Bringing music into the history classroom can bring the past to life while challenging students to think critically about lyrical content, the role of  mythology in shaping the history of a place or time, and the importance of cultural memory. As US History Scene explores the archives in the State of Texas, we put together a playlist of iconic Texas music legends and songs for teachers getting tired of “The Ballad of Davy Crocket” while teaching the Alamo and its romantic legacy. This is not an all-inclusive list; it has been constructed to reflect the rich and dynamic musical heritage of Texas that continues to run deep in both the history of the U.S. West and the American experience at large.

1)   Gene Autry

Suggested listening: Back In the Saddle Again and Deep in the Heart of Texas

2)   Buddy Holly

Suggested listening: That’ll Be the Day, Maybe Baby, and Oh Boy!

3)   Willie Nelson

Suggested listening: Crazy, Always on My Mind

4)   Buck Owens

Suggested listening: Streets of Bakersfield


5)   Waylon Jennings

Suggested listening: Luckenbach Texas; Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys

6)   Townes Van Zandt

Suggested listening: Poncho and Lefty, If I Needed You

7)   Doug Sahm

Suggested listening: She’s About A Mover

8)   Bobby Fuller Four

Suggested listening: I Fought the Law (The Law Won)

9)   Roy Orbison

Suggested listening: Pretty Woman, Crying

10)  T. Bone Walker

Suggested listening: Stormy Monday Blues

11)  Lightnin’ Hopkins

Suggested listening: Everything the man has ever touched. Just download the entire discography on iTunes.

12)   Yellow Rose of Texas

Suggested listening: Originally written as a blackface minstrel song commenting on interracial sexuality in newly acquired Texas, so many artists have recorded this song throughout the twentieth century (progressively cleaning up its lyrics decade by decade) you can virtually take your pick of covers. Here is a Nashville interpretation…

13)  Stevie Ray Vaughn

Suggested listening: Crossfire, Pride and Joy, Texas Flood

14)  Bob Wills

Suggested listening: San Antonio Rose

15) Guy Clark

Suggested listening: Desperados Waiting for a Train

16)  Janis Joplin

Suggested listening: Mercedes Benz, Piece of My Heart. GET IT JANIS!

17)  Butch Hancock

Suggested listening: Bluebird, West Texas Waltz

18)  Roky Erickson

Suggested listening: You’re Gonna Miss Me

19) Blind Willie Johnson

Suggested listening: Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground

20) Jerry Jeff Walker

Suggested listening: Mr. Bojangles

And in case you still secretly miss Davy Crocket, here is a Sing-A-Long special.