AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – If you’re ever in Oklahoma, missing that Oklahoma sunshine, welcoming a beautiful morning, or simply need an anthem for a rodeo, the Sooner State has a song for you.
Not to mention, the locals have recommendations.
MyHighPlains.com asked our audience to weigh in on what they think are the best songs about Oklahoma, and used the responses to compile a list of 10 of the locals’ favorite hometown tunes.
If You’re Ever in Oklahoma – JJ Cale
Released in 1972 by JJ Cale, “If You’re Ever In Oklahoma” supplies some simple tips for the visitors meandering around the state – mostly concerning the law. The narrator warns those visiting Oklahoma about avoiding “the law” and the hold-ups and fines encounters with it could bring.
No U in Oklahoma – Reba McEntire
Featured on the 2019 album “Stronger Than the Truth,” Oklahoma’s darling Reba McEntire’s “No U In Oklahoma” recounts the effort to find reprieve from a harrowing heartache. After crying “clear ‘cross Carolina” and around much of the US, the song’s narrator finds that Oklahoma is “okay,” if only for the absence of the heartbreaker that haunted their travels.
Okie from Muskogee – Merle Haggard
One of, if not the, most famous country tunes about Oklahoma, Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee” is a classic character study that has delighted fans for generations. Originally released in 1970, Haggard also went on to perform the song with Willie Nelson.
Oklahoma Hills – Woody and Jack Guthrie
“Oklahoma Hills” was originally written by the legendary Woody Guthrie, and reached number one on the Juke Box Folk Records Charts in 1945 after it was tweaked and recorded by Jack Guthrie. The song became so well-loved that it has seen dozens of covers, and was chosen as Oklahoma’s official state folk song in 2001.
In 1961, country singer Hank Thompson joined His Brazos Valley Boys to record another well-known version of the song. The western swing rendition reached #10 on the Billboard Magazine Hot C&W Singles chart.
Oklahoma Sunshine – Waylon Jennings
“Oklahoma Sunshine” was released in the Waylon Jennings album “The Ramblin’ Man” in 1974. Focused on love, loss, and going home, the narrator discusses his dreams of going back to bask in the Oklahoma sunshine after leaving the dreary New York City.
Oklahoma-Texas Line – Rascal Flatts
Rascal Flatts released “Oklahoma-Texas Line” on its 2004 album “Feels Like Today.” The country song is focused on the narrator’s love for “a little brick house on the Oklahoma-Texas line,” and specifically the woman who shares the home.
Red River Blue – Blake Shelton
Another of the more modern songs on the list, “Red River Blue” was released in 2011 by Blake Shelton, in an album of the same name. Much like how the Red River draws much of the border that separates Oklahoma from Texas, the duet with Miranda Lambert focuses on the heartbreaking goodbye between two people.
Rodeo – Garth Brooks
Written by Larry Bastian and recorded by Garth Brooks, “Rodeo” was released in 1991 as the first single on the album “Ropin’ in the Wind.” It went on to reach number one on the Canadian country music chart and peaked in the US at the number three position.
Brooks also discussed the song in the liner notes from the compilation album “The Hits” in 1994:
“If one looks down the list of music’s greatest writers of all time, I couldn’t imagine the list being complete without the name of Larry Bastian.Garth Brooks
The song ‘Rodeo’ was originally titled ‘Miss Rodeo.’ It was a female song, where the artist sang about how she could not compete with the sport of rodeo. I tried to get every female I know in the industry to cut this song. When the last told me she just didn’t hear it, I began to wonder if that meant I was supposed to do something with it.
This song was recorded in 1981 as a demo, and for ten years, it sat silent. We got a hold of it, and the band’s version of it just stunned me. This song has always been a favorite live, and I hope as long as I get to play live, this will always be on the list.”
Tulsa Time – Don Williams
Written by Danny Flowers and recorded by Don Williams, “Tulsa Time” was released in 1978 in the album “Expressions.” It became Williams’ eighth song to take the #1 place on the country chart.
After its release, Eric Clapton put out two versions of the song – first in the 1979 album “Backless” and the second in 1980 on the live album “Just One Night.”
What a Beautiful Morning
As the list ends with an opening, the first song from the 1943 musical “Oklahoma!” is among the most well-known, well-loved, and often covered tunes about the Sooner State. “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'” was written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, and is sung in the musical by the main character Curly McLain.
“There’s a bright, golden haze on the meadowRodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” – 1943
There’s a bright, golden haze on the meadow
The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye
And it looks like it’s climbing clear up to the sky –
Oh, what a beautiful mornin’
Oh, what a beautiful day
I’ve got a beautiful feelin’
Everything’s goin’ my way!”
Aside from the vast array of talented singers and actors who have taken on the mantle of Curly McLain over the course of the musical’s history, other notable covers of the song included those from Bing Crosby and Trudy Erwin, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, James Taylor, and Sharon, Lois & Bram.
What do you think – did your favorite song about Oklahoma make our list?
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