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up against the wall redneck mother

March 3rd, 2014 by kevin
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last spring break, when me and schmitty went down to terlingua, texas and met up with vince and zach, we listened to a lot of texas songwriters in the car. partly because schmitty was driving, and that’s what schmitty listens to, like, 90% of the time. but partly because we were driving straight through the heart of where that music was created. it’d be like driving through liverpool and not listening to the fucking beatles. just don’t make no sense …

so i remember falling in love with two records:

the first was that flatlanders record, live in ’72, which was basically a boombox recording from a pool hall, or something like that, in austin. there’s a version of tecumseh valley on that record … it was the first time i ever heard that song, and it’s one of those things where i’m now attached to that version. it’s the version for me. i see those desert bluffs of big bend national park when i hear it. i can also see schmitty, deathly hungover, his countenance an olive drab, holding his white straw stetson and trying not to puke in the rio grande. good times …

the second was viva terlingua! by jerry jeff walker. another live record, recorded in lubbock, texas, i think. (synchronicity side note, schmitty just opened up for the lost gonzo band – jerry jeff’s backing band on viva terlingua! – last week at the manship theatre in baton rouge. small world …) anyway, the record just fucking rocks. great voice, great songs, great energy. just a classic, all time great partying record. the kind of record you drink a case of milwaukee’s best light with and wait for christopher sine to take his shirt off and start dancing. that kinda record …

anyway, i remember falling in love with the song ‘up against the wall redneck mother.’ it’s just an anthem. makes you want to stand up on something high and yell real loud and, as conor would say, fuck something. but, after listening to it about 20 times in the car, i finally said to schmitty, ‘schmitty, what the fuck is this song about, anyway?’ schmitty is one of the great all-time american songwriters in my opinion, and i say that with no hyperbole. he shits out a half dozen honest, clear, beautiful, character driven songs – in genres that span the breadth of the american songbook – every month. don’t believe me? go into that back room of his and start digging through his box of cassette tapes. it’ll make you feel like a big worthless dumbass, no matter what you do. that’s his challenge, i think. he is trying to fit into a genre that is pretty narrow, and he fits in it, for sure, but he has so much more to offer that he confuses people who want to hear only the things that fit in the genre that they like. he’s a man ahead of his time. and right now, he’s very likely quadruple checking that he locked the door to the studio (he never forgets to lock it, it’s truly an act of an insane person) before he can get in his car and leave the house.

anyway, schmitty, being such an accomplished songwriter and all, had no fucking idea what the song meant. so i started breaking it down … ‘so is it anti-redneck or pro-redneck? i mean, there appear to be a lot of rednecks singing along with the track, but the verses seem to be suggesting that the redneck character is a no good mama’s boy with a violent streak. but is that a good thing to these people? schmitty, it’s so paradoxical … i love it! but maybe i should hate it … but i can’t, because i love it so much …’. and schmitty said, ‘well, kev … i don’t know, man.’

tonight, i put on a little viva terlingua! in honor of schmitty’s gig last week. so good. and on comes my song. and it hits me suddenly – BAM! – sitting in my new life in carrollton, georgia, that i’m sort of living the paradox that i first noticed in schmitty’s car in the middle of the west texas desert listening to jerry jeff. like, what the fuck do i do with all these rednecks? are they good/bad … neither/both? are there sub-genres? are there hippie rednecks and klan rednecks? would they both self-identify as a rednecks? is it a negative term to everyone? like, when i was in louisiana, i never got over that the term ‘coon ass’ wasn’t derogatory. i thought that sucker was a land mine of signification. never seemed to bother anyone to call, or be called, a coon ass, though. go figure … but south-east louisiana is a bit more laid back than this scene. way more laid back, in fact. for instance, right now, they’re preparing for mardi-gras in south-east louisiana. right now in carrollton there’s a big sign for a ‘gun, knife, and prepper’ show on the main drag through town. guns and knives, sure, who cares? but wtf’s a prepper? turns out it’s someone preparing (nay, rooting) for social collapse by stockpiling ammunition and iodine and the sort … {sigh} … in the words of jerry seinfeld (speaking to george when george revealed that he wanted to try to combine having sex and eating food at the same time): “we’re trying to have a civilization here.” not all of us, apparently …

so i started researching my song for real, trying to find out some sort of angle for how i should take it, and i found this article from hottytoddy.com. i’ll repost it here. this is likely illegal, but i’m not making any fucking money here. i’ll take it down if they ask:

***

This Song Is By Ray Wylie Hubbard
By Tad Wilkes, Nightlife & Lifestyles Editor

Let me preface what I’m about to say by noting that what Ray Wylie Hubbard wants you to know, and what I want you to know, is that he’s more than The Guy Who Wrote Redneck Mother.

That doesn’t change the fact that the song that made him famous—as recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker—is part of an album that changed my life forever and imbedded three songwriters (later four, when I grew up and learned Guy Clark wrote “Desperados Waiting for a Train”) in my consciousness like a microchip implanted in my fevered mind. If you want to know Ray Wylie’s life story, Google is your friend, but this is a little bit about why he matters to me.

In the 1970s, my dad had the 8-track of ¡Viva Terlingua!, Jerry Jeff’s 1973 album, mostly recorded live in Luckenbach, Texas. He’d play it when the lights were dim and my folks had friends over, having a couple cocktails and laughing loudly. The music I heard through the speakers was romantic and real, to say the least. The sensibility of the lyrics reminded me a lot of my dad. Honest. And often funny.

I don’t know if I was four, five, or six when I first heard it. I didn’t quite realize it at the time, but what I heard is what I wanted to be. I’ll save a song-by-song analysis for another time—perhaps over beers, listening on vinyl, in my living room, when you’re ready—because today we’re talking about Ray Wylie Hubbard. As I grew into grade school, junior high, and high school and explored every avenue of Music My Parents Did Not Listen To, I forgot about the album. I rediscovered the 8-track when home from college. It came roaring back into my mind like a muscle memory I couldn’t shake. I was, as Gary P. Nunn said on the album, “back in that place.” I showed it to my dad. I recall discussing how how great the dark Jerry Jeff tune “Wheel” and the album’s first track, the cosmic cowboy anthem “Gettin’ By,” were, as well as “Desperados.” Don’t worry, we’ll get to Ray Wylie.

Jerry Jeff, one of the best American songwriters in his own right, had an ear for excellence and was always certain to cover his friends’ songs and give them due credit. The album made two such songwriters famous. Gary P. Nunn was a member of Jerry Jeff’s Lost Gonzo Band at the time, and Gary P. sang “London Homesick Blues,” which he wrote, live on the album. Jerry Jeff made sure to holler his full name (“Mister Gary! P.! Nunn!”) on the record so we’d know who was singing (I later in life, a few days after playing at the Gin, had the privilege of meeting Gary P. and singing with him at the Broken Spoke in Austin, and he introduced me as “the Mississippi boy,” which is a good enough name-check for my memoirs).

And when Jerry Jeff sang “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother,” Gary P. introduced the song by noting, “This song is by Ray Wylie Hubbard.” The record label wanted to omit the declaration, but Jerry Jeff insisted on leaving it on the record. The song is a satire of drunk goons who liked to kick the asses of hippies like the Lost Gonzos in the honky tonks where the two factions, at the time, were crossing paths.

For Ray Wylie Hubbard, the song has been an albatross at times, a calling card at others, and a nice source of royalties across the board. Much the same way Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” has been co-opted by conservatives who are mistaken about the song’s meaning, “Redneck Mother” is often perceived by frat boys and meatheads as a celebration of kicking hippies’ asses. But even as a little boy in the 1970s, I instantly understood the song’s intended irony and its assessment of the world around it. It’s part and parcel of why today I am a songwriter, and why I always check the songwriting credits on songs I love, to find out whose album I’m going to go find next. Jerry Jeff Walker (real name Ronald Crosby), Gary P. Nunn, and Ray Wylie Hubbard are why when I perform I go by the name Moon Pie Curtis. I had to have three names, and they had to come together and sound, well, gonzo.

Ray Wylie stumbled in capitalizing on his newfound notoriety from ¡Viva Terlingua! and suffered through 20 years of alcoholism before reemerging in the 1990s and finally making albums he says he’s proud of. He’s an elder statesman of the Texas songwriter realm and has been called the Ray Wylie Hubbard – The Grifter’s Hynmalredneck Dalai Lama. The important thing is he’s a poet, and Oxford is fortunate to get the opportunity to hear him live, this Thursday, March 21, at Proud Larrys’, touring on his latest album The Grifter’s Hymnal. Shannon McNally opens the show. Tickets are $20.

Last week, an expatriated Oxonian living in Austin texted me from a Ray Wylie show to tell me that Hubbard’s on-stage banter and humor reminded him a lot of my father. Yep, that’s about right.

***

so the rednecks are the bad guys … well, that makes it easier, in a way. but there’s some love there, too, right? and there’s this whole idea of ‘crossing paths’ that is pretty damn interesting. like, here i am, part of this new wave of people descending on this little old redneck southern cotton town. we ain’t from here, certainly. but we’re here. and some things have already changed because of it. like, this town is a different place (however insignificantly) just by virtue of the fact that i go to bed and wake up here everyday. and go out and talk to people and buy beers and sandwiches and guitar strings and gasoline. i’m here, y’all. and that might change a thing or two. and, such as these things go, that change doesn’t only go one way. that’s not the way change works. i’m already changing too. so it goes …

so these guys, these texas hill country hippies from the ’70s, are gonna be touchstones for me in my new digs. whenever i find myself struggling with my lot in life, being forced to ‘cross paths,’ as they say, with ‘drunk goons … frat boys and meatheads,’ i’ve gotta remember i’ve got the trump card. parody, irony, heart, humor … fucking rock and roll, man. it’ll never lose. never has, never will.

he’s 34 and drinking in a honkey tonk,
kicking hippies asses and raising hell …

this ain’t jerry jeff’s version, although he’s there, along with willie, ray wyley hubbard, leon russell … enjoy.

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ZOO ATL

March 1st, 2014 by kevin
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Trying out a new wordpress editor for the ipad. I paid $5 for this fucking app, as I’m still searching for ways to use this new glowing screen I have.

I like playing around with some of the strings on Garage Band (another $5) have potential to add some weird twinkle sounds to the bossa set. And I think I’d like editing images with my fingers rather than using a mouse. And the yahoo weather app is lovely. But other than that, I’m still a lap top kid at this point. Like I keep wondering what the hell to do with this thing …

I will now try to upload images of zoo animals I took, well, at the zoo:

Action

Geaux

Geaux1

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Geaux4

Willie_B

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Gorilla_action5

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Gorilla_action2

Gorilla_action1

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Tannie

Sun_bear

Silver

Panda

Lil_dude

King3

King2

King1

King

Actually this app kinda kicks ass.

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how-eird

October 6th, 2013 by kevin
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interesting op-ed piece in the NYT this morning. my favorite part, of course, the “without having ever listened to him” admittance.

so funny how academics, those of the the research privileging, cite sourcing, mind opening sect, are soooo quick to dismiss something they don’t understand (before every trying to understand it.)

“After years of dismissing Mr. Stern as a sexist, racist potty mouth — without having ever listened to him — I happened upon his radio show purely by accident one morning about 10 years ago, and I was struck by a measured, thoughtful tone that did not precede him.” – Saïd Sayrafiezadeh

the rest, if you’re interested:

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carrollton, ga

September 24th, 2013 by kevin
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i just realized i haven’t posted on this thing since last march.

wow. there’s a big gap in my online scrapbook …

since march:

i’ve written a dissertation. defended it.

played on a new record of schmitty’s:

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went to california for white’s wedding and murph’s birthday:

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drove to carrollton frm br to find a place then back to br to graduate and then back to carrollton to move for good:

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played some tunes in a bookstore underground:

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traveled back in time:

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golfed:

went to florida:

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got a grill:

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i’m tired. but well. i have new places to miss people in now. there’s so many … thank god i get some time off in the summer. i really wish lefty fit under the seat in front of me in the plane like he was supposed to … dog just kept growing.

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southdowns 2012

March 2nd, 2013 by kevin
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so per the last post, mardi gras was a bit of a bust for me this year, what with the job search and all. which is a bit of a bummer since this is my last year down in these parts. sigh …

but … since the southdowns parade rolls right by the house:

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job

March 2nd, 2013 by kevin
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somehow, i have gotten myself a tenure track job.

re-read that.

university of west georgia. starting in the fall. halle-fucking-lujah! geaux wolves!

i don’t think i’ve posted on this blog since the job search began months and months ago. it was, to speak in generalities, a horrible process.

just … so much anxiety and endless unknowing and rejection and this looming factoid ringing around your head that ‘only 20-25% of humanities phds get a job their first year out’ and the ‘what the hell am i going to do if i don’t get one?’ and the most toxic ‘why the hell did i do this to myself in the first place?’ you analyze and overanalyze all your life decisions in a time like this. as someone who has made a number of random, if not completely questionable, life decision, this can be a challenging process to endure.

but, thankfully, nobody told me it was going to be as crazy as it was (or, perhaps, they did and i wasn’t listing completely) or i would have never, ever, ever signed up for the last eight months. ignorance was the only thing that made me see this through, i believe. it was like, ‘shit, i got this far, i gotta finish now or else i’m a loser’s loser of the highest order.’ and i love the work and know i’ll do fine at it, but, shit, it was just like that classic stern bit from zanida: ‘please somebody in america give me a chance!!’

you gotta listen to this …

when howard starts singing ‘walk on with your dreams’ … and she’s sobbing and testifying underneath. amazing. and sal calls in as toby, a&r representative, ‘do you know how to wash dishes and make beds?’ we’re all superstars …

anyway, the relief has been … slow. gratifying, but i was so, just, completely strung out that it’s taken a few days to slowly but surely return to some kind of ‘oh, yes, this is who i am and i’m still in here somewhere.’ a reminder that we’re not ever fully who we think we are – for better or worse.

the last few days have been spent in idle puttering. i love to putter, but the loomingness of the job search has made any kind of pleasurable puttering impossible for so long. i always felt like, ‘i could really be working on that job talk,’ or ‘i should really be sending out more applications,’ or ‘i should probably just be sitting somewhere stressing out and worrying about all of this.’

but since wednesday … puttering. cleaned up all my guitars. got batteries for the stomp boxes. set up the music room again. been playing electric guitar like an only child from central illinois. learned van halen’s drop dead legs for the first time in my life yesterday (i am ten years old again) and pulled a bunch of lead licks off of son volt’s trace today. just feels … good. to fuck the fuck around. and play loud, loud, loud guitars.

i bought a cheap 28mm lens on ebay for my digital camera. that one proved to be a bit of a hasty purchase, as i decided i’m really looking for a 24mm pancake lens that will be a little wider and smaller and easier to stroll around with. the 28mm is fucking enormous with a 67mm lens. but … it was dirt cheap. and you can always turn around and sell you mistake back to someone else. that old cheap glass is getting more and more expensive … ebay puttering. it’s been years.

and todd henry is visiting next week and i’m going to see howard with chicago mel in nola at the AGT taping on tuesday and things are looking up and up. and i’m actually excited to get back to my dissertation … it’s all happening.

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ageless

March 2nd, 2013 by kevin
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for those of us with 40 on the horizon, worrying that the rock might one day run out, i give you … prince.

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fag pimp brand

November 21st, 2012 by kevin
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i generally subscribe to the ignore and shun model when dealing with outrageous idiocy and hatred, but there’s something i find extremely charming about russell (so much that i wish i cared about english football, as his sports show with noel gallagher is likely some of the best broadcasting on earth).

anyway, his handling of these two slap dicks is pretty spot on.

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always try to drink a blackberry wine

November 19th, 2012 by kevin
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louisville saved my life.

it’s hard to believe a vacation involving this guy could save one’s life …

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but this trip had everything …

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flowers …

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records …

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leaves …

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young love …

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retards …

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fuck monkeys … (seriously, this was written in the concrete in front of the highlands tap room where two summers ago we witnessed the fuck monkeys become the world’s greatest american barroom rock-n-roll band (vol. 1) at 4am. i shit when i saw this. the highlands taproom stands on hallowed ground.)

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bruce … (bruce turned my corner for me. i was alone, in a particularly geriatric section of the yum! center in downtown louisville, and i was uptight for a spell. but bruce … bruce did what bruce does. by the third song, hungry heart, bruce was crowd surfing. three hours later, i was rocked to my loving core. thanks, yet again, boss. you’re doing real work out there, everyday. making rock and roll kids remember they’re rock and roll kids. good on ya, mate.)

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noel at the palace theatre … (even though the show was incorrectly billed [noel was not a co-headliner, but an opening act for snow patrol. re-read that. noel gallagher opened up for snow patrol. that being said, noel was beautifully amazing. tight, fantastic set. his version of wonderwall LEVELED the place. and we left after his set and went to cumberland brews and had a late night meal and beers and got on just swimmingly. but another 45 minutes of noel woulda been fan fucking tastic. poor, poor, promotion folks. great, great set, however, noel.)

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assorted rock stars …

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food in old firehouses …

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food in old churches …

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beer angels …

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black jesus …

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white jesus …

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lefty’s on clearance …

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presidential balls …

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babe’s bat … (notice the notches around the louisville slugger logo. he carved one of those everytime he hit a home run.)

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that’s a giant at number one …

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and another …

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world series champion bats … (and congrats on that mvp, buster.)

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shoeless joe vs. the black crowes …

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still life …

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the kid …

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sticks …

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free public …

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super fruits …

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ah …

cheers cp and katty and dewey and bruce and noel and that fucking doll face at the cedar door.

i needed that.

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boo boo

October 31st, 2012 by kevin
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i wanted to be fozzie bear this halloween.

stay in character. walk around telling hacky jokes all night. wakka wakka wakka!

no such luck though. tis the season for endless job applications and paper grading, etc.

fun is in short supply these days … but, in the words of the immortal artie lange, “WAH!!!”

fun, however, gets a jump start this weekend.

louisville.

saturday: little band from new jersey called bruce springsteen and the e street band.

sunday: little band from manchester called noel gallagher’s high flying birds.

i. can’t. wait.

louisville: hide your sheep.

***

here’s my lefty pumpkin.

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and here’s lefty.

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