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November 15, 2007

Older, Younger, Texan

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Ray Wylie Hubbard, grizzled offbeat Texas mega-talent:

If my ears are to be trusted, "Snake Farm" is a sinister, comic, and lusty mixture of blues, country, and swamp pop.

Another Texas singer-songwriter whose work I've been enjoying recently is an alt-country youngster named Hayes Carll. You can listen to four terrific live tracks of Hayes' on his MySpace page.

"Wastrel" seems like an apt word to apply to Hayes Carll, doesn't it? I'm finding that "It's a Shame" is seizing hold of my brain in the same way that Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl" once did, and thanks to a similar combo of infantile catchiness, sweetness cut with melancholy, and poetry. Besides, the song's refrain -- "It's a shame / we ain't lovers" ... I mean, those are words that have been touched by genius. There's a goodly amount of Hayes Carll to be enjoyed by typing his name into the Search box at YouTube as well. Here are the lyrics for "It's a Shame."

It sometimes seems like Being Texan can be an awfully fun and rewarding vocation, doesn't it? My all-things-Texas gurus are Scott Chaffin and Cowtown Pattie, both of them big-hearted bloggers with superb taste in Texas music. And no, since you asked, I most definitely did not record a copy of those Hayes Carll tracks for myself using Rogue Amoeba's convenient and easy-to-use program Audio Hijack. No sirree, no way. I'm shocked you'd even think I might do such a thing.

Semi-related: I've linked before to some other memorable Texas music and musicians: Townes Van Zandt, T-Bone Walker, Guy Clark (performing with the beautiful Karen Matheson), Lightnin Hopkins, Delbert McClinton. That's a lot of grit, personality, and soul, baby! Here's a posting about Van Morrison.

Speaking of Texas ... Here's the weirdly compelling Lyle Lovett doing his beautiful "If I Had A Boat."

And here's Jimmie Dale Gilmore singing a moving version of Townes Van Zandt's "Buckskin Stallion Blues."



posted by Michael at November 15, 2007


Two words: Ned Sublette!!!!

Now *there's* a genius Texas musician.

I remember seeing him a few times at the Pyramid Club in the early 80s, singing "Cattle Mutilation" and "Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other" (20 years before Willie Nelson covered it!). Hooray for the Internet, bringing us all closer together.

And you're right, MB--there must be something about Texas. Have you seen the list of Texas musicians on Wikipedia, the source of all information that is partially true? Mighty impressive!

Posted by: communicatrix on November 15, 2007 1:55 AM

I sometimes like Wylie, but "Snake Farm" doesn't do it for me. Too obviously a Dylan knockoff.

I prefer "We're from Texas, Screw You."

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on November 15, 2007 8:09 AM

I find Robert Earl Keen to be the wittiest of the bunch. Here's his classic story song, "The Road Goes On Forever and The Party Never Ends":

"Shades of Grey" On Austin City Limits, about some kids mistaken for the Oklahoma City bombers:

And a live version of his classic "Merry Christmas From the Family", one of the best Christmas songs ever...unfortunately hard to hear the lyrics:

Posted by: mq on November 15, 2007 9:31 AM

Ah, the sort of pop music voices I can't bear. Thin, whiny, high-pitched, always a bit overwrought - and to think that people complain that operatic voices are "artifical"!

Posted by: dearieme on November 15, 2007 10:31 AM

Yee Haw! I'm not much of a real Texas music guru like our friend, Scotty, but I love being listed in the same company as The Fat Guy! Thanks!

Austin is still the Texas Nashville, but you can find good bands and artists all over the Lone Star State.

Texas Gypsies, Tommy Alverson, Red Steagall, the Derailers (who have a great tribute to Buck Owens out now), and the South Austin Jug Band (psychobilly), are among a whole herd of great musicians who call Texas home on the range.

Posted by: Cowtown Pattie on November 15, 2007 11:22 AM


Try this link:

Texas Gypsies

Posted by: Cowtown Pattie on November 15, 2007 11:33 AM

What's wrong with my links today?

The Derailers

Sorry, guys.

Posted by: Cowtown Pattie on November 15, 2007 11:37 AM

My 'fave-right' Ray Wylie (but I've got to admit, I'm not a connoisseur) is "Stolen Horses," from the Growl CD. Couldn't find a youtube or myspace with it available.

"I'll be ridin' stolen horses
when you don't see me no more"

"Now reincarnation, as I understand it,
is birth, death and rebirth.
Unless we get enlightenment,
full tilt enlightenment,
we come back to this earth."

"Full tilt enlightenment" has a "touch of genius" in the words.

Posted by: Judith Sears on November 15, 2007 1:56 PM

"...the wierdly compelling Lyle Lovett."

If that was a throwaway line it shows real genius. Because that's exactly what he is: wierdly compelling.

Posted by: ricpic on November 15, 2007 3:07 PM

I like Cory Morrow and Pat Green, although some Texas music fans consider them "sellouts."

And don't forget the great Rodney Crowell!

What a great song "Earthbound" is.

Posted by: jonathanjones02 on November 15, 2007 3:09 PM

*dierieme: thta's what i thought, too! Maybe sans "operatic voices"...both categories I find hard to bear for longer than 5min.

Will anybody besides Sir Gawain ever post on Portuguese Fado? Now that's something I can listen to for hours - and I don't understand a word.

Posted by: Tatyana on November 15, 2007 3:43 PM

Jimmie Dale Gilmore is awesome. If you don't get him, then so be it. I'll take all your share.

If all I had to listen to for the rest of my life were Townes Van Zandt songs, I'd die happy.

Posted by: Cowtown Pattie on November 15, 2007 7:50 PM

Here's a new one for you to try, MB: Ryan Bingham. He's on the Amazon MP3 dealio and I imagine Brother Jobs' Musical Emporium too. If you can listen to Blood and Water without bopping, you're a better man. And if you don't want to spend $9, I'll Paypal you. That's how damn good the kid is. Completely unrecognized by the powers that be, except me and a few other geniuses.

I saw Hayes a few weeks ago, and sadly, they seemed tired and rushed through the set. I think they've been touring a whole lot. But - my point is that I have a hell of a time telling Hayes and RWH apart. Their voices are almost identical coming out of a ipod on shuffle. Hayes is very, very good. I want to catch him and the band when they're on.

PS Bob Dylan wishes he could shine Ray Wylie Hubbard's boots.

Posted by: Scott on November 15, 2007 8:05 PM

Will anybody besides Sir Gawain ever post on Portuguese Fado?

Ah, Tatyana, I love fado! The only thing we have in common (don't worry, we can still dislike each other). I once brought a date to a Cristina Branco concert and broke down in tears. She got disgusted and never saw me again. In fairness, I was crying about an ex-girlfriend, so I understand.

Posted by: mq on November 15, 2007 9:32 PM

What about Willis Alan Ramsey? And his wonderful eponymous album? Had a huge influence on Lyle Lovett, for one. - this appears to be a fan's doing, not sponsored by the artist - only one track up, but it's a good'ern, "The Ballad of Spider John."

Posted by: Judith Sears on November 16, 2007 12:00 AM

*mq: then you're not completely gone.
Here, out of the goodness of my heart, a link to a beautiful prose on a beautiful subject.

Posted by: Tat on November 16, 2007 12:39 AM


10 points for knowing about Willis Alan Ramsey!

I know Spider John by heart, but I sing along better with Jimmy Buffet's rendition than Willis's.

That album is probably played a minimum of once a week around our house. We are major groupies of WAR.

That album, and a couple by B.W.Stevenson.

Posted by: Cowtown Pattie on November 16, 2007 1:50 PM

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