieter, small(er) town life. Family guy, Aggie, software developer, Ticket's Own. I occasionally write for The Dallas Observer, my editor there probably hates me.