Bonus Tracks



Red, white, and blue. The three colors of the Texas flag traditionally stand for courage, purity, and loyalty, but they also stand for elements that are a much bigger part of both our history and our reality: red, for blood; white, for surrender; blue, for sorrow. The lofty ideals set down by Texas fathers Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, and Mirabeau B. Lamar just don't seem to hold up in a state wracked with racial tension, poverty, drought, and violence. And nowhere in the state are these conditions more evident, and these tensions so pronounced, than the Texas-Mexico border, the setting for John Sayles' new film, Lone Star. Sayles' latest is about setting right the wrongs of previous generations and coexisting, if not harmoniously, at least civilly, with your neighbors -- be they black, brown, red, white, whatever. At least on the film's soundtrack -- if nowhere else -- it's a reality. But Texas music has always been like that. The conjunto of the borderlands flows naturally into the polkas and waltzes of the German settlers, which segues easily into Western swing, then of course country, and from there it's not much of a leap at all into R&B, the blues, and rock & roll. Texas music is seamless in a way that life in Texas seldom is. Beginning with conjunto tunes from Conjunto Bernal and Fito Olivares, the Lone Star soundtrack shuttles chameleon-like through Texas' musical roots. Also included are blues shuffles from Little Walter and Little Willie John; Kirbyville's Ivory Joe Hunter's supersmooth, swamp-poppy "Since I Met You Baby" (and a version in Spanish from Freddy Fender -- how's that for erasing cultural lines?); vintage country from Patsy Montana & the Prairie Ramblers; and Lucinda Williams' "The Night's Too Long," which manages to sound both forlorn and hopeful. That, when you think about it, is the story of Texas: forlorn in life, hopeful in song. -- Christopher Gray

"Bonus Tracks" reviews all local and Texas-based releases commercially: Send to "Bonus Tracks," The Austin Chronicle,
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