New Music Friday (early): Whiskey and Pride by Cory Morrow

I am launching a new series tomorrow that will run on Fridays here at Hillbilly Highways, so for the next few months New Music Friday will come a day early.

Out tomorrow: Whiskey and Pride by Cory Morrow.

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Music Monday: But You Like Country Music by Sunny Sweeney and Brennen Leigh

Before I started the blog, I sat down and made a tentative list of songs for Music Monday posts.  A list of dozens and dozens of songs.  Mostly stuff I’ve been listening to for years, but now that I have the blog I’m discovering new stuff at a faster than normal clip.  I somehow spent four years in Texas listening to Texas country and missed Sunny Sweeney.  I am rectifying that in a hurry (I hadn’t heard of Brennen Leigh, either, but I haven’t started digging into her stuff yet).  The hardest part of writing this post was picking which song to feature.

But You Like Country Music touches on a topic I have hit on before and will again: a big, diverse, free, open society only works if we can tolerate interacting with people who don’t share our views.  Some things are more important than politics, people.  Things like country music.

And dogs.

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Music Monday: Beer Pressure by Bri Bagwell

Music Monday around here has been a little light on the ladies.  Like, mainstream country music light on the ladies.  That simply will not do.  Not when there is so much talent out there.  And it doesn’t get much more Texas Country than Bri Bagwell.

In a just world Bri would be a star.  She has it all—the writing chops, the voice, the looks, the stage presence.  But ours is not a just world.  Better for those who live in Texas and can see her on the cheap (less so for anyone who hopes to see her outside of Texas and New Mexico).

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New Music Friday: Lifers by Cody Jinks

Country music radio is a vast wasteland.  But country music has never been better.  It is just that you won’t hear on the radio the vast majority of the great stuff musicians—more in Texas than in Tennessee—are churning out.  Where, then, do you find out about it?  Here.  I mean, other places are better, but here too.  To that end, I will regularly feature Texas country (and Red Dirt and Americana and Cowpunk and Old Time…) albums on the Friday they are released (Every Day Should Be Friday?).

Out today: Lifers by Cody Jinks.

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Music Monday: Corpus Christi Bay by Robert Earl Keen

“That life, it is contagious, and it gets down in your blood.”

Corpus Christi Bay may not be as well known as big a crowd pleaser as The Road Goes on Forever (a great song in its own right), but it’s as pitch perfect as a song gets.  It’s as poetic as Byron, tells as good a story as any Texas Country song, and a deep streak of melancholy lurking beneath its surface.

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Music Monday: Shreveport by Turnpike Troubadours

I’m going to avoid going heavy again this week.  It occurs to me, given I use “Texas country” right in the blog name, that I have been neglected actual Texas country.  What could be more Texas country than a band from Oklahoma?  (Hey, I did my swing through Texas in Houston.  As a Houstonian, I consider everything north of Austin to be South Oklahoma anyway.)  The Turnpike Troubadours are absolutely one of my favorite five acts active today.

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Music Monday: This Cowboy’s Hat by Chris LeDoux

There are a lot of country songs about fathers.  But I’ve got a lot of time to get to all those other songs.  Sometimes the meaning of a song is as much about you finding that particular song in that particular place and that particular time.  And this is a particular time and place—my first Father’s Day as a father, and half a lifetime since my own father died.

Chris LeDoux knew a thing or two about cowboy hats: he was a world champion bronc rider.  This Cowboy’s Hat is a story about what happens when a group of bikers threaten to take the hat right off a cowboy’s head.  A cowboy’s hat is the sort of thing that means a lot to him.  The first reason the cowboy gives is because “it used to be my daddy’s.  But last year he passed on.”

I grew up weaned on a lot of Led Zeppelin and Allman Brothers from my parents, a swallow of mainstream country from the radio, and a horn of Hank and outlaw country from my best friend.  College opened me up to a whole new world of country, and Chris LeDoux was a big part of that.  It was like nothing else I’d ever heard.  But what really hit me was that line.

My dad spent most of the last year of his life in Houston, Texas at M.D. Anderson (in one of life’s little ironies, many years later we would buy our first house a couple miles away from M.D. Anderson).  His treatments for leukemia took most of his hair, robbed him of his health, and left him with swollen feet.  When he got home he completely unabashedly rocked socks and sandals, a duck mask . . . and a cowboy hat.

So, yeah, hearing the narrator talked about how his cowboy hat “used to be my daddy’s.  But last year he passed on” hit me hard.

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Music Monday: Down the River by Chris Knight

Even though I will be doing these Music Monday posts every week, this is not a music blog.  I consider the music just another storytelling medium that belongs right beside books, TV, and movies.  Considering the time investment of a song versus a novel, music strikes me as a pretty good way to give you an example of what I mean when I say country noir.

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