Finally, after months of asking Astros public relations people and other team officials, I got the answer: who is that singing “Deep in the Heart of Texas” during the seventh inning stretch at Astros games?
It’s not so easy to click on YouTube, do a search on “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” and there it is. There are dozens and dozens of versions of the song, and a lot of them all pretty much sound the same. Team officials told me, “We’ve been playing that song for so long that nobody’s still here from when we started it.”
But here you go: it’s country star Moe Bandy’s recording from 1982.
Some fun facts about “Deep in the Heart of Texas.” It was written in 1941 by the husband and wife team of Don Swander (music) and June Hershey (lyrics). Swander was born in Iowa, raised in Washington State, attended UCLA and lived most of his adult life in Las Vegas. Hershey was born and raised in Los Angeles and moved to Vegas with her husband. Swander wrote 3,000 songs. He once said, “I am ashamed of [Deep in the Heart of] Texas. It’s a two-chord song. I wrote a lot of songs that were better.”
“Deep in the Heart of Texas” was his only hit. But what a hit.
In 1942, five different versions of “Deep in the Heart of Texas” cracked the Billboard Top 40. The first recording was by Alvino Rey and His Orchestra. It hit No. 1. So did a version by Bing Crosby with Woody Herman and his Woodchoppers.
Other successful recordings that year were by Horace Heidt’s Musical Knights, Tommy Tucker, Perry Como with Ted Weems and his Orchestra, and Bob Grant and his Orchestra. Woody Herman and his Woodchoppers may be the best name ever for a music act.
“Deep in the Heart of Texas” is considered the de facto state song of Texas. It’s played during every Astros home game in the seventh inning, every Texas Rangers game in the fifth inning, and before UT football games. It’s played by the UH band, the Baylor band, and the TCU band. It’ played after San Antonio Spurs victories. You hear it about 15 minutes before the start of Houston Texans games – that is, if you got to your seat before kickoff, so few do.
The actual official state song of Texas is called “Texas, Our Texas.” I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard that song. Or maybe I’ve heard it and didn’t know what it was. “Deep in the Heart of Texas?” A million times and I know every word.
“Deep in the Heart of Texas” has been featured in many movies, including Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, starring that notable thespian Pee-wee Herman, in 1985.
The song has been recorded by more than 100 singers, most of them country, but also Ray Charles and Duane Eddy. It’s played before every George Strait concert.
In 1942, the BBC banned the song from British airwaves because the melody was so catchy that wartime workers stopped what they were doing to clap along.