The Houston 100: From Sir Douglas Quintet to Guy Clark
59. “Driftin’ Blues,” Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers, featuring Charles Brown, 1946. Sedate, laid-back cocktail blues like this, pioneered by Texas City-bred Brown, was utterly inhaled by the young Ray Charles, whose early recordings are blatant copies.
58. “Black Snake Blues,” Victoria Spivey, 1926. Spivey got her start playing in her dad’s string band in the Houston of 1918, and double-entendre lyrics and Spivey’s hard, nasal tone helped launch her long career with this single on the Okeh label. Four years later she would land a starring role in Hallelujah!, a musical by King Vidor and one of the first major films with an all-black cast.
57. “Skinny Legs and All,” Joe Tex, 1967. This all-time great party record from Baytown’s Tex went on to inspire psychedelic novelist Tom Robbins to pen a novel of the same name. Tex himself went on to convert to Islam, change his name to Yusuf Hazziez, enjoy a few more hits, and return to Texas (where he was a rabid Oilers fan), before dying in Navasota in 1982.
56. “Passionate Kisses,” Lucinda Williams, 1991. Went on to win a Best Country song Grammy for Mary Chapin Carpenter in 1993.
55. “To Live Is To Fly,” Cowboy Junkies, 1992. When Canadian Margo Timmins wrapped her velvet alto around this Townes Van Zandt classic, it helped win the legendary Houston songwriter a whole new generation of fans. While touring with the Junkies around this time, Van Zandt won over a portion of Generation X, thus enabling him to claim “I am the mold that grunge grew out of.”
53. “Farther on Up the Road,” Bobby “Blue” Bland, 1957. This chart-topping R&B hit for Bland was co-written by Johnny Copeland and Joe Medwick. Against Copeland’s wishes, Medwick sold the song to Duke-Peacock president Don Robey for a few hundred bucks, as was Medwick’s custom. Copeland forgave him eventually, even though the song would be recorded by Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, and James Brown, not even to mention Holly Golightly.
52. “Why Baby Why,” George Jones, 1955. Before leaving for the bright lights of Nashville and one of the most storied of country music lives, The Possum cut this borderline rockabilly smash country hit here in Houston.
51. “Let Him Roll,” Guy Clark, 1975. Johnny Cash later recorded this tale of a white port-soaked elevator man and his unrequited love for a Dallas whore. The lyric sheet shorn of music reads like a very short, tragic O. Henry story. As for the music, it most recently appeared on Guy Clark’s series of deliciously bizarre Taco Cabana commercials of a couple of years ago – the ones that found him waxing nostalgic about his grandmamma in San Antonio and longing for fajita bushes.