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Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air: Legends of West Texas Music
by Christopher Oglesby
Published by the University of Texas Press:
"As a whole, the interviews create a portrait not only of Lubbock's musicians and artists, but also of the musical community that has sustained them, including venues such as the legendary Cotton Club and the original Stubb's Barbecue. This kaleidoscopic portrait of the West Texas music scene gets to the heart of what it takes to create art in an isolated, often inhospitable environment. As Oglesby says, "Necessity is the mother of creation. Lubbock needed beauty, poetry, humor, and it needed to get up and shake its communal ass a bit or go mad from loneliness and boredom; so Lubbock created the amazing likes of Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, Terry Allen, and Joe Ely."

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"Indeed, Oglesby's introduction of more than two dozen musicians who called Lubbock home should be required reading not only for music fans, but for Lubbock residents and anyone thinking about moving here. On these pages, music becomes a part of Lubbock's living history."
- William Kerns, Lubbock Avalanche Journal

Chris Oglesby Interviews
Jo Harvey Allen
Stubb's Bar-BQ
8th & Red River, Austin; 6/17/98

"When we got married, Terry said, "I don’t know what I’m gonna’ do but I can promise you it’ll be different than anybody else in this town."
And I laugh now and I say, "You’re nuts! You do exactly what everybody else from Lubbock does! Half of Lubbock are artists, musicians, writers!"
-- Jo Harvey Allen

Chris: The way I’m tryin’ to approach this story is by telling the stories of all these musical, creative people from Lubbock. Because when I bring the subject up, people are always saying to me, "You can’t really explain Lubbock unless you live there, ‘cause it’s such a weird place." So it's an attempt to answer that question of "What’s Up with Lubbock? What’s up with all these creative people that keep coming out of there?" Explaining this Lubbock phenomenon through their stories, in a narrative way.

JHA: Yea. It’s so interesting. Today…I kept thinking of that: You mentioned Thomas Wolfe earlier, and I was thinking of You Can't Go Home Again. I was thinking of that in terms of talkin’ to you today, and I was thinking, "But you do, over and over and over." Because it’s your heart. And it’s everything that made you, and that you…
Part of that was the negative fightin’ against it, y’know, "Beat it no matter what."

It’s a very strange…I just did this play in Lubbock, and it was a such an unbelievable experience for me; To go back and do a play, where it’s the first auto-biographical piece I’ve done in twenty years that had some information about myself in it. Talked about my childhood.

I did it in Lubbock, and my aunts and uncles didn’t come. I have a lot of first cousins. They didn’t come. Well, one cousin came and one aunt and uncle came…But I have tons of relatives there!

And I was tryin’ to figger… "These are people who really do care about me. They’re people that would wanta’ have lunch with me, and dinner with me, and come visit." I was thinking about "What that really was all about?"
Because I mean, I was STUNNED beyond belief that I’m doing a 90 minute, one-woman show about "these people" and "our family," and they don’t come to see it. I was so - I mean - more than upset. I was BAFFLED by that!

I kept thinkin’ about it. And I kept thinking, "I’m really have left more than I ever knew.

Chris: I just can’t even imagine that.

JHA: I started thinking, the deal is that they didn’t understand that that would be important to me to have them there; More than them saying, "Well, I wouldn’t like it," or anything. I think they didn’t even understand that because I care about them and because they’re so much a part of my life that I would want them to share that.

And I started thinkin’: That it’s really a very strange thing that we all run away and do somethin’ that we really don’t have the support for at home. It’s all so foreign to anyone who stays there in Lubbock...That they don’t really even understand it, y’know?

Chris: [Sighs] When you said that they didn’t understand it was important to you?
I don’t know…I mean, what do you think they were thinkin’? That is the reason you were in town.

JHA: I think they don’t even think about it. I think they’re so removed…

Chris: [With disbelief] Just busy with thinking about other things?

JHA: No, no, no, no!
I think they don’t really understand that you would work for three years on something on something like a play…And why would you?
It’s like this: When Terry went back to Lubbock for awhile during a period, one of my uncles said, "Well, now you’ve come home to get a real job?"
And…Terry’d been workin’ very hard. He was trying to do art but he was really workin’ hard at it; And no one saw that as "Work."

I think that’s the thing, is there’s just a misunderstanding about what you do when you leave Lubbock. It’s like "Play." It’s like you're still playin’. And it’s playing that gotchu’ into all of that; that’s true. But I think that they never go past that.
It’s like you have a "fantasy life," a "play life." And it’s not real work.

I remember when I first came back to Lubbock, when I’d come back on trips.
Of course, I didn’t feel accepted in L.A. because I was scared to death of L.A., and I was very much a small-town girl with small-town mentality.
But when I came back...And I remember wearing bell-bottoms. And I remember someone commenting that I looked like a "whore!" Because I had on bell-bottoms!
I mean, bell-bottoms were "in style" then. But it hadn’t gotten to Lubbock yet, and the only people in Lubbock that wore 'em were people that bought their clothes at real cheap discount places because they got those styles first.
I remember I was so hurt that somebody said that. And I was just "in style" at the time. [Laughs]

Chris: I wasn’t ready for you to make me all sad…

JHA: It’s just all those kinda’ things you remember, y’know?

I remember that someone asked me - and I’ll never forget this - was "Terry a queer?"
I went, "A what?"
But that was back in the "old days" when people would say things like that.

Chris: ‘Cause he did art.

JHA: Yea. Because he was "an artist."
And, y’know, in
my play I said, "Lubbock’s like India."
I really believe that it is that extreme: The paradoxes in Lubbock.
I was raised with such paradox. [Laughs] And I have to tell you this: Do you know my son Bukka?

Bukka was sittin’ on the commode when he was a little boy, and he asked me what "paradox" is. And I said, "Paradox means that, if your soccer coach says ‘nigger’ one more time, we’re gonna’ get his ass fired, and your granddaddy says it every day and we still love ‘em." [Laughs]. I certainly credit knowing "Paradox" because I was raised in Lubbock.

Chris: I think that’s the "paradox" I’m tryin’ to explain, and the only way to explain it is by talkin’ about these people from Lubbock’s story, y’know?

JHA: Yea! Because the very essence of "What I do," I got from that "story-tellin’ tradition."
When I was growing up in Lubbock, there were three books on the bookshelf in our house: There was the Emily Post etiquette, and The Bible, and The Girl Scout Handbook. Those three books were on the bookshelf…And Lady Chatterley’s Lover was in the cedar chest. And it was the most read. [Laughs] It was the most worn.

The paradox of that is: That it was such a rich heritage for story-telling and for gaining knowledge in another way. It’s just amazing!
I mean, that was exactly what it is - "Literature." It was "the Real McCoy" in a way.
It wasn’t studying it; It was doin’ it, livin’ it, bein’ it, y’know? God! It’s a complicated place!

I really think everything I did as a kid propelled me into what I do now.

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