New San Antonio Rose
Western Music
The Lone Writer  

Western Song: New San Antonio Rose

“New San Antonio Rose” or just “San Antonio Rose” was the signature song of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Wills wrote it as an instrumental song at first, and he recorded the track with the Playboys on November 28, 1938. The song was written in the first person with the “Rose of San Antone” being the lost love of the singer. It ranked # 49 in the list of the Top 100 Western songs of all times chosen by the Western Writers of America.

Recordings of the Song

On April 16, 1940, the band made a new recording with the vocal of Tommy Duncan. They added new lyrics, and New San Antonio Rose became the new title of the song. It sold three million copies of Columbia Records. Of all the recordings, Bing Crosby with Bob Crosby and the Bob Cats made the most success on December 16, 1940. Their cover sold over a million copies, and Bing Crosby received a gold disc award.

The song became the first national hit by Bob Wills and His Playboys, moving them from their Southwestern fame to national notice. Their cover made it to the charts in two separate years, 1941 and 1943.

The Mexican influence Bob Wills found growing up in the Southwest reflects the music and lyrics of the song. By playing the bridge in reverse, Wills created the melody of the original “San Antonio Rose” itself from a traditional tune, “Spanish Two Step.”

Bob and his Playboys ruffled the feathers of Southern country music moguls on December 30, 1994, when they performed the song with horns and a drum at the Grand Ole Opry.

Cover Versions

Several genres of the song have been recorded by many artists.

  • Ingalill Rossvald and Harry Brandelius with Thorsten Sjögren’s orchestra recorded the song in the Swedish version
  • Floyd Cramer’s version reached No. 8 on both the Billboard Hot 100 pop and country singles charts in 1961
  • Harry James released his version of the song in 1966 on his album Harry James & His Western Friends
  • Little Willie Littlefield recorded a version for his album Houseparty

Notable Recordings

Other notable recordings are made by:

  • Patsy Cline
  • Clint Eastwood
  • Floyd Cramer
  • Gene Autry
  • Gordon MacRae
  • Jo Stafford
  • The Mills Brothers
  • Pat Boone
  • Patti Page
  • John Denver
  • Steve Lawrence
  • Teresa Brewer

New San Antonio Rose Film Appearances

The song has been featured or used in films including:

  • San Antonio Rose
  • Honkytonk Man
  • Sweet Dreams

Listen (Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys Version)

New San Antonio Rose Lyrics

Ah-ha, my San Antonio Rose

Deep within my heart lies a melody
A song of old San Antone (San Antone)
Where in dreams I live with a memory
Beneath the stars all alone

It was there I found beside the Alamo
Enchantment strange as the blue up above
A moonlit path that only she would know
Still hears my broken song of love

Moon in all your splendor knows only my heart
Call back my Rose, Rose of San Antone
Lips so sweet and tender like petals fallin' apart (yeah)
Speak once again of my love, my own

Broken song, empty words I know
Still live in my heart all alone
For that moonlit path by the Alamo
And Rose, my Rose of San Antone (ah-ha)

All together now

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