Cosmic Cowboys and New Hicks: The Countercultural Sounds of Austin's Progressive Country Music Scene

Rock & roll bookends

Summer Reading

Cosmic Cowboys and New Hicks: The Countercultural Sounds of Austin's Progressive Country Music Scene

by Travis D. Stimeling
Oxford University Press, 173 pp., $35

As your dissertation adviser, Mr. Stimeling, it must be said that although your research and analysis are impressive, you should realize that your paper will read like a tight-assed academic endeavor to anyone not ensconced within the halls of higher learning. The other advisers will just love the references to Austin's flagship progressive country radio station, KOKE-FM, as embracing the "Texas nationalist ideals of masculinity, colonization, and ownership of indigenous peoples, and a rhetoric of Texan exceptionalism." That said, your efforts should be viewed as a useful primer for the extraordinary musical, social, cultural, entrepreneurial, and political forces that converged in Austin during the 1970s. The coming together of hippies and rednecks, most notably at the Armadillo World Headquarters, would lay the foundation for an Austin music scene that is now revered globally. You cover the decade's important personalities (Kenneth Threadgill, Willie Nelson, Eddie Wilson), influential songs (Michael Martin Murphey's "Cosmic Cowboy," Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother"), major events, and necessary support systems. The chapter on the history, tradition, and subsequent revival of Western swing and its role in uniting the generations vis-à-vis Asleep at the Wheel was my favorite. Your challenging insights, afforded by a perspective of nearly four decades, are an intriguing counterweight to journalist Jan Reid's 1974 real-time coverage in The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock. Mr. Stimeling, you have a clear affinity for the subject matter, but your delivery is as dry as Texas dirt.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Kinky Friedman
Resurrection (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, Jan. 3, 2020

Texas Platters
The Beaumonts / Hickoids
This Is Austin, All the World's a Dressing Room (Record Review)

Kevin Curtin, Jan. 3, 2020

More by Jay Trachtenberg
Top Books of 2020 That Struck a Literary or Musical Chord
Top Books of 2020 That Struck a Literary or Musical Chord
A writer's fictional joyride, a rock & roll memoir, and jazz fairy tales are books that sang this year

Dec. 18, 2020

New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to

Dec. 18, 2020


Travis D. Stimeling, Armadillo World Headquarters, Willie Nelson

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle