Once billed the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the long-abandoned Astrodome is arguably still Houston’s most iconic landmark.
With its 9.5-acre footprint, domed roof and electrifying scoreboard, the gleaming Astrodome, officially named the Harris County Domed Stadium (it didn’t stick), debuted in 1965 as the world’s first multi-purpose, domed sports stadium. Sealed off against Houston’s less than ideal weather, the futuristic, climate-controlled space was considered the first air-conditioned event venue of its size.
For nearly forty years, the gargantuan structure played host to baseball, football and basketball games, Muhammad Ali boxing matches, rodeos, concerts by stars like Elivs Presley, Bob Dylan, Judy Garland, the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Madonna and Selena, and memorable events like tennis champion Billie Jean King’s legendary triumph over Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match and the 1992 Republican convention where Houston resident George Bush won the Republican presidential nomination.
For a time, the Astrodome was among the most-visited man-made attractions in the country, outranked only by the Golden Gate Bridge and the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. But by 1996, the Houston Oilers had abandoned the Astrodome, and the state, for a new name and better prospects in Tennessee. And come 1999, the Astros ditched the stadium for Enron Field. The final blow came in 2002 when the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo dumped the dome -- the event’s venue for some three decades -- in favor of the newly built NRG Stadium. Gutted of glory and stripped of purpose, the Astrodome fell into disrepair and has sat largely vacant since 2005, when it was briefly reopened as an emergency shelter for thousands of New Orleans residents fleeing Hurricane Katrina.
Though the Astrodome has long since lost its shine, the grandeur of its glory days made an impact on all who saw it. So much so that many of the musically-gifted among that group immortalized the stadium in song. Scroll below for 10 songs that celebrate or, at the very least, namedrop the storied stadium. Happy listening friends.
*Some of the songs below contain explicit language unsuitable for some audiences.
George Jones, “A Hard Act to Follow” (1980)
Key lyrics: “Well the introductions over we got our hearts in tune / Let me know before we start the show am I fallin’ in love to soon / I got a heart nearly as big as Texas about the size of the Astrodome / And I’m a gonna be a hard act to follow if you keep a comin’ on”
Charlie Daniels Band, “Cowboy Hat in Dallas” (1988)
Key lyrics: “Well there ain’t no grapes in California, and there ain’t no spuds in Idaho / Ain’t no snow in Minnesota, they don’t get hot in El Paso / And there ain’t no baked beans up in Boston, and no river in St. Lou / Ain’t no grizzlies in Alaska and the Astrodome is blue / And there ain’t a cowboy hat in Dallas if I ain’t in love with you”
Neil Young and Crazy Horse, “Pocahontas” (1993)
Key lyrics: “I wish a was a trapper / I would give thousand pelts / To sleep with Pocahontas / And find out how she felt / In the mornin’ on the fields of green / In the homeland we’ve never seen / And maybe Marlon Brando / Will be there by the fire / We’ll sit and talk of Hollywood / And the good things there for hire / And the Astrodome and the first tepee / Marlon Brando, Pocahontas and me”
Rodney Crowell, “Telephone Road” (2001)
Key lyrics: “Rain came down in endless sheets of thunder / Lightning bolts split pine trees down to the roots / In the shadow of the Astrodome”
Radney Foster and Pat Green, “Texas in 1880″ (2001)
Key lyrics: “Ah, from Phoenix to Tulsa to the Astrodome / New York City down to San Antone / There’s boys that are ridin’ for legendary fame / And our money’s all gone but we ride just the same”
Paul Wall and Chamillionaire, “Thinkin’ Thoed” (2002)
Key lyrics: “Yea I’m thinking about buying my own Astrodome / The Lew Hawk Dome”
The Lonely Island, “We Like Sportz” (2009)
Key lyrics: “E to the S to the P to the N / Is all I watch cause I’m the man / If my team loses I’ll be mean all night / If you tell me to relax we’ll get in a fight / Watching sportz with girls is a pain / They don’t know the rules; there’s no time to explain / Single, double, triple, home-run / For the celebration I’ll shoot my gun / I like my friend, he’s a real guys guy / He’s not a loud-mouth like that *expletive* Steve / We like sportz and we don’t care who knows / From Wimbledon to the Astrodome”
Alejandro Escovedo, “Undesired” (2010)
Key lyrics: “We fought in Paris, fought in Rome / Beneath the lights of the Astrodome / Baby, didn’t we now”
Luke Combs, “Houston, We Got a Problem” (2017)
Key lyrics: “This is my kinda town, this is my kinda place / I wouldn’t mind hangin’ ‘round / For more than just a couple days / I got a twelfth floor room with a killer view of the empty Astrodome / A tab at the bar downstairs, but all I can think about is home”
Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis, “Astrodome” (2019)
Key lyrics: “There was a time when every morning was a hope and a wonder / And every day was plans for shakin’ up the world / And every night was crackling like the thunder / Full of oil field money and holy hell Houston girls / As I roll out on the ocean of cars on 610 / I’m a-gonna go on down to sit in the Astrodome / Just me and you and all of them blue and faded memories / I’m a-gonna go on down to sit in the Astrodome / And wonder whatever ever became of me”
Help us build a Houston playlist. What Houston tunes do you play on repeat? Share your favorite songs about Space City in the comment section below.