Texas parks meets Texas music: New album ‘Texas Wild’ celebrates 100 years of state parks
Texas’ landscape is vast and full of variety. From mountains to piney woods, wetlands to plains and deserts. The same could also probably be said of the state’s musical landscape, as well.
It’s why Texas Parks and Wildlife have partnered with a few well-known Texas musicians to reimagine some classic Texas songs. It’s called “Texas Wild” and its produced by Texas musician Walker Lukens.
Lukens spoke with Texas Standard on the process of pairing the artist with the song, other singles to look forward to this summer, and their first single – “(Hey Baby) Que Pasó” from Fat Tony and Paul Wall, based on the original from the Texas Tornados. Listen to the story above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: After all these years, you’ve accomplished so much in that time. What drew you to this project?
Walker Lukens: You know, I think it’s just a crazy crossover of my two loves, which is being outdoors and music. So when the project was brought to me, I just couldn’t believe that they were doing this to start. I mean, it’s like, okay, so a state agency wants to make a record of songs to commemorate their 100 year anniversary. So like, “so wait, sorry, tell me this one more time.” It’s all classic songs so we already know the songs are good. Okay, great. And then you want to get younger Texas artist to do it. It’s such a weird collection of my passions all in one project.
I think it’s such a cool idea, I got to be honest with you. The first single just released. It’s Fat Tony featuring Paul Wall, and it’s a cover of “(Hey Baby) Que Pasó?” Tell us about this classic and how you decided to pair it with Fat Tony and Paul Wall.
Well, you know, I think if you grew up in Texas and I did, you know, Doug Sahm called this the San Antonio National anthem. I think honestly, to some extent, you could call this the Texas national anthem because I grew up hearing this every single day of my life in Houston on Six Flags commercials on TV. So I’ve always known this song, and when this project came together, you know, I think it’s a great example of a classic that could just use a modern take, you know? It’s so fun, the original’s so fun, and I think that when you’ve got a song that, you know, people are really familiar with – and I think most Texans are really familiar with the song – it gives you a great canvas to play with, you know?
And so basically, you know, I love funky music – R&B music. And I think the thing about funky music is you just slow it down. So as soon as we slowed it down, it’s like, “Oh, well, this could be like a hip-hop song. I reached out to Fat Tony and, you know, originally he was really set on doing a La Mafia song. He really wanted to do “Un Millón de Rosas,” but I was like, “Well listen, man, I’m down to do whatever you want, but I think you would sing this really well.” And I sent him a little demo of the beat, and he was like, “Oh, I got to do this. I got to do this. Can I wrote my own rap?” And I was like, “sure.” And he’s like, “can we ask Paul Wall to do it? And I was like, “sure, man. Yeah, yeah.” So, yeah, it all happened very organically.
Very cool. Tell us about some of the other songs on this collection.
There are lots of fun collaborations. Our next single comes out on June 13 and Ryan Bingham is doing “Possum Kingdom” by the Toadies. And basically how that came together is the Texas Gentlemen, who are another band featured on this record, they are Ryan Bingham’s backing band and they said, “man, you know, Ryan would love this project.” And I was like, “well, bring it up to him, see what he wants to do.” At the time, I was really concerned with no one doing a ZZ Top song, so I was like, “maybe he’ll do a ZZ Top song.” They were like “yeah, he likes ZZ Top. We’ll ask.” And I get a text a couple weeks later. They’re out on the road with Ryan and I get a text from Dan, the keyboard player, and he says, “Ryan wants to do ‘Possum Kingdom’ by the Toadies.” And so I’m like, “whoa, crazy.” So that’s amazing.
So we bring the band back in. And they’re like, “yeah, he basically just wants to do an even heavier version of it.” So we made that happen. And then I reached out to the Toadies and they were very touched that Ryan chose their song and basically, you know, they wanted to be a part of the project. And so they said, “well, that’s so cool he did that. Can we do a Kelly Clarkson song?” Again, the Toadies and Kelly Clarkson, two artists that I love, they weren’t even artists I was initially thinking would be part of this record. And then they’re both on it. It’s amazing.
What’s the Kelly Clarkson song that’s covered?
“Since U Been Gone.”
Of course. Wow. That’s going to sound so cool. I can just hear it in my head. Well, I understand you got a Selena cover here, too.
We do. We’ve got LUNA LUNA, which is a band from Dallas who lives in Austin now. They’re doing “Si Una Vez.” I will say that Selena and Willie Nelson were the absolute hardest artists to get anyone to cover, and I think that’s because no one more than Willie Nelson and Selena can be considered royalty in Texas music.
The bar is so high, right? Well, so what is the timetable here? We got one single out now. I wish we could hear some more, and I want to hear it as soon as possible. What’s the score there?
Well, we’ve got another single coming out in June, and then we have a third single coming out later this summer. And we’ll have a fourth one early in the fall. And then the full record. And some shows will happen just before Thanksgiving. So we’re going to be hitting you over the head with “Texas Wild” for the rest of the year. We’re even talking about doing some live video performances. So there’s going to be even more than just on this record. There’s going to be more Texas artists doing classic Texas songs.
You know, the mission of the record, at least initially, was to celebrate 100 years and and basically try to get, you know, younger people going out to the parks. And I think that’s such a good mission. You know, from my perspective, I think our public lands in Texas are probably our greatest resource – besides the music, you know. So I think it’s so cool that they are trying to get younger people to go out to parks through music. It’s such a good idea.
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