The man’s a great writer…

…but oddly enough, my favorite cut on my favorite album from his band is a cover song.

I don’t remember right offhand when I first discovered Jason Boland and the Stragglers. I keep thinking it was on one of my trips to North Texas, listening to 95.9 the Ranch. Not sure if it’s this way now, but back then it also covered a fair slice of Texas east of Dallas on 106.9 and 107.1 — including Sulphur Springs, where I had a lot of relatives living at the time.

Anyway, I haven’t talked about him too much in this space, but for my money Boland arguably has the best voice in Texas music. We’ve gotten ourselves a pretty big chunk of his catalog (save for Truckstop Diaries and The Bourbon Legend, which are regrettably both out of print), and so far, my favorite of the bunch is 2004’s Somewhere in the Middle. I had heard a couple of the songs from this album before, including “When I’m Stoned” and “If You Want To Hear A Love Song.” Boland wrote both of those songs, and wrote or co-wrote six of the album’s other 11 songs, and they’re all great — but, as I said, strangely enough, my favorite on this collection is one of those covers.

“Thunderbird Wine” was written by the great Billy Joe Shaver, of course, and it originally appeared on his 1981 album I’m Just An Old Chunk of Coal and has been re-recorded at least once that I know of, on 1999’s Electric Shaver. The man himself makes an appearance on this recording of it as well.

As far as real, authentic music goes, it just doesn’t get much better than that.

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