Texas Country, Red Dirt, Americana, Alt-Country, and all the other subgenres of country music that shouldn’t be categorized into these subgenres as if they weren’t the ones making real country music, are full of incredible and underappreciated songwriters.
Names like Evan Felker, Tyler Childers, and Jason Isbell, among many others, may receive the most recognition, albeit still not enough.
At least they are getting some attention, though, because there are tons of great songwriters and musicians out there who don’t gain much attention past their local or regional scenes, and that’s a shame.
John Baumann is one of these horribly underappreciated songwriters, and if you aren’t familiar with his work, it’s about time you get acquainted. With three albums, three more EPs, and a handful of singles, Baumann has a deep catalog that demonstrates his songwriting genius. Furthermore, his songs are filled with catchy melodies and odes to his home state of Texas.
Here are ten of his best songs to get you started.
“Windfarmer” – High Plains Alchemy (2014)
“The Trouble With Drinkin’” – Proving Grounds (2017)
“Cause the trouble with drinkin’ is it ain’t no trouble at all”
(Originally written by Aaron Lee Tasjan)
“Daylights Burning” – Country Shade (2020)
“There’s Nothing, there’s nothing you can do I wish there was a better way to say it But this sucks for you, yeah I liked her too It hurts, it’s gonna hurt for a while There ain’t a way to skip a couple minutes But the world is turning, daylight’s burning There’s a reason that your windshield is bigger than you’re rearview Your wheels are turning and daylight’s burning”
“Turquoise” – Proving Grounds
A lot of love songs are written with clichés, and as a result, many are almost unbearable to listen to. But not when John Baumann is behind the lyrics.
“Moonlight on the banks of the river I walk her down to the Alcove Sliver First kiss I plan to give her, she won’t forget My heart beats like a love drunk drummer My blood runs like a Seminole Runner On the crux of the Indian Summer my toes are wet”
“Next Ride Around the Sun” – Country Shade (2020)
As many John Baumann tunes do, “Next Time Around the Sun” will get ya thinking, particularly about not taking time for granted.
“I Don’t Know” – Country Shade (2020)
“Texas Dead” – A/B Sessions, Vol. 1 EP (2020)
Tried and true to his home state, Baumann pledges his allegiance with this ode to the Lone Star State.
“Eight months offshore on a platform rig
Seasick and homesick and sick of the gig
Hop in the chopper, it has come to take
Me back to the mainland, I’ll go straight to the lake
Lone Star in the cooler, answer the riddle
Go grab a guitar, pick up a fiddle
Play all night ’til ya just can’t sing
All the Charlie and Bruce, the Lyle and Keen
I’m Texas born, Texas bred
When I die, I’ll be Texas dead
Lay me down in the ground
Put my name on a stone
To Hell with Heaven, I’m stayin’ home”
“Midland” – West Texas Vernacular EP (2012)
Baumann’s most popular song to date, “Midland” explores how life goes on for those who find great wealth in oil towns, such as Midland, Texas, without any mind being paid to those who are doing the hard work.
In a manner critical of the situation, the song follows a girl from Midland, whose father got rich off the “black gold,” to college and up until she has children herself.
“Love’s a Word I Never Throw Around” – The Next Waltz Volume 2 (2019)
A cautionary tale (written by Robert Earl Keen) about how love can be fleeting, this tune was recorded for the second compilation album released by Bruce Robison’s record label The Next Waltz.
“Love’s a word I never throw around So when I say I love you ’til the end I’m talkin’ ’bout until the day they lay me in the ground Love’s a word I never throw around”
“Old Stone Church” – Proving Grounds (2017)
If you’re into sad songs, you’ll love John Baumann, and this one in particular. The narrator laments his father’s death and spirals into addiction and depression, but ultimately finds God in the same place his father had before he died.
“When my father passed on I came to find God At the old stone church off twelfth and Claude I said forgive me Lord I know I’m flawed When my father passed on I came to find God My father passed on I came to find God”
Aside from his solo work, Baumann is one of the four members of the Texas supergroup The Panhandlers, who released their debut album The Panhandlers in 2020.
Joining Cleto Cordero of Flatland Cavalry, William Clark Green, and Josh Abbott for the project, Baumann contributed vocals and wrote “No Handle” and “Caprockin’” for the album.
He also co-wrote “This Flatland Life” with Abbott and Cordero, “Panhandle Slim” with Cordero, and “West Texas Girl” with another West Texas songwriter by the name of Charlie Stout.
Furthermore, John Baumann’s song “Gulf Moon,” originally released on his 2014 debut album High Plains Alchemy, was recorded by Kenny Chesney on Songs for the Saints in 2018.
John Baumann is one of the best songwriters out there, and it’s about time credit is given where credit is due.