All My Damn Feelings 3: Texas, Deep In My Heart - By Volume

I knew we'd never write. somehow that seemed alright. This counts as calling three years out. The Wrens - 13 Months in 6 Minutes

All My Damn Feelings

#3: Texas, Deep In My Heart

Audrey listens to her home state.

Author: on August 20, 2014
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I drove from Oak Cliff to my parents place at the north corner of the Metroplex blasting country radio with the windows down. I begrudgingly rolled them up when it started to pour ass rain, and I let George Strait guide me home. The rattling thunder and the familiar tune of “Write This Down” sent a pulse through my heart, and I tried not to think about how soon I’d be leaving Texas again.

Two weeks go fast when you spend them reconnecting, reminiscing, reliving and drinking as much beer as possible. My first stop was Cowboy Stadium to see Beyoncé and Jay Z’s On The Run Tour, and seeing Bey in all her glory in her home state was worth the semi-absurd amount I spent on the ticket. The production, the detail, the glory of their voices and the sincerity of their performances created a show unlike anything I’ve ever seen, or even heard of. They thought of every detail and gave us their whole selves. And when Beyoncé strutted across the stage in that jacket studded with TEXAS on the back, I raised my fist into the air and hollered the holler of someone come home.

Beyoncé is just as much Texas music as George Strait. Willie Nelson, Janis Joplin, Spoon, Explosions In The Sky, Buddy Holly, and countless others create a landscape of sound as vast, complex and beautiful as Texas itself. The state has mountains, rivers, deserts, plains, canyons and gulf. It’s only fitting that its musical arsenal has rock, pop, country, folk, rap and everything in between.

I listened to pop country radio a lot during my two-week trip home. It’s not the best of Texas music. It’s just pop, really, lyrically and melodically formulated to make you feel happy or sad or like you wanna yell “hell yeah.” But knowing all that doesn’t make me any less susceptible to its charms, any less likely to drive a little too fast when late 90s Tim McGraw comes on. Flipping between The Wolf and KSCS, it was pretty easy to avoid commercials. I developed a fondness for the newest tunes by Luke Bryan, Billy Currington, and Thomas Rhett. I flipped my lid over “Girl In A Country Song,” the first big single from Maddie & Tae, a pair of gals from Texas and Oklahoma respectively who point out the ways in which those dudes get it wrong.

These are the melodies and stories of a childhood spent traversing DFW in the car with my mom. Some of the singers have changed, but there is a familiarity to these songs and the howl that winning callers offer up to The Wolf’s DJs in thanks for their Brad Paisley tickets. It may be manufactured in Nashville, but it sounds and feels like Texas to me.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I was raised on Waylon, Willie and the boys too. My whole life is punctuated with classic and outlaw country songs, stories of fighting and drinking, loving and losing. On this trip home when I was down in Austin, I kissed a boy in his Chevy Tahoe while Shotgun Willie played, and it was the most Texas thing that has ever happened. I spent a lot of time holed up in my room at my parents’ house and savored the joy of singing along to my Hank Williams and Loretta Lynn records. Nicaragua and its humid tropical climate would not be friendly to a record collection, and steel guitar that laces Waylon Jennings’ greatest hits doesn’t ring quite as clearly via Spotify.

After that rainy, midnight drive, I put on Ben Kweller’s latest, Let’s Go Fly A Kite, and just watched the record spin for a while. If I have a favorite artist, it’s Ben. I’ve seen him play live upwards of ten times and met him a couple. He makes a kind of sincere, thoughtful rock and roll that has the capacity to heal hearts and make the world better. His gentle twang, his sincere love for his family and his progressive politics represent the best of our state. I thought of all the other times I had listened to him sing, the best friends and lovers I had attended his concerts with, and I made peace with my pending departure. Texas twang, steel guitars, best friends, old lovers: these things will never really let me leave.


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