The Old 97’s Wrote the Perfect Song for Homesick Texans

The lyrics go something like this: “I’m livin’ in a state of Texas and Texas lives in me.”

By Leah ScarpelliSeptember 25, 2016 8:46 pm,

Several months ago on the Standard, we spoke to Texas Monthly writer John Nova Lomax about rethinking some Texas state symbols. The million-dollar question: do we need a new Texas state song? Because let’s face it, “Texas, Our Texas” sounds a little stale at this point.

Of all the great replacement songs out there, we figured Rhett Miller of the Old 97’s has a great contender. His band penned what could be hailed as one of the most important Texas songs of all time: “A State of Texas.”

The Dallas band formed in 1993 under the alternative country genre. They released “A State of Texas” on their album The Grand Theatre, Volume One in 2010.

Miller was born in Austin and moved to Dallas when he was two years old. He calls himself a “proper Dallas kid.” The 97’s have released upwards of 10 studio albums and Miller, the band’s lead singer, has released seven solo albums.

On what inspired Miller to write the song:

“I’m a seventh-generation Texan, grew up in Texas my whole life, my family’s all still here. And now by virtue of having fallen in love with a midwesterner and wound up in New York, I’m no longer in the state. When I wrote the song I was actually on a tour with Steve Earle in Europe and I was in Germany one day and I was just feeling so homesick and I was really thinking about Texas. I was thinking about the smell of the summer when it’s hot, and fresh cut grass, and just that – the smells of my childhood and the visions of my childhood.”

When you hold tight on a summer night
I’m gone, yeah, I am free
I’m livin’ in a state of Texas
And Texas lives in me
I’m livin’ in a state of Texas
And Texas lives in me

On the melancholy of “A State of Texas”:

“You can’t double up. You can’t write a sad song that also sounds sad. If the heart of the sentiment is something melancholy, you have to sugar it up with a lot of fun – train beat, give it a good melody, make it catchy. It’s a fun song and it’s happy, but at its heart, it’s a guy saying ‘I’m not home.'”

When the day breaks on Cedar Creek Lake
Or my life rolls into Rhome
When the sun goes down on Austin town
That’s when I’ll know I’m home

Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel.