The month of December is no stranger to lists, from Christmas wish lists to end-of-year “best of” lists regarding pop culture. So to keep in the festive spirit, I curated this list of 10 holiday songs by Texans y’all just gotta listen to before Christmas.
There are many, many more that could be mentioned, but since this is the season of giving, I kept each artist to one appearance on this list. I’m no music critic, but I am a Texan and that qualified me enough for this task.
Here they are, in no particular order (so don’t yell at me):
1. “A Willie Nice Christmas,” Kacey Musgraves featuring Willie Nelson
Let’s get straight to the point here. “A Very Kacey Christmas” is one of my favorite Christmas albums and the relationship Musgraves and Nelson have forged makes for magic set to song. This duet shouts out Hanukkah and Kwanzaa but as someone pointed out to me recently, there aren’t many songs about smoking weed on Christmas.
Best line: “May we all stay higher than the angel at the top of the tree”
2. “When Santa Rides Through Texas,” Casey Donahew and Cody Johnson
When these two staples of Texas red dirt music linked up, this song was bound to have even the grinch-iest listeners cracking a smile. Santa ditching all those holiday standards once he crossed into Texas makes for a song begging to be sung along to.
Best line: “He throws a party for George Strait’s exes when Santa rides through Texas”
3. “8 Days of Christmas,” Destiny’s Child
Named the best band from Texas (it’s true!), Destiny’s Child’s catalog is piled high with hits. Among them is this slimmed-down take on the “12 Days of Christmas.” If you’re still wondering what to get that special someone in your life, this song offers options. Sure, maybe you can’t afford a Mercedes, but you can always give your T-I-M-E.
Best line: “
4. “Underneath the Tree,” Kelly Clarkson
Like my esteemed colleague Eric Webb wrote in his list of favorite Christmas songs, Clarkson’s “Underneath the Tree” needs to be in your holiday playlist, right alongside Mariah Carey’s classic. The Fort Worth native delivers soaring vocals like MC, and the two songs play to the same theme: All I want for Christmas is you.
Best line: “Presents, what a beautiful sight, don't mean a thing if you ain't holding me tight”
5. “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas,” George Strait
In Texas, Strait rules as the King of Country Music, and this jingle is a natural fit for both holiday dinners and honky tonks. This song is so quintessentially Texan, even the grocery chain H-E-B used it for its Christmas advertising featuring tamales, cacti and horses.
Best line: “When it's Christmas time in Texas, it might look just like a summer day”
6. “Christmas in Austin,” Shelley King
King’s ode name-drops the highlights of the Live Music Capital of the World in the wintertime, including the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar and the Texas Capitol tree. The jazzy tune also celebrates everyone who chooses to eat Mexican food on Christmas (and really, why would you not?).
Best line: “No place on Earth I’d rather be spinning under the Zilker Tree”
7. “Merry Christmas From The Family,” Robert Earl Keen
Best enjoyed beer in hand, Keen’s Christmas song is dedicated to complicated family relationships (some of which you don’t even understand). It’s also dedicated to everyone who has ever had to run out to the store for the weird requests that only family members can offer. Long live Stop ‘N Go.
Best line: “A box of tampons and some Marlboro Lights”
8. “Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy,” Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Owens’ song about a child putting the pieces together about the true identity of Santa has been covered by country stars like Brad Paisley. Born in Sherman, Owens’ twangy vocals make for a succinct country Christmas delight that’s unmistakable.
Best line: “Santa put his arm around mama, and mama put her arm around him”
9. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” Jessica Simpson
Every other song on this list is an original, but what’s Christmas without the classics? Simpson’s rendition is sultry, indulgent, and slinky all wrapped in a neat package. Her vocals take the spolight as light strings, piano and a drum help transport you to a holiday lounge.
Best line: “Hang a shining star upon the highest bough, and have yourself a merry little Christmas now”
10. “One More Christmas Beer,” Sunny Sweeney
This song goes out to every family that can’t seem to go five minutes without falling into dysfunction. If your family is anything like mine, with everybody together under one roof, yelling and roughhousing are unavoidable. The best option: Just sit back and have a beer. Kudos to Sweeney for sneaking a hiccup into a Christmas song.
Best line: “God bless the family, can’t wait ‘til it’s over”
Listen to the whole playlist below. Have a song you think should’ve been on this list? Leave a comment.