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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

"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

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Lubbock Then and Lubbock Now
by Johnny Hughes, author of the novel Texas Poker Wisdom.
February 2008

Lubbock Then and Lubbock Now

The chosen Lubbockians interviewed by Chris Oglesby recall a wonderful and unique place, but equally a time period that will never come again. In the mid-fifties, at the very dawn of Rock 'n Roll, I went to High School with Buddy Holly and heard him play live. In a couple of years there, I saw the greats of Rock 'n Roll without leaving Lubbock: Fats Domino, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and Elvis Presley. Elvis played Lubbock five times before he got very famous, mostly the Cotton Club, but also the Quinn Connelly Pontiac show room and the Fair Park. However, every thing about those memories are as much the times as they are the place.

In the late 1960s, early 1970s, Hippie Daze, Lubbock had a large, vibrant hippie culture. Texas Tech had a protest group like every other college. My old compadres from the Catalyst, Lubbock's counter-culture, underground newspaper of those times, have been writing some memoir things about the times. Again, it was the times and the place. The Catalyst alums want Lubbock or Texas Tech to erect a plaque to honor them and the war protesters in Lubbock. That will happen about the same time the Tooth Fairy marries Paris Hilton.

As some non-Texas songwriter said, "The times they are a'changing."

Here's a bit about how I find Lubbock now. In Lubbock, I can observe the passing of Texas culture as a constant process of sad change. As I leave the house, I can go West to the Starbucks, University, Medical district, chain restaurant, Mall, and newer parts of town and streets that look like any other medium size town. The older family owned businesses close and generic anywhere America replaces it. The horse auction even closed.

I can go East to the blue collar parts of town where the restaurant has native Texas food, clothing, language, and a certain laid back humorous attitude. At the Ranch House, people eat with their hats on most of which are gimme with cowboy hats in the minority. The men have enormous amounts of stuff in their shirt pockets, pens, papers, contracts. Older ladies still have big big hair. On the West side of town, people are ambitious, faster paced, more stressed, serious, and road raged. Most are on cell phones or wishing they were. Folks leave each other alone.

At the Ranch House, the pace is slower and it is o.k., even expected that you converse with strangers in certain comforting rituals, "You working hard or hardly working?"

"Is is cold enough for you?" Some stranger asks in the friendliest manner. Any answer will do.

On the older side of town, a cheese omelet, whole wheat toast and coffee is four bucks. At Starbuck's, most uptight yuppies drop four bucks for custom coffee.

It's like in the University/Medical area, the worker bees are all becoming something or writing a resume for the future. At the Ranch House or the Truck Stop, folks are already what they are. They appear happier. They don't appear as healthy. They don't appear as well off financially but they have their life and it is all right with them.

I've always noticed that my heavily West Texas poker pals laugh and joke all through the day and like each other. We celebrate Texas but all that is passing. My former academic colleagues were nearly all from the Midwest, a humorless, boring group that always badmouthed Texas. None ever leave, tenure being so forgiving.

The small towns hold on to Texas food, language, and values in such a way that they are ten years behind if you call it behind.

I'll head for breakfast at the truck stop where I'll be observing the hats, and the howdies and the ,"Can I hep' yew?" Folks will be reading the paper and taking their time and drinking too much coffee. I do so love Texas but I am afraid that much of what is so special about Texas culture is fading away. It is hard for the new folks to tell the fake Texas culture from the real. Whatever you do, don't wise up or wake up the Yankees that keep moving here.

Johnny Hughes is the author of the novel Texas Poker Wisdom.
also by Johnny Hughes: "Johnny Moss" - "Old 186" - "Titanic Thompson and Son" - Hard Luck Harry & the Owl - George McGann

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