be a high school weirdo in 1960 in Port
Arthur, Texas, was to set yourself up for a rough time, and
Janis Joplin knew it. But she'd made up her mind that she was going
to live her life her way, damn the small-minded. She discovered
the blues during the time of segregation and read Kerouac and Ferlinghetti
in a town where both bookstores were Christian. The townies made
her life hell, which made Joplin's sound of getting out especially
powerful. Freedom was not just another word to the East
Texas misfit who became the first female rock star…Courage and
insecurity were the oversized lenses through which Janis saw the
world, at least from the last half of her 27 years. It was that
mix of strength and vulnerability that came through in her singing.
The rebel side started at about age 14, when Janis realized she'd
never be one of the pretty girls, the popular girls, at Thomas Jefferson
High School." So observes Michael Corcoran in this engagingly written,
well-illustrated examination of more than forty Lone Star musicians.
in 2005 by the University of Texas Press, this second edition
of All Over the Map has been substantially overhauled. "In
the past dozen years," Corcoran asserts, "I've done a lot of researching
and writing about Texas music pioneers, so I've rewritten the whole
thing, plugging in new information, and adding [new] chapters…There's
also a new section on behind-the-scene-heroes." Corcoran's text
now discusses such diverse artists as Lefty Frizzell, Guy Clark,
Bobby Ramirez, Ray Price, King Curtis, Nick Curran, Barbara Lynn,
Calvin Russell, Bobbie Nelson (Willie's sister), and legendary saxophonist
Bobby Keys, who toured and recorded with the Rolling Stones.
The author divides his book geographically: sections include East
Texas; Houston; Dallas
and Fort Worth;
area; Austin; San
Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley; and West
Texas. Corcoran also features a segment titled "The 34 Greatest
Texas Recordings." These significant songs include Roy Orbison's
"Only the Lonely" (1960); George Jones' "He Stopped Loving Her Today"
(1980); Buddy Holly's "That'll Be the Day" (1957); Z Z Top's "La
Grange" (1973); Jim Reeves' "He'll Have to Go" (1959); Destiny Child's
"Say My Name" (2000); George Strait's "Amarillo By Morning" (1982);
Glen Campbell's "Galveston" (1969); Gary P. Nunn's "London Homesick
Blues" (1973); and Blind Lemon Jefferson's "See That My Grave is
Swept Clean" (1927). Considering Marty Robbins' classic "El Paso,"
Corcoran maintains: "Quite a 'gunfighter ballad' by singer/writer
Robbins, giving a musical movie plot in four minutes and 38 seconds,
and with Grady Martin's Spanish guitar, you can almost feel the
spirit of border town love." Evaluating Johnny Horton's "Honky-Tonk
Man" (1956), he contends that the Tyler native "would go on to greater
success with historical songs such as 'Battle of New Orleans' and
'North to Alaska.' Horton
was killed by a drunken driver in Milano,
Texas, in 1960 after playing the Skyline
Club in Austin. In
an [eerie] coincidence, his widow Billie Jean was married to Hank
Williams when he played his final public concert at the Skyline
eight years earlier."
Students of popular culture, especially those interested in Lone
Star musicians and Texas-themed tunes, will enjoy this commendable
volume. Corcoran deserves a hearty round of applause!