Before the Texas Legislature did something completely predictable and
sold out the state's public schools declared Western Swing the state's official music, it did something slightly less predictable and appointed two people not from Austin or the Hill Country as the next two official state musicians. They're even from the Houston area - Lyle Lovett and ZZ Top's Billy F. Gibbons.
Although the official state musicians don't actually do anything, it's still a prestigious honor. It must be, because it took Willie Nelson six years to be appointed to the post. But let's be honest: Lovett and Gibbons are still pretty safe choices, if Gibbons perhaps a little less so. Rocks Off fully expects the lege's next appointments to be along those same lines - Robert Earl Keen and any one of the three Flatlanders, we're looking in your direction.
Here, on the other hand, are five eminently worthy Texas musicians who probably don't need to be waiting by the phone come next session.
Why He Should Be: Talent? Songwriting genius? "You're Gonna Miss Me"? And because so many of the demons Roky finally put to bed on last year's wonderful True Love Cast Out All Evil have the State of Texas' fingerprints all over them, specifically his dubious confinement in the Rusk State Hospital. Appointing Roky official state musician wouldn't undo the damage, but it would be a nice gesture.
Why He Won't: Because drugs are bad.
Why He Should Be: 'Face knows his own mind as well as any lyricist in any genre, and it's a scary, scary place. It's as scary as the neighborhoods he raps about, which will be the first to feel all those education cuts the legislature made to push the budget through.
Why He Won't: He won't be doing much of anything until he clears up the child-support beef that's kept him locked up in Montgomery County these past few months. Has anyone even heard anything about this lately?
GIBBY HAYNES, BUTTHOLE SURFERS
Why He Should Be: Despite his hellacious reputation and outrageous stage antics - cymbals full of fire, the whole "Gibbytronix" thing - the often-shirtless (or more) Haynes is actually a gentle giant. Sharp as a tack to boot, and the Surfers have a very skewed - but very strong - sort of Texan pride. Plus Haynes' dad was Mr. Peppermint, for God's sakes.
Why He Won't: Hmmm... let's see... we know there must be a reason... oh yeah. How about this?
Why He Should Be: A true poet of the working class, McMurtry's plain yet vivid lyrics make even the likes of Stephen King say "We're not worthy." His songs have a level of intimacy and detail that borders on documentary, and come wrapped in blistering live packages. He's funny as hell, too: That line in "Choctaw Bingo" about his two second cousins giving him a "big ol' hard-on like an old bois d'arc fence post" kills us every time.
Why He Won't: Because the legislature will never forgive him for his expert expose of politicians' and corporations' moral bankruptcy on 2004's scathing "We Can't Make It Here."
DON WALSH, RUSTED SHUT
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Why He Should Be: True Texans do not give a fuck, especially about other people's opinions of them. This makes Walsh, founder and head provocateur of legendary Houston noise terrors Rusted Shut, the ur-Texan.