Inspired by Oklahoma Today‘s September issue focusing solely on country music, we’ll be counting down the Top 100 Oklahoma Country Songs over the next several weeks.
Every weekday, we will unveil another five songs that helped shape the way Oklahoma country music is heard by the outside world.
100. Red Dirt Rangers – “Without My Baby” (2010)
Although unreleased, this track shows off the Red Dirt Rangers mixture of bluegrass, country and folk, along with their tight harmonies. They’re one of the longest lasting groups in the red dirt genre, meeting and performing together since the early 1980s in Stillwater.
99. Otto Gray & His Oklahoma Cowboys – “Pistol Pete’s Midnight Special” (1926)
Few videos remain of Otto Gray & His Oklahoma Cowboys, so the video we’ve posted is just a good representation of their act back in the 1920s and 1930s. Originally known as Billy McGinty’s Oklahoma Cowboy Band, they were the first western string band to be broadcast nationally in 1925. The band from Ripley was also the first country and western group to appear on the cover of Billboard magazine in 1931.
“Pistol Pete’s Midnight Special” was Dave “Pistol Pete” Cutrell’s version of the traditional song “Midnight Special” and the first time the song was ever recorded. The song would later be popularized by Lead Belly and recorded by the likes of Harry Belafonte, The Beatles, Eric Clapton and Johnny Rivers (whose 1965 version was used as the theme song for the 1970s NBC music television program “The Midnight Special”).
98. Katrina Elam – “No End In Sight” (2004)
“No End in Sight” was Katrina Elam’s first single released on Universal South. The Bray native would go on to tour with Rascal Flatts before locking horns with her record company over her follow-up album. Since then, Elam has co-written a song for Carrie Underwood (“Change”) and had her song “I Want a Cowboy” covered by Reba McEntire.
In late 2010, she starred with George Strait in “Pure Country 2: The Gift”.
97. The Departed – “The Ballad of Rosalie” (2011)
“Ballad of Rosalie” was written by Randy Pease and originally recorded by Tom Skinner. The Departed’s version, which appears on their debut album This is Indian Land, topped the Texas Music Chart in July 2011.
“I just fell in love with it. When we went in to practice for the first time, that was the first tune we fired up, the first song The Departed ever played. Twenty years from now when we’re still rocking on the road, we’ll still be playing that song. Songs come and go in set lists, I learned that with Ragweed,” he added, “but I think ‘Rosalie’s’ gonna be one of those ones that are always there.” – Cody Canada (The Oklahoman)
96. Woody Guthrie – “Do Re Mi” (1937)
Although Woody Guthrie’s inclusion might stretch the ideas of country music in some people’s minds, we thought it would be a travesty if we didn’t include at least one song from the Okemah native.
Folk music is essentially country music before country music was recorded and became popular. Folk music since Bob Dylan has obviously morphed into other sounds and meanings, but Guthrie’s music is very roots-based, coming from the same ancestors (The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers) as country music.
“It’s all about the migrants being illegally kept out of California in the Dust Bowl time in the ’30s. So if you ain’t got the do-re-mi, then you’d better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee. Because you won’t be able to get into the Garden of Eden: California. So it’s all about that time period, and the illegal border.” - Anna Canoni (Woody Guthrie Foundation)
The song has since been recorded Ry Cooder, Cisco Houston and Ani DiFranco.