Texas Music

How Texas and Alabama Match Up... Musically

For once, Rocks Off is grateful for this sinus-splitting headache (thanks, Mike Stinson!), because it gives us something to focus on besides the fact that we are crawling out of our skin waiting for kickoff tonight. At this point, sports pundits have analyzed the Longhorns and Crimson Tide to within an inch of their lives, and Rocks Off really doesn't have anything to add to that discussion except that provided UT's offensive line doesn't get steamrolled like it did in the Big 12 Championship, we have a nagging feeling the game is going to come down to a big play on special teams.

Instead, we'll stick to what we're good at and see how Texas and Alabama stack up onstage (in each of five major genres) rather than on the gridiron. And no, we're not talking about Jordan Shipley's budding songwriting career.

[jump] Pop/Jazz: Alabama scores big points in both fields right off the bat thanks to Montgomery native Nat King Cole, plus two more jazz heavyweights from the Heart of Dixie in cosmic freak Sun Ra and vibraphone master Lionel Hampton. Vocally, Dinah Washington was no slouch either. Others include Count Basie Orchestra alumni Cleveland Eaton (bass) and Grover Mitchell (trombone), and guitarist Johnny Smith, who wrote and recorded "Walk, Don't Run" several years before the Ventures made it a hit. Texas more than holds its own, though, with everyone from ragtime originator Scott Joplin and Charlie Christian (a guitarist credited as one of the major influences on bebop) to saxophone legend David "Fathead" Newman and free-jazz eminence Ornette Coleman.

In pop, besides Toni "Do That To Me One More Time" Tennille, Alabama seems to have a knack for turning out American Idol finalists: Bo Bice, Diana DeGarmo and 2006 winner Taylor "Soul Patrol" Hicks. To which we can't help but echo Steve Carell in The 40 Year Old Virgin... Kellyclarkson! Oh, and Beyonce.

Edge: even (jazz); Texas (pop)

Country: Rocks Off supposes Tennessee deserves some consideration, but no two states have shaped country music more than these two. For starters, country music as we know it would not exist without Hank Williams Sr., born in Mount Olive, and singing brakeman Jimmie Rodgers, who spent much of his childhood in Geiger. Meanwhile Tammy Wynette (who literally grew up on the Mississippi/Alabama state line) was Loretta Lynn's only serious rival for the "Queen of Country Music" title in the '60s and '70s, and Alabama has also given us Emmylou Harris, Vern Gosdin ("Set 'Em Up Joe") and, well, Alabama. Son of a son of a sailor Jimmy Buffett is actually a son of Mobile.

Texas, of course, counters with Bob Wills, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Ernest Tubb, George Strait, Lefty Frizzell, Kenny Rogers, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Tanya Tucker, Lee Ann Womack and Miranda Lambert... to name just a few. 'Nuff said.

Edge: Texas (numbers); even (influence)

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray