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Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air: Legends of West Texas Music

by Christopher J. Oglesby

University of Texas Press, 287 pp., $22.95 (paper)

Lubbock's Buddy Holly Walk of Fame is strictly for tourists. I lived there 23 years and never visited. For years, I thought Holly was a thick, black glasses pioneer and Waylon Jennings a cameo on Sesame Street's Follow That Bird. In slightly more academic terms, University of Texas professor Christopher Oglesby addresses similar misconceptions in Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air. Oglesby, another Lubbock expat, seeks illumination in interviews with fellow Lubbockites Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Mac "Happiness is Lubbock, Texas, in My Rearview Mirror" Davis but never reaches much of a conclusion beyond "there's nothing else to do." What's left to say after lead-in interview Terry Allen sums it up note perfect: "People in Lubbock decide who they are ... and 'Fuck you if you don't like it'"? In Oglesby's oral history, two themes appear throughout: First, isolation and lack of local support cause West Texas musicians to create their own standards, and second, most Lubbock luminaries move to Austin. Holly, ridiculed in life and celebrated in his hometown mostly as a tourist attraction, should've lived so long.

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