The Houston 100: From Charles Brown to Sippie Wallace
79. “Texas Cookin’,” Guy Clark, 1976. If a better, more thorough song about our homegrown cuisine has ever been put to paper, we’ve yet to hear it. Simultaneously makes you hungry and compels you to sing along. (George Strait cut the tune last year.)
77. “Deep in the West,” Shake Russell, 1978. Another of Shake’s regional hits from Songs on the Radio; this one was later cut by no less a hoss than Ol’ Waylon himself.
76. “Funny How Time Slips Away,” Lyle Lovett and Al Green, 1993. Another in the long line of successful Houston / Memphis collaborations, Lovett and the Reverend of Love won a Grammy for their duet cover of a song Willie Nelson wrote here during that week he also wrote “Night Life” and “Crazy.”
75. “Gangster of Love,” Johnny “Guitar” Watson, 1957 and 1977. How’s this for symmetry: Watson cuts “Gangster of Love” in his rockin’ bluesy R&B era in the late ‘50s, and inspires Dallasite Steve Miller to adopt that persona in the early ‘70s. Watston then recuts the tune as a funk jam in the mid-‘70s while also edging towards nascent rap in some of his songs. And then a decade later, Watson’s fellow Houstonians the Geto Boys lift Miller’s approximation of Watson’s bad-assery for their own take on love-gangstadom. (That’s if you got an early copy; Miller’s reps had the GB’s recut the song sans Miller sample later, which is some nerve when you think about how Miller jacked the idea from Watson.)
73. “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer,” Amos Milburn, 1953 / George Thorogood, 1977. Oft-cited by the likes of Fats Domino and Little Richard as a key influence, proto-rock piano pounder Amos Milburn was 1949’s top-selling R&B artist. “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer” was only the most successful and enduring of a long string of booze tunes, which also included “Thinking and Drinking,” “Vicious Vicious Vodka,” “Bad Bad Whiskey,” “Good Good Whiskey” and “Let Me Go Home Whiskey.” As filtered through an intermediate version by John Lee Hooker, it would join the classic rock canon as read by George Thorogood.
72. “The Front Porch Song,” Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett, 1984. College friends / neighbors Lovett and Keen wrote this fun little ditty about raising hell on your porch while people go to church across the street. Bryan-College Station has not seen their like since. From the perspective of at least a few years past college, the song seems sad – those carefree days won’t ever return for most of us.
71. “Woman Be Wise,” Sippie Wallace, 1925. Wallace was a Fifth Ward singer and brother to Hersal Thomas of “Suitcase Blues” fame. The young Bonnie Raitt idolized Wallace and recorded with her decades after the sage advice in this song was committed to 78. Wallace, who settled in Detroit in the 1930s, lived on to return triumphantly to Houston in 1985 (she was honored at the Juneteenth Blues Festival at Hermann Park) and appear on Letterman.