Texas “million-air” songwriters

One of the large copyright license clearance organizations for music performances, Broadcast Music, Incorporated, (better known simply as BMI), keeps track of how many times a song is performed on radio. When a song passes a million performances, it is said to be a “million-air” tune.

Texas music license plateAccording to the governor’s Texas Music Office, a million plays of most popular tunes is equal to 50,000 broadcast hours, or about 5.7 years of continuous play.

Texas songwriters have quite a few tunes in that category, and a surprising number of them of recent vintage. More below the fold.

In fact, many of the most popular songs by Texas composers have 3 million to 5 million performances, as this chart shows:

Five Million broadcast performances
“Oh Pretty Woman” Roy Orbison (with William Dees)

Four Million broadcast performances

“Best of My Love” Don Henley (with Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther)
“Blue Bayou” Roy Orbison (with Joe Melson)
“Crying” Roy Orbison (with Joe Melson)
“For the Good Times” Kris Kristofferson
“Help Me Make It Through The Night” Kris Kristofferson
“Mr. Bojangles” Jerry Jeff Walker

Three Million broadcast performances
“Baby Come Back” J. C. Crowley (with Peter Beckett)
“Desperado” Don Henley (with Glenn Frey)
“The End of Innocence” Don Henley (with Bruce Hornsby)
“For What It’s Worth” Stephen Stills
“The Heart of the Matter” Don Henley (with J. D. Souther and Mike Campbell)
“Heartache Tonight” Don Henley (with Glenn Frey, J. D. Souther and Bob Seger)
“I Can’t Tell You Why” Don Henley (with Glenn Frey and Timothy Schmitt)
“King of the Road” Roger Miller
“Last Worthless Evening” Don Henley (with John Corley and Stan Lynch)
“Love’s Theme” Barry White
“New Kid In Town” Don Henley (with Glenn Frey and J. D. Souther)
“Tequila Sunrise” Don Henley (with Glenn Frey)
“That’ll Be the Day” Buddy Holly, J. I. Allison (with Norman Petty)
“You Don’t Know Me” Cindy Walker (with Eddy Arnold)
“You Got It” Roy Orbison (with Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty)

I think it’s interesting that there is not a single song associated with traditional Texas artists like Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, for example — showing a definite skew for the past 30 to 40 years (though there are a couple of Hudie Ledbetter tunes included). It’s also interesting that there is so little blues, no rap or hip hop (Paul Wall? Beyonce?) — yet. Most of the songs have no particular connection to Texas other than the artist’s being a Texan.

A Texas history course could easily do a Texas Music Friday — or a Texas Music Monday if you prefer that alliteration and are brave enough to try it — and have music to cover the entire school year, featuring a different genre, a different outstanding artist, or a different Texas connection each week.

One district I’ve worked with featured a Texas remake of the classic “I’ve Been Everywhere” made popular by Hank Snow, Johnny Cash and others 30 years ago featuring nothing but Texas cities (performed by Brian Burns) (notice that the song was originally written for Australia, stolen for New Zealand, and also has versions for Alaska, Canada, Germany, and “Springfield’s state” for the television show, the Simpsons) . This was a geography enrichment exercise.

Surely there are several hours worth of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys alone. There’s the geography connection: “Ada from Decatur,” “Across the Alley from the Alamo,” “New San Antonio Rose”), the pure history connections in their previous incarnation as the Light Crust Doughboys, and their role in the election of Pappy O’Daniel as governor and the way that story found its way to the screen recently in “O Brother! Where Art Thou?” recast as Mississippi and bluegrass music.

Heck, that could be made a lot more interesting than a lot of the stuff in the texts. This post barely brushes the surface of Texas music, and it has not mentioned directly any of the rich heritage of Spanish-language music in the state. There’s a lot of possibility there.

The governor’s Texas Music Office site features links to a lot of resources, including a long bibliography (see especially this page, “divisions”). Teachers might want to pick up a copy of the Handbook of Texas Music, too.

Here’s the rest of the “million-air” list, as it stood at the end of 2006, showing those songs with 2 million, and then 1 million broadcast performances.

Two Million broadcast performances
“Amarillo By Morning” Terry Stafford (with Paul Fraser)
“Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me” Mac Davis
“Boot Scootin’ Boogie” Ronnie Dunn
“Brand New Man” Ronnie Dunn (with Kix Brooks and Don Cook)
“Chantilly Lace” J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson
“Crazy” Willie Nelson
“Different Drum” Michael Nesmith
“Dream Baby” Cindy Walker
“Everyday” Buddy Holly (with Norman Petty)
“Good Hearted Woman” Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson
“Hey Baby” Bruce Channel (with Margaret Cobb)
“I Fought the Law” Sonny Curtis
“In the Ghetto” Mac Davis
“Me and Bobby McGee” Kris Kristofferson (with Fred Foster)
“My Maria” B.W. Stevenson (with Daniel Moore)
“Neon Moon” Ronnie Dunn
“On the Road Again” Willie Nelson
“Only the Lonely” Roy Orbison (with Joe Melson)
“Passionate Kisses” Lucinda Williams
“Peggy Sue” Buddy Holly, J. I. Allison (with Norman Petty)
“Victim of Love” Don Henley (with Glenn Frey, J. D. Souther and Don Felder)
“Walk Right Back” Sonny Curtis
“Welcome To My World” John Hathcock and Ray Winkler
“We’re In This Love Together” Keith Stegall (with Roger Murrah)
“Why Not Me” Sonny Throckmorton (with Harlan Howard and Brent Maher)

One Million broadcast performances
“All I Wanna Do” David Baerwald (with Sheryl Crow, Bill Botrell and Wyn Cooper)
“All My Exes Live in Texas” Linda Shafer and Whitey Shafer
“All the Gold in California” Larry Gatlin
“Always Late With Your Kisses” Lefty Frizzell (with Blackie Crawford)
“Are You Ever Gonna Love Me” Holly Dunn (with Tom Shapiro and Chris Waters)
“Broken Lady” Larry Gatlin
“Can’t Break My Heart” Tracy Lawrence (with Earl Clark, Kirk Roth and Elbert Lee West)
“Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe” Barry White
“Cotton Fields” Huddie Ledbetter
“Crazy Over You” Radney Foster (with Bill Lloyd)
“Dallas” Keith Stegall (with Alan Jackson)
“Darned If I Don’t (Danged If I Do)” Ronne Dunn (with Dean Dillon)
“Deep In the Heart of Texas” June Hershey, Don Swander
“Dirty Laundry” Don Henly (with Danny Korchmar)
“Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind” Darlene and Whitey Shafer
“Does He Love You” Sandy Knox (with Billy Stritch)
“Don’t We All Have the Right” Roger Miller
“Funny How Time Slips Away” Willie Nelson
“A Good Run of Bad Luck” Clint Black and Hayden Nicholas
“Goodnight Irene” Huddie Ledbetter (with John A. Lomax Sr.)
“Got My Heart Set On You” Dobie Grey (with Bud Reneau)
“Half the Man” Clint Black and Hayden Nicholas
“Hard Workin’ Man” Ronnie Dunn
“Hearts Are Gonna Roll” Hal Ketchum (with Ronny Scaife)
“Heart’ Desire” Lee Roy Parnell (with Cris Moore)
“Hello Walls” Willie Nelson
“Hotel California” Don Henley (with Glenn Frey and Don Felder)
“Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer to You)” Larry Gatlin
“I Believe in Music” Mac Davis
“I Don’t Care” Cindy Walker (with Webb Pierce)
“I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me” Rodney Crowell (with Rosanne Cash)
“I Love You Because” Leon Payne
“I Love You So Much It Hurts” Floyd Tillman
“I’m No Stranger to the Rain” Sonny Curtis (with Ron Hellard)
“If the World Had a Front Porch” Tracy Lawrence (with Paul Nelson and Kenny Beard)
“If You’ve Got the Money (I’ve Got the Time) Lefty Frizzell (with Jim Beck)
“In the Misty Moonlight” Cindy Walker
“It Only Hurts When I Cry” Roger Miller (with Dwight Yoakam)
“It’s A Litte Too Late” Mark Chesnutt (with Slugger Morrissette and Roger Springer)
“It’s So Easy” Buddy Holly (with Norman Petty)
“Just To Satisfy You” Waylon Jennings (with Don Bowman)
“Last Resort” Don Henley (with Glenn Frey)
“Life Gets Away” Clint Black and Hanyden Nicholas (with Thom Schuyler)
“Life In the Fast Lane” Don Henley (with Joe Walsh and Glenn Frey)
“Little Miss Honky Tonk” Ronnie Dunn
“The Long Run” Don Henley (with Glenn Frey)
“Love at the Five and Dime” Nanci Griffith
“Love Somebody Like Me” Holly Dunn and Radney Foster
“Lyin’ Eyes” Don Henley (with Glenn Frey)
“Maybe Baby” Buddy Holly (with Norman Petty)
“Memories” Mac Davis (with Billy Strange)
“More Than I Can Say” J. I. Allison and Sonny Curtis
“My Next Broken Heart” Ronnie Dunn (with Don Cook and Kix Brooks)
“No Time To Kill” Clint Black and Hayden Nicholas
“Nobody Wins” Kim Richey and Radney Foster
“One of These Nights” Don Henley (Glenn Frey)
“Party Doll” Buddy Knox (with Dave Alldred, Jimmy Bowen and Donnie Lanier)
“Party Time” Bruce Channel
“Put Yourself In My Shoes” Shake Russell, Clint Black and Hayden Nicholas
“Running Bear” J.P Richardson
“Sad Cafe” Don Henley (with Glenn Frey, J. D. Souther and Joe Walsh)
“She Used to Be Mine” Ronnie Dunn
“She’s Not The Cheatin’ Kind” Ronnie Dunn
“Slipping Around” Floyd Tillman
“Somewhere Tonight” Rodney Crowell (with Harlan Howard)
“Southern Cross” Stephen Stills (with Michael Curtis and Richard Curtis)
“Stand Up” Bruce Channel, Sonny Throckmorton (with Ricky Ray Rector)
“State Of Mind” Clint Black
“Stay Forever” Hal Ketchum (with Benmont Tench)
“Stay (I Missed You) Lisa Loeb
“Stop and Smell the Roses’ Mac Davis (with Doc Severnson)
“Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” Kris Kristofferson
“Wasted Days, Wasted Nights” Freddy Fender
“Wasted Time” Don Henley (with Glenn Frey)
“Watchin’ Scotty Grow” Mac Davis
“What Kind of Love” Roy Orbison, Rodney Crowell (with Will Jennings)
“Whiskey Under the Bridge” Ronnie Dunn (with Don Cook and Kix Brooks)
“Why Baby Why” George Jones (with Darrell Edwards)
“Why Me” Kris Kristofferson
“Witchy Woman” Don Henley (with Bernie Leadon)
“You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone” Ronnie Dunn (with Don Cook and Kix Brooks)

Image of Texas music license plate from the Texas Music Office; Texans may purchase a license plate honoring Texas music, with an extra fee that supports Texas music — details here.

One Response to Texas “million-air” songwriters

  1. […] Original post by Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub […]


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