Christmas is upon us. This being my first Christmas as a Texas resident, I have performed the necessary rite of passage in narrowing down the list of must-listen Texas Christmas songs.
Sure, everyone knows about Frosty, Rudolph, the Little Drummer Boy, and the First Noel.
All of those (and more) are — and should remain — must-haves on any Christmas playlist. But for those of you who’d like to spice up your playlist with some Lone Star classics, you’ve come to the right place.
Leaving King of Country off this list would’ve been a crime so severe it’d be punishable by my impeachment from this byline.
The eighth song in George’s holiday album “Merry Christmas Strait to You” is the only Texas-specific song of the bunch. So, naturally, the 1986 ditty is required listening.
As the fiddle and the guitar kick things off, any premonition that Strait would veer off the reservation of his marquee honky-tonk style is thrown out the window. It’s the George Strait we all know and love, just with a lyrical twist.
Rather than revamping yet another Christmas classic, Strait chooses to sing about why he holds Christmas in Texas so dear. No snow in San Antonio? No problem.
Instead of grandma getting run by over a reindeer, in Strait’s song she’s alive and well trying to avoid grandpa’s mistletoe-laden pursuit.
Christmas in Texas is such a wonderful sight, according to Strait, that Santa won’t be able to contain himself once he hears the fiddles — he’ll belt out carols “with a touch of Western swing.”
Strait’s tune is sure to spruce up your Christmas playlist like holly does a Christmas tree.
Unsurprisingly, another country song makes this list. This one comes from Phil Vassar and features Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel fame. It’s a familiar combination of Western swing and 90s country music — with a touch of the creole genre zydeco.
Unlike Strait’s ditty, this ballad sets the scene with snow coming for Amarillo.
Meanwhile, the household is abuzz preparing for Christmas Eve dinner — with mom and dad bearing the brunt of the preparation. The kids are occupied with Rudolph on TV and rather than chasing grandma around, this grandpa is snoozing.
From the brisket to the black-eyed peas, every lyric in this song is Texas-sized and Texified.
It’s sure to liven up your living room.
And as the song emphasizes, being in Texas is not required to have a “Big Ol’ Texas Christmas.”
It’s a pretty big job circumnavigating the globe in a single day, all the while ensuring each child receives their presents. A bit of a logistical nightmare, if I do say so myself.
So, it’s a bit understandable getting lost here and there. Well, Jeff Carson’s melody details just that.
The fiddle leads things off into a depiction of a frustrated Santa Claus, unsure of how to leave Texas on Christmas Eve. At Carson’s campfire, Santa briefly rested — munching on coffee, beans, and bread rather than his usual cookies and milk.
The pair exchanged a pleasantry or two, then came the time to pass on through.
Before lifting off, Santa’s final gift was leaving the “star of Texas ablazin’ in the sky” — to find his way around on his next Christmas Eve fly.
Santa may have gotten lost in Texas, but haven’t we all at some point or another?
Add this to your playlist and you might get as lost in the tune as Santa did in the song.
Asleep at the Wheel’s Texas-themed holiday ballad is as slothful as a sweltering Lone Star day.
The ebbs and flows of Ray Benson’s voice move from note to note as methodically as the hands of a watched clock. Benson takes you through his lackadaisical Christmas day, not missing bit no matter how banal.
Normally on Christmas, the singer specifies, he’d be wearing a beaver pelt — but today his chosen outer layer is much lighter. Once his boots and hat are on, he’s ready to venture out into the scorching Texas sun.
Benson’s joined throughout the song by Dale Watson and the pair perform a quaint little tune perfect for a post-dinner food coma.
What does every lonesome cowboy in Nevada look forward to every year? According to Michael Martin Murphey, it’s the Cowboy Christmas Ball.
From all over, cowpokes and cowgirls make the pilgrimage to the ball. “The boys were tolerable skittish, the ladies powerful neat,” as they danced along to the music, led emphatically by a busy accordion.
Michael Murphey Martin’s jingle is sure to make you get up and do a jig.
For an interesting twist on the song, also try The Killers’ version.
The final installment is a Kevin Fowler production featuring, yet again, Ray Benson.
On his annual present-bearing mission, Santa runs into some trouble.
In Juarez, Mexico, Santa drops down a chimney and finds himself in a house owned by the local cartel. After some Christmas Eve delight, Santa departs for Texas not only rosy-cheeked but rosy-eyed as well.
Poor old Saint Nick then gets stopped by the border patrol “85 miles east of El Paso.” After getting frisked and his sleigh impounded, Santa’s case is adjudicated — and with a swift swing of his gavel, the judge sends Santa on his merry way.
The upbeat jingle is a stellar mix of holiday cheer and Texas justice.
As you gather with your family and consume absurd amounts of food, remember the timeless words of one Buddy the Elf: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing aloud for all to hear.”
Merry Christmas, Texas.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.