Texarkana is mentioned in many country songs; every cowboy, it appears, comes through Texarkana at some point or another. Johnny Cash is no surprise, as he’s “been everywhere.” Lead Belly uses Texarkana as a geographic reference point: “It was down in Louisiana, just about a mile from Texarkana.” George Strait tells us he broke at least one heart in our town; poor Rosanna “down in Texarkana” just wanted help with the housework.
And surely I wasn’t the only local little girl with parents and grandparents who’d croon, “She’s my Texarkana baby, do I love her, lawdy law,” despite the fact that my pappy did not come from Texas, nor my ma from Arkansas.
Despite coming from a family with deep Texarkana roots and strong hometown pride, I never did know about R.E.M.’s song “Texarkana” until someone I met while traveling sang it to me after I mentioned where I was from. (The reason for the title is a mystery; Texarkana never appears in the lyrics. Still—catchy tune.)
R.E.M. isn’t the only rock band with a thing for our state-straddling city. Love, it is said (or sung), found Sammy Hagar right here in Texarkana. Of course, Tesla’s lead singer Jeff Keith, “just a boy from Texarkana,” gives his hometown a shoutout in “Call It What You Want.” In rock/metal band Clutch’s song “Immortal,” the singer wonders “who found the ark inside Texarkana”, whatever that means. And, even stranger: Neil Young, in “Ride My Llama,” claims he’s going to, you know, ride his llama, from “Peru to Texarkana.”
Currently living about 1,000 miles away from my beloved birthplace, I decided to quell my homesickness by corralling all of the songs I could find that mentioned Texarkana. The playlist I compiled has something for just about everyone. In my search, I even found some new personal favorites: “Let’s Jump the Broomstick” by Brenda Lee, “Fingernails” by Joe Ely, and “Easy Come Easy Go” by Hayes Carll have all been added to my regular music rotation.
Whether you’re hosting a local event, feeling hometown pride, or trying to explain Texarkana to outsiders, you’ll want this playlist handy.