Happy Songs from Rattlesnake Gulch

Happy Songs from Rattlesnake Gulch
This one is an old album, copyright says 2007, from Austin’s Joe Ely. Not a native, he’s originally from Lubbock, and a founding member of the Flatlanders, whose album, “More a myth than band,” kind of sums up that story.

Seen him live a number of times, on stage, but also ran into Joe Ely, never bothered him, but I’d see him getting coffee, or at a movie theater. Liked his book, poetry and verse, the king of the lords of the highway.

His song about Billy the Kid, he made it up because he didn’t think the original myth lived up to his own expectations, at least I think I read that someplace, and his version of Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s “Ever see Dallas from DC 9 at night?” Two, maybe more songs that add serious background as soundtracks to my life. Real deal, part-rocker, part folk, part just plain Texas music. Certainly one of the “Lords of the Highway,” that’s for sure.

In a half-price bookstore, the chain, they also carry “records,” and music of various stripes. This was a remaindered album, CD, on top of the stacks, $4.99 new/used. Not in one of the other stores, either, just this one. Between times, and the used bookstores are almost as much fun as the news ones, some days.

“Joe Ely? $4.99? I’ll take it.”

Didn’t get a chance to listen to until after the weekend was over. Slipped it in the computer, ripped the tracks to iTunes, then started playing it. Immediately, I put the whole album on my phone and iPad. I don’t know why I put musical tracks on the iPad, no reason, never listen to it.

I’m guessing this wasn’t a hugely successful album, not a commercial success. It’s great music, though. He’s in form with tight lyrics, and one tune starts out with a celtic tone, then in swings a squeezebox, and it’s not “Austin” music, it’s more TexMex. Fits the lyrics, too, which speaks to his skill as an artist.

Perfect for fans of Texas music, good for people with an ear for folk/country/rock with no apologies. Running into him on the streets of Austin? More of the fun stuff.

Since I bought the album at the discount, it was probably never a huge commercial success. Doesn’t make it any less of a milestone in whatever it is.

About the author: Born and raised in East Texas, Kramer Wetzel, settled in a South Austin trailer park before trailer parks were cool. He now lives in San Antonio, Texas.