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has much to do with how this book was written, as music has always had much to
do with my life. When I am alone, conducting boots-on-the-ground research,
certain songs go through my mind, often repeatedly. Many of these have been
around for generations, some go back a century or more. Each in turn is
enduring, much like the land I have used them to describe.
Golindrina” Pedro Infante (With words)
Raffy Lata (Instrumental)
Way has a theme song, it is this one. In fact, the lyrics start the book. I
stated how some of these songs go back a century or more, and this sad Mexican
ballad has roots that go back even further than that. Several of the songs I
have selected come from across the border because things Mexican helped shaped
the culture of the Big Bend much like contributing Anglo influences. In
truth, they do not clash as much as complement each other.
cannot do any song list about any part of the Lone Star State without including
a Bob Wills tune. Of the many that he and the Texas Playboys did, this has to
be one of the most memorable. Waylon Jennings was right; when you cross
that ol’ Red River, Bob Wills is still the king.
Laurie/Bad Half Hour” Don
man who has ever pulled night guard or patrol can understand this song about
the lost loves and “could have beens” instinctively. Such sentiments loom large
at times when alone and in spots like Fresno Canyon or along Terlingua Creek.
Treinta-Treinta” Charro Avitia
tune is my favorite of the Mexican Revolution era. Anyone who has ever felt the
balance of a Winchester ʼ94 and jacked the lever on it
understands why someone would write a song about this weapon. “La carabina
treinta-treinta” is one of the most popular rifles ever produced, and most
experienced folks on either side of the river well know why.
Mexican Revolution song with many versions, but I prefer the Cuco Sanchez
recording. In the decade of 1910-1920, the Mexican people not only
suffered through the brutalities of an almost genocidal war, but also the trio
of pale horsemen representing drought, starvation, and epidemic. No one really
knows how many died during those years, and when you hear a song like ‘La
Adelita,’ you think of the individual hope, and grief, of those who were caught
up from all sides.
Color” Jamey Johnson
has long been my estimation that if one desires to know where they are going,
they first need to know where they came from. This is a mantra repeated
throughout Destiny’s Way for more than one character in the book, as
well as a philosophy for the story as a whole. This song, speaking so
eloquently of the past of one man, illustrates why this is so.
song to the movie El Dorado George
adaptation of the poem of the same name, this song, along with some spectacular
accompanying paintings, serves as one of the finest intros to any Western movie
ever. Listen to the words carefully and picture yourself moving along the
Dodson Trail below the highest points of the Chisos. I’ve been there, with
that same song running through my head.
En El Rancho Grande”
favorite of my grandfather’s, they just about wore out the record in the old
jukebox at the Lajitas Trading Post. Most of the selections contained therein
were Mexican in nature, played far more frequently than any of the Anglo
songs. I suppose that was why I was teased for speaking English with a
Mexican accent, after my family left the lower Big Bend.
Place Where I Worship”
Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, and the Sons
of the Pioneers
was written by Dale Evans and performed many times by hers, her husband Roy
Rogers, and the Sons of the Pioneers. Picture yourself standing in front
of the opening for the Window in the national park on a clear day, seeing God’s
great creation stretch out for miles upon miles as far as your eyes can take
you. The sun and sky above form the roof of this church, the near vertical
high ground on either side serve as the walls, and the rocks lying about your
choice of pews. Yes, it is the place where I worship.
have gone without water for a length of time in a hot, dry desert, then this
song hits as close to home as any other you could ever think of. I’ve been
there before but never so much as putting one foot in front of the other on a
hundred-plus-degree day south of Glenn Spring. I was carrying a fifty-pound
pack and hadn’t had a drop of moisture in sixteen hours. And you have to keep
moving, or you will surely die.
Ain’t Nothin’” Craig
has a breaking point and often enough it starts sooner than later, until we
realize that so many others had so much more to bear than we ever will. Think
of the endless darkness of a mine tunnel at the foot of California Hill, the
Mariscal, the Shafter, the Study Butte, or the Chisos Mining Company. Think
about what it took to produce candelilla wax, which has to be one of the
toughest jobs anyone could ever imagine. Think about what your own ancestors
went through when called upon. That’s when your own problems start to diminish,
and you begin to realize that what you are facing now “ain’t nothin”.
Fi Trace Adkins
With the recurring theme of
the Marine Corps so prevalent in Destiny’s Way, I thought it only right
to include a tribute to my old alma mater. After all, they say time and again
to write what you know. Every time I put on my boots, shoulder my pack, and
head out, I realize what an integral part the Corps has played in my life. Mother
Green gave me so much but saw to it that I earned every last bit. Semper Fi ʼtil the day I die.
This rousing ballad
encapsulates the life story of Texan Charlie Siringo, one of those
larger-than-life characters of the Old West whom you usually don’t hear much
about. Sung with understanding and insight by fellow Texan Red Steagall, it
tells of Siringo’s life as a cowboy, a storekeeper, a Pinkerton man, and
ultimately a successful writer. Some have questioned if all those events
actually happened. Well if they didn’t, they should have.
Dave Stamey’s arrangements and
singing are simple in nature: the sound of a six-string guitar and the voice of
a man who has actually been there, done that. This ballad is a near-perfect
mixture of that simplicity, concerning another man who went his own way and
carried through faithfully in his personal philosophy of worth. They say the
simple things in life are the most important, as well as the hardest to
accomplish. “Song For Jake” is a reminder of this delicate balance for us all.
A real cowboy who sang about
that sort of life with a special authenticity, Chris LeDoux left this mortal
life way too soon. But in the meantime, he shared so much of worth with the
rest of us, including this song. It was as if he was writing his own epitaph,
as well as so many others made from the same clay. My youngest brother was
one of those; we lost him only this last year. Sometimes, when the shadows are
just right, I think I catch him out of the corner of my eye, still riding
Time To Decide”
poem recital by Ben H. English
poem was written nigh a hundred years ago by the greatest cowboy poet of all
Bruce Kiskaddon. It comes to mind while prowling the lower Big Bend, most
of all at such majestic spots as the South Rim of the Chisos.