May 2011: Fighting For Fictional Texas

This month marks the end of the road for acclaimed television show Friday Night Lights. The show is set in fictional Dillon, TX and chronicles the lives of small-town Texas and the people who inhabit such places in perhaps the most authentic manner ever presented. I remember reading Buzz Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights book in elementary school and being mesmerized.

I loved football. The high school players at my school may as well have been the Dallas Cowboys, and this book detailed the lives of guys just like them in a way that was not only fascinating to a ten year old in central Texas but to adults worldwide.

I would go on to become one of those high school hero archetypes Bissinger wrote about and it gave me a deeper appreciation for the book. Many years later, I was cautiously excited when the movie came out. A few details were flipped around, but it was still a good flick.

By the time I heard they were doing a tv adaptation I was downright skeptical that they could pull it off. Yet, here we sit five years later and dare I say they equaled the gravitas of the book (season 2 Landry/Tyra soap opera murder plot aside). The people you see in Dillon are people you know…they may even be you at a different point in your life. The dialogue is always authentic and never forced. Some minor plot points such as Tim Riggins being a high school senior for four years or all the dramatic 4th quarter comebacks among others aside, the storytelling held true.

Friday Night Lights has never been a ratings bonanza, yet is always among the most critically acclaimed shows on the tube. While awful shows like Jersey Shore and Glee grab headlines, FNL just kept pumping out the excellent content. Under the radar. The show possesses a fervent, die-hard fanbase that has gone to bat for the show with the network suits more than once. The fans feel an investment in this little show they’ve followed from time slot to time slot and channel to channel through its odd but fulfilling five season run.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Authentic stories about real people. Narratives and characters that people can unabashedly relate to. An underground phenomenon that receives less promotion and fanfare than its quality devoid competition. The people who love it are passionate and promote it to anyone that will listen.

Sounds a lot like Texas/Red Dirt music to me.

While awful acts like Jason Aldean and Rascal Flatts receive airplay via lazy rapping about backroads and thinly disguised pop designed to be blasted from mini-vans, grassroots acts like Randy Rogers Band scratch and claw for what little national recognition they can get.

They don’t need the pats on the back from the establishment to validate what they do, because they and bands like them will continually crank out consistently great material and enjoy the fruits of a die-hard fanbase in an increasingly fractured touring market. But, it would be nice for the mainstream and country radio to take notice just once of what’s going on under their noses.

However, if that’s how it has to be, then Randy Rogers Band et al will continue fighting through the timeslot and channel changes of the music biz. Many years from now, history will remember bands like RRB and shows like FNL as beacons in the choppy waters of early 21st century pop culture.

I think I might just head on down to Dillon right now blasting “Down and Out” on the way.


-Confession: Jersey Shore is trash, but I’m part of the problem. Much like I enjoy Kid Rock’s live show…the spectacle of Jersey Shore hooked me from the first episode. I’m over it now because it became stale. But, for the first 20 episodes or so, it was gold.

-Recovery from LJTs takes longer each year.

-Greenfest is just 2 months away!

-Some pundits have compared NFL owners to the mob during this labor dispute. But, I contend the mob would probably run the league more efficiently.

-Hoping my Rangers can just hold serve until they get Hamilton back. Then it’s on. Hey, World Series…we’re coming for you again!

-Excited about several cool events this month…Bowen Classic and Knight’s Bay House Concert on Memorial Day weekend at the top of the list.

-Time machines would be cool for several reasons. Not the least of which would be to see Donald Trump debate Ross Perot. Maybe Jerry Jones as the moderator? That would be SNL gold.

-We had tornadoes blow through the other night. Several people in our area were impacted heavily. A classy guy on my Facebook news feed was already offering his adjustment services. I tweeted about this and a friend said that during the tragic event of his home burning down several years back he actually had a guy hand him his restoration business card…while the firefighters were still putting out the flames. Classy.

-Last month I asked what waiting room was the worst and several of you pointed out that the automotive repair waiting room is the worst. I had my oil changed last week and encountered the misfortune of hearing one side of a heated domestic dispute going on over the phone…on the subject of laundry. Good times. And, with that I submit that laundry is the worst household chore.

This month’s recommended film: On the heels of the news that journalist/filmmaker Tim Hetherington was tragically killed last month, I finally watched Restrepo. It had been recommended to me several times. It is a brutal, unflinching look at what our combat forces are up against in Afghanistan. It is tough to watch, but well worth it.

This month’s recommended album: Brandon Jenkins-Under the Sun. Jenkins’ Red Dirt brethren may get more publicity, but along with Mike McClure he just may be the most influential of the modern troubadours from Oklahoma. With each album, Jenkins unveils a little more of himself in the songs. This latest effort is full of Jenkins bluesy-growl, but also includes new elements to his sound like horns. This is Jenkins most well-rounded album yet and is a must have.

-“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.”-Mark Twain

Brad Beheler

Raised in Waco, refined in the Hill Country, escaped from DFW. I've worked in just about every facet of the music business for 20 years. I like to write about it all. e-mail Brad Editor-in-Chief

4 thoughts on “May 2011: Fighting For Fictional Texas

  • May 3, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Nice parallels between TX/RD and FNL… Never thought about it that way before, but I definitely see it now.

    And, if there’s any question as to how authentic FNL is, just listen to Riggins pronounce “New BraunSfels”!

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