Sunday, November 16, 2008

Flatlander Moon

Flatlander Moon….Winter comes to the desert. The mountains glow like that old mission wine. Four days on the train with the Flatlanders; renewing my faith in American music. Gut level, dust-blown truth; honest voices. Stories drenched in red wine realism. Butch Hancock, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely. No pretense. A guitar and a song. Not many can do it anymore. Kids wanna buy the truth inside a magazine; wannna buy an image with a tattoo and micro-wave attitude. Youth caught inside an I-pod; deaf to the call of The Raven. These guys from Lubbock - they delivered. And you shoulda' been there at the Bob Dylan - Townes Van Zandt song-swap and the Canadian prairies rolled by frozen windows. There was no need to talk much; the songs flowed: from Butch singing "Frankie Lee and Judas Priest," To Jimmie singing "She Belongs to Me," to Joe calling up Woody's "Pretty Boy Floyd," Back to Butch doing Townes' "No Place to Fall," to Jimmie singing "Girl From the North Country," to myself singing "Love is Just a Four Letter Word," and Michael Martin summoning up "Dark Eyes. " Here, then, is your roots music. Here's where we come from. Voices and words, and no nodding out to the whining gods of lost economies and doddering crow-bleat about downloading and record stores. THERE ARE NO realities that undermine honest art. Tell it to Van Gogh, Picasso, Leonard Cohen, and The Flatlanders. There's just the eternal longing to tell a good story and paint a decent rhyme and vent, and bend passion into a sing-able truth. We're all blacksmiths, and some people don’t have the nerve to buy the anvil and the hammer. You might bloody your fingers and wince at the thought of your soul shivering. But those lads from Lubbock delivered and restored my belief in folksong and minstrelsy. We receive such illuminations in odd places: Pullman train cars and Mexican bars; dreams and nightmares and cold, foggy mornings. The third cup of coffee; the call of a magpie hopping across the snow. The clatter of the baggage car and the last echo of a Dylan song. Resonating forever.


Saddle Tramp said...


TR ... Yes, you start from where you are. Great and inspired post. I spent eight years on the caprock. El Llano Estacado. The Golden Spread. Hub City.
The Flat Land. The Canyons. Turkey, Texas and Bob Wills Days. Lubbock High School (built in the WPA era and built to last). Buddy Holly and old train stations. Stubbs Barbeque and Terry Allen's tribute to him holding a plate of ribs. Windmill Parks and Prairie Dog Towns. Cotton gins and feedyards. Down through Littlefield. All those innumerable West Texas musicians and Tom Russell wisely locating himself at the foot of it all. No whining!

"The Dogs May Bark but the Caravan Moves On" as TR sings quoting a Moroccan cowboy who quoted ______
who quoted ________ who probably quoted God. I think I first saw it on one of those signs planted all over Amarillo by that big bucks eccentric Stanley Marsh 3 who also commissioned The Ant Farm to design The Cadillac Ranch. It is better than it looks. Buying my first Tom Russell cd at Hastings on Georgia in Amarillo. " Cowboy Real". It was and it still is. Guy Clark, Nanci Griffith, Joe Ely and on and on. As a rule I abhor lists. Where to start? Who to name? Real music. Working for the meanest man in Texas. El patron con uno cajone. Jefe diablo. Music ran through it all. Cultures blending on a sea of land with that always distant horizon. Flatland memories.
TR, your new anthology is a great addition to (and to the best of my knowledge) my complete collection of all of your previously released material. If you only had one ... please don't press me to that.

-ST Atlanta, Georgia on a mission of mercy ...

Trail Note: It is the second Tuesday of every month that there is free admission to the public at The Autry National Center of the American West for those on a budget.
The Grey Fox is there ... Check it out if you roll through.

Remi said...

As the late Utah Phillips said, "In a mass marketing culture, a revolutionary song is any song you choose to sing yourself."

I wish I could have been there for the song swap - sounds like an incredible time.

editor said...

One of these days I'm gonna ride that train...

Bye bye, so long, there's something down that track, it's callin' me.

Neil Crabtree said...

While I'm cooking I'm listening to Tom Russell radio on You make your own station by typing in the artists you want to hear. Right now I'm making green bean casserole and drinking a cold Bud, listening to Gallo Del Cielo live. Awesome performance, TR.
try it out:

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