Like a lot of Yankees-turned-Texans (not, of course, that it’s possible for a Yankee to ever really become a Texan), singer-songwriter Slaid Cleaves noticed when he first moved here that people take an awful lot of pride in their state. Cleaves likes Texas plenty, too—he’s made Austin his home for a little more than two decades and came here in the first place because he admired the whole Townes Van Zandt/Robert Earl Keen lineage of songcraft. Texas has been pretty good to him in return—in 1992, a year after he got here, he won the New Folk award at the Kerrville Folk Festival, an honor that had previously gone to Nanci Griffith, Steve Earle, and Keen, and he has since become a prominent figure in the state’s music scene.
Still, Texas pride is a pretty big target, and one Cleaves found irresistible to poke fun at. Why not, he figured, write a love song about being even more enamored of your sweetheart than you are of Texas—the sort of thing no real Texan would ever feel, much less say? And while you’re at it, why not see how many words or phrases you can squeeze in that rhyme with “Texas” without sounding silly? (The answer: six. Specifically, “perplexes,” “Lexus,” “multi-plexes,” “solar plexus,” “tex-mex is,” and “text us.” A couple of which, okay, are a little silly.)
The result, “Texas Love Song,” was popular even before it was offically released—amatuer video footage of Cleaves playing it live can easily be found on YouTube, and at least one fan has already posted a video cover. (Capsule review: Slaid Cleaves remains the ideal interpreter of Slaid Cleaves’s songs.) And now here, exclusively, is the official video for the song, produced by Reid Connell of Be Lie All.
“Texas Love Song” can also be found on Cleaves’s latest album, Still Fighting the War (Music Road Records), which comes out June 18. When you listen to the record you may notice it isn’t quite the same as the video version. The studio version includes some sharp dobro work from Lloyd Maines and lead guitar from Scrappy Jud Newcomb (both of whom, along with Mark Hallman, produced the record). The album also features guest turns from fellow Austinites Jimmy LaFave, Kelley McCarty, Terri Hendrix, and Eliza Gilkyson.
See, I told you Texas has been good to Slaid Cleaves.