John Spong's Profile Photo

John Spong is a Texas Monthly senior editor who writes primarily about popular culture, and he hosts the magazine’s popular music-history podcast One by Willie. He has been nominated for three National Magazine Awards, most recently in 2021 as coeditor and lead writer on two large Willie Nelson projects: “Willie: Now, More than Ever,” a special issue that was a finalist for best single-topic issue; and “All 146 Willie Nelson Albums, Ranked,” which was nominated for best digital storytelling. He has twice won the Texas Institute of Letters’ O. Henry Award for magazine journalism—for “Holding Garmsir” (January 2009), about a month he spent with a U.S. Marine platoon fighting in Afghanistan, and for “The Good Book and the Bad Book” (September 2006), about a censorship battle at an elite private school in Austin. He is the author of A Book on the Making of Lonesome Dove, and his stories have been collected in The Best American Food Writing and The Best American Sports Writing, among others. He lives in Austin with his wife, Julie Blakeslee, and their two boys, Willie Mo and Leon.

180 Articles

Film & TV |
May 31, 2003

The Story of O

Never mind that he got kicked out of St. Mark’s and dropped out of UT, or that his line readings seem a little . . . off. Somehow, Owen Wilson is the kind of guy who gets movies made. And he gets $10 million a pop, dude.

Food & Drink |
April 30, 2003

Top Fifty

Unless otherwise noted, all places take credit cards.ABILENE: Harold’s Pit Bar-B-Q We didn’t catch pitmaster Harold Christian singing gospel songs to his customers, but we’re told that isn’t an unusual occurrence. This cozy little room, packed with nine picnic tables, seven booths, and a congregation of athletic trophies, is where

Feature |
March 1, 2003

Chasing Shadows

Why is James Evans so good at photographing the mavericks and renegades who make Big Bend one of the most interesting places on earth? Because he is one himself.

Law |
April 1, 2002

I, the Juror

As a "recovering" attorney with a mixed record at picking juries, I always wondered what made them tick. After receiving a summons this year, I'm still deliberating.

Business |
November 1, 2001

Dreade Locke

Russell Erxleben and Brian Russell Stearns were first-rate frauds who cheated scores of unsuspecting investors. So how did the prominent law firm of Locke, Liddell, and Sapp get stuck footing a $30 million bill?

Sports |
August 31, 2001

Billy “White Shoes” Johnson

In 1988, when former Houston Oiler Billy “White Shoes” Johnson ended his fourteen-year NFL career, he was the league’s all-time leading punt returner and one of only seven men to have returned four kicks for touchdowns in a single season. But despite all the juking and jetting that earned

Sports |
August 31, 2001

Randall “Tex” Cobb

On the April morning that opened the last day of shooting the Walker, Texas Ranger series finale, the center of attention was not the all-American star of the show but a retired heavyweight boxer who played a bloodthirsty galoot. Randall “Tex” Cobb had barely twenty words of scripted dialogue, but

The Culture |
July 31, 2001

Old-Fashioned Texas

Texas is changing before our eyes, but fried pies, drive-in movie theaters, and other vestiges of earlier days are all around. To find these treasures, we risked life, limb, and cholesterol count-and had a blast from the past.

Law |
July 31, 2001

The Judge, Judged

Corpus Christi's Manuel Bañales believes that some sex offenders should post warning signs in their yards. He says it's about good law; his critics say it's about good publicity.

Feature |
April 1, 2001

History in the Making

Austin's new Bob Bullock museum sports six bas-reliefs that tell the story of Texas. Here's how a sculptor and a team of artisans made them, like the museum's namesake, larger than life.

Music |
November 1, 2000

Almost Famous

For brothers Charlie and Bruce Robison, making country music safe for men again is an intriguing proposition—and a risky one because of their wives.

Music Review |
June 30, 2000

Transcendental Blues

In the fourteen years since Steve Earle released his debut LP, Guitar Town, and carved “Dwight Yoakam Eats Sushi” into an elevator wall at MCA-Nashville, he has given a generation of songwriters the courage to buck the Nashville suits. But somewhere in Earle’s well-documented war with authority (a dollar for

Feature |
April 30, 2000

Musical Marginalia

The places, people and stories behind Texas music.

Magazine Latest