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How Terry Allen Rediscovered His Love for Lubbock

Allen recently rereleased his 1979 album 'Lubbock (On Everything)'. He says the record made him realize he felt more than just hostility for his hometown.

From Texas StandardTerry Allen is a mixed-media southwestern storyteller. David Byrne is a fan of his and a former collaborator. Ryan Bingham and Lucinda Williams are among the dozens of famous musicians who've covered his songs. His artwork is in the collections of the Met, MoMA, the Hirschorn, and various art museums around Texas. He’s written award-winning plays and cemented a reputation as a creative renaissance man.

But these days, Allen finds himself looking more in the rear view mirror as a new generation discovers what have been described as Allen's musical masterpieces: two albums of recorded music, rereleased on vinyl for the first time since the 1970s – his haunting debut, “Juarez”, and his biting satirical ode to his hometown, “Lubbock (On Everything)”.

Allen tells Texas Standard that he used Lubbock as a way to motivate himself, to propel himself out of the town. He says he expressed a hostility for the town for many years, but when he sat down to listen to his record, he realized he felt something else about it too.

"It was kind of an odd collision that happened with me – to suddenly realize how different what I was expressing externally and what was happening internally,” Allen says. “Because all those songs were about really caring about that place and those people, even though ... there's layers of satire laid on top of it."

On Lubbock producing prominent musicians and artists:

"I think the very isolation and flatness and endlessness and epic boredom actually motivates people to use their imagination. You have to function on your own and I think that's one of the things that happened. A lot of people have nothing else to do but play music, write songs, make pictures, do whatever and leave."

On his art:

"I had no concept of being an artist, what that actually meant, when I was growing up. When I was in high school I did a lot of drawings on notebooks and for other kids – stuff like that. I used to do pretty well doing porno drawings for kids for like a quarter a pop.

“I actually got in some trouble for doing this. I was also expelled for playing a song that I wrote called ‘Roman Orgy’. So the two things I was in trouble for in high school ended up being what I do."

On his album “Juarez”:

"It's a story. ‘Juarez’ always was a haunting to me. … It's always been a presence – and it's been a theater piece, it's been a drawing, it's been texts, installations. Over the years it's gone through all these transformations and I'm still mystified by how it came and where it came from."

On his album “Lubbock (On Everything)”:

"’Lubbock’ was different because it was written piecemeal over a period of time. ... When I [wanted] to put another record together I started digging up those songs and I realized there was a whole other kind of continuity there.”

On making both records:

“Both of them instilled in me what a record should be, what a song should be. What you’re dealing with when you step into the mystery of making something."

David entered radio journalism thanks to a love of storytelling, an obsession with news, and a desire to keep his hair long and play in rock bands. An inveterate political junkie with a passion for pop culture and the romance of radio, David has reported from bases in Washington, London, Los Angeles, and Boston for Monitor Radio and for NPR, and has anchored in-depth public radio documentaries from India, Brazil, and points across the United States and Europe. He is, perhaps, known most widely for his work as host of public radio's Marketplace. Fulfilling a lifelong dream of moving to Texas full-time in 2005, Brown joined the staff of KUT, launching the award-winning cultural journalism unit "Texas Music Matters."
Leah Scarpelli joined Texas Standard in September 2015 from NPR’s Morning Edition, where she spent seven years as a producer, director and occasional reporter of music and arts pieces. As Texas Standard director, Leah is responsible for the overall practical and creative interpretation of each day’s program: choosing segue music, managing the prep of show content, and providing explicit directions for the host and technical director during the live broadcast. She graduated from Ithaca College in New York with a Bachelor of Science degree in Television and Radio. She enjoys riding her Triumph motorcycle and getting out for hikes in the Texas countryside. Her late grandfather was from Yoakum.
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