The 20 Best ZZ Tops Songs of All-Time
ZZ Top is a rock band that was formed in Houston, Texas, in 1969. They are predominantly known for the blues-rock style of their music, although they also play other rock subgenres, including boogie rock, hard rock, and southern rock. They are also known for their humorous lyrics. The only original member of ZZ Top that remains with the group is Billy Gibbons. Other members of the original line-up were Lanier Greig and Dan Mitchell, but they both left the band in the first year. Billy Etheridge also spent a brief spell as part of ZZ Top in 1969. Dusty Hill joined the band in 1970 and remained a member until his death in 2021. Frank Beard joined the band in 1970 and remains a member of the group. The newest member is Elwood Francis, who joined the band in 2021 following Dusty Hill’s death. During their career, ZZ Top have released 15 studio albums, seven compilation albums, four live albums, and 44 singles. Here are the 20 best ZZ Top songs of all time.
20. Flyin’ High (2012)
ZZ Top are a band that has stood the test of time, so they have continued to record music well into the New Millennium, despite the band forming in 1969. One of the band’s most recent songs is ‘Flyin’ High,’ which was a track on their 2012 album ‘La Futura.’ According to Song Facts, the song was first played by astronaut Michael Fossum, who was a friend of the band, during a space flight to the International Space Station. The band thought the theme of the song was perfect for the occasion.
19. Goin’ Down to Mexico (1971)
Second Hand Songs says that ‘Goin’ Down to Mexico’ was written by Billy Gibbons, Bill Ham, and Dusty Hill. It was one of the tracks that featured on the album ‘ZZ Top’s First Album.’
18. Chartreuse (2012)
ZZ Top tried to play the Gillian Welch song, ‘It’s Too Easy.’ They found it a complex tune to play, so they adapted the tune to their own style, and the result was ‘Chartreuse.’ The title of the song was chosen by chief engineer Gary Moon after the band asked him what he thought they should call the track. Moon suggested ‘Chartreuse’ as it is both an unusual color and the name of a liqueur.
17. My Head’s in Mississippi (1990)
‘My Head’s in Mississippi’ was ZZ Top’s fifth number one hit on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in the United States. It featured on the album ‘Recycler.’ The song was written by Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard, and Dusty Hill. The band tried to mix the old with the new on this track, by having old-style boogie-woogie at the beginning, then bringing in electronic drums later in the song.
16. I Gotsta Get Paid (2012)
101 WRIF says that one of the best ZZ Pop songs of all time is ‘I Gotsta Get Paid.’ Although ZZ Top are associated with rock, the inspiration for this song came from hip-hop. It is a reimagination of Texan rapper DJ DMD’s 1989 rap ’25 Lighters.’ The original song was based on the ghetto slang for taking apart lighters and filling them with crack. An interesting fact about this song is that it featured in an advert for Jeremiah Weed Root Brew. Although this song is not one of the band’s highest-charting tracks, it is one they have played regularly at live concerts.
15. I Need You Tonight (1983)
‘I Need You Tonight’ was a track on the 1983 album ‘Eliminator.’ It is a blues-style tune that showcases Billy Gibbons’ versatility. This song is one of the longer tracks on the album, as it is six minutes and 13 seconds long. Alongside Gibbons’ guitar solo is the dominant bass played by Dusty Hill.
14. Heard It on the X (1975)
One of the best ZZ Top songs is ‘Heard It on the X,’. It is a tribute to XERB and XERF, which are Mexican ‘Border Blaster’ radio stations run by Wolfman Jack. The name of the song was chosen because all radio stations in Mexico begin with the letter X. Many Mexican stations did not adhere to the same power regulations as the United States, so it was possible for people living in the United States to listen to many Mexican radio stations.
13. I Thank You (1979)
‘I Thank You’ is a song about both love and regret. The lyrics describe how the narrator is grateful to a woman for the love that she gave him, but he is sad and regretful now the woman has taken her love away. The lyrics to the song were written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, who collaborated as songwriters throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
12. Just Got Paid (1972)
‘Just Got Paid’ was a song written by Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard, and Bill Ham. It featured on the ZZ Top album ‘Rio Grande Mud.’ The song has been covered multiple times since it was first released in 1972. Some of the artists who have released versions of this song include Sammy Kershaw, Joe Bonamassa, and Carvin Jones. Most recently, it was covered in 2017 by UFO.
11. Sharp Dressed Man (1983)
The third single released from the 1983 album ‘Eliminator’ was ‘Sharp Dressed Man.’ It reached number eight on the US Mainstream Rock tracks chart, as well as being a top ten hit in Ireland, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. The song was written by Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, and Frank Beard, and it was produced by Bill Ham. Gibbons said that the guitar solo on the track is actually two solos played on two different guitars in two different tunings.
10. I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide (1979)
‘I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide’ was inspired by blues musician Joey Long, who was a friend of the members of ZZ Top. Long, who died in 1995, was not internationally famous, but he was one of the most acclaimed blues guitarists in Texas. He did not have a driver’s license, but he owned a swanky Cadillac that his glamorous wife would use to drive him to gigs. In the song, Long is portrayed as traveling in the Cadillac with the company of several attractive women, all of whom are smoking Lucky Strikes and wearing spike-heeled shoes and nylons.
9.Sleeping Bag (1985)
The first ZZ Top song to top the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart was ‘Sleeping Bag,’ which featured on the album ‘Afterburner.’ It also reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and was a top 20 hit in New Zealand and Sweden. The music video that accompanies this song stars Heather Langenkamp and John Dye.
8. Francine (1972)
Francine is one of ZZ Tops earlier hits, and it featured on the 1972 album ‘Rio Grande Mud.’ It reached number 69 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was written by Ste Perron and Ken Cordray. When the single has featured on later albums, the track is sometimes listed using the alternative spelling of ‘Francene.’
7. Gimme All Your Lovin’ (1983)
The first single released from the 1983 album ‘Eliminator’ was ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’.’ It is one of ZZ Top’s most successful songs, as it reached number two on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. It was also a top ten hit in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. Like many of ZZ Top’s songs, it was written by Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, and Frank Beard. It ties as the band’s most successful song in the UK with their cover of the Elvis Presley Hit ‘Viva Las Vegas.’ The accompanying music video features ZZ Top playing the song in a gas station.
6. Legs (1984)
‘Legs’ is one of only a handful of ZZ Tops hits to reach the top ten in the Billboard Hot 100, as it reached number eight. It also peaked at number three on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and was a top ten hit in Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand. There was also a dance mix version of the song that reached number 13 on dance charts. This track featured on the album ‘Eliminator.’
5. Tube Snake Boogie (1981)
When ZZ Top released their first 12 singles, the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart did not exist. They then released the single ‘Leila,’ and this did not chart on the newly formed rock chart when it was released in 1981. Later in the same year, ZZ Top released ‘Tube Snake Boogie,’ and this was the first of the band’s singles to make it onto the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and it peaked at number four. The single also featured on the album ‘El Loco.’
4. Waitin’ for the Bus- Jesus Left Chicago (1973)
‘Waitin’ for the Bus’ is a song from the album ‘Tres Hombres.’ The following track on the album was ‘Jesus Just Left Chicago. For many years, radio stations always played the two tracks back-to-back, so they became linked and referred to as one song. Dusty Hill was inspired to write the song after deciding to take the bus from Austin to Houston for the first time in years and realizing that you can meet unique people while waiting for the bus and during the journey.
3. Cheap Sunglasses (1979)
Although ‘Cheap Sunglasses’ isn’t the highest-charting ZZ Top song, it is one of their best known, most popular, and most covered. It featured on the album ‘Deguello,’ then later featured on the albums ‘Chrome,’ ‘ZZ Top’s Greatest Hits,’ ‘Rancho Texicano,’ and ‘Smokie & BBQ.’ Some artists and groups who have covered the song include The Warren Brothers, Wolfmother, Nutty, and The Sword. Those who have sampled the song in their work include Kid Rock, Esham, and EPMD.
2. Tush (1975)
According to Classic Rock History, the best ZZ Top song is ‘Tush.’ It was the only single the band released from the album ‘Fandango!’ and it peaked at number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. VH1 ranks this song as the 67th best hard rock song of all time. ZZ Top performed ‘Tush’ as the last song in their playlist for many years, so it was the last song ever performed by Hill before his death in 2021.
1. La Grange (1973)
Rolling Stone lists ‘La Grange’ as one of the best ZZ Top songs of all time. ‘La Grange’ has a rather unusual theme for a rock song, as it pays tribute to a brother called the Chicken Ranch in La Grange, Texas. The same brothel inspired the movie ‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’ and a book. Hill once went to the brothel when he was just 13. Apparently, the band was irked that the brothel closed only months after they released their song after being open for more than one hundred years. The band also commented that there must have been something special about the brothel for it to remain in business for so long.