Inquiring Minds

Lonesome Onry and Mean: Colorado Kool-Aid

Lonesome, Onry and Mean had just begun our phone interview with Monte Warden of the Wagoneers when we heard someone talking to Warden in the background. Warden then asked, "Are you that guy who wrote the blog about 'Colorado Kool-Aid'?"

We had to admit that we were.

"This is unbelievable," Warden exclaimed. "My wife's father wrote that song. It just made his day when we forwarded that blog to him."

Well, believe us, we thought that was pretty unbelievable too. And we weren't aware that Johnny Paycheck hadn't penned the song himself.

So, Monte, what's the story on that?

"Phil Thomas was a working Nashville songwriter, but he also had worked in promotion for Shiloh when they were hot," Warden explains. "That brought him to Houston some."

So, since Thomas wasn't from Houston and never lived here, just why did he begin the song with "I was sittin' in this beer joint down in Houston, Texas / drinkin' Colorado Kool-Aid and talkin' to some Mexicans"?

"He always told me that he'd seen exactly those kinds of joints around Houston and it just worked," says Warden. "He didn't have any particular knowledge of Houston, really, that's just the way the song came to him. And between his lyrics and the way Johnny Paycheck delivered them, everything about that song seemed super-realistic."

Thomas went on to write two other Johnny Paycheck winners, "Billy Bardo" and "Me and the I.R.S." Other Thomas cuts include George Strait's "Baby Your Baby" and Gene Watson's "Drinking My Way Back Home."

See our full interview with Monte Warden in next week's print edition. Warden and the reformed Wagoneers play the Continental Club April 15, their first gig in Houston in 20 years.

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William Michael Smith