I did not know how much I did not know about Austin, until this week when I heard author and long-time Austin scene-maker Joe Nick Patoski talking about his book about Austin, with Nate on Let It Roll.
Judging from the two-hour chat, about the book “Austin to ATX: The Hippies, Pickers, Slackers, and Geeks Who Transformed the Capital of Texas," Joe Nick may know more about Austin than I know about anything.
Listening to him fire off anecdote after anecdote about Austin’s growth from a medium-sized college town and seat of state government to the fastest-growing metro area in the U.S. for eight years running, I realized my understanding of Austin was foggy at best.
Out of that fog came the image of a lone figure, walking into town in 1970 with his trusty guitar “Trigger” in one hand, his stash of Colombian Primo in the other and his long red hair flowing behind him in the direction of Nashville, from which he’d departed after his house burned down.
The artistic soil in which this Red-Headed Stranger planted himself was so fertile and friendly that he stayed, grew into the entertainment megastar he still is 50 years hence, and scores of other great musicians followed.
That longhaired, twangy dude was and is Willie Hugh Nelson, and he and Austin are still going strong, Willie a megastar who I predict will soon become the world’s most famous longhaired 90-year-old and Austin so universally hip that only people like Robert Plant can afford to live there.
Rock on, Joe Nick!
Ed Legge (@freebirdyeller) is a life-long musician, long-time journalist and sometime corporate dweeb who’s writing a book about originating rock ‘n’ roll’s most absurd tradition.