Red Temple Prayer (Two Headed Dog)

A Valentine's Day mix for KOOP

Red Temple Prayer (Two Headed Dog)

Today marks 19 years for me at the Chronicle, my hire date Feb. 14, 1993. When Matthew Johnson at KOOP asked me to guest on ReMIX tomorrow and for a playlist to go with the spot, I used Valentine's Day as an excuse for a mix reflecting my two-decade love affair with Austin and Texas. Yesterday's plea-mail for funding a Roky Erickson doc fit right in.

“I am funding a tour doc on Roky and his son Jegar,” writes Sean “Peppy” Meyer, “as they tour together all the way to Australia. Gonna be a gnarly story, and the gods of metal will forever look down on me if I am not able to make this happen. This has all been happening incredibly fast, and I am just doing everything I can to get this opportunity out to the masses.”

With Peppy's funding campaign titled #TwoHeadedDog it circled back to my KOOP mix because that's the one song that (cough) dogged me most. Gary Floyd, baritone blues twister for the Dicks, also led S.F.'s Sister Double Happiness for a decade starting in the mid Eighties. That group's apocalyptic cover of “Red Temple Prayer (Two Headed Dog)” on 1990 tribute Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye: A Tribute to Roky Erickson spun its perfect storm on my home stereo, but iTunes kept it skipping like a $1 used vinyl copy of Godspell.

Over and over I burned my CD of the album, the song screwed up in different spots each time. I tried subbing in Ed Hall's “Pollution,” but it just didn't sound right after the Butthole Surfers'“Earthquake,” also from Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye (produced by the Bill Bentley). Besides, Gary Chester roaring “fucking Budapest” – a personal high point as someone's who been to Budapest – wasn't gonna fly on the radio. The same expletive had already forced me to edit out a punk blast from Fastball's major label debut, the LP before “The Way” went to No. 1.

On literally my last go, “Red Temple Prayer” finally blessed me with a clean pass-through. Everything was finally in place. Joe Ely's kicking it off with Buddy Holly represents pre-Texas history for me in that the Flatlander opened the third or fourth concert I ever saw, the Kinks in 1981 at Berkeley's Greek Theatre, a stone amphitheater on the University of California campus. Steve Stone and I talked through this Joe “Eli's” set until he closed with a storming cover of “Not Fade Away.” That song we knew – the Rolling Stones baby! The Kinks, by the way, murdered it that night, Give the People What They Want!

I rolled into San Antonio on July 3, 1992, and it was there that I rediscovered Doug Sahm's cover ode to my mother's hometown. I had no idea Sahm didn't write the song until making this KOOP mix. My nine months in the Alamo City before moving here also reconnected me to a childhood favorite, Texas son Michael Nesmith leading the Monkees (in name only) through Michael Martin Murphey's “What Am I Doing Hangin' ’Round?.”

Both those San Antone songs choke me up, as does Don Walser's signature tune, “Rolling Stone from Texas,” perhaps the most rocking selection of my dozen songs in 45 minutes. I never saw Roy Orbison, but I saw Walser many, many times, and that sort of otherworldly gift – his yodel – comes as rare as Italian opera tenors whose names end in Pavarotti. They didn't call Walser the Pavarotti of the plains for laughs.

Most of these tracks well up in my throat. Favorite songs will do that to me, none more so than the concluding two tracks. “Your Hand in Mine,” originally closing Explosions in the Sky's master opus, 2003's The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place (here a shorter, radio-friendly edit from the Friday Night Lights film soundtrack), remains the only local album I ever reviewed at a perfect five stars.

I rated posthumous Stevie Ray Vaughan collection The Sky is Crying the same for BAM Magazine in California just before packing all my belongings in a Datsun and driving to Texas to find his ghost and my own discovery of a local who played $3 gigs weekly before he got famous. Alejandro Escovedo became my SRV and I never tire of his Stooges ode, “Everybody Loves Me,” while Butch Hancock now usurps him as my own personal Jesus. When Hancock's kid and new guitar sidekick Rory and I agreed that his father's You Coulda Walked Around the World in 1997 was our favorite LP at a Cactus Cafe gig last month, I added how much I loved “Roll Around.” Hancock scratched his chin and said, “That's the one that doesn't rhyme.” I've listened to that song 'til it grooved the insides of my ears and never noticed.

And SRV's “Life By the Drop,” written by Doyle Bramhall, who died last year? Perhaps both bluesmen's purest blues. In a sense I moved to Austin for that song. I've stayed because of the other 11.

Tune into KOOP 91.7 FM at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 15, for ReMIX streaming live.

Joe Ely: “Not Fade Away” (live)
Alejandro Escovedo: “Everybody Loves Me”
Butthole Surfers: “Earthquake” (13th Floor Elevators cover)
Sister Double Happiness: “Red Temple Prayer (Two Headed Dog)” (13th Floor Elevators cover)
Fastball: “Seattle”
White Denim: “Street Joy”
Butch Hancock: “Roll Around”
Doug Sahm: “(Is Anybody Goin' to) San Antone”
Don Walser: “Rolling Stone from Texas”
The Monkees (featuring Michael Nesmith): “What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?” (Michael Martin Murphey cover)
Explosions in the Sky: “Your Hand in Mine (strings version)”
Stevie Ray Vaughan: “Life by the Drop”

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