Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's 53 miles to Laredo, but it's 153 miles back.

I have always said there are two types of hunting guests. Most are like Charlie Robison and they immediately grasp the concept of 53 miles to Laredo and 153 miles back, but some are like The Rooster and they never do. I guess it's one of those things that you either get or you don't.

Of all of the border towns in Texas, Laredo has been the most celebrated in music and literature. There is a good reason reason for this. For generations, trips across the border have been a right of passage into manhood for many young men in South Texas. Ranch hands, hunters, frat boys, even high flying bankers are part of countless stories that involve crossing the border in Laredo and enjoying the thrills found in Nuevo Laredo. Regardless of who you are, the fun begins when you cross that international bridge.

Unfortunately, the trouble caused by the narco-terrorists in Mexico has spilled over into Nuevo Laredo and spoiled this fun for everyone. Most of the bars and shops in Nuevo Laredo have closed. I have not been across the border in over 6 years. Until I hear that my friends in Laredo are going again, you will not find me over there.

In the old days, a road trip from the hunting camp to the Cadillac Bar was part of the South Texas hunting experience. Once at the Cadillac, it was a quick run over to Boy's Town, which has been called the adult equivalent of Disneyland. I will refrain from further discussion of Boy's Town, since this is a family blog.

Laredo has been mentioned in many songs. Cowboy's Lament (Streets of Laredo) has been covered by many artists including Johnny Cash, Joan Baez, Chet Adkins and Marty Robbins. This is the Marty Robbins version which is my favorite:

Streets of Laredo

Willie Nelson’s great song Me and Paul has a verse about Laredo. Here is a live version from a Kris Kristofferson show:

Me and Paul

Doug Sahm recorded a song with the Texas Tornadoes called Laredo Rose which was a big hit. A few friends of Doug invested in the session that produced the song. When Laredo Rose became a big hit, we thought that we would be entitled to some of the profits. Later we heard that the hit wasn't the version of the song that we had invested in. Welcome to the music business.

Here is Laredo Rose

A song by Charlie Robison on his album Good Times mentions Nuevo Laredo and one of the most famous tourist attractions of Boy's Town. It is a very unique little club called Dallas Cowboys. I have told Charlie several time that I never thought I would hear a song that mentions that club on a major label release. Thanks to Charlie to keep this South Texas tradition alive. Have a listen to

New Year's Day.

It was an incident on the International Bridge in Laredo that led to a jail term for Timothy Leary. In December of 1965, Leary attempted to cross into Mexico from Laredo. After being refused entry into Mexico, he returned on the bridge to the United States. At the check point, marijuana was found in his car and Leary was arrested. In 1966, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


On Sunday night, I watched the 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert on HBO. The four hour show featured performances from the two shows at Madison Square Garden. There was a lot of very good music that gave me an number of ideas for the blog.

Jeff Beck, who was a substitute for Eric Clapton, was excellent. Eric had an medical emergency and was unable to play at the last minute. Watching Jeff Beck play made me think about this classic album.

Truth was released in August of 1968. That fall I was a prisoner at the Pottstown School for Wayward Boys. I can remember listening to Truth with Neil Ayer in his room in Upper School. We were listening to a lot of guitar based blues and hard rock at that time. Jimi Hendrix, Cream and later Blind Faith were big on our playlists. This album from Jeff Beck fit nicely with that group.

The players on this album included Jeff Beck (guitar), Rod Stewart (vocals) Micky Waller (drums), and Ronnie Wood (Bass). There were also contributions from Nicky Hopkins, Keith Moon, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones.

The album features Beck's excellent guitar and Stewart's vocals, which were never better. The track list is an eclectic mix of original songs and some nice covers including Willie Dixon's You Shook Me and I Ain't Superstitious. Here are two of my favorite cuts from the album:

Truth is available on iTunes and from Amazon.