Deep in the Heart of Texas

Could there possibly be a more iconic Texas song than Deep in the Heart of Texas? I bet you’re already clapping it, aren’t you? But do you know the history behing the song?

The song was written in 1941. Lyrics were penned by June Hershey and the music was composed by Don Swander. The song was recoded by Perry Como along with Ted Weems and His Orchestra on December 9th of that year and it went on to spend 5 weeks at the top of the charts.

The song’s title was borrowed for a major motion picture in 1942. This western starring Johnny Mack Brown centered around corruption during the Reconstruction Era in Texas following the Civil War. Tex Ritter and the Jimmy Wakley Trio sang the title song.

Gene Autry also sang the song in the 1942 film, Heart of the Rio Grande. His version became one of the most well-known. However, many other superstars have also recorded the song.  Bing Crosby, Dale Evans and Roy Rogers, Ray Charles, and George Strait.

All University of Texas Longhorn fans will eagerly claim the song as their own since the Longhorn band plays it at every football game. Yet they aren’t the only ones. The University of Houston and Texas Christian University also include the song as part of their football traditions. In the realm of baseball, Rice University as well as the Houston Astros play the song during their seventh inning stretch time. It’s a song that always get the crowd on their feet with their hands clapping.

In fact, one source I read claimed that in 1942, the BBC banned the song from being played during work hours on the ground that the catchy rhythm and infectious melody might cause wartime factory workers to neglect their duties in order to clap along with the song.

Here are the first three verses that you know and love. Sing along with me…

Deep in the Heart of Texas

The stars at night are big and bright
Deep in the heart of Texas
The prairie sky is wide and high
Deep in the heart of Texas

The sage in bloom is like perfume
Deep in the heart of Texas
Reminds me of the one that I love
Deep in the heart of Texas

The coyotes wail along the trail
Deep in the heart of Texas
The rabbits rush around the brush
Deep in the heart of Texas

So are you clapping? What do you associate this song with? I’d love to hear your take and this Texas classic.

Karen Witemeyer
For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She is an avid cross-stitcher, and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at: www.karenwitemeyer.com.

15 Comments

  1. Living in Texas, I’ve heard this song so many times. But, I never knew any more about it until now. Thanks for sharing the facts.

  2. Well, putting aside his personal difficulties, I laughed when Pee Wee Herman said in his movie, “I’m in Texas, I can prove it!” Then he sings the first verse and holds up the phone so the person on the end of the line can hear the claps 🙂

  3. Hi, Janine. I love researching parts of Texas culture and learning the history behind how they ame about. I’m glad I could share it with you.

  4. Sherri – Ha! A perfectly goofy example but probably very accurate. 🙂 I saw a clip where Dale Evans sang it with a bunch of muppets, too. We Texans leave no stone unturned.

  5. This will be in my head all day. I can already see my self clapping. It puts a smile on my face. 🙂

  6. Awesome, Cathy! I’ll clap along with you. 🙂

  7. I have heard it many times, but I find it interesting that it was recorded by a an Italian from New Jersey… I am sure now that this song will be swirling around in my head all day…

  8. Fun blog, Karen. I remember my family singing this when I was a little girl (we didn’t live in Texas but I thought it must be a really neat place, wherever it was). I assumed it was the state song until I read differently on another P & P blog.
    Have a great day, everybody!

  9. Kathleen – Isn’t that funny about the non-Texas origins of the song? But then, westerns were coming into their own in the 1940s, so there was certainly a national preoccupation with Texas. I’ll be humming along with you today!

  10. Hi, Elizabeth! I love that you can remember singing this as a child. Maybe it played some subtle role in your growing love of the western genre. 🙂

  11. Thanks a lot, now the song is stuck in my head. lol

  12. Hi Karen! I read the blog this morning before work and hummed the song the rest of the day. It’s so wonderfully iconic. Thanks for the history!

  13. I love how songs influence us and this one is a definite Texas icon!! Enjoyed the blog!

  14. You’re welcome, Vicki. It was fun to dig up.

    Jan – Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I’m a big music lover and enjoy learning more of the stories behind the songs.

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