“Welcome to Marfa.”
Texas native and songwriter legend Jack Ingram hollered, kicking off Austin City Limits’ 47th season with his longtime friends and fellow songwriters Miranda Lambert and Jon Randall. Lambert then expressed her gratefulness to their live audience for going down the songwriting trail with them. Armed with their acoustic guitars and ear-melting harmonies, the trio took viewers on a journey to the West side of Texas where the wind blew a special kind of magic, captured the scenery of the high desert, and where their stripped-down record was conceived.
Strip It Down: The Beginning of the Marfa Tapes
Since the early 2000s, Texas-born singer Jon Randall has been an evangelist of Marfa, Texas and nearby Terlingua, places which he described where you’d want to be ‘especially if you’re very creative and ever have an introspective part of you.‘ He loved recommending the place to friends, and at one point, he said that he had already oversold it.
Thankfully and finally in 2014, two fellow Lone Star natives – Miranda Lambert and Jack Ingram – took him up on his offer. Lambert and Ingram have worked and collaborated for years, but they haven’t had the chance to do anything yet with Randall at the time. And if that yes to an invite was the sign, the songwriters didn’t know it. It just so happened that after one songwriters’ retreat to Marfa, they indulged in a second, then a third, and more.
Their trips for creative inspiration, which were mostly conversations about life sitting out in the desert, eventually led to the collaborative project they called The Marfa Tapes.
According to the songwriters, the whole idea of the record was to let people experience the moment of creation, which was why instead of going back to the studio, they decided to just record the tracks there and then. Usually, the process goes like this: songs are written, then get put on hold either for someone to pick it up and record, then a demo is made and finally into the studio with the session band ready to finally make everything alive. But at that point, the song is already light years away from the moment that inspired and created it.
They didn’t want to film the whole movie. They just wanted to share their raw feelings and inspiration.
Now Playing: The Marfa Tapes Live at Austin
Last October 2, Lambert, Ingram, and Randall joined Austin City Limits (ACL), the longest-running music television show in history, for an hour-long first episode of their 47th season in their home studio in Austin Texas.
Sitting atop their stools with their cowboy hats on, the trio indulged their audience with a live acoustic session of highlights of their acclaimed collaborative project as well as hits from their songwriting catalog.
They opened with “Two-Step Down to Texas” and followed it right up with their cheater anthem, “Am I Right or Amarillo.” They also performed “In His Arms”, which Lambert wrote while staring into the Marfa Sunset, the gut-punching track they wrote back in 2015 titled “The Wind’s Just Gonna Blow, and the bluesy riff “Geraldene.” The trio also treated the audience with their stunning rendition of their 2018 ACM Song of the Year, “Tin Man”, trading verses with each other. And in between tracks, the songwriters also shared campfire-like stories of how they wrote the songs.
Finally, they closed the live acoustic session with their spirited rollicking tribute to late nights and liquor “Tequila Does.”
ACL airs weekly on PBS, and full episodes are made available for online streaming at pbs.org/austincitylimits immediately after the initial broadcast.
- Two-Step Down to Texas
- Am I Right or Amarillo
- In His Arms
- Tin Man
- Wind’s Just Gonna Blow
- Amazing Grace – West Texas
- I Don’t Like It
- We’ll Always Have the Blues
- Tequila Does
Jack Ingram, Jon Randall, Miranda Lambert