top of page

Great Americana Lines  

Ever heard a great line in a song and thought: “Gee I wish I had come up with that!”

Americana Music is jam-packed with such lines and Crossroads has compiled some of the best. Such lines often open songs, while others provide a nice closure. But mostly they are buried somewhere within a wonderful composition.

There is no ranking , though obviously the classic lines always spring to mind first!

This list does not include any lyrics from the incomparable Bob Dylan. The Nobel Laureate deserves a list all of his own.

If I can just get off this L.A. freeway/ Without getting killed or caught

Guy Clark – L.A. Freeway

There’s a hole in daddy’s arm/ Where all the money goes

John Prine –  Sam Stone

I volunteered  for the army on my birthday/ They draft the white trash first round here anyway

Steve Earle - Copperhead Road

And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad/ So I had one more for dessert

Kris Kristofferson - Sunday Morning Coming Down

If dreams were lightning/Thunder were desire/ This old house would have burned down a long time ago

John Prine - Angel from Montgomery

If it rained an ocean/ I’d drink it dry

Townes Van Zandt - Rex’s Blues

This old town’s filled with sin/ It will swallow you in

Chris Hillman/Gram Parsons - Sin City

I have seen the David/ I've seen the Mona Lisa too/ And I have heard Doc Watson play Columbus Stockade Blues

Guy Clark - Dublin Blues

Flipped into the wind/ Like the ashes of her cigarette

Buddy Mondlock - Coming Down in the Rain

We’re picking our words/ So we won’t have to eat them

Billy Joe Shaver - (We are) The Cowboys

I’d walk all the way from Boulder to Birmingham/ If I thought I could see your face

Emmylou Harris/Bill Danoff - Boulder to Birmingham

He cooks the crystal meth ‘cause the shine don’t sell/ He likes his money he don’t mind the smell

James McMurtry - Choctaw Bingo

People call me the Picasso of painting the town

Chris Stapleton - Up to No Good Livin’

Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life/ End over end neither left nor to right

Paul Craft - Drop Kick Me Jesus

She said if you’re from Texas son where’s your boots and where’s your guns/ I smiled and said I’ve got guns no one can see

Butch Hancock - She Never Spoke Spanish to Me

Send  lawyers, guns and money/ The shit has hit the fan

Warren Zevon - Lawyers, Guns and Money

Hey, mister, can you tell me, where a man might find a bed?/
He just grinned and shook my hand, "No" was all he said.

Robbie Robertson - The Weight

My oh my how those eagles fly/ Goodbye bottom dollar goodbye

Billy Joe Shaver - Bottom Dollar

The dust that Pancho bit down South/ Ended up in Lefty’s mouth

Townes Van Zandt - Pancho and Lefty

Just ask the boy from Tupelo/ He’s the king and he ought to know

Emmylou Harris - Boy from Tupelo

He was standing by the highway/ With a sign that just said mother

Gordon Lightfoot - Ten Degrees and Getting Colder

I killed a boy the other night who’d never even shaved/ I don’t know what I’m fighting for I ain’t never owned a slave

Steve Earle - Ben McCulloch

They’ll cut down the trees and name your new streets/ Hickory, walnut and pine

Slaid Cleaves/Nathan Hamilton - Hickory

Did you ever see Dallas from a DC-9 at night/ Well Dallas is a jewel, Dallas is a beautiful sight

Jimmie Dale Gilmour - Dallas

Sleeping late on Sundays and we never got to mass/ It’s a long way from Clare to here

Ralph McTell - From Clare to Here

I must have got lost in the backyard/ When I went out to play

James McMurtry - Lost in the Backyard

Like a lighthouse you must stand alone/ Landmark a sailor’s journeys end

Rodney Crowell - Till I Gain Control Again

If I was Roy Rogers I’d sure enough be single/ I couldn’t bring myself to marrying old Dale

Lyle Lovett - If I had a Boat

I’ve been smoking dope, snorting coke, trying to write a song/ Forgetting everything I know ‘til the next line comes along

Peter Rowan - Lonesome L.A. Cowboy

One of the boys in Eddie’s band took a shine to Rita’s hand/ So Eddie ran off with the bass man’s wife

Nanci Griffith - Love at the Five and Dime

I pulled that glass across his neck as fine as any blade/ And I felt his blood run fast and hot around me where I laid

Gillian Welch/David Rawlings – Caleb Meyer

The devil made me do it the first time/ The second time I done it on my own

Billy Joe Shaver - Black Rose

Old People just grow lonesome/ Waiting for someone to say “hello in there, hello”

John Prine - Hello in There

I don’t need to read the papers or the tea leaves to understand/

That his world’s been shaved by a drunken barber’s hand

Slaid Cleaves/Ro Picott - Drunken Barber’s Hand

I may be as ugly as an old mud-rail fence/ But I'm loaded with hillbilly charm

Billy Joe Shaver - Ragged Old Truck

You never touched the whisky you never took the pills/ I travelled for a million miles while you were standing still

Rossane Cash/John Leventhal - Etta’s Tune

But fame doesn’t take away the pain it just pays the bills/ And you wind up on alcohol and pills

Fred Eaglesmith - Alcohol & Pills

Screamin’ in a mic, playin’ a Strat through a Vox AC-30/ Gives a troublesome back and a ringin’ in ears

Ray Wylie Hubbard - Tell the Devil I’m Getting There as Fast as I Can

If I'd fucked her before she got sick/ I'd never hear the end of it

Jason Isbell - Elephant

Fenced yards ain't hole cards and like as not never will be/ Reason for rhymers and old five and dimers like me

Billy Joe Shaver - Ol Five and Dimers

The stranger went free of course/ For you can’t hang a man for killin’ a woman who’s tryin’ to steal your horse

Carl Stutz/Edith Lindeman - Red Headed Stranger

Now I’m going back on that same train that brought me here before/ While my baby walks the streets of Baltimore

Harlan Howard/Tompall Glaser - Streets of Baltimore

I will know my saviour when I come to him/ By the mark where the nails have been

Gilliam Welch/ David Rawlings - By The Mark

For your love it has run out of time dear/ And forever has come to an end

Julie Miller - Forever Has Come to an End

The help she didn't know what to do/ She just stood there and she watched him turn blue

Lyle Lovett - Last of the Family Reserve

When they talk about her she’s one in a million/ And when they introduce her she’s Mrs Hank Williams

Fred Eaglesmith - Mrs Hank Williams

At my age I should've figured out/ Which drawer to put the good knives in

Jason Isbell - Tupelo

You better do what you're told/ When I get back this room better be picked-up

Lucinda Williams - Car Wheels on a Gravel Road

They drove all the way from Fort Worth to Amarillo/ When Milly woke up she had makeup all over her pillow

Fred Eaglesmith - Milly’s Cafe

Love turns to lust/ Chrome to rust

Slaid Cleaves/Rod Picott - Primer Gray

And ol' one-eyed John said her name was Alice/ And she used to be a whore in Dallas

Guy Clark - Let Him Roll

With bugs on her headlights and runs in her hose/ Through the valley of the shadow of Roosevelt's nose

Emmlou Harris/Paul Kennerley - The Balla of Sally Rose

Your R&B records your music books/ Your sense of humour and your rugged good looks

Lucinda Williams - Little Angel, Little Brother

In her hand when she died was a note that cried/ Fare thee well Tecumseh Valley

Townes Van Zandt - Tecumseh Valley

I've been so lonesome/ I made Hank Williams look like a party of five

Fred Eaglesmith - Trucker Speed

St. Genevieve can hold back the water/ Saints don't bother with the tear stained eye

Jay Farrar - Tear Stained Eye

Let us pause in life’s pleasures and count its many tears/ While we all sup sorrow with the poor

Stephen Foster – Hard Times Come Again No More

And my hands hurt from playing my guitar/ Every night at all those bars/ We played like we were stars

Fred Eaglesmith - Stars

He fell off his tractor up under the wheel/ And now his head shaped like a tread/ But he ain't quite dead

Tracy Schwarz - Poor Old Dirt Farmer

If I only had a dollar for every song I sung/ And every time I had to play while people sat there drunk

John Fogerty - Lodi

And this old porch is like a steaming greasy plate of enchiladas/ With lots of cheese and onions and a guacamole salad

Lyle Lovett/Robert Earl Keen - This Old Porch

Who were you thinking of when we were making love last night/ Was it a good-looking stranger or a close friend of mine

Cathie Pelletier/Jim Glaser/Paul Gauvin - Who Were You Thinking Of

I’m going down to the Greyhound station/ Going to take a ticket to ride/ Going to find that lady with two or three kids and sit down by her side

Blaze Foley - Clay Pigeons

I’ve been left for dead before but I still fight on/ Don’t wait up leave the light on/ I’ll be home soon

Chris Smither - Leave the Light On

They've never known want, they'll never know need/ Their shit don't stink and their kids won't bleed

James McMurtry - We Can’t Make It Here Anymore

I might have heard the highway call/ Geese in flight and dogs that bite

James Taylor - Carolina In My Mind

If you'll be my Dixie chicken I'll be your Tennessee lamb/ And we can walk together down in Dixieland

Lowell George/Fred Martin - Dixie Chicken

Well the evidence is clear gonna let the sentence son fit the crime/ Prison for ninety eight and a year and we'll call it even Johnny 99

Bruce Springsteen – Johnny 99

Lord, I'm goin' uptown to the Harlem River to drown/ Dirty water gonna cover me over and I'm not gonna make a sound

Justin Townes Earle - Harlem River Blues

Rifles and rosary beads/ You hold on to what you need

Mary Gauthier - Rifles and Rosary Beads

Well summer is over/ The turnstiles are seized/ The Ferris wheel turns by itself in the breeze

Fred Eaglesmith - Summer is Over

Well sloe gin fizz works mighty fast/ When you drink it by the pitcher not by the glass

Loretta Lynn - Portland, Oregon

The camera loves you/ And so do I/ Click

Gordie Sampson/Guy Clark - My Favourite Picture of You

Air miles are owing/ But they don’t come for free

Mark Knopfler - All the Road Running

Call him drunken Ira Hayes he won't answer anymore/ Not the whiskey-drinking Indian or the marine that went to war

Peter La Farge - The Ballad of Ira Hayes

Now Kenny’s been mixing sound all evening/ Sometimes I think that boy he ain’t got no ears

Lyle Lovett - Closing Time

The Buck starts here with Hank sure to follow/ Turn him up loud and clear/ He's singin' my sorrow

Robbie Fulks - The Buck Starts Here

Her little feet as cold as ice in the middle of the night/ That’s not my problem anymore

Russell Smith - That’s Not My Problem Anymore

The buskers all sing the same tune/ It’s Waltzing Matilda while the bagpipes play old Clair De Lune

Tom Russell – St Olav’s Gate

But when the party’s over and he’s played his last refrain/ It ain’t just words and music/ It’s autographs in the rain

Kinky Friedman - Autographs in the Rain (Song to Willie)

Pushing up daisies out there on the hill/ It’s the last thing that I’ll ever do

Gary Scruggs/John Hadley/Kevin Welch - Pushing Up Daisies

Folks say he’s a hero but he’ll tell you he ain’t/ He left a hero in the jungle back in 1968

Dave Alvin/Chris Gaffney - 1968

Oh I miss being Mrs tonight

Loretta Lynn - Miss being Mrs

There's nothin' like lying in a graveyard/ To teach you to hold your tongue

Chris Smither - What They Say

But this year I'm queasy about Presidents' Day/ There’s a nut job in the White House I’m so sorry to say

Loudon Wainwright III - President’s Day

Who's gonna care for the ones who care for the ones who went to war/ There's landmines in the living room and eggshells on the floor

Mary Gauthier - The War After the War

Now mister the day the lottery I win/ I ain't ever gonna ride in no used car again

Bruce Springsteen - Used Cars

You've broken the speed of the sound of loneliness/ You're out there running just to be on the run

John Prine - Sound of the Speed of Loneliness

Out with the truckers and the kickers and the cowboy angels/ And a good saloon in every single town

Gram Parsons & Thomas Brown - Return of the Grievous Angel

You’re not making conversation honey/ You’re only measuring words

Jimmy LaFave - Measuring Words

I brought along our little babies ‘cause I wanted them to see/ The woman that’s burning down our family tree

Loretta Lynn - Family Tree

He waits alone in heaven's shadow/With a stolen horse and tequila tears

Ray Wylie Hubbard – Loco Gringo's Lament

Now we go our separate ways/ Mr and Mrs used to be

John Prine - Mr and Mrs Used To Be

Tonight I’ll bet it all on the fighting spurs of Gallo Del Cielo/ Then I’ll return to buy the land that Villa stole from father long ago

Tom Russell – Gallo Del Cielo

And the girl passed out in the backseat trash/ There was no way they'd make even a half a tank of gas

Gillian Welch/David Rawlings – April the 14th, Part 1

And the years are gambled and lost/ Like Summer wages

Ian Tyson – Summer Wages

Marie she didn’t wake up this morning/ She didn’t even try/ She just rolled over and went to heaven/ My little boy safe inside

Townes Van Zandt – Marie

So she loads her mother’s pistol/ And shoots him as he whistles/ A song about a sailor’s life in style

John Grimaudo/Saylor White – Dress of Laces

I feel like Garbo in this late night Grande hotel/ Cause living alone is all I’ve ever done well

Nancy Griffith – Late Night Grande Hotel

If the ladies were squirrels with high bushy tails/I'd fill up my shotgun with rock salt and nails

Bruce "Utah" Phillips - Rock, Salt and Nails

Crossroads respects all creative copyright by songwriters and performers and lyrics and recordings are used for review purposes only.

All factual errors and omissions are regretted.

bottom of page