YouTube clip via Live From Austin TX

David Oke
Texas, January 2014

Mostly I  default to the safety of music that is familiar to me.  However, some years ago we had a neighbor with diverse musical tastes. Gary loved his music and I appreciate the fact that he introduced me to a couple of new bands and genres, including the American band Asleep At The Wheel, who play Western country swing. It is a combination of American country music and jazz. Country music was a genre that I had never ventured into much.

Before heading off on a USA family  road trip in late 2013/early 2014 I loaded up some Asleep At The Wheel, along with my favorite Ozock artists, and others, onto my iPod.  We flew into Memphis and moved on to Nashville, Georgia, New Orleans, Texas, Monument Valley, New Mexico, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

While in Texas I came to understand the cultural significance and importance of country music and the heavy influence of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys on the Asleep At The Wheel style and playlist. I had already learnt of the historical significance of country music at the Country Music Hall Of Fame in Nashville. In conversations with Texans you could tell that they are very proud of their state and heritage – and their music. Boot scooting and dance halls were ingrained. Bob Wills was a hero and is still the ‘King of Western swing’ even though he passed away in 1975.

I was born in Louisiana down on the ol bayou
Raised on shrimps and catfish momma’s good gumbo
I got the ramblin’ fever said goodbye to ma and pa
Crossed that ol Red River and this is what I saw

I saw miles and miles of Texas all the stars up in the sky
I saw miles and miles of Texas gonna live here till I die
I rode up in to Austin the cradle of the west
Just ask any cowboy he’ll tell you it’s the best

I met a Texas beauty I got friendly with her pa
I looked in to her big blue eyes this is what I saw
I saw miles and miles of Texas all the stars up in the sky
I saw miles and miles of Texas gonna live here till I die

On one five-hour stint we travelled between Austin and Lubbock, in the north west of the state. Austin is the music capital of Texas and we aimed to reach Lubbock in time to go to the Buddy Holly Center.

We listened to Miles And Miles Of Texas and other Asleep At The Wheel as we travelled that long day…Way Down Texas Way. Boogie Back In Texas…

We saw miles and miles of flat plains of farmland from horizon to horizon. A big blue sky above the endless cotton fields, cattle ranches and oil wells pumping up that black gold –Texas tea. We discovered where the saying ‘As big as Texas’ came from that day.

We made it to Lubbock in time. At the Buddy Holly museum I saw Buddy Holly’s Fender Stratocaster. During  the guitar’s restoration, the last guitar pick Holly  used was found under the scratch plate. And there it was on display.  Poor Buddy. His recording career only lasted two years before his tragic accident but his fame lives on.

As does Bob Wills’.  Sure, he’s not as well known as Buddy Holly, but  – like Buddy – there’s no doubting his place in American music.

David is a Melbourne musician, music teacher and primary school teacher. His debut Stereo Story was about playing Great Balls of Fire at Sun Studio in Memphis. He has assisted in the organisation, and leading of gospel music workshops and Sunday gospel celebrations at the Anglesea Music Festivals, and is a member of The Seddon Jammers. His son Dan is the creative force of the band Jarrow.