Counting our Texas Sesquicentennial issue, in January 1986, and our own twentieth and twenty-fifth anniversary issues, in February 1993 and 1998, respectively, this issue marks only the fourth time we have given ourselves over completely to one theme. Once the idea took root, we began to wonder how it could be that we hadn’t done it before. Texas is united by history, by climate, and by political boundaries, but nothing unites us as music does.

Which is an imponderable paradox, since music is so diverse. To like Texas music is to like country, blues, rock and roll, jazz, tejano, western swing, norteño, cowboy ballads, corridos, polkas, zydeco, fiddle, gospel, and every other strain and style that can be made with strings, horns, reeds, and the human voice. But whatever form the music takes, it doesn’t require a sophisticated ear to recognize immediately, “Hey, that’s from Texas.”

The subject is so huge, of course, that we couldn’t hope to cover it all. The people and the stories we had to leave out could have filled whole issues of their own. But we tried to strike as many notes as possible. From Joe Nick Patoski’s Behind the Lines — an 1,800-word riff on what Texas music is — to Anne Dingus’ Texas Primer — a remembrance of Stevie Ray Vaughan — we’ve tried to be both broad and deep, fun and profound. Just like Texas music itself.