Pickers and Poets: The Ruthlessly Poetic Singer-Songwriters of Texas (John and Robin Dickson Series in Texas Music, sponsored by the Center

  • ISBN-13: 9781623494469
  • Author: UNKNOWN
  • Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
  • Publication date: 2016-12-24
  • Language: English
  • Pages: 280
  • $33.36

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Many books and essays have addressed the broad sweep of Texas music—its multicultural aspects, its wide array and blending of musical genres, its historical transformations, and its love/hate relationship with Nashville and other established music business centers. This book, however, focuses on an essential thread in this tapestry: the Texas singer-songwriters to whom the contributors refer as “ruthlessly poetic.” All songs require good lyrics, but for these songwriters, the poetic quality and substance of the lyrics are front and center. Obvious candidates for this category would include Townes Van Zandt, Michael Martin Murphey, Guy Clark, Steve Fromholz, Terry Allen, Kris Kristofferson, Vince Bell, and David Rodriguez. In a sense, what these songwriters were doing in small, intimate live-music venues like the Jester Lounge in Houston, the Chequered Flag in Austin, and the Rubaiyat in Dallas was similar to what Bob Dylan was doing in Greenwich Village. In the language of the times, these were “folksingers.” Unlike Dylan, however, these were folksingers writing songs about their own people and their own origins and singing in their own vernacular. This music, like most great poetry, is profoundly rooted. That rootedness, in fact, is reflected in the book’s emphasis on place and the powerful ways it shaped and continues to shape the poetry and music of Texas singer-songwriters. From the coffeehouses and folk clubs where many of the “founders” got their start to the Texas-flavored festivals and concerts that nurtured both their fame and the rise of a new generation, the indelible stamp of origins is inseparable from the work of these troubadour-poets. Contents Introduction, by Craig Clifford and Craig D. Hillis | 1 Part One. The First Generation: Folksingers, Texas Style Too Weird for Kerrville: The Darker Side of Texas Music | 17 Craig Clifford Townes Van Zandt: The Anxiety, Artifice, and Audacity of Influence | 27 Robert Earl Hardy Vignette—The Ballad of Willis Alan Ramsey | 36 Bob Livingston Guy Clark: Old School Poet of the World | 39 Tamara Saviano Kris Kristofferson: The Silver-Tongued Rhodes Scholar | 49 Peter Cooper Vignette—Don Henley: Literature, Land, and Legacy | 59 Kathryn Jones Steven Fromholz, Michael Martin Murphey, and Jerry Jeff Walker: Poetic in Lyric, Message, and Musical Method | 61 Craig D. Hillis Vignette—Kinky Friedman: The Mel Brooks of Texas Music | 83 Craig Clifford Billy Joe Shaver: Sin and Salvation Poet | 85 Joe Holley One Man’s Music: Vince Bell | 92 Joe Nick Patoski Vignette—Ray Wylie Hubbard: Grifter, Ruffian, Messenger | 101 Jenni Finlay The Great Progressive Country Scare of the 1970s | 103 Craig D. Hillis (interview with Gary P. Nunn) Plenty Else to Do: Lyrical Lubbock | 109 Andy Wilkinson Roots of Steel: The Poetic Grace of Women Texas Singer-Songwriters | 115 Kathryn Jones From Debauched Yin to Mellow Yang: A Circular Trip through the Texas Music Festival Scene | 136 Jeff Prince Vignette—Bobby Bridger: “Heal in the Wisdom,” Creating a Classic | 145 Craig D. Hillis (interview with Bobby Bridger) Interlude: What Do We Do with Willie? | 148 —I. Willie (An Early Encounter) | 148 Craig D. Hillis —II. Willie (On Everything) | 151 Craig Clifford and Craig D. Hillis Part Two. The Second Generation: Garage Bands, Large Bands, and Other Permutations “Gettin’ Tough”: Steve Earle’s America | 161 Jason Mellard Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen: Cosmic Aggies | 166 Jan Reid Vignette—Walt Wilkins: Spirituality and Generosity | 174 Craig Clifford (interview with Tim Jones) Lucinda Williams: Poet of Places in the Heart | 176 Kathryn Jones Rodney Crowell: Looking Inward, Looking Outward | 185 John T. Davis Vignette—Sam Baker: Short Stories in Song | 192 Robert Earl Hardy James McMurtry: Too Long in the Wasteland | 193 Diana Finlay Hendricks Part Three. Epilogue: Passing of the Torch? Drunken Poet’s Dream: Hayes Carll | 203 —I. Good Enough for Old Guys | 203 Craig Clifford —II. Good Enough for Young Guys | 207 Brian T. Atkinson Roll On: Terri Hendrix | 209 Brian T. Atkinson From Riding Bulls to Dead Horses: Ryan Bingham | 212 Craig Clifford (interview with Shaina Post) Bad Girl Poet: Miranda Lambert | 218 Craig Clifford Challenge to Bro Country: Kacey Musgraves | 221 Grady Smith Beyond the Rivers | 224 Craig Clifford Notes | 231 Selected Sources | 233 Contributors | 243 Index | 251

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