Cody Johnson That's Texas Artwork
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‘That's Texas’ by Cody Johnson - Lyrics & Meaning

October 25, 2023 11:33 am GMT
Last Edited December 19, 2023 10:49 am GMT

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Cody Johnson - ‘That's Texas’

Label: CoJo Music / Warner Music Nashville

Release Date: October 13th 2023

Album: Leather

Producers: Trent Willmon

Songwriters: Andy Sheridan, Erik Dylan & Wyatt McCubbin

The Background:

The fourth single released ahead of Cody Johnson's highly anticipated 2023 album, Leather, ‘That's Texas’ encapsulates the homegrown, traditional country sound and themes that CoJo has become synonymous with over the past decade or so.

After showcasing his vulnerable, intimate side with ‘The Painter’ and ‘Watching My Old Flame’, Cody Johnson stepped back into the fun, light-hearted shoes of ‘Work Boots’ when he dropped ‘That's Texas’ in mid-October, ensuring the sense of anticipation was sky-high ahead of the new album's November release date.

CoJo has always made a point of paying homage to the Lone Star roots that made him who he is, with the ‘Til You Can't’ hitmaker having released a slew of tributes to the rodeo circuit, Texas’ wide open spaces and the down-home ideals of the state.

However, ‘That's Texas’ serves as the most in-depth love letter to his home yet, with Cody Johnson playfully rattling through a list of things you can only find in the southern state.

It contains nods of his Resistol towards the ‘King of Country Music’, George Strait, as well as the state's legendary chili and its iconic style of dance, the Texas Two-Step.

Both ‘Work Boots’ and ‘That's Texas’ stick unwaveringly to Cody Johnson's promise that the new album would be underpinned by a theme of ‘fun’ and levity, with the two high-energy toe-tappers running in a similarly infectious vein to Human stand-outs such as ‘Honky Tonk Hardwood Floors’ and ‘Cowboy Scale of 1 to 10’.

The Sound:

Cody Johnson often employs his weighty, charismatic baritone as a means of adding gravitas or sobriety to poignant tracks such as ‘Human’, ‘Til You Can't’ and ‘The Painter’.

However, what makes CoJo stand out as an all-round country music entertainer is his ability to poke fun at himself and give his distinctive vocals a more playful edge.

This is epitomised on ‘That's Texas’, with Cody's quick-fire, light-hearted delivery cascading jauntily across the lively, barnstorming combination of electric guitars and staggered drums.

The unabashed twang and loose feel of the instrumental give ‘That's Texas’ the traditional dance-hall bounce that pervades classics such as Alan Jackson's ‘Chattahoochee’, George Strait's ‘Unwound’ and Garth Brooks’ ‘Callin’ Baton Rouge’.

The Meaning:

“My redneck mother sang ‘Redneck Mother’

Cookin’ us kids somethin’ to eat

Daddy drank tequila, like Pancho Villa

When the Cowboys won or they got beat

That’s Texas”

Cody Johnson kicks off the track with a tribute to a staple song of any young Texan's upbringing, ‘Up Against The Wall, Redneck Mother’ by Jerry Jeff Walker. CoJo jokes that his redneck mother regularly sang the song, with the playful repetition underlining how his Sebastapol-based family were about as country as you could get.

He then recalls how his father loved his tequila like ‘Pancho Villa’, a general in the Mexican Revolution of the early 1900s. Pancho serves as the vague inspiration for the 1972 spaghetti Western of the same name, as well as starring as himself in a plethora of Hollywood movies. While his reputation flits between that of a bandit and a hero, his role as a real-life outlaw makes him a beloved figure for many.

CoJo reminisces about how his pops would enjoy some ‘Pancho Villa’ tequila coupled with an easy afternoon watching the unofficial NFL team of Texas, the Dallas Cowboys.

“That ol lone star gravel, make an old truck rattle

Like a get ya boot bit, stepped on a snake

Lord have mercy, that ground gets thirsty

Better buy a Resistol or find some shade

That’s Texas, that’s Texas”

Texas is referred to as the ‘Lone Star State’, due to the solitary star that appears on the flag. This title is often used as a symbol of Texas’ pride and independence, with the state having existed as its own republic for ten years before being annexed to the US.

Cody Johnson paints a scene of his rusty old 4x4 rattling along a Lone Star gravel road, before describing another staple of Texas living - the prominence of snakes throughout the region. Interestingly, Texas is the most snake-infested state in the US, being home to 68 species - leaving plenty of opportunities to get your boot bitten.

CoJo then outlines how, due to the aridity and sweltering heat that pervade certain areas of Texas, the land often gets parched and farmers are left in desperate need of a Resistol cowboy hat to shelter them from the relentless sun.

“That’s Texas, Home of George Strait, the King

Ain’t no such thing as chili with beans

That’s Texas, hot as a flattop griddle

Ain’t gotta band if ya ain’t gotta fiddle

That’s Texas, with a capital T

If I can’t go to heaven I gotta plan B

And that’s Texas, yeah that’s Texas”

George Strait is almost unanimously accepted as the ‘King of Country’ and a proud Texan. During an episode of Yellowstone, one of the ranch-hands quips, “There are three Gods in Texas. The Almighty himself, Buster Welch and George Strait”.

Cody Johnson spends the hook zig-zagging through a series of trademark features of Texas, from the fact that the state's staple chili is distinct from most other chili dishes in that it doesn't contain beans, to the classic country music commitment to always having a fiddle (and most likely a steel guitar too) in the band.

Such is CoJo's devotion to his home-state, he teasingly croons that if he's raised too much Hell to make it into Heaven, he'll gladly just stay in Texas for eternity instead.

For each instalment of this hook, Cody Johnson switches out the opening line, with the singer-songwriter calling Texas the “Home of Robert Earl Keen” in the second chorus and the “Home of the CJB” in the final one. Earl Keen is another legendary Texas country songsmith, while the CJB is the name of Cody Johnson's much-loved live band.

“Them two step queens’ll bring ya to your knees

Yeah buddy God sure blessed ‘em

There’s 50 states, but at the end of the day

There’s one that you don’t mess with”

Then, Cody Johnson pays tribute to all the Texas two-steppin’ ladies that leave the onlooking men weak at the knees, before CoJo proceeds to deliver another message of Texan pride by reinforcing the state's famous no-nonsense slogan: “Don't Mess With Texas”.

Surprisingly - and perhaps somewhat amusingly - the motto originated with an innocent campaign to reduce littering.

“Where the night gets bright, when the stars come on

Where every bar is a honky tonk”

Texas is known, among other things - as Cody Johnson comprehensively shows - for its array of stargazing sites, with the state revered for its clear skies and the celestial beauty on offer.

When you're not looking up, you can stare down into an ice cold beer in one of Texas’ dizzyingly extensive range of honky tonks and dance-halls. Should you decide to frequent one of these establishments, the chances are there'll be an old jukebox in the corner packed with hits by George Strait, Robert Earl Keen, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Miranda Lambert and, of course, Cody Johnson.

What has Cody Johnson said about ‘That's Texas’?

When speaking to KMLE Country 107.9 at Country Thunder Arizona 2023, Cody Johnson underlined his desire to make the new album a little more playful, as is epitomised by ‘That's Texas’.

The ‘Me and My Kind’ crooner explained, “I think the theme of this new album is ‘fun’, it doesn't matter whether it's a ballad or whether it's tongue-in-cheek...it all has to be fun, it all needs to make you kind of want to move around and bob your head a little bit”.

For the full lyrics to Cody Johnson's ‘That's Texas’, see below:

“My redneck mother sang ‘Redneck Mother’

Cookin’ us kids somethin’ to eat

Daddy drank tequila, like Pancho Villa

When the Cowboys won or they got beat

That’s Texas

That ol lone star gravel, make an old truck rattle

Like a get ya boot bit, stepped on a snake

Lord have mercy, that ground gets thirsty

Better buy a Resistol or find some shade

That’s Texas, that’s Texas

That’s Texas, Home of George Strait, the King

Ain’t no such thing as chili with beans

That’s Texas, hot as a flattop griddle

Ain’t gotta band if ya ain’t gotta fiddle

That’s Texas, with a capital T

If I can’t go to heaven I gotta plan B

And that’s Texas, yeah that’s Texas

Them two step queens’ll bring ya to your knees

Yeah buddy God sure blessed ‘em

There’s 50 states, but at the end of the day

There’s one that you don’t mess with

That’s Texas, Home of Robert Earl Keen

Ain’t no such thing as chili with beans

That’s Texas, hot as a flattop griddle

Ain’t gotta band if ya ain’t gotta fiddle

That’s Texas, with a capital T

If I can’t go to heaven I gotta plan B

And that’s Texas, yeah that’s Texas

Tell ‘em bout it boys

Where the night gets bright, when the stars come on

Where every bar is a honky tonk

That’s Texas, Home of the CJB

Ain’t no such thing as chili with beans

That’s Texas, hot as a flattop griddle

Ain’t gotta band if ya ain’t gotta fiddle

That’s Texas, with a capital T

If I can’t go to heaven I gotta plan B

And that’s Texas, yeah that’s Texas

Come and take it boys, yeah”

For more on Cody Johnson, see below:

Written by Maxim Mower
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