Although he officially retired from touring last summer (playing his last full band show at Floore’s Country Store in Helotes, Texas, on Sept. 4), the great Robert Earl Keen is still writing songs, still making albums, still hosting his own podcast, still making the surprise public appearance here and there and, of course, still looming as large as ever over the Americana landscape as one of the most beloved and respected songwriters of the last half century.   

Keen wasn’t the first scrappy independent Texas troubadour to build up a massive regional following packing dancehalls and headlining festivals from one end of the Lone Star State to the other, but by the early to mid-’90s he was easily the biggest since the heyday of the late Jerry Jeff Walker in the ’70s and before the rise of well, the whole generation of Robert Earl acolytes — everyone from Pat Green, Jack Ingram, and Cross Canadian Ragweed — that came along in his wake. And even though we’re all still coming to terms with the reality of not being able to look forward to another Robert Earl Keen Band live show just around the bend on the calendar, we still have his vast back catalog to enjoy to our heart’s content — not to mention the promise of more brand new songs still to come in the hopefully not too distant future. Songs like the ones on his latest album, Western Chill, which still await a wider release beyond the vinyl-only deluxe box set that Keen debuted earlier this year. If you’re lucky enough to have already heard it, you know the man’s still got it — and if you haven’t heard it yet, just know that it’ll be worth the wait. 

In the meantime, here’s a curated 45-track playlist of some of Keen’s best songs and recordings from his 1984 debut, No Kinda Dancer, up to 2016’s Live Dinner Reunion. If you’re somehow just now getting into all things Keen, prepare to fall in love with a helluva lot more great songs beyond such widely known, oft-covered classics as “The Road Goes on Forever” and “Merry Christmas From the Family.” And if you already know the whole Keen catalog from front to back, well, do yourself a favor and let us play you some of our own favorites anyway. Just push play, and get ready to be feelin’ good again.