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The 20 Best Songs: ZZ Top

by Michael Buffalo Smith

For nearly 40 years Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard of ZZ Top have been recording great rock and blues songs with huge doses of Southern fried goodness. This is my attempt to narrow their huge catalog down to 20 essential tracks. If you are a long time fan like me, you hear most of these songs in your sleep. If you are new to the Top, well, strap in and download any or all of these tracks and prepare to blow your top!


1. La Grange
    I can still remember the very first time I heard this song. I was in eleventh grade in high school, and on my way to civics class with my transistor radio in my pocket and an ear phone in my ear. I thought it was the single coolest tune I had heard in a mighty long time. Fact is, I still crank up the volume when I hear Billy Gibbons singing it on Rock 101.

2. Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers
   I am a sucker for the “back and forth” lead vocal thang, like Skynyrd’s “You Got That Right,” and especially this one, which I have played many times in various bands, but never with the passion of that “Little Ol’ Band from Texas.”

3. Jesus Just Left Chicago
    The perfect blues song. And a shout out to my main man.

4. I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide
    Billy Gibbons can write some weird lyrics, and that’s one of the things I love about him. “Sportin’ short dresses wearin’ spike heeled shoes, smokin’ Lucky Strikes and wearin’ nylons too.”

5, Cheap Sunglasses 
    I’ll never forget this song from the El Loco tour. It just plain rocked.

6. Chevrolet
   I love  good car song, and this is one of the best.

7. Manic Mechanic
   And so is this one! Lord have mercy Miss Percy!

8. Sharp Dressed Man
   A lot of folks called the early eighties a sellout period for ZZ Top, but the Eliminator release sure put them over the top, and I still love this song.

9. Heard It On The X
   Billy’s tribute to his favorite radio station,

10. A Fool For Your Stockings
    What is it with Gibbons and hosiery? A timeless blues tune. Haw, haw, haw.

11. Just Got Paid
    What a groove!  A groove so infectious that Gov’t Mule lifted it (almost) for “Bad Little Doggie.”

12. She Loves My Automobile
      "She don’t care if I’m stoned or sloppy drunk." Now that, my friends, is  a dream woman.

13. Rough Boy
     A rare ballad from the tres hombres, and a darn good one.

14. I Thank You
    ZZ does Sam & Dave with style. One of the first songs I learned to play on guitar. Billy Gibbons style.

15. Thunderbird
    The live call to order from the Fandango album. Turn it up!

16. My Head's In Mississippi
     A terrific blues tune with some more smokin’ guitar from Gibbons.

17. Tush
    One of their biggest radio hits, a tribute to the cushion, a beautiful thang.

18. Sleeping Bag
    Again, Billy can write a song about anything, and turn it into a stone cold groove.

19. Mexican Blackbird
    A true lost classic, with Texas country twang.

20. Waitin´ For The Bus
    Have mercy! It’s always played as the lead in to “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” but it stands on it’s own as the greatest commuter song ever.

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