Caught by the River

Jeb's Jukebox

Jeb Loy Nichols | 23rd February 2015

who were you thinking of

Who Were You Thinkin’ Of
The Texas Tornados

Reprise, 1990

Texas in the mid-70s was a strange place. Or perhaps I was a strange kid. Or maybe every teenager is strange. Maybe that’s a teenagers job, to be strange. And maybe that’s OK. Sometimes strangeness is the only thing that keeps you going. As a strange kid in the strange world of the mid-70’s, I became a connoisseur of strange-ness. I sought it out, welcomed it. The two kings, for me, of hip strangeness, in mid-70’s Texas, were Dan Del Santo and Doug Sahm.

I can tell you this about Dan Del Santo. He was everything that I wanted to be near. His voice, his walk, his moxie, the way he lived without embarrassment. His enthu-siasm. He was an eager guy. With long hair and sometimes a beret. Other times a Stetson. His voice big and smokey. Be what you are, he said. Listening to Fela Kuti and Michael Smith and Alton Ellis and George Jones. Perched on the arm of the so-fa, playing record after record, smiling at the unknowable, unmeagre world of music. Living there on the East Side amongst dull Texans.

I never met Doug Sahm, I only watched him from a distance. He was a wizard of weird hipness. Tall and thin and cooler than anyone in the world. I caught glimpses of him in San Antonio, in San Marcos, at Barton Springs, in The Armadillo World Headquarters. He moved with an entire history, a mythology, an unstudied cool that was other worldly. I never spoke to him, what would I say?

He formed the Texas Tornados with three other Texan hipsters: Freddy Fender, Au-gie Meyers, and Flaco Jimenez. A tribe of strange brothers. Between them they cov-ered it all; blues, country, conjunto, soul. They recorded this years after I left Texas, but it’s all still there; a hip Texan stroll, a strange southern squint.

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