A love letter to Texas and a symbol to the emerging outlaw, Jerry Jeff Walker’s Viva Terlingua was recorded forty years ago. Recorded with the Lost Gonzo Band, the album celebrated Texas song writers like Guy Clark and Ray Wylie Hubbard. It was also an announcement for Walker’s transformation, from Greenwich Village folk to a true troubadour. Jerry Jeff Walker was most famous for writing “Mr. Bojangles” in the Dawn of 1970s. He was indoctrinated into Texas scene and nowhere in the Lone Star State was dearer to walker’s heart than Luckenbach.
When Mayor Hondo Crouch just purchased the town, Walker befriended him. Crouch created a haven for both hippies and cowboys. Luckenbach was the Hill Country’s best kept secret, for it was a place for “hug-ins,” chili festivals, story swaps and endless stream of guitar pickers and songs. It was just the place Walker was looking for.
Viva Terlingua was born from taking the album title form a bumper sticker plastered to the saloon wall. Walker decided to hold Saturday concerts at the Luckenbach dance hall. Guess how much is the admission cost? It was just one dollar and 900 people showed up by the end of the night.
The concert catered to the audience because both the songs and setting were made for a rowdy crowd. The album kicked-off with “Getting By.” In which “scamp Walker” documents his lifestyle as a fly-by-night recording artist.
Walker wrote five song for the album and Viva Terlingua served to bring attention to his fellow Texas songwriters like Michael Murphey.
Listening to the crowd from Luckenbach singing along to Gary Nunn’s album “London Homesick Blues,” its easy to see that Viva Terlingua had become a cultural phenomenon in Texas. Waylon’s Honky Tonk Heroes was just released and Willie had formally announced his arrival to the Texas scene with shotgun Willie. However, Willie and Waylon made Texas album for the rest of the country, the outlaw scene’s favorite Texas transplant seemed to sing solely for the Texans. Those that came of age to the sounds of “Redneck Mother” passed the album to their children, who carried the sound to the 90s.
Walker and the Lost Gonzo Band returned to Luckenbach in 1993 for them to re-recorded the iconic album. The Gonzos were older and the admission price was a steeper $50. However, their spirits were as high as ever. On the night in 1973 in Luckenbach, Viva Terlingua had captured the heart of Texas a piece of outlaw country history was borm.
Here’s a live video of Jerry Jeff Walker sing “Gettin’ By” in 1991. Enjoy watching and remember to share the experience to other country fans
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