FIFTY DAYS OF ‘MERICA-MAS
State Thirty-One: Texas
We left off with Santa, so let’s tip the Ten Gallon to “Santa Got Lost in Texas” by Michael Landon from the Christmas at the Ponderosa album. Love the shots of the cast square dancing during the show. (Redneck Carollers do a better version iffen you like the music.)(Iffen you don’t check out all the awful karaoke versions that i will not help you find.)
Speaking of weird, Shelley King belts out a mean “Christmas in Austin.” (Austin=weird, not her.) King’s voice is smoky and her guitar is beat within an inch of its life, but the whole thing is a little white bread for me.
LB Higginbotham sings “Happy 100th Christmas Lubbock, Texas.” It pokes folky style with Spanish guitar and breathy soul. Heartfelt and sad.
For a more earthy (if white honky tonk is earthy) carol check out “White Christmasses in Houston” from Branded Duo. Fiddle–check, bass–check, guitar–check, smart aleck Southern wit–check. This one’s got it all.
Prettier and more mainstream is “Dallas Christmas” by Tim Halperin. So this is what happens to American Idol castoffs.
“San Antonio Christmas” by Randy Carroll is just a sad rehash of Amy Grant’s “Tennessee Christmas” with only the name changed to protect the creativity. (Is San Antone Exactly Like TN??)
El Paso’s KLAQ morning show did a funny a few years back about a news story that went national: mostly undressed homeless man squatting under a bridge getting evicted by the city. Their holiday tribute may be observed by ‘tubing “Naked Cave Man.”
The Big Deal for the state is “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas” popularized by George Strait. It’s pop country and not my cuppa tea. The video i ‘tubed was a laughable garden party where he’s lipsyncing (badly) & gladhanding all the GOBs and blue hairs like he’s running for Favorite Son. Yeargh.
Asleep at the Wheel is more trad country and their truckin’ and drinkin’ “Christmas in Texas” (w/Kevin Fowler) is more authentic–even with that flashy pee-yanner.
Texas Latino does a stirring version of the most comprehensive Texas Xmas anthem “Christmas in Texas.” The name dropping is matched only by the slide guitar.
On the amateur homefront, David Higginbotham fronts his own “Christmas in Texas” as a missing you love paean. This modest, self-parodying honest effort is more fun than most of the overproduced trying-too-hard Big State stuff.
John Evans Band does a 180 with their”Christmas Time in Texas.” But, while their younger music borders on alt honky tonk the song devolves, hilariously, into a Lone Star commercial.
Dale Watson plays it straight with “Christmas Time in Texas” (from the movie Angels Sing), then turns it around with “Hot Texas Christmas Day.” They’re both fine, fine fine… better guitar than lyric.
More formulaic and corporately Christian is Dan Schafer (Christmas Across America) with “On This Texas Christmas.” Rock country fun for everyone in general and no one in particular.
Pushing the comedy envelope, Dr Elmo sings “Texas Chainsaw Christmas.” It’s what you think.
And i know Robert Earl Keene’s “Merry Christmas From the Family” is set in Texas, but the title don’t say so.
Let’s get back to talent: When i think TX i think cowboy and ranger and hardy soul and big talker… sounds like Gene Autry to me! Now his “The Night Before Christmas (In Texas, That Is)” should be a classic played more than anything else here. And I shoulda picked that to make sure my selection was out of the ordinary. But I’m going with “Merry Texas Christmas You All,” which captures the clime, the time, and the sublime. Sure, Asleep at the Wheel, Michael Martin Murphy, Ernest Tubb, The Cones Sisters, Ranch House Favorites, Elton Britt and the Beaver Valley Sweethearts, and more have sung the Sweet Jesus out of this cornpone, but I gotta stay with that kerchief wearin’ Hollywood horseman Grover Orvon. Fake cowboy? Okay! American success story? Smile for the camera and say ‘Christmas icon millionaire!’ That’s what Texas means to me.