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The Crawford Family Southwest Vacation Songs

Steve was here

Steve was here

The Crawford family recently took a driving vacation from Fort Worth, Texas to Colorado and New Mexico. Here is a relevant song list from our travels.

1. “As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls,” Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays. Wichita Falls was our first break stop on our drive and I was surprised to see this Pat Metheny/Lyle Mays experimental jazz number referenced as graffiti on the bathroom wall. The title phrase was written incorrectly, which says something about the Texas education system or a lack of genuine appreciation for progressive jazz.

2. “Amarillo By Morning,” George Strait. Being tourists, we stopped at “The Big Texan” restaurant, which offers a free 72-ounce steak for anyone that can eat an entire cow. The flavorless 8-ounce sirloin was not an incentive to eat four more pounds of mediocre meat. Seeing the huge buffalo head in the gift shop took my mind immediately to a scene from the 1999 wrestling documentary Beyond the Mat. The next time you’re in Amarillo, skip “The Big Texan” and hang out with Terry Funk.

3. “I’m a Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas,” Louis Armstrong. An argument exists whether this composition was inspired by Dumas, Texas or Dumas, Arkansas. For the record, I did not see anyone strutting his or her stuff in this forgettable Texas town.

4. “Rocky Mountain High,” John Denver. Since John Denver graduated from Arlington Heights High School in Fort Worth then so famously lived in Colorado, perhaps this was the Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. Memorial vacation.

5. “America the Beautiful,” Katharine Lee Bates. Poet Bates was inspired by her journey to the top of Colorado’s most famous mountain to write the poem “Pike’s Peak,” which would later be rewritten as “America the Beautiful.” Our tour guide burst out in song on our train journey to the top of Pike’s Peak. It was at that point that I wished my eardrums had burst due to the altitude causing temporary deafness.

6. “Kit Carson,” Bruce Cockburn. I did not visit the Kit Carson museum in Taos, New Mexico, but can report that the view from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is nothing less than spectacular.

7. “Santa Fe,” Drive-By Truckers. My children thought the best thing about Santa Fe was seeing it in the rearview mirror, however I did enjoy the International Museum of Folk Art. I would love to give directions in that town, “You turn by the adobe building on the right, and then you’ll come to an adobe Pizza Hut by the adobe massage parlor.” Mud and straw never goes out of style in New Mexico.

8. “Me and Billy the Kid,” Joe Ely. Before Pat Garrett killed Henry McCarty, who is more prominently known as “Billy the Kid,” his posse had captured him at one point in an area known as Stinking Springs, New Mexico. It’s too bad there aren’t more honest town names these days. I wouldn’t mind buying a t-shirt from “Smells Like Cow Poop, Texas,” or “The Next Town Has a Dairy Queen, North Dakota.”

9. “Truck Stop Gospel,” Parker Millsap. On this Rock NYC favorite, young Parker Millsap is 18 miles from Tucumcari, New Mexico. The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad built a camp in the area known as Ragtown in 1901, but the informal name was Six Shooter Siding, due to the propensity for gunfights in the burgeoning community. It is thought that the town name is derived from the Comanche word “Tukamukaru,” which means to lie in wait for someone or something to approach.

10. “Cadillac Ranch,” Bruce Springsteen. Outside of Amarillo is a weird roadside attraction known as Cadillac Ranch – a line of ten Cadillacs buried nose first into the ground. Visitors are encouraged to spray paint graffiti on the Detroit relics. Noting one of the cars already was tagged with “Steve,” no work was required on my behalf.

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