As the 97’s celebrate the 15th anniversary of the release of Too Far To Care, I will take the opportunity to dig into my addled memory for some stories and insights. I’ll start with a track-by-track retrospective of the album’s thirteen songs. I will address them in reverse order, finishing appropriately with “Timebomb”.
Track 05 – “West Texas Teardrops”
I asked the great Murry Hammond to weigh in on “West Texas Teardrops,” his songwriting contribution to Too Far To Care. Thus he joins me in the RHETTrospective series.
Ladies and gentlemen, Murry Hammond!
For me, to talk about “West Texas Teardrops” is to talk about the great Texas yodeling cowboy singer Don Walser. Don sang that lonesome yodeling part at the end of “Old Familiar Steam” on Wreck Your Life, and over the years he became a musical hero to me.
When the idea for “West Texas” (as we in the band call it) came up, I was writing for the follow up to Wreck, but in my mind I entirely pretended that I was writing it specifically for Don to sing, in order to season it with just the right blend of light-heartedness, melody and Texas imagery. To use Don as a muse worked well, as it marked the first time I felt like I found a country music that fit my “voice”, both internally and externally. I would get to use that voice again several times in our catalogue, but “West Texas Teardrops” is when it really first showed up and the first time that I got it right.
A postscript – after I finished it, I was so excited that I actually sent Don a recording of it, hoping he’d like it enough to not only record it but add a yodel that I always suspected was lurking. Don went other directions with his music, and the idea was put on the back burner. Don’s gone now, but the muse is very much alive, and I hope to draw water from that well again.