(Note: c.f., Taurus)
kramerwetzel.com is a special place where I cover material that doesn’t fit in the astrology category, doesn’t fit in the business, doesn’t fit in any particular category. Part fiction, part prose, part confessional. This one is about Texas Music.
I lost my father not quite a year ago. Covered the details elsewhere. The memory goes back further, though. It’s about music. About the impact of a song, the impression that a series of events, one on top of another, colliding in my memories, and touched by sights, sites, and sounds.
Many years ago, I was dealing with my father’s business. I was brought in as a “hail Mary,” and one that didn’t really work. Too little, too late. I was, at the time, struggling with work. There’s never enough to cover to all the bills, and I was riding a train to and from Austin and Dallas. It’s, like, a six-hour ride. Lots of time. August. It was hot out. One of those muggy days in Dallas, the heat is like a warm, wet, wool sweater, just sticks to everything. Smells bad. After a briefly heated discussion, I was dismissed by my father and as we parted, I didn’t even rate a “good bye.” Not for that parting. It hurt. I wandered downtown, from his office, a backpack with a laptop, a pack of smokes, and a few items stuffed into the bag. Train was running late.
It hurt. There was nothing more that I could do, it was that loss, a break in communication between parent and child, and a whole saddlebag of business-related debt with no easy options.
At one stage in my growing up process, I’d adopted a “cosmic cowboy” affectation. It wasn’t until later that I attended a school that had a rodeo team. No, I don’t ride. No, I don’t rodeo. But I’ve been around those who do, in earnest. Part of that included a certain radio station that played that type of music. I heard Steve Fromholtz’s “Texas Trilogy” over and over. Etched in my memories.
So I was on the train, the rhythm of the rails, click-clack. The train passed on the trestle spanning the Brazos River, muddy and red. Like one song. (“Front Porch Song,” REK, Lyle Lovett, et al.)
From that song, to another, the “Texas Trilogy,” and then the echo, either Steve Fromholtz’s original version, a later version by him, or the one off Lyle Lovett’s album. I had in mind, at the time, as the train rolled over the Brazos bridge, I looked to the west.
The song, one part of the triptych, mentions a train, and there it was, passing on the side of the rail line, an abandoned train station, a few old stores, again, abandoned and boarded up.
What it felt like, thirty years crashing into itself, maybe like a black hole, collapsing in itself?
As it was then, when I was on that train ride, it was marginally cheaper than flying, but not by much. Took longer, for sure. Train station in Austin was walking distance of home. Could’ve walked to the Austin airport, too, just would’ve taken a whole day. That walk home, though that evening, summer sky wheeling overhead, the lyrics from the song bouncing around, me, wondering, what happened, what could I have done better?
Around the same point in my life, I got to see Steve Fromholtz, out, under the stars, on a midsummer’s eve, and he did his most recent version of his old classic. There was a more hopeful sound than the the frankly elegiac quality that the Lyle Lovett version invokes.
That train just don’t stop here no more.