Amarillo, Texas, is a city that has been immortalized in song more than once. While it may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of famous American cities, its cultural history is often underestimated.
Amarillo is where you can discover the charm of historic Route 66 and iconic landmarks like The Big Texan and Cadillac Ranch and explore the stunning Palo Duro Canyon, the second-largest canyon in the US.
From George Strait’s iconic “Amarillo by Morning” to Emmylou Harris’s ballad about leaving, these melodies paint a portrait of a rugged and tender city where dreams chase sunsets. In this blog post, we’ll explore the unique music where Amarillo takes center stage, serving as a muse for songwriters across different genres.
Why are there so many songs about Amarillo?
Route 66 was the main road that passed through Amarillo before the Interstate system. It was a crucial place where travelers and goods converged, making it an essential stop for people on cross-country trips. Route 66 inspired many songs, such as Nat King Cole’s “Route 66.”
Wide Open Spaces and Friendly Faces
The warm hospitality and vast, unobstructed landscapes of Amarillo often inspire songwriters. These natural expanses evoke a sense of freedom and adventure. Terry Stafford, the co-writer and original recorder of "Amarillo by Morning," is said to have written this song after playing with his band at a rodeo in San Antonio and driving back to Amarillo. Stafford was born and raised in Amarillo.
True Western Culture
From the expansive landscapes of the Panhandle to the enduring cowboy traditions, Amarillo's distinct Western identity has played a pivotal role in influencing songwriters. The timeless allure of rodeos, the camaraderie of ranch life, and the enduring Texan spirit have inspired many songs that capture the essence of the Old West. Whether it's the twang of a country guitar or the heartfelt lyrics reflecting the cowboy way of life, Amarillo's authentic Western culture has left a lasting mark on the world of music.
Famous Songs That Mention Amarillo
Amarillo by Morning
The legendary country artist George Strait put Amarillo on the musical map with his hit song "Amarillo by Morning." The song's lyrics evoke a sense of longing and homesickness, painting a vivid picture of Amarillo. This track has become an iconic piece of country music and has captured the hearts of many.
“Route 66” by Nat King Cole
"Route 66" by Nat King Cole is a famous American song celebrating the iconic highway. Although the song is primarily about the journey along Route 66, it briefly mentions Amarillo, highlighting its significance as a notable stop along this historic route.
“Is This the Way to Amarillo” by Tony Christie
Tony Christie's "Is This the Way to Amarillo" is a popular song known for its catchy tune and references to Amarillo. Although the song's title suggests a search for Amarillo, the lyrics provide little detail about the city itself. Despite this, the song experienced a cultural resurgence after being featured in a British comedy series and a charity video that showed Peter Kay and various celebrities marching to the song.
Lesser-Known Songs with Amarillo References
Apart from well-known hits, there are lesser-known songs that mention Amarillo. These songs might have reached a different level of fame, but they provide additional glimpses into how Amarillo has influenced songwriting across genres.
- "Amarillo" by Gorillaz (featuring James Blunt): This song is part of Gorillaz's "The Now Now" album and features a brief mention of Amarillo.
- "Little Black Train" by Woody Guthrie: In this folk classic, Woody Guthrie mentions Amarillo in the context of a train journey.
- "Amarillo" by Emmylou Harris: Emmylou Harris, a legendary country artist, has a song titled "Amarillo" on her album "Red Dirt Girl."
- "High Plains" by Chris Ledoux: The late Chris Ledoux, a renowned rodeo cowboy and country singer, mentions Amarillo in this lesser-known track.
- "Route 66" by Asleep at the Wheel: While the song "Route 66" is well-known, this rendition by Asleep at the Wheel is a bit less mainstream and includes a mention of Amarillo.
Discover More Music Inspired by Amarillo
Explore the music inspired by Amarillo with our curated Visit Amarillo Spotify playlist of over 30 songs. This handpicked collection brings together songs that pay homage to the city's rich heritage, from the iconic "Amarillo by Morning" to lesser-known gems that weave the city's name into their lyrics below.