The Houston 100: From Harry Choates to Johnny Preston

Categories: The Houston 100

The Houston 100 continues. Click here for numbers 91 to 100.

90. “Jole Blon,” Harry Choates, 1946. The unofficial Cajun national anthem was first recorded in Houston, by Choates, a Port Arthur-raised hellraiser who would die in a fit of delirium tremens in the Austin jail at 29 five years later.

89. “Spin on a Red Brick Floor,” Nanci Griffith, 1988. A song about local folk mother church Anderson Fair, recorded live at Anderson Fair. Doesn’t get much more Houston than that. As much fun as a trip to the Fair’s famous back porch.

88. “Telephone Road,” Steve Earle, 1997. Earle’s musical remembrance of Telephone is seen through the eyes of an eager transplant to Houston from Lafayette who can’t wait to indulge in the dozens of jukebox-blasting, beer bottle-ringing sin-dens on the street, reasoning that “this ain’t Louisiana and mama won’t know – everybody’s rockin’ down on Telephone Road.” Gospel group The Fairfield Four does a star turn harmonizing the chorus.

87. “Legs,” ZZ Top, 1984. The video -- long on hot rods, gimmicky guitars and plenty of jiggling cheesecake -- helped usher the bluesy trio from the classic rock epoch to the brief MTV era. Jeana Keough, widely considered the sexiest of the Top girls at the time (well, at least with the 14-year-old boy demographic at my house), went on to a Playboy centerfold, marriage to former Oakland Athletic Matt Keough, and a star turn on The Real Housewives of Orange County.

86. “14 Carat Mind,” Gene Watson, 1981. The biggest in a long string of hits from this nonpareil stone-cold honky-tonker from Pasadena.

85. “Houston,” Johnny Copeland, 1982. Great, horn-heavy barn-burner of a jump blues number about being homesick for Third Ward; namechecks Lightnin’ Hopkins, Shady’s Playhouse and the corner of Live Oak and McGowen.

84. “American Trilogy,” Mickey Newbury, 1971. Newbury’s arrangement of three Civil War songs – “Dixie,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and “All My Trials” – became one a favorite of late-period Elvis, who closed every show with it until his death. “American Trilogy” was thus the last song the King performed in public. (Newbury and his “train songs” are also cited in “Luckenbach, Texas.”)

83. “Say My Name,” Destiny’s Child, 1999. The biggest hit off of 1999’s The Writing’s on the Wall, “Say My Name” broke Destiny’s Child in Australasia, topping the charts in both the Phillippines and Australia. The video also shockingly reflected the absence of founding members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson – they had been replaced by Farrah Franklin and Michelle Williams with little warning.

82. “Houston is Hot Tonight,” Iggy Pop, 1981. James Osterberg has better material, and better songs about Houston exist, but this is undoubtedly the best Iggy Pop song about Houston. Surreal lyrics – "(T)hey've got a moon-man on the telephone," "Arabian sheiks and money up in the sky" and "I don't mind a bloodbath 'cause I've got oil on my breath" -- and the Uptown Horns make this one a winner.

81. “Running Bear,” Johnny Preston, 1959. Cheesy faux-Native American rock; "heap big fun," as they would have said in 1959, the year this song topped the charts for three weeks. George Jones and the Big Bopper provide the Apache chants in the background.



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