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Ray Wylie Hubbard delivers the roots-rock gospel with new album 'Grifter's Hymnal'

The legendary Oklahoma-Texas singer-songwriter will play Saturday and Sunday at the Blue Door.
by Brandy McDonnell Published: October 12, 2012

“We were out at the studio and I had a resonator and Audley (Freed) had a mandolin and I think Rick (Richards) had a kick drum and a bird feeder he was shaking. We just turned on the machine and cut it, and we sent it to him. And he called me and said, ‘I want to sing on it and play shakers on it. I don't have to play drums.' ... I didn't expect that at all,” Hubbard said. “He's a Beatle, but also he's a great musician and loves music and musicians.”

Again, the same goes for Hubbard, whose “Grifter's Hymnal” opens with the fire and brimstone of “Coricidin Bottle,” which couples his son Lucas' scorching electric guitar with wicked-smart lyrics like “I got a coricidin bottle that I use as slide/And a woman sweet as a tootsie roll/When she kissing and licking and cussing and a grindin'/Shakes the mortal coil round my amaranthine soul.”

“I feel very fortunate to have seen Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark and Billy Joe Shaver and to be influenced by writers like that. But I also saw Len Hopkins and Freddie King, you know. So when I write songs, it has to have the groove but then hopefully it has lyrics that just have a little depth and weight, more than ‘I just woke up this morning and had the blues,'” he said.

“That's a great thing to be a writer to remove your fear and doubt when you write and just write. Having my own label, it gives you that freedom to write so you're not in a box. That's why I can write song on there that are very spiritual and gospel like the song ‘Ask God' and then turn around and write a song about a stripper and a Les Paul.”

For the record, he's referring to the largely autobiographical “Mother's Blues,” a tribute to the legendary Dallas club that is fairly representative of the gritty, slightly grimy and often dodgy songs in his “Grifter's Hymnal.” His songs boldly address sex, death, politics and religion, and in the gospel according to Hubbard, that's the way music should be.

“That's the great thing like I say about the whole Texas and Oklahoma scene. You've got these young guys that are just playing it. You know, they're dangerous. ... It should have a bite and an edge and some dirt on it,” he said. “Man, I love music like that.”

by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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