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Sunday, March 01, 2015

The Birth of Tex Mex: A Cautionary Tale

I'm pretty sure when God created the heavens and the Earth, Doug Sahm was already there, eating the apple and busking. It's not often that you see creators just hanging around together like that. Doug Sahm invented Tex-Mex music. God invented everything else except school committees, which were that other fellow's bailiwick.


Little Dougie was the center of a galaxie of 500 planets over there in a bargain bin universe. It had comets like Roy Head and Freddy Fender and Bob Dylan whizzing through it, and Doug gave birth to Tex-Mex via the AM radio canal. He was a kid country star until Hank Williams died without finishing the song they were playing. The powers that be wanted him to be on the Grand Ole Opry, but his mother who loved him wanted him to finish junior high school first so forget it. Moms are wise in this regard.

Then he became a British Invasion band called the Sir Douglas Quintet, performing a flanking maneuver outa Houston that took America by fog, if not storm, exactly. Errybody was messcan except him, and the record label wanted them to dress like the Dave Clark Five and pretend to be from Sheffield, but Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck had rented all the frilly tuxes and he had to look for work again.

Some other stuff happened so he moved to Sweden, which could happen to anyone that's not paying attention, really. He became the biggest-selling recording star there, but he couldn't tell anyone because who could he tell in Sweden that he was big in Sweden? Then he had an accident and moved to Canada, which is about the same thing according to my grandfather. Then he moved back to Texas, went to New Mexico, and fell asleep and never woke up. New Mexico has that effect on people. It's right on the license plate and everything.

5 comments:

Larry Geiger said...

Oh my gosh, what in the world was that? Ok, they couldn't find a mic for the drummer so they assigned the organ guy the percussion line. Paper cups on the Steinway? That's bad form and bad taste. The dancing girl in the white T-shirt was entertaining. Not quite as bad as Bob Dylan, but close.

Sam L. said...

When I lived in NM, I had to brush the enchantment outa my car every morning.

Gringo said...

It's not often that you see creators just hanging around together like that. Doug Sahm invented Tex-Mex music.

Don't know what you'd call his music, but Doug Sahm took from all he was exposed to,and added his own special magic. Growing up in San Antonio, Doug Sahm was exposed every day to Tejano music, such as Santiago Jimenez's Ay Te Dejo En San Antonio. [I 'm leaving you in San Antonio.] Tejano music borrowed the accordion and polka from the German and Czech immigrants to Central Texas in the 19th century. What is called Norteña [Northern] music in Mexico is an import from the US- the accordions and polka of Norteña music came straight from the Czech and German immigrants to Texas.

Flaco Jimenez, one of Santiago Sr.'s two accordion-playing sons, has played with Dwight Yoakum and with Doug Sahm. Streets of Bakersfield features Flaco Jimenez, Dwight Yoakum, and Buck Owens.

Here the Texas Tornadoes, with Doug Sahm, Flaco Jimenez, Freddie Fender & Augie Meyers et al perform Soy de San Luis. [I'm From San Luis] And the songs keep rolling.

Doug Sahm's eclecticism is a natural product of the mix of cultures in Texas. Similarly, Bob Wills combined folk music [what his parents played- not what Pete Seeger played], blues, pop music and jazz into Western Swing. Hybridization comes naturally to Texas music.

Gringo said...

Larry Geiger
Oh my gosh, what in the world was that? Ok, they couldn't find a mic for the drummer so they assigned the organ guy the percussion line.

Organ as percussion is also done in Wooly Bully, by Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs. Sam, a.k.a. Domingo "Sam" Samudio, is a Hispanic from Dallas. Must be a Texas thing, or a Tejano thing.

Sam L. said...

What the drummer's wearing is neither Tex nor Mex.

Sam the Sham (a favorite of mine, like Yosemite Sam) was in Roy Orbison's only movie, The Fastest Guitar In The West, as "First Expressman" (non-speaking part).