“I Left For Texas” began in a bar in La Grange Texas after a concert at The Bugle Boy.
This wasn’t just any bar, it’s the kind in Texas that pop up in small towns so the neighbors have a place. A converted double-wide, the bar was the kitchen – which worked. Three guys were sitting in high-top stools talking to the bar tender. She hollered “Hi” when we all walked in, everyone else turned and stared. Not that awkward “who the h#@! are you” stare, but the “hmmm, this is interesting, new people” kind of stare. Then the “hope you like Miller or Shiner, because we don’t serve that Stella stuff in here” kind of stare.
Granted, we did look a bit odd compared to the guy in the U.S.S. Michigan ball cap and flannel hunting jacket, or the couple in cowboy hats sitting at a card table where the living room would have been. But, for $1.50 a beer, why would you go anywhere else but the local double-wide watering hole known as the Lone Star Bar.
The six of us dropped ourselves into flower-print kitchen chairs at a white, fold-out plastic table in the “dining” room.
The bartender wiped down the table and we all ordered – Shiners for the group! And then the stories began.
There’s nothing better than stories from a singer-songwriter who’s been on the road for twenty+ years and knows everyone who’s anyone. And while he regaled us with tales of drinking, pranks, bad metaphor use and drunkard shut-downs from stage, it was his interactions with a long-time friend that caught my attention.
They grew up as childhood friends, him hanging around with her older brothers. I imagine he was the “cool friend from down the road” who she at some point probably developed a crush on. He had moved away a number of years ago. She had married, then moved to Texas to start a life with her husband.
As she was telling the story, she said, “You know, it’s funny, I left for Texas, and you left for everywhere.”
Well, you can’t let that line go by!
I politely waited a few seconds for one of the other three songwriters at the table, who legitimately had dibs on it since they had a personal connection, and no one even had an eye glimmer.
I changed up the story a bit. I put the two of them together and had the main character be a constant wanderer. He’s someone who needs to go, not wanting to be held down by a small town or another person.
No point in letting the truth get in the way of a better story!
And – on the same night, at the same table, my friend Louise said, “hey, you like John Gorka, and you like New Mexico. You know he’s doing a songwriting retreat with Eliza Gilkyson in Arroyo Seco. You should go.”
Changed my life. Thanks Sassy!