Butch Hancock West Texas Waltzes & Dust-Blown Tractor Tunes
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- by The Flatlanders ~ The Odessa Tapes (CD + DVD) ~ $22.48
- Released: June 1, 1999
- Label: Rainlight Records
- 1.Dry Land Farm
- 2.Where the West Winds... Have Blow'd
- 3.You've Never Seen Me Cry
- 4.I Wish I Was Only Workin'
- 5.Dirt Road Song
- 6.West Texas Waltz
- 7.They Say It's a Good Land
- 8.I Grew to Be a Stranger
- 9.Texas Air
- 10.Little Coyota Waltz
- 11.Just One Thunderstorm
Personnel: Butch Hancock (vocals, guitar, harmonica).
Audio Mixer: Lloyd Maines.
Recording information: Duck Tape Studio (1978).
While Sugar Hill released two fine collections of Butch Hancock's recordings in 1989 and 1993, they only scratched the surface of a rich mother lode of Americana music. Recorded in 1978, West Texas Waltzes represents the debut of a talented wordsmith whose folk tunes seem to sprout naturally from Western farmland. Stripped-down arrangements, featuring no more than an acoustic guitar and harmonica, underline the bare land and harsh winds of these songs. On "Dry Land Farm," Hancock evokes Woody Guthrie and early Dylan as he plumbs the depths of the history of the American farmer. "Where the West Winds...Have Blow'd" follows, developing the twin themes of a person's relationship to the land and responsibility to it. The West Texas land is hard and unforgiving as "Dirt Road Song" notes, but the rewards, as in "They Say It's a Good Land," balance out the equation. Hancock also doesn't mind subtly passing on a bit of Guthrie-esque politics in "I Grew to Be a Stranger," or writing a love song to his native state, "Texas Air." While these songs sound "serious," Hancock's rough-hewn vocals and clever, down to earth lyrics deliver pieces like "West Texas Waltz" with a joyous gusto. He may have a point to make, but he's going to have fun making it. Indeed, everything works together to create an understated, though powerful, vision of American life, leaving the listener with a taste of dust in his or her mouth. Since Hancock's debut was released on his own Rainlight Records in a musical genre (folk or country-folk) outside the mainstream, it never had the impact of an album like The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. Nonetheless, West Texas Waltzes must have seemed like the freshest of breezes to the handful of people who heard it back in 1978. Even today, none of the album's power is diminished. This is simply Americana music at its finest. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford Jr.
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