Thanks For the Song
A couple years ago, Thanksgiving inspired us to reach out to members of the Texas/Red Dirt community and ask them which musical artists they were most thankful for. Well, this year we decided to return to that idea and we asked folks what song they were most thankful for. The results are an interesting mix of the touching and the profound. The wide array of responses showcase the melting pot of musical influences that make this type of music so remarkable. Each choice is accompanied by a video of the song.
Please leave your own answers in the comments.
Here is what people had to say:
Randy Rogers, singer/songwriter from Randy Rogers Band
“A Day In the Life”-The Beatles
It was one of the first songs that captured me. I struggled to figure out the lyrics and their meaning. I wanted to learn every note. I was obsessed with that song for a year as a young kid learning to play it on the guitar and piano. I’m thankful for the challenge it presented and the inspiration it gave.
Mike Eli, singer/songwriter from Eli Young Band
“I Believe In You”-Don Williams
This is a song that I’ve turned to for as long as I can remember. I believe it’s one of the greatest country songs ever written, and for that I’m thankful.
Rodney Parker, singer/songwriter
“Hands on the Wheel”-Willie Nelson
Quite simply, I’m thankful for this song because it fixes me when I’m broken.
Cody Canada, singer/songwriter/guitarist from Cody Canada and the Departed
“Feelin’ Good Again”-Robert Earl Keen
I have several songs that move me from “One for My Baby, One More For the Road” by Sinatra to “Like a Stone” by Audioslave to “If We Make it Through December” by Haggard. But, the song I’m so thankful for has got to be “Feelin’ Good Again” by Robert Earl Keen. No matter how down and out I am, it always brings me back. If I’m on top of the world it sends me into outer space. From that extra money in pocket to the love of his life, it’s a song tried and true. Thanks Robert.
Ben Danaher, singer/songwriter
“House That Built Me”-Miranda Lambert
I’m thankful for this song for a number of reasons. It was co-written by a close friend of our family, Alan Shamblin. First of all, I think it is a flawlessly written song. It also was in the slide show at my brothers funeral. His 3 yr old daughter can sing the song from start to finish. I cry each time I see her sing it and give her the biggest hug I can. Every time it comes on the radio it reminds me how important my family is to me and that I need to get home to see them more than I do.
Rob Baird, singer/songwriter
I am thankful for this song because I consider it to be the pinnacle of songwriting because it says so much with so little…not to mention the production is unbelievable.
Kris Farrow, lead guitarist from Micky and the Motorcars
“I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You” -Colin Hay
This song is the simple, painful, sobering embodiment of the way I feel about lost love. It makes me cry every time.
Ryan Beaver, singer/songwriter
“Sky Blue & Black”-Jackson Browne
My dad always shared great music with me growing up, and every time I hear that song, I think ‘Well, it’s back to the drawing board as a songwriter!’ It always motivates me to write better.
Drew Kennedy, singer/songwriter
“Rayne, Louisiana”-Bruce Robison
The first song I learned to play on guitar. I still play it at my shows. I’m thankful for it because it’s a reminder of where I’ve been and it challenges me to write songs that measure up to it.
Alex Weeden, lead guitarist for Miranda Lambert
“House That Built Me”-Miranda Lambert
I picked one of Miranda’s own songs because of everything it represents. It is a song that everyone can relate to no matter your background, and musically, it took Miranda to the next level. She is now in a whole different league…and I’m very thankful for that because it keeps us employed!
Clayton Landua, lead vocalist from Six Market Blvd
“Wild Eyed Serenade”-Jason Eady
It has been a favorite song of mine since the first time I heard it, because of the story. Being involved in music and getting the opportunity to travel for a job, is something I am thankful for and this songs assures me we are doing what we should be.
Robin Schoepf, manager from 36D Management“He Stopped Loving Her Today”-George Jones.
I was 11 years old when it was released, but it was the first song I remember learning all the words to. I wrote them all down on a piece of paper. It took me writing them down to understand that he was dead. It kick-started my love of lyrics and songwriting and the craft of telling a story without telling the story.
Andy Bertelsen, singer/songwriter from Texas Renegade
“Anna Begins”-Counting Crows
The song I’m most thankful for is “Anna Begins” by the Counting Crows because its an amazing song. In the pursuit of creating something similar I have found that the song inspires ever increasing levels of creativity within myself.
Jeremy Stedding, singer/songwriter
“Long, Black Veil”-Various Artists, written by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin
This is a song I have enjoyed throughout my life, and the words have only become more and more intriguing and heartbreaking as I’ve become an adult. Dad used to play this on the acoustic for me growing up, and it was among the first that I learned.
Brooke Shambaugh, booking agent with 415E
“Soulshine”-The Allman Brothers Band
Chase’s (Monks) very favorite song – the boys (Bo Cox Band) played it together nearly every night. I never imagined that one song would hold so many beautiful memories.
Bobby Duncan, singer/songwriter
I’m a huge flavor of the week person, although my taste doesn’t seem to run with that of the populous. At the current moment this song is the one I’m most thankful for. To me, musically, it speaks volumes for how I’m hearing melodies. It speaks of finding points within your own emotions that you have yet to discover, and not fearing the unknown. Last year it was completely different, as it will be next year, but at the moment…this is one is tops on the list.
Chris Thompson, drummer from Eli Young Band
“Fast As You”-Dwight Yoakam
This tune got me into country music. Without it, who knows where I’d be.
Ben Hussey, bassist from Six Market Blvd
“The People”-Jake Robison
Jake isn’t the kind of songwriter that listened to his idols and tried to recreate their songs as his own as so many do nowadays. No, Jake listened to other songwriters he respects and found his own voice through them. This song in particular spoke to me at a time when I needed speaking to, and for that I am thankful.
Brison Bursey, singer/songwriter
“Sunshine and Rain”-Brison Bursey
I’m thankful for this song because of what it represents. I wrote it after my daughter was born because it was the most amazing thing I’d ever been involved with. The inspiration overflowed and continues to do so. Had she not been born I would never have written the song or become the proud father I am today…two things for which I am very thankful.
Tyson Carver, multi-instrumentalist from Texas Renegade
I’m most thankful for this song because I was living in Colorado the first time I’d heard it and it was my first exposure to Americana music. Even though it is considered a pop song by some, Shawn Mullins is an incredibly talented Americana artist. This song opened the door for me to dive deeper and deeper into the singer/songwriter and Americana scenes that I’m now such a big fan and part of…and for that I am very thankful.
Rita Ballou, blogger from Rawhide and Velvet
“She’s Like Texas”-Josh Abbott Band
“Carney Man”-Cross Canadian Ragweed
Music is such a huge part of my life that I am honestly finding it extremely difficult if not impossible to pick just one song I am thankful for. At first I thought the obvious choice for me would be Josh Abbott’s “She’s Like Texas” because it has helped me realize just how important keeping my teeth as white as the cotton in the Fall is to my oral health. As crucial as it is for me to avoid periodontal disease, I think the song I am most thankful for is Cross Canadian Ragweed’s “Carney Man”. Listening to “Carney Man” always reminds me that sometimes in life…you just need a damn good corndog.
Geoffrey Hill, lead guitarist from Randy Rogers Band
“White Wedding”-Billy Idol
It’s the first song I ever learned on the guitar, I even played it in front of Stevie Ray Vaughan in a guitar shop way back when. He turned and looked at me like I had just played the most awful thing he’d ever heard… saw that I was only like 8 and gave me a chuckle.
Brian Brown, lead singer from Sloppy Joe
“Cry”-Doyle Bramhall II
Very powerful, very moving song and performance. It really helped me through the loss of my brother. I still can’t listen to it without breaking down, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It always allows me to reflect on things and for that I’m thankful.
Rich O’ Toole, singer/songwriter
“The Front Porch Song”-Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett
After hearing this song I wondered what other kinds of music might be out there. That led me to Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Terry Allen, Pat Green, Jack Ingram and Jerry Jeff Walker. Listening to those guys made me want to begin writing music and performing live. So, I’m very thankful for that track.
Maren Morris, singer/songwriter
“Up To the Mountain”-Patty Griffin
I’m a long time Patty fan, but I had no idea she actually wrote this song until a couple months ago. When I first heard it, it sounded like an old southern hymn. I performed it in February at my grandmother’s funeral and was barely able to get through it because Patty’s words just cut through me like a blade. “Sometimes I feel like I’ve never been nothin’ but tired, and I’ll be working til’ the day I expire.” She continues to inspire me as a songwriter, and I listen to this song every now and then and always walk away revitalized.
Adam Drake, disc jockey 95.9 The Ranch-Ft. Worth, TX
“Zero to 60”-Aaron Watson
I’m thankful for this song because all too often we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that we don’t take the time to enjoy the little things in life. I thank God for the little things in life.
Dave Perez, lead singer from Tejas Brothers
“He Stopped Loving Her Today”-George Jones
I’m thankful for this classic song because my mom turned me onto it years ago. Her getting me interested in that song led me to keep digging for other musical treasures…all of which have inspired my own music.
Dub Miller, singer/songwriter
“Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”-Arlo Guthrie
I’m mostly thankful for this song because it’s a song about Thanksgiving…or at least takes place on Thanksgiving even though it may or may not be about Thanksgiving which may or may not be really about giving thanks but at the bare minimum is about eating copious amounts of food and watching football…which I guess is something to really be thankful for.
Josh Grider, singer/songwriter
“Husbands and Wives”-Roger Miller
I am thankful for this song because of the lessons it teaches us. It is 2 and half minutes of observation that if taken to heart and applied to life teaches couples an invaluable lesson, one that people often pay lots of money in therapy trying to understand. It also teaches us as writers that less can, and quite often is, more when in comes to words and song length. It’s a beautifully structured and delivered song. Roger was a genius, and one of my absolute favorites. For all of these things I am thankful.
Travis Mitchell, singer/songwriter
“Come Pick Me Up”-Ryan Adams
Besides being an incredibly emotional song, and helping me understand the importance of visual imagery in the art of songwriting…the song taught me that it’s important to be honest in my writing and music. It drives home the point that personal censorship only limits creativity and for that I’m thankful.
Jonathan Kutz, drummer and music professor at McLennan Community College
“Secret O’ Life”-James Taylor
This song is such a great reminder of why we’re here on this planet. A Beatles reference to Fool on the Hill originally caught my attention, but it says so much more. A song that can put a great perspective on opening your heart to love, taking your time, enjoying the adventure and enjoying the small things in life…if you can write a song that captures those dynamics, you can catch lightning in a bottle. James Taylor puts such a great melody to it and a vibe that is just magical. That’s what this song is to me, pure magic—a great song for church, funerals and all points in between. Got depression issues? Then listen to this song over and over again! It’s as powerful as any medication. I put this song in the highly spiritual category along with other great songwriters such as Peter Gabriel, and those who have a knack for setting the perfect lyric against a musical background that can bring you to tears. This is a song that always makes me thankful, please play it at my funeral!
Dallas Neal, drummer from Six Market Blvd
“On the Turning Away”-Pink Floyd
This song inspires me to be selfless and to do everything within my abilities to help someone in need, whether I feel like it or not. The lyrics are clear and help us realize that we all live in the same world. If we pull together, put our pride and selfishness aside to lend a hand every once in a while to those less fortunate, this world will be a better place for all of us. The passionate lyrics, emotions, and dynamics in this song will move you if you let it. This is one of the very few songs that I will never get tired of. Perfectly written.
Ronnie Fauss, singer/songwriter
I heard this song playing over the speakers in a record store in Dallas ten years ago. I immediately bought the record, and was so inspired that I went home and wrote my first song. I wrote another one later that day. A few years later, they produced and played on my first record!
Katie Key, Texas Music Chart
“Ruby’s Two Sad Daughters”-Walt Wilkins via Pat Green
I’m thankful for Pat Green’s version of “Ruby’s Two Sad Daughters” because it introduced me to the amazing Walt Wilkins. That introduction started a whole new chapter in my life and I am thankful for all that song has led to.
Josh Norman, bassist from Josh Ward Band
The next one I’m writing because there’s no guarantee there will be a next one.
James Young, lead guitarist for Eli Young Band
“With or Without You”-U2
I am thankful for this song because experiencing it in concert was very moving and a testament to the power of music! Pure inspiration.
Britt Lloyd, singer/songwriter
“Livin’ on a Prayer”-Bon Jovi
It sounds like a joke, but I am serious when I say that I’m thankful for this Bon Jovi tune because as a kid it opened my eyes up to the wonderful world of rock n’ roll. That influence impacts the music I make and I am thankful for the expanded horizons I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Dave Pratka, bassist/vocalist from Spivey Crossing
I’m thankful for this song because it is a very powerful reminder of our own race with mortality.
Chris Mosser, disc jockey 98.1 KVET FM-Austin, TX
“Every Girl”-Turnpike Troubadours
I’m most thankful for this song because it’s a very good thing to hear a rare, undeniable excellence from a previously unknown band…which boosts my confidence in the future of Texas/Red Dirt Music.
Owen Temple, singer/songwriter
“Desperados Waiting For a Train”-Guy Clark via Jerry Jeff Walker.
I heard it when I was a kid, and with that song, Jerry Jeff Walker and Guy Clark first introduced me to folk music. Songs that are not just about I fell in love or I fell out of love, but songs that have whole worlds of characters, places, and honesty of feeling within them. You can hear west Texas in the lines of that song and in the voices. You can see the Green Frog Cafe, the old men domino games, and the kitchen tables in that song. I’m thankful for songs that are records-documents of the people and the times and the places they are set in. Thank you Jerry Jeff Walker and Guy Clark.
Chris Allbright, singer/songwriter
“Backslider Blues”-Jason Boland & the Stragglers
I’m thankful for this tune because the lyrics ring true to things I’ve experienced in my 29 years here on Earth…and things I’m looking forward to in the future. The line, “And I pray that they have us some guitars, so we can walk through the redbuds and sing,” says it all.
Jon “Chops” Richardson, bassist from Randy Rogers Band
This is a song I’m thankful for because I spent a whole week, day and night, getting blisters on my fingers learning how to play it until I finally nailed it. I felt like I climbed a mountain.
Jonathan Terrell, singer/songwriter
Man, the first thing that jumped to my mind immediately when you asked this question was this Lucinda Williams song. Her scratchy voice and tender, pleading lyrics perfectly align to create the bluest, moodiest and most graceful song ever! I am thankful that she sets the bar and carries a torch for all country singers. She reminds us that any artist can write a contemporary song but it takes a true artist to capture a song that is timeless.
Kimberly Kelly, singer/songwriter
“If I Die Young”-The Band Perry
I’ve got a million songs to be thankful for, but this song reminds me that it’s possible for a chick to write a really good song… by herself. It inspires me to work harder. I think people need to be reminded sometimes they’ve still got work to do, to be humbled.
Wendy Jo Peterson, the Fuelin’ Roadie Nutritionist for Musicians
“Leavin’ Texas”-Jerry Jeff Walker
When I feel the need for music, and I am talking about a yearning for home, I either turn on Jerry Jeff, Robert Earl, Lyle Lovett, or Tom Petty . Being so far from Texas out here is hard. California sometimes makes me feel lost, so hearing this song brings me back to home. It’s my standby as I load up my car with the dogs and head out for the 24+hour drive down I-10. I’m thankful for Jerry Jeff’s ability to always bring me home!
Zach Jennings, owner of LoneStarMusic.com
“Rake”-Townes Van Zandt
Townes was obviously a masterful songwriter but I think this song pretty much takes the cake. When I first heard “Rake”, I was too young to grasp its importance but the lyrics are just so haunting, regardless of age of listener. It’s an emotional wreck of a song and the lyrics feel like they were written by a man on the precipice of insanity…as many would argue Townes was at the time. Quite simply, it’s one of the ballsiest songs ever written. Haunting, foreboding, taunting. Beginning with a simple sparse guitar part, the strings take over and give “Rake” perhaps one of the bleakest soundscapes I’ve heard. So why am I thankful for this song? Because, quite simply, it introduced to the young me the idea that a song could be a man confronting his demons, but doing it in a manner that says “I am what I am. No regrets.” I think that pretty much sums up the spirit behind a lot of Texas/Red Dirt Music. Listen to the song, read the lyrics while you’re listening, feel the goosebumps developing as Townes delivers wallop after wallop of lyrical punch. The thing that always gets me about “Rake” is that when Townes reaches those final two lines, I’m always hoping for one more stanza though it’s obvious to all that he’s said all he set out to say.
Derrick Dutton, lead guitarist from Kristen Kelly and the Modern Day Drifters
“Feelin’ Bad Blues”-Ry Cooder
The tune I’m most thankful for is from the Crossroads soundtrack. Yes, the cheesy movie with Ralph Macchio… but the soundtrack was killer! It was all done by the legendary Ry Cooder. This slide tune captures the real pain of feeling bad and it inspires my approach to guitar to this day…especially when I pick up a slide.
Blake Myers, singer/songwriter from Rosehill
“Just Along For the Ride”-Cory Morrow
I’m thankful for this song because it truly captures the art of story-telling in song. The imagery is awesome. I can still remember when Mitch and I were 17 at Tin Hall in Cypress. The band was off stage and Cory started playing this song acoustic. Everyone was sitting in their seats except us. Made me want to be a songwriter.
Sam Sliva, singer/songwriter
I am most thankful for every song, old or new. The song that just when I think I’ve heard it all, absolutely floors me and makes me thank God that I (and we) get to do what we do.
Larry Hooper, singer/songwriter
“To Live Is To Fly”-Townes Van Zandt
It was one of the first Townes songs I ever heard, and it completely blew my mind. The different verses have been important to me at various times in my life, but the one that begins with “it’s goodbye to all my friends, it’s time to leave again…” is the most important. I bet I’ve listened to this song 1,000 times, no exaggeration. As someone who tried to strike out and make it as a musician it really hits home. The mantra of just go and do it and what will happen, will happen is very inspiring. So, I’m thankful for it as a beautifully written song, it’s inspiration to me as a songwriter and the meaning it carries for me as a person just trying to make it through each day.
Matt Hillyer, lead singer/guitarist from 1100 Springs
“True Love Ways”-Buddy Holly
I am always thankful for this song because it is a constant reminder of what is truly important in music and in life.
Josh Abbott, singer/songwriter from Josh Abbott Band
“Let My Tears Be Still”-Josh Abbott Band
It’s a true story about my wife’s grandpa and how he served our country and met his late wife. Anytime you can write a song that emotionally touches the hearts of those closest to you, it is something to truly be thankful for because that’s a gift from above.
Jon Jones, bassist from Eli Young Band
“Undone (The Sweater Song)”-Weezer
It was the first song that I ever played with a band back in high school. I was hooked from then on.
Jon Paul “Hogleg” Long, Galleywinter.com
“Songs About Texas”-Walt Wilkins
The obvious reasons. Sitting down the shallow creek, got nothing to do, got nothing to do.
Ryan “Tank” Hargrave, Galleywinter.com
“Anesthesia” – Cliff Burton
For being such a lyrics guy, it’s pretty shocking that I’m choosing an instrumental for a song to be thankful for. But, from the moment I heard Cliff play his bass guitar in ways I had never heard in my life, it completely wrecked all previous models of what I thought music should be. It taught me to never set an expectation for music and to let it do what it will to me.
Brad Beheler, Galleywinter.com
“Like a Coat From the Cold”-Guy Clark via Jerry Jeff Walker
As I posed this question to everyone else, I kept thinking of how I would answer. A slew of songs kept coming to mind. But, this one kept coming back to mind. I found this tune at a time when I was just discovering a wide swath of music I’d previously ignored or been ignorant to. The simplicity and beauty of the lyrics always shake me to the core. It was unlike any love song I’d ever heard before and better than any of the imitations I’ve heard since. Each syllable evokes a haunting truth and not one of those syllables is misspent. It’s still a favorite of mine to pluck out and sing horribly when I’m involved in a guitar pull. In retrospect, Guy Clark’s words allow me to ponder the wonderful life I’ve made in the present after a rowdy youth spent finding solace in several of the vices he mentions in the song. I’m thankful for Mr. Clark’s brilliance, the song’s meaning in my life and the way he continues to inspire musicians to this day.