It's about the quest

It’s about the quest
Ray Wylie Hubbard’s new book,“A Life . . . Well, Lived” is the truth as he perceives it.
By Tom Geddie
around with it guy’s 68 years old and still valid,
— just kinda I would hope, with the
the idea that songwriting, there would be
there this guy some inspiration (for the readwho was kinda ers) to do what they love, no
a bad guy, just matter what their age.”
Hubbard is self-publishing
these outlaw
spirits out there 500 hardback copies and a
that incarnated. couple of thousand softbacks.
But somehow The book will be available in
this guy walked selected retail stores as well as
away from the online and, surely, at shows,
powder and the along with CDs and t-shirts.
Hubbard’s story is due out no that progressive country thing
Thom Jurek, a longtime friend
flame. Not from
later than May, pretty much in happened down in Austin. Mufear, but from of Hubbard’s who writes for All
conjunction with his new CD, sic really exploded. Hubbard’s
Music Guide, convinced him to
The Ruffian’s Misfortune.
Holy Grail, “Redneck Mother,”
write the book.
“Everything’s unfortunately was recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker
“We were emailing back and
. Well, Lived,”
factual,” he said during a recent in 1973. Hubbard and the Cowexpect some of forth and I sent him story about
conversation. “Itdoesn’t read like boy Twinkies got a record deal,
the same kind of how I met Muddy Waters in
Motley Crue or Guns N Roses, but got screwed by the Nashville
funky writing Omaha and Pinetop Perkins was
but I put that stuff in there. It’s studio. He had his 15 minutes of
that shows up in cooking fried chicken and they
the way I remember it. I would fame, and then some. He kept
Hubbard’s often were drinking champagne,”
say all of it’s so close to the truth making a living with his music.
funny blogs; ex- Hubbard said.
I’ve come to believe it. It’s the He got tired of playing that song.
“Thom said that was interestpect, also, in the
truth as I perceive it. I don’t
“Somewhere in there I started
straight bio- ing. I said one time Willie Nelson
think I embellished anything. drinking heavily and experimentgraphical sec- actually kidnapped me, and I
And I hope some of it comes ing with amphetamines. I did
tions, some wrote about playing poker with
across as humorous.”
that for 25 years, and stayed in
writing with Freddie King and Bugs
That stuff is the fall and rise of an alcohol and drug fog,” he
p u n c t u a t i o n Henderson and John Nitzinger.
one of Texas’ great entertainers, said.
“Thom said I ought to write a
and all that. And
who, now 68, briefly grabbed
a few of the book, and he kept poking me
The quest
the Holy Grail in 1973, then
greasy lyrics with a stick. I don’t think it would
wandered in the desert for an- BUT THIS NEW BOOK ISN’T
Hubbard now have been done without him.”
other 14 years before stumbling simply about, “Ray Wylie
Hubbard said Jurek made
onto the road again and eventu- Hubbard used to drink and drug,
some words suggestions but that he wrote
ally reaching a crossroads. In and now he doesn’t.” It’s about
about writing every word of the book himself.
some cultures, outlaws and sui- the quest.
“I started thinking about it,
songs: the inspi“I couldn’t really get a gig
cides were buried at crossroads.
ration, the craft, how it might be like real literaCountry blues legend Robert anymore. I had a reputation for
and the pur- ture with capitalization and
Johnson supposedly met the devil falling into the drums and not
He reflects that “Writing (the book) is a kind of joy and an anguish”: Ray Wylie Hubbard
punctuation and indentations in
at his crossroads, and sold his showing up, stuff like that. In my
“That’s very the biographical chapters, then
early 40s, I couldn’t drink, – and coming out of that I made thought about what was going
soul for success.
couldn’t do drugs, couldn’t kill a decision to be a valid songwriter on with me. What I really started important to me. To kinda give the stream-of-consciousness anHubbard met himself.
ecdotes, then the lyrics.”
Rather than continuing along myself, didn’t have a real career. but to not compromise my songs out to be was a folksinger and back what I’ve learned.”
Writing the book was both
Without getting preachy,
the same path, he changed direc- I was kind of at a bottom as far as – to write what I felt like, what I songwriter. But I got off the
Hubbard hopes readers will learn work and play. “Writing is a kind
tions. Hubbard was born in Okla- career goes,” he said. “To go from needed to write.
of joy and an anguish,” he said.
homa and grew up in Dallas there to doing Fallon, Letterman,
“On my 41st birthday in
Two years later, at 43, he from his experience.
“Hopefully, gosh, it’s kinda “Part of it brings an incredible
where he went to Adamson High and all this stuff – taking this life 1987, I quit drinking and drug- read an inspirational book, “As a
School with Michael Martin I was given, through whiskey ging. I had some help, and got Man Thinketh,” by James Allen, an idea to figure out this bad ass sense of joy, but then you anMurphy and B.W. Stevenson. He drugs–– I took it to the bottom– sober,” Hubbard said, citing and “Letters to a Young Poet,” by roots rock songwriter who hopes guish over it because you want it
studied English at UNT and UTA – devoid physically, spiritually, Stevie Ray Vaughan as one of the Rainier Maria Rilke. Rilke was a God graves on a curve. If this to be as good as you can get it.” ■
and played the folk circuit in emotionally–– playing in airport people who helped him get clean. turn-of-the-century German poet
New Mexico and Texas. Then lounges between lingerie shows “I came out of this fog and who often got into mysticism
and strong imagery.
“I carry the Rilke with me on
the road,” Hubbard said. “I’ve
read his poetry; it’s really wonderful, but a lot of it is just beyond me.
But in ‘Letters to a Young
Poet,’ he says some things that
make it okay for you to write for
nothing else except the sake of
the writing. When I feel like a
writing frame of mind is coming
on, I’ll read Rilke.”
Another inspiration was Joseph Campbell, a scholar who
helped popularize classical mythology.
“One of the lines was about
dangerous spirits being at large
in the hills. Whenever something
strange was happening, this man
Campbell was writing about
would say that dangerous spirits
were at large in the hills, and
cold dark wings were in the air.
He tells of quitting the drinking and drugs on his 41st birthday: Ray Wylie Hubbard
I just wrote it down, and goofed ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
Hubbard’s upcoming biography, “A Life . . .
Well, Lived.” Just the way he remembers it.
Some biography. Some anecdotes from the road.
Some humor. Some song lyrics. Some good things
that happened. Some bad things that happened.
The life story of a Texas blues-folk-western-Americana singer-songwriter who joked that he didn’t
want to peak too soon.
“Everything’s unfortunately
factual. It doesn’t read like
Motley Crue or Guns N Roses,
but I put that stuff in there.
It’s the way I remember it. I
would say all of it’s so close to
the truth I’ve come to believe it.
It’s the truth as I perceive it.
I don’t think I embellished
anything. And I hope some of
it comes across as humorous.”