More than anything else, the thing that sets Texas music so far above the other genres is the stories that the songs tell. In a state full of amazing talented songwriters, we’ve tried to whittle the list down to five - of our favorites. And this was hard. Because there are WAY more than five great ones. Maybe we’ll do a follow up of the next five we love. There are SO many that deserve to be recognized - but here are just some of them. This is not a ranking. All of them are amazing. There are obviously some names not included here. (The list of those we didn’t include will get some criticism…..we get it. We’re criticizing us too).
Some rules I gave myself for this list. I left the obvious “legends” like Jerry Jeff Walker off the list. And, along those same lines, I tried to only pick songwriters currently cranking out songs. I think we can all agree that Robert Earl Keen has a place here. He just hasn’t had a lot of new songs in awhile. And with that…..
5. William Clark Green - I don’t think Mr. Green has a limit. Each album that comes out, I feel like the songwriting gets better and better. Often singing about subjects and characters with humble, feet-on-the-ground traits, it matches who William Clark Green really is I think. Many of us “found” the music with 2013’s Rose Queen and “She Likes The Beatles”. Then went back and devoured 2010’s Misunderstood and 2008’s Dangerous Man. But Ringling Road was one of the most solid songwriting follow ups to a hit record we can think of. And Hebert Island proved he’s not running out of hit songs.
4. Jason Eady - I feel like Eady is the “songwriter’s songwriter.” With the blue-grass, folk style that Jason brings, his subjects and themes are more like poems to me. And Eady had already proven himself years ago. But with 2017’s self titled record (Why I Left Atlanta, Barabbas, No Genie In This Bottle) and the amazing 2018 follow up “I Travel On” (Calavaras County, I Lost My Mind in Carolina, I Travel On) he earned his spot at one of the top songwriters currently working.
3. Dalton Domino - The great thing about listening to Dalton Domino’s songs is that it’s like your listening to a piece of his diary from when he wrote it. No filter, brutally honest. His 2018 album, Corners put him on my list (Corners, July, Decent Man, Mine Again). And his 2019 album, “Songs from Exile” was outstanding (Shadowlands, Daddy’s Mud, Happy Alone). But - it was his latest 2020 Album “Feverdreamer”. It’s devastatingly honest without being all dark. One of our favorite albums of 2020.
2. Radney Foster - One of the “Hall Of Famers” in my opinion. He’s such a great songwriter, he wrote a companion book to go along with his 2017 release - “For You To See The Stars.” But the hit songs have been coming since 1992 with “Del Rio, Tx 1959. For me? Half of My Mistakes is one of my all time favorite songs. And Easier Said Than Done. But, the recent Sycamore Creek and For You To See The Stars prove that Radney has a lot more songs in him to write.
1.Bruce Robison - Nobody is more responsible for my interest in music and songwriting than Bruce. And I think that may be true for a lot of people. I was lucky enough to discover Mr. Robison’s 1996 self titled release very early on. Travelin’ Soldier became the standard that all other songs were measured against. After that, every album had songs that just stuck. Blame it On Me, Desperately, My Brother and Me, Wrapped, Long Way Home From Anywhere, What Would Willie Do, Tonight, When It Rains, The New One…..just to name a few. For me, I don’t know if any other songwriter represents the Texas Music genre better than Bruce.