The Stacks: How Country Got Its Texas Makeover

March 14, 2015 - fall Denim

Austin is one of those places people tell we is special right before they explain that isn’t what it used to be. When a good aged days stopped—was it a late ‘90s or as distant behind as a late ‘70s?—depends on who we speak to nonetheless make no mistake those days were indeed good. SXSW is underway this weekend and for a pointer of Austin’s furious times and furious men, demeanour no serve than Robert Ward’s hugely interesting feature, “Redneck Rock.” Originally published in New Times magazine, and collected in Ward’s glorious anthology, Renegades, it appears here—along with an afterward—with a author’s permission.

—Alex Belth

The out-of-work automechanic with a drink gut, and a 4 bluish rings, and a Gene Autry (pink and orange green) cowboy shirt with genuine pearl buttons, and a mutton chops, and a straight-back greased-down hair, and a vast rhinestone belt, is stomping his heels and pulsation his motor-oiled ham pawn on a bench. “Bring on Jerry Jeff. Jerry Jeff. Jerry Jeff. Play ‘Redneck Mother,’ Jerry Jeff!”

The intent of all this frenzy is Jerry Jeff Walker, a late-thirties, ex-folkie artist incited on-going nation rocker. Up on a vast theatre here during Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, Texas, Walker is twice as drunk, twice as wild, and twice as “cowboy” as his audience. He has a dim beard, a cowboy shirt that hangs out to disguise his flourishing drink gut, a vast ten-gallon hat, and National Saddlery boots (hand-stitched by Charley Dunn). In his hands he binds a guitar. He stands ideally still, raises his arm and smiles like a goofy, tranquilized cow, and a 4,800 people during Armadillo World Headquarters go wild.

“’Redneck Mother,’ Jerry Jeff.”

“Hi ho, buckaroos,” Jerry Jeff says, and a uncover is on.

He is weaving and bobbing and towering about, befuddled on coke, grass, and uppers, nonetheless he’s still solemn adequate to belt out Ray Wylie Hubbard’s country-rocker classical “Up Against a Wall Redneck,” popularly famous as “Redneck Mother.”

So its adult opposite a wall strikebreaker mother
Mother who has lifted her son so well
s thirty-four and celebration in a honky-tonk
Just kicking hippies
asses and lifting hell.

On a word “hell,” a whole crazy assembly of Austin shit-kickers, bikers, farmers, and connoisseur students chuck off their cowboy hats, whoop and hoot, flog adult their heels, and start in buck-dancing.

Jerry Jeff Walker smiles, his happy puppy giggle again, takes another strike of Johnnie Walker, trips on a mike chord and falls behind over a cables. Oh, Christ, he’s out of it again. He’s going to tumble by a drums like he did a integrate of months ago during Castle Creek.

But not tonight. Not during a Armadillo! In a scrape of time, Jerry Jeff rights himself and staggers, laughing, behind to a mike.

“I’m rallying and fading, buckaroos,” he says, laughing.

The assembly cheers wildly. They adore him here in Texas. In Houston, Jerry Jeff and singer/songwriter Willie Nelson simply outdraw a Who. In Dallas, during Nelson’s Whiskey River Club, Nelson, David Allan Coe, or a visiting outlaw-country rocker like Tompall Glaser can sell out a residence each night of a month.

But it’s Austin that all a new on-going nation musicians unequivocally love. There are over 4 hundred bands in Austin right now, and a spin of musicianship is both lyrically and musically sophisticated. The new country-rock competence spasmodic understanding with a aged nation staples—divorce, a bottle, bad luck, and tough women—but it also confronts reduction provincial American themes, like a shutting of a limit and a entrance of a appurtenance age to a tiny Texas town.

All of this good news on a Austin theatre started in a late ’60s when a series of singer/songwriters, mostly Texans who had altered to a vast civic strain centers like LA and Nashville, motionless that they indispensable to get off of a blurb songwriting treadmill and go behind to their possess roots. So around 1968, many of these folks found their approach behind to Austin. And behind to country.

In a early ’60s, these same musicians had neglected nation strain as ignorant and stupid and hideous. If we were a immature hip Texan, nation was strain for rednecks, something we wanted to get divided from. It took a Byrds’ Sweetheart of a Rodeo and a little-known manuscript by former Kingston Trio member John Stewart (California Bloodlines) to give ideas to a excessive sons of Austin. Soon, musicians like Michael Murphey (best famous for his songs “Geronimo’s Cadillac” and “Backslider’s Wine”), furious folkie Jerry Jeff Walker, enigmatic towering musician Bobby Bridger, clear nonsense artist Steve Fromholz, and a horde of others were experimenting with normal nation strain tunes, nonetheless essay lyrics that voiced their possess visions of things. The visions were some-more complex, derisive and clear than those of a older, untaught nation musicians. These gifted singer/songwriters afterwards assimilated army with internal stone ‘n’ hurl musicians, fiddlers, and banjo pickers to start a new hybrid form. It was during once lyrical, topical, and personal, while maintaining a hard-thumping, tough corner of stone ‘n’ roll. During a standard opening of a Lost Gonzos, Jerry Jeff Walker’s stream backup band, we could design to hear a nation beat, a jazz break, a juicy stone lick or two, some down-home fiddling, and all of it played faster and harder than small country.

For several years Austin became a place where musicians could gather, learn, and cooperate. The theatre was one in which, according to Austin musician Bobby Bridger, “personal expansion and a strain always took dominance over income and success.”

Perhaps a best instance of a musician who found himself in Austin is that of prime Nashville songwriter Willie Nelson. Nelson had been pumping out songs for other people for 15 years and had finished a raise of loot. Everyone from Johnny Cash to Perry Como had cut Nelson’s songs. Yet Nelson was a undone man. His possess singing career had never progressed over a cult following, and he was ill to genocide of a business parties, a back-stabbing, and a pomposity of Nashville. So in a late ’60s, Nelson altered to Austin. That competence not sound like much, nonetheless in Nashville strain circles it was deliberate tantamount to slitting your wrists and locking a lavatory door. Nelson’s friends besieged him. He was creation money. He was popular. Why had he grown his hair long? Why did he hang around with hippies and Commies? What would occur to him in Austin? Nelson, as capricious as anyone, simply knew he could mount no more. “Nashville roughly pennyless me,” he says now. “I had to go. No matter what.”

To his surprise, Nelson met scads of gifted musicians in Austin who felt as he did. It wasn’t prolonged before he had given adult his Nashville-Bible salesman demeanour for good and was seen smoking joints, wearing a red bandana around his forehead, celebration Lone Star beer, and eating nachos with a internal crazies. Instead of vanishing away, his career boomed. He came out with new songs, new records. This past year he had his biggest strike ever, “Blue Eyes Crying in a Rain,” and when Bob Dylan brought his Rolling Thunder Revue to Houston recently, Nelson played with them for a night. His successive album, Red Headed Stranger, has won all sorts of awards, including Best Country Album of a Year.

Nelson and a other Austin singers have spin so renouned that their unequivocally success has threatened a virginity they sought. Music celebrity and Austin statue Michael Murphey recently left town, angry that a theatre had been taken over, like Nashville before it, by business freaks, record wheeler-dealers and hustling managers. Sure enough, calls inundate into Moonhill Productions, Austin’s tip engagement agency, each day. But even nonetheless Moonhill handles some of Austin’s many renouned artists (Rusty Wier, B. W. Stevenson, Denim, Asleep At The Wheel), there is a good understanding of sourness between a association and some of a Austin musicians who haven’t mislaid given they came behind to Austin in a initial place. “I don’t wish to live in Music City, U.S.A.,” says Bobby Bridger. Moonhill is positively not a usually business craving to see dollar signs. Nashville thespian Waylon Jennings, whose career was finally launched by picking adult on a cowboy, Rough Rider image, wants to open a recording studio in Austin, and there are a dozen other people with identical ideas. (Right now, Austin has usually one recording studio, Odyssey Studios.) And, of course, a media have not been delayed to collect adult on Austin either. Rolling Stone and Crawdaddy have been profitable tighten attention, and usually final month Oui magazine featured a soap-box essay about a town.

The Austin graphic in a media, however, is one that many Austinites abhor. They feel that a “cosmic cowboy-outlaw” design that Walker, Nelson, Jennings, Murphey, David Allan Coe, and unconstrained hordes of imitators are swelling is accurately what a city and a strain don’t need.

“I can’t mount that stuff,” says Austin artist Jim Franklin. “I remember when Rusty Wier was a hippie who laughed during nation music. Now he wears a cowboy hat, and in between his songs he tells stories about being out on a operation or down in a barn. It’s embarrassing.”

Other critics of a theatre see some-more critical implications. “It’s a garland of crap, this vast cowboy bullshit,” says ex-Austinite nation strain singer/critic Dave Hickey. “They get adult on a theatre and come on like bad-asses. Most of these guys like Jerry Jeff Walker have never been nearby any genuine violence.”

Delbert McClinton, a terrifically gifted stroke and blues singer/piano actor who has spent a lot of time in Austin, agrees. “You see all these cowboys singing about kicking hippies’ asses, and people like Edgar Allan Coe [McClinton’s name for David Allan Coe], who jumps off a theatre screaming, ‘I can flog a shit out of any male in a bar,’ and it creates we wish to get sick. we mean, we been personification honky-tonks all my life, and I’ve seen genuine violence, and there ain’t zero cold about it. we saw one male slice another man’s stomach out with a drink bottle, and lemme tell we … it was about as distant from cold as we can get. we don’t describe to this cowboy ass-kicking stuff. It’s inexpensive and it’s dangerous.”

Austin Comes to Nashville

If critics were apropos artificial by a pyrotechnics, a performers themselves were apropos annoyed with a strain sourroundings in Austin. Even a doctrinaire like Jerry Jeff Walker went behind to Nashville to record his latest album.

A doper and traveller from Oneonta, New York, Walker had come to Austin in a late ’60s and found a ideal backup in a Lost Gonzo Band, a organisation of Texas stone musicians who were experimenting in a new nation stone mode. In 1970 a organisation holed adult in a small stable in Luckenbach, Texas, put adult bales of grain for baffling, and casually cut what many people still consider is a best manuscript to come out of on-going country: Viva Terlingua.

The album, glorious as it was, betrothed even incomparable things for a Gonzos, and Jerry Jeff. It sole good over 300,000 copies, and it looked as nonetheless Redneck Rock was on a approach to inhabitant launching. The subsequent album, however, Walkers Collectibles, was a vital disappointment. The tunes were half done, and usually a few, such as “The Last Showboat,” were unequivocally distinguished. Worse, a record sounded as nonetheless it had been constructed in a breeze tunnel.

In fact, it was this underbrush of problems that brought Walker adult from Austin to record his newest record with a imagination and coherence that usually a studio musicians of Nashville can provide. Thus, it was in a darkened control room in Quadrophonic Studios in Nashville that we found a best-known Austin musicians. What’s more, they weren’t personification nonetheless sitting around in a counter and hallways, while a Nashville veteran studio organisation did a incomparable weight of a work. The irony of all this was not mislaid on a Gonzos’ keyboard player, Kelly Dunn, who explained to me how Austin had come behind to Nashville: “The initial album, Viva, was usually a ideal multiple of all a right forces. Jerry Jeff was up. We had a infrequent outlook. It all happened by accident. On ‘London Homesick Blues,’ that throng greeting we listened was all spontaneous. But on Collectibles things fell apart. Jerry Jeff was out of it, got pissed off during himself and was like a bear… he drinks a bit, we know. He came into a studio unsure and stoned, and with a songs half learned, and in some cases half written. Oh, it was a worst!”

“Is that given Ridin High (Walker’s final album) was cut here during Nashville with studio musicians instead of Austin?”

Dunn nodded and looked downcast.

“Yeah, to be frank, it was perfect panic time. So he didn’t wish to give Odyssey another chance. When we come adult here and use a studio event men, we know accurately what kind of product we are going to get. Kenny Buttrey, Wendall Miner, Bobby Thompson, David Briggs, Johnny Gimble, and Norbert Putman have been personification together on so many sessions so prolonged they have it down to a science.”

“How does it make we and a other boys feel to be shoved aside?”

Dunn shrugged, and sucked in on his joint. “How do we suspect it creates us feel? Kind of useless.”

Through a potion window we could see Jerry Jeff sitting on a stool, strumming his guitar. Around him were a Nashville Pros, a studio organisation who make over a hundred thousand dollars a year personification sessions. All of them are specialist performers, and a work they were doing this night was zero brief of superb. Walker had usually finished slicing a balance called “Some Day I’ll Get Out of These Bars,” a sad, pleasing strain about an aged honk performer who knows he’ll never be a star. His pitiable refrain, “Some day I’ll get out/Some day I’ll get out,” had been rubbed with conspicuous attraction by both Jerry Jeff and his sidemen. Yet, there was something missing. The strain sounded roughly too produced, a steel guitar seemed too prominent, too whiny in a grand aged soap uncover tradition of steel bathos. It was good, nonetheless it wasn’t a Austin sound during all. The appetite and unrestrained of a early annals were missing.

During a mangle we walked out of a studio and into a swarming small dimly illuminated foyer, where a studio organisation rested themselves with Coke, cigarettes, and coffee. Kenny Buttrey, Nashville’s heading event drummer, was twisted adult in a chair:

“Same aged thing,” he pronounced glumly. “One, two, three, four. It gets routine as ruin sometimes. we don’t know given they call this things on-going country. There’s zero on-going about a beat. we was in a genuine on-going nation rope with David and Norbert, and some other people. We were called Area Code 615, and we churned jazz with stone and bluegrass. We were unequivocally good nonetheless we were before a time, we guess. The nation deejays wouldn’t play us given we were too funky, and a musty stone deejays wouldn’t play us given they pronounced we were too country. Wheww!”

Buttrey shook his conduct and tapped simply on a chair’s arm.

“I been personification sessions given we was 14. I’ve played with everybody, including Dylan. we played on Blonde on Blonde and Nashville Skyline.

“How do we like personification this session?”

Buttrey shrugged his shoulders. “One, two, three, four,” he said.

The Outlaws Roost

The design Jerry Jeff Walker, The Lost Gonzo Band, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, David Allan Coe, and vast other would-be stars from Austin (and Nashville) like to foster is that of a hard-riding, fun-loving, vaguely tragic, two-fisted cowboy. Jerry Jeff is a long-lived good-time child with flashes of sensitivity, while Waylon Jennings is a imperishable nonetheless aging buckaroo who is mostly sad nonetheless still fights a good fight. (If that sounds vague, it’s given it is. Pop images are delicately selected to demeanour like anything one wants them to be. Thus Jennings could possibly be a inebriated sot who has newly spotless up, a good male who has been wronged, or a tough-assed hillbilly with a heart of gold. Choose whichever cliché gets we by a night.) Willie Nelson is a late-blooming kind arrange of hippie-cowboy with a blissful smile. David Allan Coe, with his rhinestone earrings on a one hand, and his ultimate machismo on a other, is an impassioned instance of both sides of a “sensitive ass-kicker” that all these “outlaws” romanticize and exploit.

For it is a Desperado, a Bandito, a Outlaw that is a common denominator for all a new cowboy-country singers. Not usually do they dress like cowboys, nonetheless some of their many noted work deals with a same timeless, regretful myths. Walker sings Guy Clark’s “Desperados,” that equates a adore of a immature child for his father figure with a adore of “two desperados watchful for a train.” Jennings sings “Slow Movin’ Outlaw,” a balance that tells us about an aged cowboy who is being tighten out of a Wild West (“Where does a delayed movin’/Quick drawin’ outlaw/Have to go?”).

And David Allen Coe simply sings of himself: “People all contend that I’m an outlaw…”

It is a things that has finished legends of a James Gang and a Daltons. It is a parable that finished Sam Peckinpah a abounding man. Though it’s trite and hokey, it’s also irresistibly American. Still, there is a dim side to all this posturing.

One immature Austin thespian had this to contend about a outlaw image: “It’s usually a lot of crummy jive. As people feel some-more and some-more trapped in their lives in this country, with their routine lifeless jobs, tedious family lives, and broken inflation, a strain attention tantalizes them with these images of feign rebels to demeanour at.”

Similar sentiments were voiced to me by Neil Reshen. Known as “Mad Dog” for his negotiating toughness, Reshen manages Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. In a write review we had with him, Reshen was utterly vehement about a “outlaw” bit:

“Shit,” he said. “You couldn’t find dual guys who are reduction like outlaws than Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. They are such homebodies that they will transport usually on weekends. The rest of a time they like to be in their swimming pools with their families. It’s all a garland of horseshit really. But if a open wants outlaws, we’ll give them outlaws.”

Sure enough, a new cowboy singers live in a plushest, tackiest bourgeois luxury. Jerry Jeff Walker, for example, lives in a pleasing $65,000 suburban-styled home outward of Austin, finish with complicated kitchen, fireplace, shifting paneled doors, swimming pool, and basketball court.

In between takes during a studio, we asked Walker about his house.

“Yeah, we got all that, nonetheless we threw my tone radio set in a swimming pool.”

That one occurrence is reported again and again in essay after essay on Walker. The inconsistency between parable and existence was brought thumpingly home when we visited Walker and his friends during his apartment in a Spence Manor, Nashville’s plushest hotel. Catering generally to abounding nation strain stars and record association executives, a Spence Manor is unequivocally expensive; there are no “Rooms To Let, fifty cents” during a Spence, usually disdainful three-room suites. Bums, transients, and desperados need not apply.

The night we assimilated a celebration in swell during a Walker suite, Jerry Jeff himself was still during a studio, nonetheless his friends, Texan Guy Clark (“Desperados,” “L.A. Freeway,” and now his initial album, Old No. 1); his wife, Susannah Clark, also a budding songwriter; Dick Feller (“The Coin Machine”); Nashville songwriter Dave Loggins (who scored vast final year with his strike record “Please Come to Boston”) and his wife; and TV and record star Jim Stafford (“Spiders and Snakes,” “Bill”) and his girlfriend, Debbie, were enjoying themselves snorting cocaine, smoking pot, holding speed, and celebration Jack Daniels.

“Let’s call room use and sequence a whole garland of hors d’oeuvres,” Susan Walker said.

“Is MCA profitable for it?” Guy Clark asked.

“Right!” Susan said. “Of course.” She declined a heroin nonetheless supposed a joint.

Guy Clark picked adult a guitar and began to strum. Deborah looked over and stared during Clark sitting there half-poised to play.

“Oh … play ‘Desperados’… greatfully play ‘Desperados’ …” Dick Feller, a brief chunky man, nodded seriously.

“Guy’s chronicle is great,” he said. He afterwards started to persperate a small and looked over during Susan Walker. “I meant … we like Guy’s and Jerry Jeff’s, of march … they’re different.”

Like everybody else, Feller can't means to divide Walker, on whose albums he mostly plays. The event income is too good.

Susan Walker gave her Pepsodent uptown-Dallas grin and nodded her head. “Guy’s chronicle is a monster,” she said.

“A monster,” pronounced Dave Loggins.

Guy went into a rather ragged, coked-out chronicle of a song, and in a carol everybody assimilated in: “Like desperados watchful for a train.”

Even in a Spence Manor underneath a change of booze, coke and dope, Clark finished a strain come alive.

At a song’s conclusion, everybody fell wordless for a moment.

After a pause, Jim Stafford began explaining his low-pitched cultured to me.

“Think Pop,” he said. “I have a pointer that says ‘Think Pop’ on my bureau door.”

“Money, money, money,” Susan Walker said. “That’s a name of a game!”

“Makes a universe go round,” David Loggins said. “Think Pop,” Jim Stafford said. “Say, who’s got a coke?”

David Allan Coe

Of all a new cowboy rockers to strike a scene, a fastest-rising and many barbarous is David Allan Coe. His press recover creates him sound like a Definitive Outlaw, and Coe himself has left to heedfulness to settle his temperament as authentic. According to Coe himself, he “spent many of [his] life in institutions, orphanages, remodel schools, and jails.” This career grande reached a culmination in a early ’60s, when Coe was presumably arrested for burglary, put in Ohio State Prison, and there murdered a man. According to a legend, Coe afterwards got out, receiving a atonement given no one knew he had committed a jail crime and given Johnny Cash listened his songs and intervened on his behalf.

Coe came to Nashville in a late ’60s, bummed around a streets, unresolved out with a Outlaws, a rope of motorcyclists not distinct a Hell’s Angels. His initial strike record was a singular created for Tanya Tucker, a teenage recording star. The strain was called “Would You Lay with Me in a Field of Stone,” and it valid that underneath a wild, ambitious, and indeterminate participation there was a genuine talent—sensitive, intelligent, even lyrical.

Coe, however, chose not to go a loyal and slight path—firmly substantiating oneself as a songwriter, afterwards slicing an album. He figured he could cut years off his tutelage by apropos a baddest, a meanest, a many dangerous outlaw of them all. Where Jerry Jeff was boyish, and Waylon and Willie Nelson were comparison and apparently playacting, Coe would be a genuine McCoy, a murderer! Soon he had a new act. David Allan Coe—The Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy. He took to wearing rhinestone suits and black masks, that finished him demeanour like Zorro. Huge, nauseous rhinestone earrings hung from his right ear. He’d uncover all those shit-kickers and Austin creeps who was a bad-ass! In gig after gig, Coe won broadside by severe a assembly to quarrel him, by derisive Waylon Jennings (“He’s usually a greaser”) and by doing harmful imitations of Jerry Jeff’s goofy, accessible smile. Though normal nation fans despised him, Coe got his share of a young, hip assembly who desired a new stone sound in country. And he also got another form of fan, a kind who cares zero for a strain nonetheless gets gloomy with fad during a probability of spilled blood.


I was sitting in a Exit Inn examination a final set of a David Allan Coe show. Tonight Coe was dressed comparatively conservatively in a denim jacket, Levis, cowboy boots and a vast black hat. The rhinestone in his ear shimmered in a night lights. Behind him his rope of immature Austin-Houston-Tennessee rockers were pouring out a hard-pounding, pushing new nation sound, while Coe sang his newest hit, “Long Haired Redneck.”

“People all contend that I’m an outlaw,” he wailed.

On a word “outlaw” a whole front rows of people stood adult during their tables, lifted their eyeglasses and bottles and screamed!

“You tell ’em, David. Outlaws, we tell ’em!!”

These eager fans were a Outlaws, Coe’s aged motorcycle gang, and they were a terrifying if predicted sight. Leather jackets, beards, goggles, iron crosses … they hammered and screamed and battered one another on a back.

Coe’s voice, sepulchral and rather trifling to start with, could hardly be listened over a implausible groan of a guitars, a pulsation of feet on a floor.

After his final song, Coe went by a side exit to a outside. He was towering wildly, and a Outlaws all got on their conduct rigging and trailed after him. we put on my coupler and walked out among a throng of screeching bikes and screaming, inebriated men.

“Gonna float my sow over a hill. Gonna float all a approach to a mo-tel,” Coe shouted.

“You can’t ride, David,” a brief Outlaw said, holding Coe around a core to keep him from jumping on his vast Harley.

“TAKE THE BUS TO THE MOTEL,” a fat, powerful-looking Outlaw yelled, his small red eyes blazing like a insane razorback’s.

“Gonna float my hog,” screamed Coe.

But he didn’t get on his bike. Instead, he half fell adult a stairs of his vast bus, that had his name in foot-long black letters on a side.

I followed him on a train and met a male who claimed to be a childhood crony of Coe’s. “David’s genuine drunk,” a male said. “But he’s not that drunk!”

“What do we mean?”

“Oh, he’s usually putting on an act. He won’t unequivocally float a sow to a motel. He usually wants to let them speak him out of it.”

“I see. And did he unequivocally kill anyone?”

“Hey,” a male said. “You’re a writer, aren’t you?”


“Are we a male who wrote a display in Rolling Stone, the one that pronounced David Allan wasn’t a murderer?”

“I never listened of that.”

“Good. we consider a c—t wrote it, anyway. She pronounced David Allan wasn’t a killer during all, that he was usually in on possession of thievery tools.”

Suddenly, a small Outlaw with a set jaw of a seething dog sat down beside me.

“David’s a genuine outlaw,” he said, smacking his fist into his palm. “You a writer? You ought to come with us to a motel. You can ask him all about it.”

“Okay. Is he pushing his hog?”

“No,” a small male said, attack his fist into his palm again. “He’s going in his limo.”


The train floated by a Nashville streets and stopped during a James Thompson Motor Inn. we got out and walked with Tommy (the Outlaw) and Coe’s aged friend, Bobby.

“It’s on a fourth floor.”

We climbed a stairs and walked down a prolonged motel corridor. Looking over, we beheld it was a good 75 feet to a parking lot. At a door, Tommy waited for me.

“Come on in, writer.”


I felt fearful by his tone—soft, nonetheless mocking. we had insincere that there would be women, other musicians, and whiskey. But there was zero of that. Instead, there were Outlaws, about 15 of them, sprawled around a room. we looked during their eyes, that were all lerned right on my own. In a accurate core of a group, like some ancient flood god, David Allan Coe sprawled on a bed. On his path was an ugly, trashed-out looking woman, who was shouting insanely.

Behind me a doorway snapped shut. “This here is a writer,” someone pronounced in a steel-wire voice.

Everyone was totally silent.

“The author who wrote that shit about David Allan not being an outlaw!” someone else said.

I felt my exhale withdrawal me and attempted to giggle it off. “Hey, c’mon, we guys. we didn’t write that stuff.”

A short, squat, absolute man, a same Outlaw I’d seen screaming during a Exit Inn, came toward me. “You wrote that shit, did you?”

He reached in his behind slot and pulled out a five-inch sport knife.

“Hey, wait now,” we said.

He started flicking a blade during my jacket, my arms and my jaw.

“Stick him and chuck him over,” someone yelled.

“Got to hang a writer,” pronounced a long, bony-looking male with a damaged nose and space goggles.

I looked during Coe for assistance. A dull, vicious grin upheld opposite his face. He pronounced nothing.

“Put a blade down,” a voice said.

I incited and saw a big, bearded male entrance out of a adjoining room. “Everyone cold it,” he said.

The male took my arm and guided me into a behind room.

“I’m David Allan’s brother,” he said. “I jes wish we to know that it ain’t like this many of a time. It’s jes that a boys are a small gummy about a Rolling Stone article. If you’re gonna write something, we be certain and scold that shit now, heh? David Allan has been in institutions all his life. He’s an ex-murderer and a genuine outlaw. He ain’t like a lot of these phonies, ya know?”

“Yeah,” we said. “I got a picture.”

Waylon Jennings

Of all a singers in a new nation scene, Waylon Jennings simply has a best voice. For years he had available during RCA underneath Chet Atkins’s supervision, and for years everybody in Nashville suspicion he would be a star to make a vast crossover into a all-important Pop Market. It never happened. Instead, Jennings’s albums (seven of them) were injured by a unequivocally thing that had sent so many glorious singer/songwriters make-up off to Austin. Instead of emphasizing Jennings’s abounding Texas voice, his implausible phrasing and texture, a albums were particularly one-shot, treadmill productions. No matter that a strain would be improved with a sole steel guitar or a elementary stone lead. At Nashville RCA, all was incited out in a same routine fashion.

It wasn’t until Jennings left Nashville RCA and cut Honky Tonk Heroes, an manuscript wholly created by Texan Billy Joe Shaver, that he finally unequivocally finished use of his biggest asset: his voice. Stark, simple, and full of yearning for a past, a manuscript is a classical of on-going country. Songs like “Honky Tonk Heroes,” “Slow Movin’ Outlaw” and “Rose of a Different Name” come during a listener easy with lady choruses, violins, and foul-sounding Al Caiola Romantic Guitars. Interestingly enough, it was on Honky Tonk Heroes that Jennings altered his image. Up compartment afterwards he had been a slick-backed, athletic nation child who acted staring off moodily into a sun. On Honky Tonk Heroes a new Jennings emerged—The “Outlaw” Waylon Jennings. Complete with brave and black shirt with white pearl buttons, he acted during a glass-strewn list with his rope and a three-fingered Billy Joe Shaver. Since that time Jennings has spin one of a many renouned acts in a country. Right now, his new anthology album, Outlaws, is roving high on a nation and cocktail charts. The manuscript facilities a wanted print on a front and cinema of Jennings; his wife, thespian Jessi Colter; Willie Nelson; and Tompall Glaser, whose possess rope is called … The Outlaws!


I met Waylon Jennings during his huge, walnut-paneled bureau during Glaser Brothers Studios in Nashville. A large, absolute male with low creases in his face and wide, supportive eyes, he exudes out-of-date John Wayne-variety manliness.

As we began to talk, Jennings’s secretary came in and gave him a plaque. He had won nonetheless another endowment as Best Male Singer of a Year.

“Put it somewhere,” Jennings laughed. He sat down behind his walnut desk. There were 3 phones on it, and each integrate of mins they illuminated up. we couldn’t assistance nonetheless consider of a misdate of a male who sings of a final trains and a final gun fights, sitting behind a table with 3 white phones and 10 red reason buttons on them.

“How do we feel being a cowboy on a one palm and a businessman on a other?”

Jennings shook his head.

“I used ta not like it, nonetheless hell, Hoss, if we don’t take caring of business I’d still be out creation those turkeys for Chet. You see, we had to spin a businessman or we wouldn’t have survived. we been on a highway given Kitty Wells was a Girl Scout! we did 300 days a year on a highway for 11 years. On pills … we was being destroyed.”

“What’s all this outlaw things now? Isn’t it being over-killed?” Jennings struck a courteous pose.

“Yeah, we suspect it is. we don’t know where it comes from. we consider a fans gave it to me. we was a initial outlaw, we know.”

“I suspicion Jerry Jeff Walker was.”

“Hell no,” Jennings said. “I was a initial to sire Nashville … not that we have anything opposite those boys. They usually don’t ask a artist what he thinks. No, Walker picked adult on it after me … nonetheless we know what?”

Jennings leaned opposite his table and peered during me with hugely aspiring eyes.

“He never has finished it. You know that, doncha?”

“What of David Allan Coe?” we associated my story of a blade threats.

“Well, that beats all,” Jennings said. “He’s crazy. He thinks he’s bucking a system, nonetheless a exam is possibly we can play what we wish or what they tell we to play. we have control over my life.”

Suddenly Jennings looked dismayed and asked what day it was. we told him a date.

“Oh, God. we missed Valentine’s Day. we got to call Jessi and get her some flowers and candy.” A second after Jennings was on a phone with his wife.

“Hello, heavenly …. Yes, we adore we and I’m contemptible we missed Valentines Day …”

The Promised Land

“The thing is we competence have reached a superfluity indicate with a cowboy-outlaw bit around here, nonetheless nationally it’s still an open round park.”

The orator is Tom White, a pale-faced, balding immature male who introduced himself as a publisher for many of a best new Austin groups and singular acts—acts like Steve Fromholz, Rusty Wier, B. W. Stevenson, Denim, and Asleep At The Wheel. The plcae is Moonhill Productions, Austin’s usually vital engagement agency.

“Do we consider of a strain as an art form?”

White smiled and shook his head. “No. we tell all my people to consider hits.”

He got adult from his bureau table and walked over to a fasten machine.

“Music is capitalism,” he said. “When we was in college and all this outlaw stone theatre was usually starting around here, it was loyal that people wanted to get divided from it all. And it was also loyal that people felt that country-rock was maybe gonna be a subsequent art form. we used to consider that Jerry Jeff Walker and Michael Murphey and Willie Nelson competence be a Hemingways and Faulkners of a generation. But it’s not true. The form is too limited. It’s something like a commercial. You can get extraordinary effects, nonetheless they don’t final … they can’t be built on, usually repeated, with teenager variations … so, practically, we consider that it’s a shit heap. Right now, Moonhill Productions is on tip of a heap, nonetheless fundamentally it’s all still shit.”

“But some people, like Walker and Nelson, unequivocally have finished conspicuous things with a music.”

Tom White shook his head. “Yeah, that’s what amazes you. As crummy and trite as it all is … all this outlaw business … there still is good work being finished in a form.”

I pronounced goodbye to Tom White and finished my approach out by a office. On a wall were cinema of Rusty Wier in a cowboy shawl and beard, Steve Fromholz in a cowboy shawl and beard, B. W Stevenson in a cowboy shawl and beard.

“The second era of Redneck Rock?”

“Yeah,” Tom White said.

Bobby Bridger

Bobby Bridger is a 32-year-old Austinite who left Nashville in 1968. He came to Austin given of a dream, that it was a place where a man’s talents wouldn’t be wasted, where he wouldn’t be run to death.

At El Rancho Restaurant, he drank a Carta Blanca and shook his head.

“Tom White … Moonhill … they contend a forms are no good, nonetheless a forms are glorious … glorious … if they would usually leave them alone! Let them be. But a misfortune thing is what a musicians themselves have done. The tenure ‘outlaw’ is now aversion to me. At first, it was fun, maybe it even meant something, nonetheless now it’s spin a totally fake term. You’re an outlaw if we wear a cowboy shawl and a integrate of bluish rings. we don’t call those creeps ‘outlaws,’ we call them Cowboy Babbitts.”

“Aren’t we tempted to make it yourself?”

“No! we was doing good during Nashville in a ’60s for Monument Records, nonetheless we came here to be somebody opposite … we all did. But in 7 years, I’ve seen many people bitten with a success bug. It’s not usually a few people … it’s many of them. A few aren’t. Willis Ramsey and Townes Van Zandt … Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson… they are both good musicians, nonetheless instead of anticipating their possess way, too many of a younger kids are jumping on their bandwagon.”

“What should they be doing?”

“Finding their possess voice,” Bridger said, jolt his head. “I don’t like Jerry Jeff personally, nonetheless I’ll contend this. He is his possess man. His songs simulate his personality. Now people like Rusty Wier and a younger throng … their strain reflects a blurb parable …. we meant creatively country-rock joined a dual cultures, hillbillies and hippies. That was when it was good. Now they are perplexing to spin it into this vast macho American John Wayne trip. It’s Nashville all over again. Real talent gets devoured, reshaped, remolded… all for a consequence of money.”

As we finished eating, Bridger told me how he was still unresolved on, vital low out in a woods in a place called Comanche Trail. Later, we sat in my hotel room and listened to a fasten Bridger had brought with him. A extraordinary strange work called Jim Bridger and a Seekers of a Fleece, the form is a country-epic. Chapters of verbal rhymed couplets are alternated with songs about a genuine towering man, Jim Bridger (Bobby Bridger researched his life for 3 years). The actor Slim Pickens, a tighten crony of Bridger’s and an pledge historian, reads a verbal poetry. Bridger himself sings and he is corroborated adult by a Lost Gonzos. The fasten lasts for an hour. The story, nonetheless familiar, is compelling. Jim Bridger, a tough towering man, a pioneer, goes west to find a new good place. He finds his Eden in a mountains, marries an Indian girl, nonetheless gets sucked into expansionist business schemes. In an try to “expand,” he loses his world. we listened and was deeply moved. Bobby Bridger picked adult a fasten and smiled.

“Well,” he said. “I theory we can see given we wanted we to hear that!”


“That’s what’s function now with a country-rock theatre and to Austin. It’s new, code new, and there’s a lot of energy. So many talent. But all is relocating too quick … people aren’t thinking.”

He put on his coat, and we shook hands.

“I adore Austin,” he said. “And we would hatred to see a day when they come in here and do a film about a place.”

“You meant like Nashville?”

“Yeah,” he said. “Like that.”


Not counting Larry Flynt, a initial square we ever wrote on entertainers was “Redneck Rock,” and as we have now seen, it was an assignment that scarcely got me killed. Not for a initial time, either, nonetheless this time was unequivocally “hands-on,” trust me. The Geneva military had frightened me and afterwards flustered me, Larry Flynt’s hermit Jimmy threatened to kill me with a ball-bat, and even LeRoy Neiman came adult to a New Times offices in hunt of me, when my reduction than respectful square on him came out. Needless to contend we am flattering certain Reggie would like to punch me out, as well.

But adult until a time we went down to do my square on a materialisation of strikebreaker stone no one had indeed pulled a sport blade on me before.

That, Dear Reader, was some frightful shit. And here’s what happened after a blade roughly pierced my ribs.

After we survived a upsetting small theatre with David Allan Coe and his pals, we finished it behind to my room during a Spence Motel and called my editor during New Times, Jon Larsen. we was connected adult to my teeth by roughly being stabbed and thrown off a motel roof and we theory we was flattering wound adult on a phone:

“Jon,” we said, breathlessly. “You can’t fucking trust what usually happened on this story.”

I afterwards riffed by a whole crazy experience, all a while fingering my leather coupler where a sport blade had sliced it into frazzled tassels.

“Man,” we said, circuitous adult my story of drastic presence opposite an outlaw gang, “Those fuckers roughly killed me!”

There was a prolonged overpower on Larsen’s end. we waited, meditative he was substantially feeling flattering bad that he had sent me down here, where we had roughly bought a farm. we half approaching him to say, “Man, that is unequivocally too bad, Bobby. we am so blissful we finished it, buddy.”

But he had other things on his mind:

“Let me ask we this, Bob,” he pronounced in a kind of contemplative and somewhat sarcastic voice: “Did a Outlaws blade indeed cut by your leather coupler and into your flesh?”

“Huh?” we said. we was stunned.

“I meant were we indeed stabbed? Any blood, Bob?”

“No,” we finally said. “But it reduced a arm of my coupler to scruffy strips of leather.”

Another prolonged silence. Then in a unequivocally irked voice:

“Yeah, we know that Bob, nonetheless if a blade had indeed cut you we could have had a many some-more promotable story. We competence even make a network news. As it is … with usually a coupler sliced … well, we see my problem. We can’t unequivocally foster that.”

As a aged observant goes down on a docks in Baltimore, when we listened that we didn’t know possibly to shit or go blind. The whole theatre had been surreal anyway, nonetheless Larsen’s greeting was a manoeuvre de grace. we couldn’t trust it. we started yelling in a phone:


On a other finish of a line Larsen was chuckling in his mature Harvard way.

“Hahaha. Love operative with you, Robert, nonetheless subsequent time make certain we take a wound for a team, okay?”

“Holy shit! Fuck you, Jon,” we pronounced and hung up.

I walked over to a mini-bar, got out dual bottles of Scotch and downed them both in 5 minutes.

Then we fell into a deep, nightmarish sleep.

I woke adult in a core of a night, and thought, “Well, in a universe of fake outlaws, we finally met some genuine ones, and Delbert McClinton was dead-on. It wasn’t cool, not during all.”

On a other hand, we have to admit, carrying survived it, it creates for one ruin of a good story. And that’s what being a publisher is all about.

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