Saturday, June 23, 2012

Trinomials: Ray Wylie Hubbard

Ray Wylie Hubbard: Conversation with the Devil


While we are on the topic of progressive country songwriters from Texas with three names, I present Ray Wylie Hubbard, who collaborated extensively with Jerry Jeff Walker in the 1970s. You all can google up Mr. Hubbard's biography, so I am going to tell you how I discovered his music.

I was walking home from work one evening in the mid-2000s, when I was living in Toronto. I always cut through Grange Park on my way to/from work. The park is located behind an art school, and on a nice day the park would be filled with students and other harmless slackers who had nothing better to do than smoke dope. On really nice spring and fall days this park would contain so many weed smokers that there would be a giant mushroom cloud of smoke above the park, and you would get high from second hand smoke by just walking through the park. I miss Canada.

Anyhoo, as I was meandering home through the dope smokers, the song "Conversation with the Devil" popped up on my Zune (stop laughing). This song was my introduction to Hubbard. The song describes the narrator finding himself in hell, and trying to sweet-talk the devil into letting him out. As the devil is giving the narrator a tour of hell, the devil points out the murderers, rapists, and politicians serving their time in eternal damnation. My favorite lines: "What you won't find up in Heaven are Christian Coalition Right Wing Conservatives, country program directors, and Nashville record executives." I literally giggled to myself as I made my way through the fog of marijuana smoke. This song is brilliant!

Hubbard's albums of the last 20 years are some of the best alternative country records you will ever hear. They contain masterful storytelling, insightful observations on daily life, and lessons for the road-weary. That last sentence was pretentious blogger-speak for, "makes ya think." Especially when walking through a park full of stoners.

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