Column 4 - published November 5, 1997
GOD BLESS TEXAS,
THE ROCK'N'ROLL STATE!
We all know that Texas is the Cowboy State, but some of us may not know that Texas is also the Rock'n'Roll State!! Whaaaaat?? OK, cats, I agree with you, it's a tie with the great State of Tennessee, Texas and Tennessee, the two Rockabilly States!!
But in this column we'll talk about Texas. Let's start by mentioning a few of my Rollin' Rock artists who hail from Texas: Ray Campi, Mac Curtis, Johnny Carroll, Groovey Joe Poovey, Sid King, Bob Luman, Long John Hunter, and even Gene Vincent (originally from Virginia) worked out of Dallas in 1959 where he shared the same agency and many of the same musicians with Johnny Carroll. And it looks like I may welcome a few more Texans on Rollin' Rock in 1998: Mac Stevens and hopefully Kim Lenz & Her Jaguars.
Naturally, outside of Rollin' Rock Records, there is literally hundreds of exceptional Rock'n'Roll, Rockabilly, Western Swing and Blues artists and bands spawned out of Texas during the last 50 years.
Is this a coincidence that Texas, The Cowboy State, is also the Rock'n'Roll State? I don't think so: in our American culture the cowboy is not just a "boy" who works with "cows"!!! The cowboy, in many ways, represents the American quest for freedom, for excitement, for challenge and for opportunity. The Cowboy Way embodies Americanism, a philosophy where liberty is paramount, and in which a man is judged by the content of his character and not the color of his skin or his national origin. No music is more "American" or "freedom-oriented" than Rockabilly.
In 1933 Gene Autry published the Ten Commandments Of The Cowboy, and this is what Commandment number 5 states: "He Must Not Possess Racially or Religiously Intolerant Ideas." During the great Texas cattle drives of the Old West over 30% of the cowboys were Black or of Mexican origin. This cultural melange is what made Western Wear happen, just as the mix of Black Rhythm & Blues and White Country & Western gave us Western Swing first, and then Rock'n'Roll. Movie Cowboys such as Roy Rogers and Gene Autry incorporated elements of Jazz in their music, thus showing the way for Hank Williams and Elvis.
In the mid 1930s John Wayne in his Western movies wore his blue-jeans with the cuffs rolled up. In the 1950s blue-jeans (the uniform of the Texas Cowboy) also became the uniform of Rock'n'Roll aficionados throughout the world. Gene Vincent sang about "Blue Jean Bop" and across the Atlantic Ocean, in Italy, Adriano Celentano sang "Blue Jeans e Rock'n'Roll"! In the 1990s blue-jeans with the cuffs rolled up are also the preferred wear of Rockabilly Rebels throughout the globe. The Cowboy Uniform thus became the Rock'n'Roll Uniform.
Texas is a Southern State and the South gave us Blues, Jazz, Hillbilly, Cajun, Rock'n'Roll, Bluegrass, etc., but Texas is also a Western State, the only State which is truly both Western and Southern, not only geographically but also musically and culturally. There are more Cadillacs per capita in Texas than anywhere else in the world, and of course there are more Rockabilly/Rock'n'Roll songs praising the Cadillac than any other car! The Texas car is also the Rock'n'Roll car! Texas is wild, colorful, outrageous, exciting and optimistic, and so is Rock'n'Roll Music!
Like the the pony-tailed girl exclaimed in a scene in "Loving You", when Elvis walked into a steakhouse in Texas: "IT'S THAT ROCK'N'ROLL COWBOY WITH THE JUMPIN' BEANS IN HIS JEANS!"
Indeed! Texas The Cowboy State, Texas The Rockabilly State, a lil bit of Texas is in all of our hearts no matter where we live!!!!!
Always Rollin' The Rock,
Rockin' Ronny Weiser
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