Texas Tornado: The Times & Music of Doug Sahm
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Feb. 26, 2010
Texas Tornado: The Times & Music of Doug Sahmby Jan Reid with Shawn Sahm
University of Texas Press, 201 pp., $24.95
Texas Tornado: The Times & Music of Doug Sahm is a fast, clean read that roars comprehensively through its subject's whirlwind career without overintellectualizing it. Moving at the steady clip of a Sir Douglas Quintet song, it hits the highs and lows of the San Antonio native who crossbred rock & roll with soul and Chicano grooves, aided by his westside compadres and lifelong partner Augie Meyers in churning out hits such as "She's About a Mover" and "Mendocino." Local author Jan Reid begins by waxing that the showman in Sahm was team Stones and not team Beatles; Sahm was "a Jagger who could play, a Richards who could sing." Reid's charm is writing that's concise and unadorned in conveying Sahm's monumental talents without gushing. Having penned 1974 milestone The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock, wherein he interviewed the early cosmic cowboys before the glitter faded, and chronicler of The Bullet Meant for Me, his horrific tale of being shot in Mexico, Reid knows his rebel musician turf. The book isn't without its inaccuracies, silly ones like mistitling "Who Were You Thinking Of" as "What Were You Thinking Of" or stating that Austin American-Statesman critic Ed Ward wrote about music for The Austin Chronicle in the 1980s (that "Dump Ed Ward" feud Sahm started was with the former publication, not the latter). Quibbles aside, Texas Tornado cuts a wide swath through Doug Sahm's myth and mythos, leaving not destruction in its wake but the deep sense of loss for arguably the most versatile musician in the state's history.