20 Songs About Hotels and Motels

Juli Thanki | March 1st, 2010

Here’s 20 of country music’s best hotel and motel songs. Apologies for excluding Neal McCoy’s “Hillbilly Rap.”

Honorable Mentions:

Cadillac Sky – “Motel Morning
David Houston – “No Tell Motel
Eagles – “Hotel California
Gene Watson – “Love in the Hot Afternoon
Guy Clark – “Lone Star Hotel
Jack Ingram & Jerry Jeff Walker – “Picture on My Wall
Joe Ely – “Standin’ at the Big Hotel
Little David Wilkins – “Motel Rooms”
Tom Russell – “Evangeline Hotel
Wade Bowen – “Lost Hotel

  • 20. “Hotel Whiskey” – Hank Williams Jr. & Clint Black

    A bottle, a room, and an old guitar are all Hank Junior and Clint Black need on this single from 1991. Can’t get enough hotel songs from Bocephus? Listen to “The Cheatin’ Hotel” from 2002’s The Almeria Club Recordings.

  • Different Things19. “Cheapest Motel” – Tracy Byrd

    A stay at the cheapest motel in town costs a man everything. Well, that’s what he gets for being stupid enough to frequent that hotel in the first place. Even a novice adulterer knows you’ve got to cheat at least one town down the road.

  • Tennessee Pusher18. “Motel In Memphis” – Old Crow Medicine Show

    The boyish string band does some of their best work when dealing with more serious subject matter, i.e. “Big Time in the Jungle.” On this haunting track from Tennessee Pusher they sing about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination at the Lorraine Motel and the aftermath, asking “Did you tremble when you thought about the future/And cry out for a martyred man?”

  • Live Wire17. “This Hotel Room” – Steve Goodman

    Goodman’s hotel room has a lot of stuff: room service, Magic Fingers, TV Guide. But a man can get tired of all those luxuries when he’s been away from home for too long.

  • Cowboy Nation16. “The End of the Rainbow Inn” – Chris Wall

    Losing one’s home bar is like losing a beloved family member, or a limb or something. Chris Wall, or, as his website calls him, the Cowboy Savior/Hero/Poet sings about his closing honky tonk with the same emotion others might reserve for true love or mama.


  • Back To Back - Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson15. “Home Motel” – Willie Nelson

    Nobody can write a sad song quite like Willie Nelson. A once happy home has now become the Home Motel on Lost Love Avenue. Its sole tenant stumbles in between dusk and dawn, only to “call your name and then remember you don’t live here anymore.”

  • Ray Charles & Friends/Super Hits14. “Little Hotel Room” – Ray Charles & Merle Haggard

    Lonely guy in a crappy hotel room: a theme we’ve seen before on this playlist, but Merle and Ray sure make it sound new, not to mention damn good.

  • Twilight Motel13. “Twilight Motel” – Alison Brown

    Brown is one cool banjo player. This slow, jazz-influenced instrumental from 1992’s Twilight Motel should be heard by anyone who’s interested in exploring the banjo outside of traditional bluegrass.

  • 12. “Motel Match” – Loretta Lynn

    In 1981, the Coal Miner’s Daughter sung “A motel match started a fire.” Makes sense. After all, who wouldn’t be tempted by Lynn’s provocative outfit on the I Lie album cover?

  • Real Animal11. “Chelsea Hotel ’78” – Alejandro Escovedo

    More than a few legendary musicians, artists and writers have resided at New York’s Hotel Chelsea. On this track from Real Animal, Escovedo sings about, among other things, one of the hotel’s most infamous incidents: Nancy Spungen’s murder. Other artists who’ve sung about the Chelsea include Ryan Adams and Leonard Cohen.

  • 10. “The Bitter Inn” – Johnny Rodriguez

    The rundown motel where this brokenhearted guy is staying matches his mindset: “At this place I call home/The sign out front’s gone/Like our love it’s gone with the wind/So I gave it a name/For the tears and the pain/I call it the Bitter Inn.” Note to self: don’t cheat until you can afford a stay at the Ritz-Carlton.

  • Elvis 30 #1 Hits9. “Heartbreak Hotel” – Elvis Presley

    Not a real hotel. But a classic song nonetheless; it’s the hit that made Elvis a star. Willie Nelson and Leon Russell’s countrified version, shown below, topped the charts in 1979. Wanda Jackson, Merle Haggard, Chet Atkins, Roger Miller, and Tanya Tucker are just a few of the other country artists who’ve also covered it.

  • 8. “Another Motel Memory” – Shelly West

    Not to be confused with the Rolling Stones’ “Memory Motel,” this Top 10 single is from West’s second solo album, Red Hot. On this little slice of ’80s pop-country heaven, she sings about how she doesn’t want to be just another roll in the hay. A little more Jose Cuervo might change that tune; he is, after all, a friend of hers.

  • The Essential Gary Stewart7. “In Some Room Above The Street” – Gary Stewart

    This was a Top 20 hit for Stewart in 1976. The couple here is married, but not to one another, which is why they’re meeting in that room above the street. In the song’s final verse, Stewart sends the lady back home to her husband: “If he wants your love tonight/Don’t turn away, don’t hurt his pride/Close your eyes and think of me/In some room above the street.” What a prince.

  • 6. “The Night Miss Nancy’s Hotel For Single Girls Burned Down” – Tex Williams

    Turns out “hotel for single girls” is a euphemism for “whorehouse frequented by pillars of society.” The real mystery is what—or who—started the fire that left “the so-called elite caught out in the street/With their pompous purity down.”

  • Tom T. Hall - Storyteller, Poet, Philosopher5. “Spokane Motel Blues” – Tom T. Hall

    Poor Tom T. Hall. All his buddies are out boozing it up and having a good time while he’s stuck songwriting in a motel room far away from them all. I’m not sure if that actually qualifies as suffering for one’s art, but it’s a good song nonetheless.

  • Genesis4. “Camelot Motel” – Mary Gauthier

    No exhausted travelers here: the Camelot Motel is full of “sinners, liars, outlaws and fallen angels/Looking for the grace from which they fell.” Mentally ill bar hookups, anonymous gay sex, robbers on the run…it’s either the makings of a country song or the cast of a wacky sitcom.

  • The Hits / Chapter One3. “Third Rate Romance” – Sammy Kershaw

    Kershaw covered this song in 1994, 19 years after the Amazing Rhythm Aces recorded the less successful original. The music video delivers its own judgment on third rate romances in skeezy motels: the fella gets his watch and wad o’ cash stolen while he’s in the john.

  • Hero of the Working Man2. “Motel Time Again” – Johnny Paycheck

    Splitting one’s time between bars and motels might not be the healthiest way to live, but it seems to work here. A wonderful country song from an underrated artist.

  • The Essential Bobby Bare1. “Margie’s At The Lincoln Park Inn” – Bobby Bare

    He’s a Scout Leader, a family man, preacher’s pal, and an adulterer. He regrets the affair, promised his wife he wouldn’t cheat anymore, but he’s also tempted to make another trip to Margie’s room at the Lincoln Park Inn. This was a Top 5 hit for Bare in 1969; lots of other artists have recorded this song (written by Tom T. Hall) including Johnny Darrell and Charlie Sizemore.

1 Ping

  1. filizArt» Reiselust
    June 8, 2010
    [...] für unterwegs gibt es hier noch eine Liste mit 20 Liedern, die sich nur um “Hotels und Motels” [...]
  1. numberonecountryfan
    March 1, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    What about Motels And Memories by T.G. Sheppard?

  2. Stormy
    March 1, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    You have to love anyone who can come up with a line like “Me and the royal denizens have damn good reasons for our sins.”

  3. Jon
    March 1, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Nice list, and I guess I can understand why you point to Sammy Kershaw’s version of “Third Rate Romance” rather than the original (although the latter is really a whole lot more enjoyable), but you did miss “Carolyn At The Broken Wheel Inn,” which ought to be up in your top 2 or 3.

  4. Peter
    March 1, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    What about “Lord, Don’t Let Me Die in a Cheap Motel” by Jesse Dayton’s one-off group Banjo & Sullivan?

  5. Mike K
    March 1, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    I loved to see Gary Stewart on the list and I knew that I would see some of the others particularly Bocephus, Bare, and Tom T. One more Hank Jr. song that didn’t get mentioned is “Hamburger Steak, Holiday Inn” from the Eleven Roses album. Also, REK’s newest “The Rose Hotel.”

  6. t.scott
    March 1, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    “Honky Tonk” by Webb Pierce is a great “sing to the radio “song.

  7. t.scott
    March 1, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    As a side note, Gary Stewart mentioned here, was one of my favorite artists in the late seventies.It seemed like all his early singles were top 20 hits.It seems as though he is one of the “forgotten artists” of my youth.

    Maybe an article or an interview Jim?

  8. Paul W Dennis
    March 1, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    T. Scott – no interview is possible with Gary Stewart- he committed suicide a few years ago a few months after his wife of many years died of cancer

  9. Brian
    March 1, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Good list but I’m a little shocked that Hotel California didn’t get into the top 20. It’s easily the most known song on the list and was the biggest hit of all the songs. On top of that it is a decent song and it features a good mix of all the elements of the Eagles (harmonies and guitar work)

  10. Rick
    March 1, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    I think the list should absolutely have included “Airways Motel” by Dave Cox! How can you resist a song that starts out: “Well they’ve got three hour rentals when you need a place to go. To take someone who’s not very special and you ain’t got very much dough…”

  11. t.scott
    March 1, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Gee,Paul, I’m embarrassed now . Sorry to hear that.I had heard his wife had cancer but not the rest.

  12. luckyoldsun
    March 1, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    You missed Garth’s “Papa Loved Mama”.

    Then there’s the recent “Rose Hotel” by Robert Earl Keene.

    And I’ll have to listen to it again, but doesn’t Frankie catch Johnny making love to Nellie Blye in a hotel–before she “root-a-toot-toot’s” him through the door?. That would be one of the greatest country songs of all-time by Jimmie Rodgers.

  13. Buddynoel
    March 1, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    No phone, no pool, no pets
    I ain’t got no cigarettes…

  14. Adam
    March 2, 2010 at 10:18 am

    How about “One Nightstand” from Trace Adkins?

  15. Will James
    March 2, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    How about Tom T. Hall, “I’m stuck in Spokane in a motel room and there ain’t no way to get away…” (forget the title). Best: my daughter Kira Meade will kill me but this one she wrote called “Room Key”: http://www.myspace.com/meademusic (last song on player).

  16. Aimee Jo
    March 26, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Great list! Old Crow’s “Motel in Memphis” always gives me chills. Awesome song.

  17. Janice Williams
    April 5, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Great list and I don’t know that I could have thought of half of them. But Robbie Fulks’ “All You Can Cheat” from Georgia Hard jumps into mind. Maybe a list of “cheating motel/hotel songs” and “non-cheating motel/hotel songs.”

  18. Melechesh
    May 19, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Do you remebmer motel from Hichock’s psycho?

  19. Jon G.
    May 25, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    I totally agree that “Hotel California” deserves to be on the list and not the honorable mentions. I also agree that an article on Gary Stewart would be a great addition to this site. Who doesn’t love “(She’s Actin’ Single) I’m Drinkin’ Doubles?” The Kershaw song, though not his best and possibly not the best version of the song, was a good choice.
    I really like “One Nightstand,” but I can see that it doesn’t really have the recognition that many of these other songs have.

  20. barb smith
    April 27, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    There is a song I can not remember who sings it about he met her outside a memphis motel and the end of the song she’s left him and he goes in the bar and starts singing a song she wrote just for him and all the men at the bar starts humming the song.. If anyone know who sings this song let me know it has been bugging me for a while maybe Leon Russell…

  21. Ron
    April 27, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Barb – Dixie Chicken by Little Feat.

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