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Texas Matters: Texas Music In The Oxford American

The Oxford American is a national magazine dedicated to featuring the best in Southern writing while documenting the complexity and vitality of the American South.  Each December the magazine is dedicated to the music of a southern state and this year Texas gets its turn. It can be ordered online at www.oxfordamerican.org.

The editor of the Oxford American Roger Hodge told us about the process.


Texas is rich with great song writers who didn’t find massive global fame but minted hits for others.  Guy Clark fits into that category. He won a Grammy this year for best folk album for “My Favorite Picture Of You.” But he has been producing records since 1975 and is seen as a songwriter’s songwriter. Tamara Saviano writes in the Oxford American that Guy Clark is actually an old school poet.


Naomi Shihab Nye reads her poem, ‘We Always Needed You’ and elaborates on her encounter with Townes Van Zandt, which inspired the poem.


Although he wasn’t born and raised in Texas – Daniel Johnston is considered a Texas songwriter and performer because he is so closely associated with Austin. He rose to fame in the 1980s with his unusual songs and strange behavior, and was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.  Louis Black, the founder of South By Southwest and the co-founder and editor of the Austin Chronicle, says Johnston speaks to Austin because it’s the only city where Johnston could have been discovered and celebrated.


When you think about legendary Texas musicians you may not immediately think of Little Joe – but perhaps you should. Little Joe y la Familia have been performing around the state for over 50 years and defining the Latin sounds also known as Tejano. Writer and journalist Michelle Garcia says Little Joe and other Tejano and conjunto musicians are part of the Land of Texas.


David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi