HWY 100
Running to Paradise
Texasee Songs
Billy the Kid Rides Again
Bob Bradley, TV Cowboy
Here Today
Selmer Tennessee
Indian Eyes
Aron Presley
Tops of the Trees
Million Ways to Die
In the Real World
Paul is Dead
The Tower
Too Young to Die
Lower Broad
Blue Hole
Crazy Old Man
Goin' Down to the River
Popular Culture
Texasee Sayings

Click on the links below to download a free mp3 of the song.  For illustrated lyrics, click on the song titles to your left.

Texasee: Texans and Tennesseans have always been first cousins in the American genealogy. Both distrust authority and reality (strictly defined). Both have strong folk music histories that are quick to sop up any and every influence—hill music, old-time, native american, hispanic, blues, rockabilly, bluegrass, country, alt-country, western swing. Texasee is a musical utopia where what's best in song and spirit comes together in a three-minute moment. When you really listen to music, when in the words of Staples Singers, it “takes you there,” that place must be somewhere—so for shorthand I just call it Texasee.

2. Billy the Kid Rides Again: I wanted to write a song about a bad man that was still beautiful. My Billy is reanimated on a modern superhighway where he gets stopped for riding a horse without a license plate. He plugs the deputy and heads south. No disrespect meant for our good highway patrolmen and women. No disrespect either for the senorita whose companionship Billy purchases. Tommy Spurlock is responsible for most of the guitars, including haunting steels. He referred to the song as “big fat senorita.”

3. Bob Bradlee, TV Cowboy: Some things shouldn't happen. Our beloved cowboy entertainer is murdered by his partner/wife and cuckholding sidekick. But the real tragedy is his horse, doped up for broadcasts, who ends up addicted to quaaludes. That wah-wah instrument is a bandoneon, a Tex-Mex mini-accordian.

4. Here Today: The only where, the only when. About as simple as three chords, really. With tips of the sombrero to Buddy Holly, John Lennon, Neil “Bernard Shakey” Young, and, most of all, Miss Cleo. Thanks to my brother Sam Powers for the harmonies and guitar solo. Tommy Spurlock midwived the Garth-Hudson-inspired insanity of the clavichord synth.

5. Selmer Tennessee: Everyone saw the story on the news. The preacher's wife killed the preacher. The small town shocked with the blood on its hands. Shocked more by the hooker wig and clogs. The custody battle for the little girls—it wouldn't end. But nobody has asked the fundamental question: what it an accident or predestination? So I tried. John Davis (of Superdrag fame) manages to play a pretty mean lead guitar and sing those angelic “hallelujahs.”

6. Indian Eyes: Four generations of Texasseans in a two-and-a-half minute song. All passing down those coal dark “Indian eyes” that know a lot more than a couple hundred years of so-called “history.” My daughter objects to the little girl in the last stanza being born in '99 (Phoebe was born in '98). I told her '98 didn't rhyme, but she didn't buy it. That's Tommy Spurlock on the fuzz-tone Fender steel guitar (played in the style of his friend and mentor Sneaky Pete Kleinow of The Flying Burrito Brothers).

7. Aron Presley: Everybody knows that Elvis had a twin brother who died in childbirth. The brother was named “Aron” (don't be fooled by the revisionist “Aaron” or even “Jesse Garon”). They say that the living twin carries the dead twin within him. I wrote my song from the perspective of the dead twin. John Davis and Suzi Ragsdale co-star in the role of the dead twin harmony vocals.

8. Tops of the Trees: About as high as any of us need to get in this life. Tommy on steel.

9. Million Ways to Die: Originally called “The Bounty Hunter.” A crazed character out of a Peckinpah movie who will go to his reward justified. Kenny Vaughn supplied the spidery guitars that remind me of the early Elvis Costello.

10. In the Real World: Crazy Horse (the Sioux warrior, not Neil's backup band) had a dream of the ultimate reality without the benefit of having ever read Plato. Jamie Oldaker conjures up a mesmerizing beat, and Suzi Ragsdale does more than just harmonize—it's like some waking dream.

11. W Road Ghost: The W Road trails up the back of Signal Mountain, Tennessee, where I grew up. The switch-back near the top gives the road its name. In the old days, before asphalt and guard rails, back-of-the-mountain shiners used it as their personal “delivery route.” One Signal Mountain moonshiner was so famous that he made runs all the way up the Washington, D.C., to President Harding (who may, or may not, have been poisoned by the stuff).

12. Paul is Dead: This is, of course, pure parody, pure fantasy, fueled by that exhaustless Muse known familiarly as “The Internet.” Articles, photos, websites, podcasts—the conspiracy supposes that the real Paul McCartney “blew his mind out in car” sometime in 1966 and was replaced by the so-called “Faul” McCartney, who is taller than John, has a different eye-color and even head shape. It gets fuzzy whether “Faul” was simply a human impostor (from Canada) or something far more sinister like a reptilian-human alien hybrid (along the lines of the Bush or British Royal families). Remember, I said parody.

13. The Tower: Charles Whitman climbed the tower at the University Texas at Austin the same year that Paul was supposedly dying. The ex-Marine took out almost fifty victims in less than ninety minutes with a rifle at ranges up to 100 yards. You can do the math. He left a note asking that his brain be autopsied for abnormalities. None were found. I take pride in my creepy sounding harmonica bits.

14. My Hero: This is sorta like Ray Davies meets Willie Nelson. The song goes like this: a guy goes into a bar. Gets insulted by another guy. They take it outside. The first guy shoots the second guy in the face. Only problem: the second guy isn't armed. Uh oh. I guess that the problem with having heroes—whether they're cowboys or not. Tommy Spurlock plucks the banjo with conviction, without overdoing it.

15. Too Young to Die: You say, Luke, Texasee seems like a pretty violent place. I paraphrase Wallace Stevens, the violence inside is what shields us from the violence outside. It all has something to do with the magic of the imagination to transform reality in the Real. Anyway, the song's a mini-film-noir story that supposed to leave you wondering, was it an accident or predestination? Kenny Vaughan picks out of pretty nice guitar lick. We left in his guitar crunch at the end. I guess our hero doesn't make it?

16. Lower Broad: Is the final stretch of Nashville's Broadway before bellies down to its end at the Cumberland River. The city fathers and mothers have cleaned it up now, but you still have a few of the old-time honky-tonks that remember when hookers could walk the street with impunity. But I do not come to cast stones. This is a redemption song—which brings us back to where we started: Texasee. The voice is Suzi's.