As a native Texan, I’m uncomfortable with cold weather. Pretty much anytime it gets below 40 I’m complaining. Although I do refrain from posting photos of my truck’s thermometer with a cool IG filter. (I’m with you in spirit and a fav/like people). We just don’t handle it well down here. We’re much more equipped to deal with 102 rather than 22. It’s different when you’re up in Steamboat experiencing it because you’re prepared for it. There’s also a secret ingredient that keeps you warm up there too. Well, two actually. Music and friends. All the material goods in the world can offer you only x-amount of solace in the face of a blizzard. Art and companionship will warm those bone-chillingly frozen bodies.
There’s something special about being part of a movement. A moment. A happening.
This takes place at festivals, concerts and gigs each year. That precise point in time when everything aligns and connects. Where thousands (or hundreds or tens) become one unified spirit. While of course this happens in all genres, we happen to be particularly fond of the manner with which it takes place under the OKOM umbrella. Sociologists refer to this as a pack or herd mentality. That’s a fancy way of saying we’re all having a good time together (at least in these instances).
Shared experiences bind us together and are the reason why I still watch sporting events live. It’s the thing left that I refuse to DVR. I must exalt and exhale with my fellow fans. Makes the victories sweeter and the defeats common ground for a comeback.
Musically speaking, the energy you feel as an entire crowd sings along warms the soul. It brings the performer and the audience the utmost in satisfaction. In my many interviews with musicians over the years, they cite this phenomenon as on the same level of coolness as hearing your songs on the radio. Really popular songs have this happen to them all the time. But, the truly special instances are when this happens to brand new songs or under the radar songs. Bands know right away when they have a hit based on the audiences reaction. That’s why these Texas bands always have a leg up when they hit the national scene. They’ve learned how to write, produce and market-test their art. And the only focus group required paid a $7 cover to see them in a honky-tonk.
Certain songs that I’ve experienced this with take me back to that place every time. They provide a rush of warm nostalgia, memories and euphoria.
Guy Clark’s “Coat from the Cold” is a literal example. The simplicity and beauty of the lyrics always shake me to the core. It’s unlike any love song I’d ever heard before and better than any of the imitations I’ve heard since. Each syllable evokes a haunting truth and not one of those syllables is misspent. It’s still a favorite of mine to pluck out and sing horribly when I’m involved in a guitar pull. In retrospect, Guy Clark’s words allow me to ponder the wonderful life I’ve made in the present after a rowdy youth spent finding solace in several of the vices he mentions in the song. I’m thankful for Mr. Clark’s brilliance, the song’s meaning in my life and the way he continues to inspire musicians to this day. Not to mention the warmth it brings.
How about Walt Wilkins’ “Songs About Texas”? No matter the vocalist bringing it to my ears or the format I’m hearing it in, I’m transplanted to a special place.
More recently, watching bands like Whiskey Myers and William Clark Green have their lyrics shouted back to them at LJT puts me in some sort of time travel mode to a 1970’s Willie type picnic.
Each of these and more are a special reminder of the songs, moments and people that make up this music scene and community. Enjoy it. Because it’s not like this everywhere. And, next time we have a big cold snap like this do the following.
1. Make a drink.
2. Get a fire blazing.
3. Find your favorite tunes and crank them up.
4. Invite your favorite people over.
You’ll be warmer than you ever imagined.
-Feels like I say this every month, but LJT and GF15 planning are in FULL FORCE.
-Check out our new sub-Reddit. Cool way to connect.
-2014 was a rather tumultuous year in many respects, I wonder what 2015 has in store.
-As we enter this weekend, the Cowboys are in the midst of perhaps their most successful season in 20 years. I’m hoping that’s an omen as to what 2015 has in store.
-Related to that, there have been multiple earthquakes in the DFDub. What’s up with that? Tornadoes and now earthquakes too?
-They need to make a la carte TV programming happen stat.
-Prayers for all our soldiers at home and abroad. My brother in law just deployed on his fourth trip to the sandbox.
-Recommended album of the month: Zac Wilkerson EP. Zac’s a dude I kept hearing about and people I trust kept telling me I’d dig it. I heard his stuff and liked it, but never found the time to truly LISTEN to it until recently. I’m kicking myself for having waited. Country soul the likes of Josh Weathers and Sean McConnell. Leaning a bit heavier to the country side. Produced by Walt Wilkins and full of all the right things in the right places. Songwriting from the heart and vocals from the soul. Check this one out. He and these songs are ones to watch.
-“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” – Mark Twain