Ray Wylie Hubbard

Crusades of the Restless Knights

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"I wanted to be a folk singer," Ray Wylie Hubbard told annotator Geoffrey Himes of his early goal in the liner notes of his second Philo album, Crusades of the Restless Knights, and the record bore out the renewal of that ambition. Although the arrangements of Hubbard's tunes usually found several pickers playing stringed instruments (acoustic and electric guitars, steel guitar, bass, mandolin, Dobro), the simple song structures and restrained lyrics gave them the feel of old folk songs. Even when he waxed verbose, on "Conversation With the Devil," Hubbard was employing the talking blues form that dated back to Woody Guthrie and beyond. More typically, he would sing an entire song about a woman getting dressed up for a night on the town ("Red Dress"), each verse describing another article of clothing or makeup. There was a lot deliberately left out of such songs, but the suggestions of meaning were filled in by Hubbard's world-weary persona and rough, south-Texas-accented singing voice. It was music for anyone who liked his peers, especially Jimmie Dale Gilmore and the name-checked Townes Van Zandt, using a similar language and attitude. The strain of '70s-era Texas singer/songwriters turned out to be amazingly rich, and even this late-breaking legend lived up to his reputation after surviving to sobriety.

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