McCullar Me Bad

Because it's all good.

My name is Emily. I am Tex-Pat. I lived in Southern California, but now I live in New York City. I love the internet.

The Good, the Bad and the Really Ugly: Golden Globes 2014 red carpet failures and successes from someone who has absolutely no authority on the matter.

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I love awards shows but hate the Oscars and the reasons I don’t like the Oscars are the very reasons that I adore the Golden Globes. One, the Globes don’t take themselves too seriously. Two, they don’t drag on for six miserable hours. Three, they look like they’d actually be fun to attend. Four, alcohol provides for some pretty exciting improvisation on stage (I’m looking at you Sean Combs). Five, the Golden Globes give awards for television and television is the best. Finally, the Golden Globes are just casual enough that the actresses don’t have to all wear floor length ball gowns and the red carpet is usually full of brighter colors and shorter hemlines than any other award show on the circuit. And since I love judging the appearances of women far richer, more talented and better looking than I could ever hope to be, putting together a best and worst dressed list for the Golden Globes is one of the highlights of my year. 

This year’s Globes was an especially exciting one for women in Hollywood. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey made sure of that. With the exception of Aaron Paul, the highlights of the evening were provided by women (see Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Emma Thompson and Amy Poehler as Randy Fey-Weinstein) and usually made at the expense of leading men (George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tam Honks). Also, there were a lot of jokes about prosthetic dicks, which was such a refreshing antithesis to Seth McFarlane’s song about boobs.

With Tina and Amy at the helm it was a feminist extravaganza and the likes of Kyra Sedgewick, Robin Wright, Olivia Wilde, Helen Mirren, June Squibb, Melissa McCarthy, Kerry Washington and so many more proved that women of all ages, shapes and sizes and in varying stages of pregnancy are the sexiest, smartest, funniest and all around awesomest thing about Hollywood.

Now here comes the part where I contradict all that wonderful feminist stuff I just said but judging a lot of women based on their appearances!

BEST

Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita Nyong’o is probably the most beautiful woman that ever lived and she’s been killing it on every red carpet she’s been kind enough to grace since 12 Years a Slave first made the rounds on the festival circuit at the end of last summer. That girl knows her skin is a gift and she knows how to compliment it with bright colors. Last night’s dress was no exception. That’s the dreamiest shade of red I’ve ever seen—equal parts tomato, coral and lobster—the kind of color I’d only be brave enough to wear as a nail polish. And you guys, the dress had a cape

Amy Adams

Amy Adams has been attending the Globes and Oscars since Junebug came out in 2005 and I think 90% of the time she’s worn something forest green on the red carpet. Redheads always do that and it’s just as annoying to me as when ingénues wear princess gowns and Anne Hathaway opens her mouth. So you can imagine my elation to see Amy Adams owning not only one, but two shades of red last night, a color everybody always says redheads aren’t supposed to wear.  This dress was exactly what I look for in a best actress outfit: uncomplicated yet inventive, understated yet loud and sexy as all hell. Plus it was nice to see Amy incorporate some of the character for which she was nominated (and won!) because we all know that the real star of American Hustle was Amy Adams’ side boob.

Olivia Wilde

Sparkly things are the best, but you know what’s even better than sparkly things? Sparkly babies! God bless Olivia Wilde for this dress. First of all the color suited her perfectly (girlfriend’s got some stunning eyes) and the whole things was so radiant I’m sure it would have been beautiful even in black and white. The hair and make up were great too, but that belly was the accessory that pulled it all together. That big green sparkly belly, easily the best looking pregnant woman I’ve seen at a major award show since Cate Blanchett in 2004. I only wonder if the dress will make her baby gay.

Emilia Clarke

Don’t get mad at me, but I haven’t watched any of Game of Thrones. I’ve read all the books but everytime I try to watch the series I just feel that I’m not ready to revisit all the Stark-related misery. I don’t really have an opinion about Emilia Clarke other than “Hey I like her eyebrows” or “Oh gross, she dated Seth McFarlane.” Now I can add a new one to that list, something along the lines of “She wore that dress with the beautiful black and white print that was inexplicably reminiscent of both florals and polka dots. Also she presented with Chris O’Donnell, who is still really hot.” 

Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler wore at least three dresses throughout the night—one on the red carpet and two during the ceremony—and all looked great, but it was the green number during the opening monologue that really blew me away. The dark teal color made Amy look like she held the record for best hair and best tan and the top made her arms look fabulous. Tina looked great too, but Amy’s dress was something I’d really want to wear myself, if I could ever garner enough courage (or spanx) to wear a sheath dress.

 Kyra Sedgewick

I could not care less about the Miss Golden Globe tradition but the way the Bacons presented their daughter was pretty cute. I can always appreciate a “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” refrence. I could not get over how hot Kyra Sedgewick is. I hope I look that good when I’m almost 50 but come on. Who am I kidding? I’ve never had a body that banging. Color was a big star last night and Kyra’s look employed a gorgeous coral that was accentuated by her turquoise earrings and straight-up perfect blonde curls.

Tatiana Maslany

Y’all, if you’re not watching Orphan Black you’re wasting your life. Tatiana Maslany is the Beyoncé of Television; her performances on that show are so powerful it’s hard to believe a single human delivered them. I loved this look. Boring at first glance, the dress was actually pretty exciting, somehow reminiscent of both the heaviest chain mail and the softest gauze. Plus, the hair was lovely and that lipstick shade was perfect.

Emma Watson

Okay, this look was kind of an emotional roller coaster for yours truly. When she first emerged onstage it looked like she was wearing a giant red onesie and my friends and I were so excited we nearly ready to renounced all worldly pleasures and declare our love for Emma, and Emma alone. Then we realized it was a two-piece dress/leggings combo and we decided to stay fans but to put all plans for Watsonian monkhood on the backburner. Let this be a lesson to all ingénues: you don’t have to wear a boring gown (cough cough…Amber Heard) you can be unconventional and daring and complicated and you can wear pants!

Rashida Jones

I have to put her on here because she had sparkly palm trees on her dress and they were the exact same color as those beautiful honey eyes.

BAD

Sandra Bullock

Now this one is a bit of a kerfuffle. I first saw the dress on TV and I lurved it. I’m a sucker for colorblock and the pink and blue seemed vibrant without being nauseating. Plus, it was a super flattering cut, as SB’s dresses usually are (like she needs it, that bitch). It seemed like a nice take on red carpet ballgown motif, elegant yet youthful, conventional yet eccentric. Just like our Sandy! But when I looked at an arrivals photo I became confused and upset. This dress was way shinier than I thought and the colors bordered on pastel. Overall, it looked like a prom dress I might’ve purchased at David’s Bridal in 2003 if I’d had the budget for it, which I didn’t by the way. Thanks Dad

Jennifer Lawrence

Jen, I love you. I love you so much I made it through almost half of The House at the End of the Street, and it’s because I love you that I have to speak up. I know you’re exhausted after nearly two years of nonstop movies and press tours but that’s no excuse to show up in your bed sheets. You look like one of those paper tube things that British people rip open on Christmas day (which Google is now telling me is called a Christmas cracker) and…oh wait, now I’m picturing your hot British boyfriend ripping this off of you at the end of the night and…yeah, whatever. Do what you want. I’m sorry I doubted you, bb.

 Lena Dunham

I almost put Lena Dunham on my worst dressed list, but I think was doing that mostly because I don’t like her and not because the dress was that bad. In fact, the color was kind of nice. It made Lena’s skin look terrible, but Jessica Chastain wore a similar color to the People’s Choice Awards last week and I loved it, so I can’t give Lena too much shit. It was a fine dress, but it shouldn’t have been so long and it definitely shouldn’t have been a fishtail cut. Also, Lena I applaud you for never playing into Hollywood’s bullshit, but sometimes it’s okay to wash your hair.

Jessica Chastian

This looks like a dress that is breathtaking in person, an intricately crafted piece of couture, a work of art twice as expensive as my college education. But on camera is just looks like a black dress, a boring black dress that’s sort of awkward around the midsection. This is an example of a beautiful dress can be a terrible choice for the red carpet. Also, I’m pretty sure I last saw that hairstyle in a cutoff tee and jorts behind the wheel of a camaro in 1991.

Emma Stone

Yes, I’m jealous that Emma Stone can wear a drop waist. I have always wanted to wear one but my ass just won’t allow it. Still, even if I could, I would never wear a drop waist dress as awkward as this one, which was really just three unfortunate dresses forced to spend time together when they really don’t get along. Also, Emma Stone is way too skinny these days. Why do they always do this to promising young actresses?!

UGLY

Julia Roberts

Julia darling, if you learn anything from tonight’s event take a lesson from Kyra Sedgewick and Robin Wright: just because you’re an older woman in Hollywood, it doesn’t mean you’ve got to cover up. So why are you wearing a button-down oxford under your dress? You look an expensive napkin.  

Kaley Cuoco

This print looks like something one would buy as a throw at Tuesday Morning.

Mila Kunis

Mila Kunis is as bad an actress as this is a dress, which is to say that the dress is nice to look at but it also makes me cringe. It entices with glitz and nice curves but there’s nothing too special about it. It looks spiky, like it could slice you up as violently as Mila chewed scenery in Oz the Great and Powerful

Taylor Schilling

That is a slip, not real clothes.

 Julie Bowen

Julie, put your velvet-satin dress away! It’s not the holiday season anymore and you’re not a ten-year-old going to mass.

Heidi Klum

I stopped loving Heidi Klum when she stopped loving Seal, which I always felt guilty about because I had no justification for ditching her. Until now, that is. Now I dislike Heidi Klum because she wore a choker and negligee on the red carpet and she looks like she reads Twilight and cloaks herself in a CVS bodyspray called “Forbidden Fruits.”

Paula Patton

Why did Paula wear her bedding as an outfit last night? Dear god, no one hold a black light to it.

Taylor Swift

You are one tall drink of water and you could wear a burlap sap and make it look elegant, but you can’t wear someone’s Valentine’s Day decorations and not look like an uncomfortable 6-year-old.

Hayden Paniettiere

Hayden Paniettiere is the best thing about Nashville but this outfit and hairstyle is the worst thing about Hayden Paniettiere.

Zoe Saldana

I will always admire Zoe Saldana for never wearing anything bland. Even during her first year on the award show circuit after Avatar, she made loud choices and steered clear of the boring ball gowns that many actresses hide behind when they first come on the scene (again, cough cough Amber Heard). That bravado produces its share of successes (like these two) but there have been even more failures, and this year’s Globes dress was one of the worst. Listen Zoe, I loved my Bedazzler too, but I’m not trying to bring that look back anytime soon and neither should you.  

STRAY THOUGHTS

  • Kerry Washington looks as beautiful in this dress as she does in Fitz’s arms
  • “Alright, Alright, Alright!” I’ve adored Matthew McConaughey for as long as I can remember and I’m glad the Hollywood Foreign Press is finally catching on. Now go watch Killer Joe and True Detective immediately.
  • Ooh Reese Witherspoon I like how you’re pretending to be playful in this Julia Louis Dreyfus sketch after you pulled the “Do you know who I am?” card last year. We all know you’re really a bitch, bb—a bitch that looks damn fine in turquoise
  • Drew Barrymore is definitely the only person in Hollywood that could wear an ancient Japenese cherry blossom painting and make me love it as much as I do.
  • This is the most awkward photograph of Zooey Deschanel that has ever been taken.
  • I want to marry Spike Jonze then have a threesome with Emma Thompson.
  • But really y’all, Hayden Paniettiere is the best thing about Nashville.
  • Oh no Amber Heard caught Angelina Jolie syndrome!
  • Listen, there were a lot of foxy pregnant women on the red carpet this year so can we all agree that the term “baby bump” is the worst thing ever? “Baby lump” and “baby hump” are way funnier.
  • The dress was a little much but I really really love Caitlin Fitzgerald’s shoes.
  • Joanna Newsom looked absolutely ridiculous but I think that’s how people who play the harp are supposed to dress. Also, her smile during Andy Samberg’s acceptance speech was too cute. 
  • THIS. Forever and always, amen.
God bless Texas bumper stickers. #dougsahm #sirdouglasquintet

God bless Texas bumper stickers. #dougsahm #sirdouglasquintet

It seems like I haven’t tumbled in 4000 years, so to jump back on that train I’d like to pose the following question:

1) Is this the most beautiful song ever sung?

Probably.

Flying to Texass today. This song pretty much sums it up. 

Lana Del Ray covers “Heart-Shaped Box.” Not for the faint of heart. Be prepared to hate her, the song, yourself, music in general, and god. 

An Open Letter to Taylor Kitsch
Dear Taylor,
I am your biggest fan. Actually, I’m probably your creepiest fan, but the point is that I think you’re great. I’ve loved you since the first fifteen minutes of the Friday Night Lights pilot. And it’s because I love you that I’m going to tell you something that you might not want to hear: you have got to make better movie choices. I simply can’t keep defending you to my friends and colleagues.
Friday night I saw Savages, your third and final bomb of the summer movie season. John Carter and Battleship were bad, but Savages was almost unwatchable. Despite my undying love and admiration for you, I laughed my way through most of that movie. I was really hoping this would be your great redemption, but it’s clear now that was a pipe dream.  
Let me get a few things straight. One, I don’t fault you for signing on for these three films, despite the fact that I wish you hadn’t. I am proud of you for scoring prominent roles in three big budget summer movies straight out of FNL. That is a testament to your star power. I can see how John Carter was an offer you couldn’t refuse. It’s Disney and they probably offered you a ridiculous amount of money. I remember that grew up poor.
Battleship was a reunion of FNL cast and crew, so it makes complete sense for you to be involved. I bet you were totally excited about it. I would be too. Honestly, I didn’t think Battleship was that bad. Once I got over the fact that I was watching a movie about fighting aliens at sea, I had an awesome time. Yes, it is a very dumb premise for a movie. But who says summer blockbusters have to be smart? Why the hell shouldn’t I enjoy a movie about fighting aliens at sea? YOLO, right? It was thrilling, funny, and emotional, and Rihanna was way better than I thought she would be. Plus, Jesse Plemons was in it, and he’s my fantasy best friend. The three of us should get coffee some time! I think Battleship sunk (ha) mainly because it was released two weeks after The Avengers, and it couldn’t compete with a film about superheroes fighting aliens on land. I am still upset with American moviegoers for this.
I’m sure Savages looked good on paper too. After all, there were several Academy Award winners involved in the production. I don’t fully blame you for it sucking, either. Really it’s Blake Lively who ruins the film. She is useless and terrible and she needs to fade into obscurity as soon as possible. I don’t blame you for signing on for an Oliver Stone action film based on an extremely popular novel in the same way that I’m not mad at you for picking John Carter and Battleship. Individually, they seem like decent choices for a television actor trying to establish a successful Hollywood career. But as a group, they really don’t work. Like, they’re almost offensive they’re so bad. And they’re not helping that career, either.
Pause. Take a breath. You don’t have to be a big budget action star. Not yet. No need to rush. Maybe you should take a step back. Take some supporting roles. Be picky. I hear you’re up for Finnick in The Hunger Games. I think that would be great! You’re certainly good looking enough, and I know you can walk the thin line between obnoxious and adorable. Also, there’s no way that movie can tank. Just put your ego aside, don’t listen so much to the managers who just want to make a buck off of your pretty face (maybe ask Coach and Tami Taylor for advice), and take roles that feel right.
Whatever you do, remind yourself that Friday Night Lights has given you a very devoted fan base. What we lack in size we make up for in passion. Just this weekend I met a girl who said that her only regret in life was watching FNL because now she can can’t watch it for the first time. Despite what I said in the first paragraph of this letter, I will always defend you to friends and colleuges. I believe you are a better actor than people want to give you credit for. I started loving Tim Riggins because he said “Texas forever,” and because he had the best hair and biceps I have ever seen. But I started loving Taylor Kitsch because he gave Tim Riggins heart and soul. I also started to love you because I watched a YouTube video of you fly fishing in the Guadeloupe River, and that is really hot. One day I’ll get a cat. I’ll name him Tim Riggins and I’ll tell everyone that he was named after his father. I’ll go see Lone Survivor the first weekend it comes out next year. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll even suffer through Wolverine again just to hear you with a Cajun drawl in the last ten minutes. That movie really sucks so you know I’m devoted. Listen man, I love you despite the fact that you’re Canadian. If that ain’t a testament to your star power, then I don’t know what is.
So chin up, buddy. You’re gonna be okay. Just never ever ever ever make another movie with Blake fucking Lively. She’s the worst.
With undying love for you and Texas forever,
Emily

An Open Letter to Taylor Kitsch

Dear Taylor,

I am your biggest fan. Actually, I’m probably your creepiest fan, but the point is that I think you’re great. I’ve loved you since the first fifteen minutes of the Friday Night Lights pilot. And it’s because I love you that I’m going to tell you something that you might not want to hear: you have got to make better movie choices. I simply can’t keep defending you to my friends and colleagues.

Friday night I saw Savages, your third and final bomb of the summer movie season. John Carter and Battleship were bad, but Savages was almost unwatchable. Despite my undying love and admiration for you, I laughed my way through most of that movie. I was really hoping this would be your great redemption, but it’s clear now that was a pipe dream.  

Let me get a few things straight. One, I don’t fault you for signing on for these three films, despite the fact that I wish you hadn’t. I am proud of you for scoring prominent roles in three big budget summer movies straight out of FNL. That is a testament to your star power. I can see how John Carter was an offer you couldn’t refuse. It’s Disney and they probably offered you a ridiculous amount of money. I remember that grew up poor.

Battleship was a reunion of FNL cast and crew, so it makes complete sense for you to be involved. I bet you were totally excited about it. I would be too. Honestly, I didn’t think Battleship was that bad. Once I got over the fact that I was watching a movie about fighting aliens at sea, I had an awesome time. Yes, it is a very dumb premise for a movie. But who says summer blockbusters have to be smart? Why the hell shouldn’t I enjoy a movie about fighting aliens at sea? YOLO, right? It was thrilling, funny, and emotional, and Rihanna was way better than I thought she would be. Plus, Jesse Plemons was in it, and he’s my fantasy best friend. The three of us should get coffee some time! I think Battleship sunk (ha) mainly because it was released two weeks after The Avengers, and it couldn’t compete with a film about superheroes fighting aliens on land. I am still upset with American moviegoers for this.

I’m sure Savages looked good on paper too. After all, there were several Academy Award winners involved in the production. I don’t fully blame you for it sucking, either. Really it’s Blake Lively who ruins the film. She is useless and terrible and she needs to fade into obscurity as soon as possible. I don’t blame you for signing on for an Oliver Stone action film based on an extremely popular novel in the same way that I’m not mad at you for picking John Carter and Battleship. Individually, they seem like decent choices for a television actor trying to establish a successful Hollywood career. But as a group, they really don’t work. Like, they’re almost offensive they’re so bad. And they’re not helping that career, either.

Pause. Take a breath. You don’t have to be a big budget action star. Not yet. No need to rush. Maybe you should take a step back. Take some supporting roles. Be picky. I hear you’re up for Finnick in The Hunger Games. I think that would be great! You’re certainly good looking enough, and I know you can walk the thin line between obnoxious and adorable. Also, there’s no way that movie can tank. Just put your ego aside, don’t listen so much to the managers who just want to make a buck off of your pretty face (maybe ask Coach and Tami Taylor for advice), and take roles that feel right.

Whatever you do, remind yourself that Friday Night Lights has given you a very devoted fan base. What we lack in size we make up for in passion. Just this weekend I met a girl who said that her only regret in life was watching FNL because now she can can’t watch it for the first time. Despite what I said in the first paragraph of this letter, I will always defend you to friends and colleuges. I believe you are a better actor than people want to give you credit for. I started loving Tim Riggins because he said “Texas forever,” and because he had the best hair and biceps I have ever seen. But I started loving Taylor Kitsch because he gave Tim Riggins heart and soul. I also started to love you because I watched a YouTube video of you fly fishing in the Guadeloupe River, and that is really hot. One day I’ll get a cat. I’ll name him Tim Riggins and I’ll tell everyone that he was named after his father. I’ll go see Lone Survivor the first weekend it comes out next year. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll even suffer through Wolverine again just to hear you with a Cajun drawl in the last ten minutes. That movie really sucks so you know I’m devoted. Listen man, I love you despite the fact that you’re Canadian. If that ain’t a testament to your star power, then I don’t know what is.

So chin up, buddy. You’re gonna be okay. Just never ever ever ever make another movie with Blake fucking Lively. She’s the worst.

With undying love for you and Texas forever,

Emily

In recent news, I moved to New York City. I’ve been here for two weeks now and it has been an exhilarating though at times overwhelming amount of change, not the least of which is the devastating lack of tacos in my diet. Unwilling to accept that there is no good Mexican food in this town, I decided to reach out to a someone who would know what they are talking: The Homesick Texan, Lisa Fain. I should tell you that I don’t know her at all (even though we are best friends in my dreams), so I was super excited to hear back! 
OMG does this mean we can gchat? 
Updates and reviews to follow. 

In recent news, I moved to New York City. I’ve been here for two weeks now and it has been an exhilarating though at times overwhelming amount of change, not the least of which is the devastating lack of tacos in my diet. Unwilling to accept that there is no good Mexican food in this town, I decided to reach out to a someone who would know what they are talking: The Homesick Texan, Lisa Fain. I should tell you that I don’t know her at all (even though we are best friends in my dreams), so I was super excited to hear back! 

OMG does this mean we can gchat? 

Updates and reviews to follow. 

theatlantic:

Levon Helm Was Perfect

Levon Helm wasn’t a flashy player, merely a perfect one. The best musicians often give the impression that they make music conform to their own rules rather than the other way around, bending it to their will and converting the counterintuitive into the suddenly obvious. Watch this incredible performance of Van Morrison’s “Caravan” and pay attention to what happens at around 0:17: The Band start the song just a bit too fast, and three bars in Levon slows the entire thing down, in the blink of an eye, like an expert jockey atop a world-class thoroughbred. By conventional rule, spontaneously slowing down or speeding up a song is a cliché of bad music-making, but here it works. And of course the tempo he slows it to is exquisitely, achingly right.

It wasn’t all mysticism, of course. He was a technically monstrous player of unsurpassed versatility, one who could turn challenging music into something that sounded effortless. Other great bands have played difficult material, but on Steely Dan records the music sounds hard, wearing complexity on its sleeve with a sort of punk defiance. The Band’s “Jawbone” goes through more meters than Con Edison but sounds utterly natural: The Carter Family at a cookout with mid-’60s Miles Davis, everyone getting along, Levon working the grill.

He could sing a little, too. For all of his prowess at the drums, most of the world will remember Levon Helm as the voice of “Ophelia,” “Up On Cripple Creek,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” The Band boasted an embarrassment of vocal riches, and while Levon lacked the extraordinary expressive range of Rick Danko and Richard Manuel, his may have been the most indelible sound of the three. Listening to that worn and cozy voice was like being told a story around a campfire, after the humidity has broken and the mosquitoes have gone to sleep. Come upon “The Weight” on the radio at the right moment, and the entire world stands still.

Read more.

moltenhotlavabomb:

from levonhelm.com
“Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey. Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration…he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage.”




now I’m sad

moltenhotlavabomb:

from levonhelm.com

“Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey. Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration…he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage.”





now I’m sad

(Source: moltenhotlavabomb)

This is why I came home for a visit. 

This is why I came home for a visit. 

Since I’m flying to Texas tomorrow (!!!) I was going to write another pointless essay about a musician born in Texas. Buuuut I found out I got into school (!!!) so instead I spent the whole day planning an impending move to New York City. So, in honor of my two favorite cities let us listen to Jerry Jeff Walker’s immortal “Mr. Bojangles”. 

Mr. Walker wasn’t born in Texas, but he’s lived there for half his life. He helped to kick-start the outlaw country movement in Austin in the 70s, so it’s safe to say he’s achieved honorary status. Before moving to Austin he had acquired some mild success in the folk scene in Greenwich Village. If you want to know more about Jerry Jeff (and Willie, Waylon, et al) immediately go pick up the April issue of Texas Monthly. There’s an excellent oral history of the outlaw country movement that makes me severely depressed that I missed the release of The Red-Headed Stranger by ten years. 

I’m flying to Texas in two days! To keep myself occupied I’m blogging about one Texas musician every day until then. Today we’re relaxing our standards a bit and writing about a man who was born in Louisiana but moved to Texas at the age of five, and spent much of his life around the Lousiana-Texas border. He’s probably more of a Louisiananimal, but he’s Lead Belly and he’s awesome and I feel like writing about him. 

My first introduction to Lead Belly came from my friend Paul. Katherine and I were picking him up on South Congress where he was walking to meet us from his parents house in Travis Heights. He had his headphones in and was smoking a cigarrette, air-strumming his way down the road. When he got in the car he did what he normally does when I haven’t seen him in a while: he asked me what I had been listening to. Then he told me I should check out Lead Belly. I think we were 18. 

Since then, Lead Belly comes up a lot when my high school friends and I are together. Often we find ourselves sitting around some fire, bellies full of beer or Dr. Pepper and Opa’s jalepeño chedder sausages. Someone always has a guitar and eventually they’ll play “Goodnight Irene” or “Midnight Special”. We all sing whatever we think the words are. 

I’ve never grown up in any other part of the country so I can’t be sure, but I’m inclined to think this isn’t an exclusively Texan, or Southern, experience. Lead Belly was one of America’s greatest musical treasures, and I’m sure he’s celebrated by musically-inclined teenagers and adults from coast to coast. During his lifetime his popularity was not geographically limited. He first achieved fame through recordings done for the Library of Congress while he was at Angola Prison in Louisiana. After his release, the self-proclaimed “King of the 12-string” moved to New York City where he befriended the likes of Woody Guthrie and Josh White. 

What is so universally appealing about Lead Belly is his undeniable skill. In fact, his animated tenor and fast-picking would help him to be pardoned by not only one, but two Governors. With a wealth of experience in the fields and prisons of the poor, rural South he mastered the blues, spirituals, folk songs and prison ballads. In other words, he was a baller.

Side note: my friends Molly, Lindsey and I once nicknamed a Teddy Bear “Lead Belly” when we were less than sober one night during our freshman year of college.