Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bob Wills Is Still the King

Today is Bob Wills birthday.

If you don't know who he is, you probably don't come from Texas, so don't admit it.

My Granddad told me that he saw Bob and his Texas Playboys dozens of times; for awhile in the thirties, he said, seemed like every weekend you could find em playing at some fair or rodeo thereabouts.

Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys for the price of a ticket to a damn rodeo. Blows my mind.

In the little towns of Texas, they still play Bob's music all the time. If you had to choose a soundtrack for Texas, it could be no one else, not even Willie, not even Waylon, cause they couldn't have happened without him.

First video is my favorite of his songs Big Ball's in Cowtown. Fucking rocks.

Next, the favorite song of my Grandmother (on my mom's side), and probably their best known tune, San Antonio Rose. This was recorded at the Grand Old Opry according to the title, though it doesn't look like the Opry to me, plus they're not wearing their hats, and they look like they're all slicked up to be presentable to Yankees, or some other foreigners, though, hell, who knows. Bob and the Opry didn't always get on real well, being that he insisted on using drums (they weren't allowed at the Opry in those days. Bob began his career working in tent and minstrel shows; you'll see that he's pretty active on stage, and emits odd noises. Do not laugh. It's like admitting you don't *get* the Great Bob Wills, and you will be required to sit back of the class. And if people throw shit at you and call you rude names, oh well.

The third is a weird curiosity kinda video, the Stones doing Waylon's immortal Bob Wills Is Still the King, from '07, at Zilker Park, in Austin. It is strange, but respectful, and it's really funny to hear Jagger trying to sound Texas-y.

Last is an incredible video. It's the favorite song of my other Grandmother (on my Dad's side)(in Texas, what Elvis is to moms, Bob Wills is to grandmoms), Faded Love, one of the first songs Bob wrote. It was recorded long after Bob had passed away, sometime in the eighties, at the Texas Playboys' final performance. It is, in fact, the final song they ever perform, together, and I urge you to watch it. It's very affecting.

(If you see acts calling themselves the Texas Playboys, they are really just a tribute act. Most of em are long dead)

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