Ray Wylie Cover

Ray Wylie Cover

Seems I’m always late to the party, as this is a 2015 imprint. Also, not available on Amazon, apparently, in defiance of typical publishing rules. Outlaws, huh.

That I am an enormous fan of Ray Wylie Hubbard, yeah, not so unusual.

He’s part of the Texas Singer/Sognwriter — whatever group. The story goes, and I’ve heard this told by other parties, from the stage — Jerry Jeff Walker to be exact — that Ray Wylie signed away the rights to “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother” in an alcoholic blackout. Standout hit on Jerry Jeff’s sophmore runaway anthem–making album, Live in Luckenbach. The rest is musical history.

Over the years, especially in the last two decades, hey, I’ve got a proto–blog entry about seeing Ray Wylie in Gruene, back, twenty years ago, or thereabouts.

The book arrived in the mail, the other day. Like I said, “Late to this party,” but his music, his poetry, has grown, deepened, and produces solace when not much else will do.

I cracked it open almost immediately and groaned. Then smirked. The intro, by Ray Wylie, is done in a certain style. The lines are carefully broken by spaces but no capital letters and no indents. Anymore, with modern tools, that’s a conscious, stylistic decision, and I only know one other modern writer who does that, another Texan from a small town, near Austin: Bubba. Same kind of style.

The book is weird. Consider the source of that comment, too. Eloquent, funny as hell, profane, and oddly syncopated in its timing, yet, Ray Wylie is obviously a gifted musician — shows up in the book’s perfect pacing.

There was a mordantly horrifying scene, invoking the apocalypse yet, I had tears from laughing.

It’s like a long story, told from the stage. Or the podium, depending on the entry and the timing. The cadence is flawless. Perfect beat. It’s that Texas Twang/Folk Rock/Red Dirt/Folk/Austin–Sound/Red Dirt Rock/Texana that is now classified as “Americana.” Only this is book form.

As the author, he covers a tremendous amount of terrain that I’ve covered, too. East Texas. South Texas. North Texas. Austin. At first, I thought this book would only appeal to a certain crowd, but it’s amazing material. Early on, the sense that the frontier for Texas? Keep pushing westward. New Mexico?

The style alternates between cleaned up prose, clearly Ray Wylie’s words, but cleaned up. Punctuated, spaced, indented, proper. Then there are snippets, raw, in-between notes, no caps. No indents. Amazing material. Appears as a stream of consciousness prose.

Lyrics are inter spaced throughout. One song, I know the lyrics, almost by heart, and reading them, or really, rereading them, in the book, still made me teary. There is an understated elegance, slightly elegiac, and yet, looking forward.

Why this book is not more widely available, I don’t know. Oh, right, he’s just a regional singer–songwriter. Folks not from around here lack the background to appreciate the tales. Yeah, that must be it. Good writing, whether it’s poetry, lyrics, liner notes, or shortened road tales, all of that, good writing transcends its apparent topic.

I know Ray Wylie is a Scorpio of a certain vintage — I asked before he went on stage one time — and that’s where the Scorpio Myth is enhanced. Wry, dry, at times bleakly, darkly comic, and his delivery — harder to emulate in print — is amazing. Wit, verve, class, and at times, low–down.

that’s great advice, ray. you a most brilliant cat. Page 138.

Conversations, it’s like a conversation with some rough edges.

I’ve come to regard Ray Wylie Hubbard as a “Below the Radar” superstar. In the final pages of the book, for any aspiring musician, there’s the secret to the blues guitar, like making a deal with the devil at the crossroads, only, doesn’t cost a soul, just the price of the book. Yeah, and you got to read the book. Something about an E chord missing a third. I really didn’t get that part.

As he writes?

I prefer the scruffy poet kind: those that are condemned by the gods to write. Page 159.

The only place I’ve found the book is on the the website: RayWylie.com.

Ray Wylie Cover image.

Loco Gringo’s Lament

Loco Gringos Lament – Ray Wylie Hubbard

The Ruffian’s Misfortune

The Ruffian’s Misfortune – Ray Wylie Hubbard

Viva Terlingua

Viva Terlingua (Live) – Jerry Jeff Walker

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