15 Of The Best Songs About Austin: Bat City Playlist

Written by Laura Macmillan
Last updated

​​Judging from the number of songs written about Austin, Texas, something about the city leaves a strong impression on musicians. From jazz to country to rock and roll, many musicians reference it as an integral part of their life. And some of the best songs focused on Austin blend many of these musical styles.

With a wide range of artists, including Johnny Cash, Little Texas, Wayne Hancock, and Blake Shelton, there is no shortage of great songs about this iconic city.

So whether you like touching love songs or country dancing, keep reading to learn some of the best songs about Austin.   

Related: Check out our list of songs about Texas here.

1. “Midnight in Austin Texas” by Renee Olstead

“Midnight in Austin Texas” is a song by Renee Olstead that centers around late-night partying in Austin on Saturday night.

Olstead released the song in 2009 on her album Skylark and the lyrics tell of a woman who is looking to keep drinking late as she enjoys all that Austin has to offer. The narrator has few other plans and doesn’t want to be left alone or waste a night in ATX.

Musically, the style is a mix of jazz harmonies, big-band instrumentation, and lots of country vibes. You can easily imagine a late-night Texas crowd dancing along to this song! 

2. “Austin Prison” by Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash released “Austin Prison” on his 1966 album Everybody Loves a Nut, and the lyrics tell the story of a prisoner escaping from prison after being helped by the jailor.

After a subtle guitar opening, the music settles into a steady country beat with Cash’s classic dark vocal tone singing from the perspective of a prisoner.

After being taken to Austin, he is faced with a mob screaming at him in the city streets.

A judge sentences him to death for committing murder but the prisoner eventually escapes. By the end of the lyrics, he is far away from Austin and longing to always be miles away. 

3. “Amy’s Back in Austin” by Little Texas

The American country music band Little Texas is based in Nashville, Tennessee, but this song is all about a young couple from Texas. After leaving Texas together, the woman eventually parts ways with the man.

The song’s lyrics are told from the man’s perspective, which assumes Amy is back in Austin and once more working in a local cafe.

Little Texas released this song in 1994 on their album Kick a Little, and the music has a steady rhythm that blends rock and roll and country styles.

In terms of performance on music charts, the song reached number four in Hot Country Songs and 51 for the year-end top country songs. 

4. “Austin” by Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton, a well-known country singer from Oklahoma, made his debut with the 2001 song “Austin.”

It is all about a woman leaving the narrator and going to Austin, Texas, which she often talked about. The song was so successful that it held the number one position on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for five weeks.

Musically, the instrumentation is mainly an acoustic texture with a few orchestral interludes, conveying the heartbreak theme of the song. Each chorus ends with “And P.S. if this is Austin, I still love you.” 

5. “A-Town Blues” by Wayne Hancock

The American singer and songwriter Wayne Hancock, nicknamed Wayne The Train Hancock”, released his song “A-Town Blues” in 2001 on an album by the same name. The album was recorded in Austin, Texas, and this song is the first track on it. 

In general, Hancock’s music captures a unique blend of jazz, country, and blues styles, and “A-Town Blues” fits perfectly into that description with the classic sound of a steel guitar.

The rhythm is steady and upbeat, and the lyrics are about being on the road and being down from missing Austin.

6. “Horseshoe Lounge” by Slaid Cleaves

If you are visiting Austin and researching the city’s famous nightlife places to hang out, you will likely come across the renowned dive bar the Horseshoe Lounge.

And this Slaid Cleaves song, released in 2000 on the album Broke Down, is a celebration of this iconic Austin hang-out spot.

Cleaves’s style is a mix of folk and country music, and his relaxing voice sings about the sadness of losing a lover.

But there are plenty of references to the dancing, whiskey, cigarettes, shuffleboard, and neon lights of Austin’s famed Horseshoe Lounge. 

7. “Austin Night” by Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash

The Bastard Songs of Johnny Cash, a band that mixes Americana and alternative country styles, is well-known for covering Johnny Cash songs.

Their song “Austin Night,” which they released in 2005 on the album Mile Markers, is all about the singer’s experience of nightlife in Austin.

The music has a steady beat along with country instrumentation and singing styles, and the lyrics center around falling in love while on a night out in Austin.

Like many songs focused on Austin, the lyrics reference dancing and neon lights and falling in love.  

8. “Sixth Street” by Choszen

If you are getting at all fatigued by the number of country songs in this collection, you will probably appreciate this rap song by Choszen.

The songwriter released “Sixth Street” on his 2008 album Welcome to the Greene Party, and the aggressive beat and singing celebrate this famous street in Austin.

While the album more generally has a political message, “Sixth Street” is a lighter celebration of one of Austin’s most beloved areas full of well-known restaurants, bars, and music venues.

9. “Sweet Tequila Blues” by Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez

Carrie Rodriguez Chip Taylor’s music has a classic country sound, made extra special by Carrie’s contribution of folk violin playing.

Their song “Sweet Tequila Blues”, released in 2002 on the album Let’s Leave This Town, features fantastic harmonies and fiddle playing, and it is all about the two singers reflecting on how much they miss Austin. 

The “Sweet Tequila Blues” represents the sadness of missing the Texan city, and the lyrics repeatedly hint at the fact that they cannot seem to find the same energy anywhere else but Austin.

10. “Austin” by the Eskimo Brothers

The Eskimo Brothers are a band based in Nashville that prominently features the frontman, David Graham.

Graham generally sings in a honky-tonk and country style, and the song “Austin” is no exception. Released in 2013 on the album You’re Welcome, its lyrics reflect on the fond memories of being in Austin. 

The lyrics open with the classic reference to the Austin city limits sign, which is also a famous music festival that takes place in Austin’s Zilker Park, and showcases a nostalgic love of the city throughout.

11. “Austin City Limits Sign” by The Bart Walker Band

As you just read about in the previous Eskimo Brothers’ song, the sign you see when at the edge of Austin—Austin City Limits—has an iconic meaning due to its association with the famous music festival.

And this song by The Bart Walker Band, released in 2011 on their album Who I Am, is a driving rock song all about this sign.

There are intense guitar riffs all through the track, and Bart Walker’s growling vocals will likely convince everyone listening to get up and dance. 

12. “Alleys of Austin” Michael Martin Murphey

Michael Martin Murphey released the song “Alleys of Austin” in 1973 as part of the album Cosmic Cowboy Souvenir.

Murphey has a unique take on the country style, with a slightly raspy voice that captures deep emotions.

In terms of lyrics, this song seems to be a reflection on the thoughts and emotions that come to mind while walking through Austin.

It speaks of the sights and sounds of the city, jam sessions, and the Texas moon.

13. “I Can’t Go Back to Austin” by Doug Sahm

Doug Sahm, a singer/songwriter from San Antonio, Texas, is well known for his contribution to the genre of Tex-Mex music.

He was part of multiple music groups, but this track, “I Can’t Go Back to Austin,” comes from his album The Return of Wayne Douglas.

Despite the steady/upbeat rhythm and the beautiful fiddle playing, the song lyrics are a reflection of lost love. After finding love with a girl in Austin, the singer got into enough trouble that he can no longer return to the city.

Like many songs in this collection, Austin serves as the symbol of lost love.  

14. “Austin in my Sights” by The Bluescasters

The Bluescasters released “Austin in my Sights” in 2005 as part of their album Five Dimes. It’s an exciting and upbeat ode to driving through Texas on the way to Austin.

After a long trip as a touring musician, the narrator is excited to see signs for Austin, meaning he’s close to returning home.

Musically, this is a classic blues song with soloing on the guitar and piano that make dancing along to it as easy as possible! 

15. “Christmas in Austin” by Shelley King

Austin might not be the classic city one thinks about during the holiday season, but this Shelley King song captures what it is like to celebrate Christmas there.

It might be cold enough to wear a jacket, but the main impression is that Christmas is like any other time of year—there is dancing, margaritas, and music playing on the streets.

King released “Christmas in Austin” in 2012 as part of her album Armadillo Bootleg No. 2. The overarching message is that even without snow and other stereotypical Christmas themes, Austin is still the best place to be during the holidays.

Summing Up Our List Of Austin Songs

After listening to some of the songs on this list, it should be easier to see why Austin, Texas appeals to so many.

Many reference the city with nostalgic energy and sadness of lost love, while others tell tales of the exciting nightlife of dive bars, dancing, and neon lights.

Whatever style you prefer to listen to, the overriding impression of so many of these entries is that Austin is an iconic city with a unique musical history.

What’s more, it is a place that has left a strong impression on some of the top singers and songwriters in America.

But did we miss any songs off this list? Let us know, and we’ll add them in!

Photo of author

Laura has over 12 years experience teaching both classical and jazz saxophone and clarinet. She now resides in California where she works as a session and live performer.