In the war of words between the Governors of Texas and California over the obvious advantages of the Texas business climate, the latter went nuclear and singled out Lubbock as the Texas weak spot. He missed the mark.
I will concede California’s climate advantage (non-business) over Lubbock, but that’s about it. Lubbock has adequate air conditioning and superior soul, as evidenced by its rich musical heritage. By dissing Lubbock, Governor Brown revealed his ignorance of Lubbock’s treasure trove of world class pickers, singers and songwriters. One should expect more from the Governor, who, in his hippier days, rightly appreciated the talents of Linda Ronstadt, she of “Blue Bayou” and “Silver Threads and Golden Needles” fame. She could have been from Lubbock.
Being a Texan by choice, I remember well my early trips to Lubbock. The first featured a pilgrimage to the resting place of Buddy Holly whose untimely death was later declared in American Pie as the day the music died. Governor Moonbeam was probably a Beatles fan in his day, but he may have forgotten that the Beatles were named after Buddy Holly’s Crickets, all from Lubbock.
Many of the stars from Lubbock and thereabouts are memorialized in the circle of plaques surrounding Buddy’s statue in downtown Lubbock—the Walk of Fame. After Buddy, Waylon Jennings is the second picker and singer inducted into the West Texas Walk of Fame. My best friend from grammar school named his son Waylon, and that was way back in Georgia. Most Texans will remember that Waylon was supposed to be with Buddy on his last plane ride, along with Richie Valens and the Big Bopper. He lost a coin toss and lived to be a genuine Honky-Tonk Hero, benefiting greatly from Billy Joe Shaver’s Texas songwriting.
The third member inducted into Lubbock’s Walk of Fame was Mac Davis, who, being from Lubbock, found it hard to be humble when he was perfect in every way. He famously sang of happiness as Lubbock in his rear view mirror, but later in the song he decided that happiness was Lubbock growing nearer and nearer, as he came home to Mama.
Skipping over several inductees who deserve mention, Roy Orbison and Joe Ely were inducted in 1989. What can I say about Roy’s “Pretty Woman,” who inspired a movie that my sister saw a 100 times? Among the many hits he wrote was “Blue Bayou,” made famous by himself and a certain Linda Ronstadt of California fame. Roy’s Ooby Dooby had a lot to say as well.
Joe Ely is best known around these parts as one of the Flatlanders, the other two being Butch Hancock, whom I first met in Terlingua, Texas, another Texas cultural center (they have the annual chili cook-off), and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, whose voice is sweeter than sweet wine. All three of the Flatlanders are from Lubbock. Lubbock is flat, you see. Joe touches me when he sings of seeing Dallas from a DC-9 at night and sucking on a big bottle of gin. Jimmie Dale resonates when he sings about writing love songs when he should have just strummed his guitar.
Jumping ahead to the 1997 induction, we get to one of my heroes that I’ve actually broken bread with, Terry Allen, of Lubbock, of course. Terry gets to the heart of Lubbock in his songs. One was about the Great Joe Bob, a regional tragedy.
Joe Bob won a football scholarship to Lubbock’s Texas Tech. He dated high-tone girls with frosty pom-pom curls, but he never gave out his ring. Unfortunately, Joe Bob lost his scholarship for drinking during training and breaking the coach’s neck. Then he got suspended for acting obscene around the “Cum-Laudy, Cum-Laudy daughter of the Dean.” He took up with a waitress named Loose Ruby Cole, who was hopping tables down at the Hi-D-Ho. They robbed a liquor store and had a run in with the law as they were running out the door.
Speaking of run-ins with the law, “I Fought the Law and the Law Won” came from Sonny Curtis, one of Buddy’s rotating Crickets.
Another Terry Allen classic was “The Lubbock Woman” who wanted to win but was destined to lose. The reason: “too much rouge, too much booze, and too many movie magazines.” But she had a good heart.
Lubbock has a good heart, and lots of soul.