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We're All Texas Playboys Now
by Jerome Weeks 23 May 2011

The Texas House voted to make Western swing the state’s official music — and the ceremonial resolution has already passed the Senate.


The Texas House voted to make Western swing the state’s official music. It was unanimous — and the ceremonial resolution has already passed the Senate.

As the AP report (below) indicates, Rep. Doug Miller sang “I saw miles and miles of Texas” by Bob Wills — as opposed to say, “I’m a Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas.” Yes, that song was originally written by Phil Baxter, but on the Wills/Playboys cover you can hear him exclaim, “We’re all swinging now!”

Funny. No one proposed “psychedelic rock” as Texas’ official music — in honor of Roky Erikson and the 13th Floor Elevators, the first group (in 1965) to advertise themselves as psychedelic rock, the first to use the term on an album jacket.

What do you mean, what about the state’s budget problems?

Associated Press:

Texas lawmakers have declared western swing the state’s official music with a mini-hoedown on the House floor.

Rep. Doug Miller donned a cowboy hat and crooned, “I saw miles and miles of Texas,” while Reps. Sid Miller and Charles “Doc”Anderson, stomped their feet to the beat.

The ceremonial resolution passed unanimously Monday and had already passed the Senate. It means lawmakers gave the nod to such western swing pioneers as Bob Willis over a parade of other homegrown hit-makers, including everyone from Hank Williams to the Dixie Chicks.

A sub-genre of country that originated in the 1920s and 30s, western swing is an up-tempo dance sound that mixes pop and jazz with a string section, and can feature elements of fiddle and

  • Paula Jungman

    It’s funny how folks preceive this disignation. What would you have written when the Bluebonnet was chosen as the floral symbol and our culture? lol Wow the primroses were this or that. lol What a symbol is, is about our culture and heritage. Now folks you have to admit that’s not as news worthy as comparing apples to oranges, or rock n roll to hip hop. But, what other music would have been created here in Texas and made such a cultural statement better than the music that was voted in this past May. With Historic dance halls and house dances as apart of our culture would you have chosen psychedelic rock to go along with that? Would another be more appropriate? How about the fact this is the first and only genre developed in Texas? Would that have made a difference in what is written or discussed? I guess that wouldn’t have been so much fun to write about.

  • Jerome Weeks

    Texas blues. Created by Blind Lemon Jefferson — with a long tradition running through T-Bone Walker, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

  • Paula Jungman

    It’s not about who, but about the genre. We’ll always think of Bob Wllls but it’s not about that it’s about once again the culture of music and dancing in Texas. This Texas thing is very unique to Texas.

    Western Swing Music is multi-faceted, all encompasing music.

  • Jerome Weeks

    My quip about Roky Erikson was intended as a joke — to lighten the rather self-important idea of declaring an ‘official state music’ — when, in fact, Texas swing was created as a funtime dance music with such noble songs as “I’m a Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas” and with often tongue-in-cheek practitioners keeping it alive, such as Asleep at the Wheel and Alvin Crow and the Pleasant Valley Boys.

    But you stated that Texas swing is “the first and only genre developed in Texas” — when it isn’t. Texas blues has an older and, I would argue, richer tradition. (A great deal of rock and roll guitar playing descends from T-Bone Walker.)

    It hardly matters, though. Texas swing has been more commercial, more popular — because Hollywood picked it up.

  • Paula Jungman

    Hollywood and California for that matter forgot about Western Swing. Which was taken to them by Bob Wills and adopted by Spade Cooley who thought, lol, that he was king of western swing.

    Blues wasn’t created in Texas, maybe we put our twist on it though.

    Bob took this to Tulsa when Pappy wouldn’t let him play in Texas.
    Thanks to KVOO Tulsa for making Western Swing wider known through its 50,000 watts. That’s what brought it to national attention for Hollywood to take interest in and promoter Foreman to build those giant dance halls to draw our troups to during WWII.
    As far as, tunes go, there’s nothing better than Faded Love, San Antonio Rose, Maiden’s Prayer, Take Me Back to Tulsa, Time Changes Everything, to name a few that have been recorded multiple times by many who prowdly say they were and are influenced by this music.

    This genre represents our culture well.

  • Jerome Weeks

    Actually, Texas may well have been one of the originating spots for the blues. See Alan Govenar’s book, Texas Blues, or you can read about it here: http://artandseek.net/2009/01/14/texas-blues-part-1-a-new-oral-history/

    At any rate, Texas blues was certainly created in Texas and it is a distinctive tradition, older than Western swing — beginning, as it did, with Blind Lemon Jefferson who, in the mid-1920s, was the first male blues guitarist to achieve national fame. From there, we go to such masters as Charlie Christian and T-Bone Walker, who revolutionized electric guitar-playing, Leadbelly, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Lowell Fulson, Albert Collins, Big Mama Thornton, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Janis Joplin and, of course, Johnny Winter, Delbert McClinton and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

    Collectively, they’ve given us such standards as, oh, “Hound Dog,” “Stormy Monday” (covered by just about everybody), “Goodnight Irene” (ditto), “Mean Old World,” “Black Snake Moan,” “Midnight Special,” “Matchbox Blues,” “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” (covered by Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead and Peter Paul and Mary, among others), “Ball and Chain” (Big Mama Thornton’s, covered by Janis Jopln), “Piece of My Heart,” “Pride and Joy” and “Couldn’t Stand the Weather.” That’s mostly off the top of my head; there are more. And considering such songs as “Trinity River Blues,” “Deep Ellum Blues,” “Dallas Blues” and “Texas Flood,” Texas blues has certainly reflected the history and culture of the state.