During the early seventies, Ray Wylie Hubbard considered a second-tier Texas outlaw wrote the song “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother.” It appeared on his album Off the Wall released in 1978. That was actually his only classic tune and it was Jerry Jeff Walker’s 1973 recording that made the song famous. Because of the song’s success, Warner Bros. Records offered Hubbard a recording contract. Hubbard penned the song based on his personal encounter in a particular bar called D-Bar-D. Below is the true-to-life story that inspired its writing.
Story Behind the Writing of the Song
Hubbard used to spend his summers in Red River, New Mexico. He usually played music with his fellow long-haired expats. Hubbard had his turn to buy beer for them. There are only two places to buy beer in town, a hippie bar and the other was a redneck bar. He decided to go to a bar called D-Bar-D at the redneck’s joint since this was closer. It was a decision he soon regretted making as he was welcomed with a strange ambiance. “I walked in and there were thirty or forty people drinking, including one old woman,” he recalls. “The jukebox stopped and they all turned and looked at me.” While waiting for his order to be served, a woman and her son lured him.
As soon as he received his beer, he fled. Shortly, he saw a pickup truck with a gun rack and redneck bumper sticker in the parking lot. Thankfully, he returned safely to his mates’ place. Right at that moment, he took his guitar and composed a song instantly about his recent experience at the bar. Its first few wordings focused on the redneck mother, hence the title, and her son whom he described as “thirty-four and drinking in a honky-tonk, just kicking hippies’ asses and raising hell.”
When Hubbard returned to Dallas, he eventually forgot about the song. A year later though, his friend Bob Livingstone phoned him. Livingstone was playing bass with Walker at that time and the latter wanted to record the song. Since it was not completed, Livingstone asked Hubbard for few additional verses. Again, while on the phone, Hubbard made up some lines on the spot. This time, he narrated what he’d seen at the parking lot – the gun rack and sticker written with “Goat ropers need love too.” Here’s a copy of Walker’s cover of the song.
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