He’s About a Mover

Doug Sahm's brand of music is fun, funky, fundamental — Nexttime you leave home pack Texas Tornado next to your boots.

The old friend who’d arrived out of the blue an hour before was
standing now on the small landing outside my front door. He was
confused. His head bowed with uncertainty while his neck tensed with
determination. After 20 years of trying, he’d just left his old home
state. “I hate Texas,” he said. “I never want to hear about Texas again.
Texas has ruined my life.” It was a chorus he’d repeated several times
during his visit, but he’d stopped just out the door to say it again as
if a moment’s relenting or a single false step would be the crack in his
shell through which he’d fall all the way back to San Antonio. “We’ll go
drink beer,” he said, finally trudging down the flight of stairs that
led to my flat, “but none of this sentimental lollygagging about when we
knew each other in Texas.”

I didn’t see him for quite a while after that, but from what I heard
he was starting to tempt fate. He took to calling old buddies and older
girlfriends who were still living back in the forbidden territory. He
wore cowboy boots to a party. He was going to write a book about Texas
bluesmen. Six months later, when we finally ended up drinking beer
together, the midnight hour found us lollygagging sentimentally about
Texas. My friend had been listening to Mendicino, then the latest album
by the Sir Douglas Quintet, a group led by Doug Sahm.

“All those songs about leaving Texas,” he moaned. “They were the
ones that started me calling everybody. How am I supposed to listen to a
song called ‘Lord, I’m Just a Country Boy in this Great Big Freaky City’
and not get homesick?” I sure didn’t know the answer to that one.

“You can’t just leave Texas,” he went on, “the way you can just
leave Idaho.” He started talking about another song called “Texas Me.”
He stopped to guzzle what must have been his hundredth beer and before I
knew it was letting fly with the chorus in a scratchy voice that swooped
unpredictably from bass to tenor:

“Now I’m up here in Sausileeeeto
Wonderin’ where I
oughtta beeeeee;
And I wonder what happened to that maaaaan
inside,
The real old Texas meeeeeee.”

He slumped down in his chair, glancing quickly right and left to see
if anyone were staring. I had filled his mug from our pitcher. He
wrapped both hands around the mug, squeezing it so hard his knuckles
turned white. “I don’t need goddamn Doug Sahm to tell me about leaving
Texas,” he said, “but he sure as hell knows what it’s like.”

His whole body tensed and for a moment I thought he might crush the
mug with

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