Music for Country Waltz

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Lady's outside turn

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Song Title


Song Title

Forester Sisters

Their Hearts Are Dancing

Tracy Lawrence


Lady Antebellum

If I Knew Then

Vince Gill

Which Bridge to Cross

John Michael Montgomery

Dream On Texas Ladies

Collin Raye

Somebody Else's Moon

Clint Black

Half the Man

Deana Carter

Did I shave my legs for this

Kenny Chesney, George Jones, Tracy Lawrence

From Hillbilly Heaven to Honky Tonk Hell

Kata Hay

Waltz across Texas

Deana Carter

Strawberry Wine

John Michael Montgomery

Dream on Texas Ladies

Doug Stone

Warning Labels

Little Texas

I'd rather miss You

Country Waltz Music:

  The Waltz, a beautiful graceful ballroom dance, began in Southern Germany in the seventeenth century. At that time, people glided around the floor to music by Johann Strauss, Johannes Brahms, and Franz Schubert, most often in ¾ time, but sometimes in 3/2 or 3/8 tempo. The Waltz spread all over the world including to the United States, where it was enjoyed in its traditional form. Not only could people dance to songs composed and performed to accompany the Waltz in its original format, but the dance also seemed to accommodate other musical genres, especially one created in the United States, country music. However, as Americans are known to do, they altered the dance slightly to incorporate their own unique style. They added more progressive steps and the Country Waltz was born.

  Eventually, several American music genres had their effects on the Waltz, and the Country Waltz was invented. The Country Waltz is derived from formal quadrilles and folk dances and uses a different position than the ballroom version (Trautman). Some of the music styles which brought about the Country Waltz include bluegrass, bebop, and swing. A dance that was specifically "western" began to evolve. New moves and styles were absorbed by people who also danced the Waltz. African music and dance especially exerted a stylistic influence that can be seen in country swing dance. Even with all of the various influences, the basic components are the same as the traditional Waltz, the walking steps, side steps, and the 1-2-3 count. “’The country waltz has a faster tempo than the ballroom dance,’ said John O'Brien, class instructor. ‘The country waltz also has wider movements than the ballroom-type waltz, which is based on the three-four time box step,’ O'Brien said (Matzke). Since the Country Waltz is less formal than the dance from which it derived, folks gathered just about anywhere to dance -- on ranches, in barns, in the wide open spaces under the stars.

  Many of the earliest Country Waltz songs had been around for a long time and musicians adapted them to fit the new style of waltz. One such song was called “Waltz Quadrille.” This song was composed sometime in the 1800s and went through several incarnations. Apparently originally it was a standard waltz, but also seems to have served as a square dance. Eventually, though it became a Country Waltz. Richard Matteson says, “By the end of the 19th century, quite a number of quadrilles were being published that didn't follow the earlier form of having multiple separate figures. Although this dance does have two distinct dance parts, the original instructions [say]: Play an ordinary waltz and do not stop between the numbers .” One artist who performed this song was Ella Wheeler Wilcox in 1883. Another venue, some 56 years later, was in 1939 at something called The Cowboy Dances, where the “Waltz Quadrille” was sang to the tune of “Sweet Evalina” (Matteson). Many Country Waltz songs progressed in similar fashion. Some were crossover tunes from bluegrass music and featured the fiddle as a main instrument. Some of the early Country Waltzes include “Georgiana Waltz” composed and performed by Clayton McMichen in 1934, and the “Westphalia Waltz” that the Lone Star Playboys composed in 1946 and named for a dance they played in Westphalia, TX (Nathan). The titles of most of the older Country Waltz songs clearly indicate the dance they were intended for.

  Many Country Waltz songs have the word “waltz” in their title. Sometimes song titles refer to movement of some sort like walking or dancing not just waltzing. Early Country Waltz music includes “Tennessee Waltz” written by Redd Stewart and Pee Wee King in 1946. Patti Page recorded the song in the 1950s and it became her signature song. Recently Norah Jones recorded a version of the “Tennessee Waltz” that shows that good music and the Country Waltz are still very popular. Another Country Waltz song, “Walking the Floor over You” was written and performed by Ernest Tubbs in1941. Bill Monroe wrote and performed “Kentucky Waltz” in 1946. He said, “'Kentucky Waltz’ was my first try at writing words to a song. I had written 74 instrumentals before I wrote it" (The Music Barn). Eddy Arnold covered “Kentucky Waltz” in 1951. Another famous Country Waltz song, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” was written and sang by Hank Williams in 1949 possibly about his troubled relationship with wife Audrey Sheppard. Johnny Cash covered it after Williams’ death. Ernest Tubbs had another hit in 1965 with “Waltz across Texas.” Even though the song is not really about oil, a 1982 romantic movie about oil drilling in Texas used the same title: Waltz Across Texas.

  However, that is not the only country music/dance movie. Who can forget Urban Cowboy from 1980? “Could I have this Dance” was a 1980 single for Anne Murray. It was on the sound track of Urban Cowboy starring Debra Winger and John Travolta. It was written by Wayland Holyfield and Bob House. It would be hard to count the number of people who have danced to “Could I have this Dance” at their wedding. Urban Cowboy spurred a revival of country music popularity including country waltzes like Anne Murray’s song. Mickey Gilley, a well-known country star, played himself as a country-western club owner. John Travolta started another trend in dancing just like he did with Saturday Night Fever (John Travolta). Other country performers including Johnny Lee, Bonnie Raitt, and Charlie Daniels all played themselves in the movie. Johnny Lee sang “Lookin’ for Love,” which became a top 40 hit. Bonnie Raitt sang “Don’t it Make Ya Wanna Dance?” Of course, Charlie Daniels performed “Devil Went down to Georgia,” which also became a big hit.

  Other music from the era includes crossover rock and roll groups like the Eagles whose song “Lyin’ Eyes,” a song about marital infidelity that fits perfectly with the plotline of the movie, was on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack. Their 1975 “Take it To the Limit” from the One of these Nights album also has lots of people waltzing to it. “Last Cheater’s Waltz” the title track from Sonny Throckmorton's 1978 album, another cheating song, accompanies Country Waltzers. In late 1979, T. G. Sheppard released "Last Cheater's Waltz" as a single in 1979, reaching number one on Hot Country Songs. Emmylou Harris has also covered the song. The lyrics talk about marital cheating of course, a common theme of country music, but also about the ¾ time of the Country Waltz.   More recent contributions to Country Waltz playlists include “J.D. Crowe & the New South's 1982 album, "Somewhere Between," reissued by Rounder Records in 2000 as a reworked format centering on the enduring country music contributions of the late Keith Whitley. Now titled "Sad Songs and Waltzes," it takes away the instrumentals and replaces them with contemporary musicians and singers, including Alison Krauss and Diamond Rio's Gene Johnson. Also included on the album is a pre-George Strait "Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind?" (Bessman). One of the most popular contemporary country singers alive today, George Strait, has several Country Waltz songs including the steel guitar-laden hit singles crying-in-the-beer songs, "Living for the Night" and “Where Have I Been All My Life.” Both are from his 2009 album Twang and are often heard while couples make their way around the floor doing a Country Waltz.

Works Cited
Bessman, Jim. "Rounder Reissue Recalls Whitley Legacy." Billboard 19 August 2000.
Matteson, Richard. "Waltz Quadrille." 2011. 4 June 2011
Matzke, Amy. "Dance night focuses on country waltz." Roanoke Times/ 18 May 2008.
Nathan, in Texas. "Mudcat Cafe." 15 December 1999. 4 June 2011
The Music Barn. Country Music 2011. 3 June 2011
Trautman, Shawn and Joanne. Picture Yourself Dancing. Boston: Course Technology, 2006.
Urban Cowboy. Dir. James Bridges. Perf. Debra Winger, Mickey Gilley John Travolta. 1980.