Sunday, November 21, 2010

When that sun is high in that Texas sky, I'll be freezing my ass off in the northern tundra

Just back from a trip to Chicago. On the road home, listening to one of my several trusty Texas-music cd's, heard one of my favorite songs, at precisely the right moment—know what I mean? Like the story I told y'all about Cathy Cee and Dancing in the Moonlight, or a story I haven't told you about Walden Books, a gap-toothed girl and Wish You Were Here. Times when a song you like (as in the former case) or love (as in the latter) registers its maximum potential on the emotional register.

The song was George Strait's Amarillo by Morning, a pretty straight-forward story about a guy who's lost everything—or maybe, thought he had—and realizes that nothing or no one can deprive him of hope, or of the essential joy of being alive, unless he permits it to happen. And he won't. Let it happen, I mean.

The tempo changes throughout the song, as he's thinking to himself, alone on the bus, heading to his next rodeo. Lonesome at first, melancholy, the last verse is decidely upbeat, as his spirit rises. He is undaunted, and engaged with what happens next, whatever that is, unwilling to compromise the coming day by dwelling on the past. The fiddle music, at the very end, though—mournful and true, and doggedly hopeful, but still recognizing the essential loneliness of self—is remarkable.

Paula Jane was sleeping when I heard the song in the quiet of this early morning, after being on the road awhile, with the sun just peeking over the horizon. Just as I imagine the cowboy in the song, which made the moment perfect.

As an aside, when he delivered the line, When that sun is high in that Texas sky, I nearly fucking cried. Went straight to my heart, you know? If you're from Texas, you do—how can the sky appear to be so big? It's the same size everywhere, of course. But dammit, it feels a helluva lot bigger there. And I miss it.

Anyway, give it a listen. A real Texan, singing a real Texas song, about something of the human condition that is very real.


  1. fiddle at the end of that song is fucking amazing.

  2. Yeah, it's amazing to me that something can sound, simultaneously, as lonely and as hopeful as that little bit of fiddle...