There are few aural pleasures greater than accidentally stumbling across an old song you used to love that had somehow slipped from your memory. That’s what happened this weekend when I found an album comprising the early recordings of Kimmie Rhodes.
I instantly remembered nights in the mid-Eighties with my friends Steve and Ruth, when I was beginning to discover country music in all its varieties.
I even had the ten-gallon cowboy hat, a pair of snakeskin cowboy boots (a vintage pair I bought in Austin, Texas) and a fringed jacket made of leather and cowhide.
I probably looked an ass on the streets of Hackney – but not when I watched Kimmie play at places like The Weaver’s Arms and Mean Fiddler and Sir George Robey.
So this weekend I was enjoying the album, a collection of her songs from 1985-90 – Jackalopes, Moons & Angels – when it came to this song, It’ll Do, and the memories began flooding back.
Kimmie came from Lubbock, the town that also gave us Buddy Holly, Butch Hancock and Joe Ely, and she played a hybrid music peculiar to that part of West Texas – honky tonk, western swing, classic country, blues and a bit of Mexican-flavoured Tejano.
This was her signature song: a nostalgic narrative about a fictitious hostelry “somewhere on the plains between Lubbock and Idalou” with palm trees on the wall and tequila on the bar.
I wanted instantly to go there. Especially when she sang that local legend Butch Hancock (“He throws away better songs than most folks will ever write”) played there on a Saturday night.
I’m guessing he’s the one singing the duet on the second half of the song; it sounds glorious.
Reading up on her current activities, I find that Kimmie writes songs, books and plays, still records and tours internationally, now with her son and producer/multi-instrumentalist, Gabriel Rhodes, and is currently writing a book of memoirs.