Artist: Ray Wylie Hubbard
Album: A Life... Well, Lived
Label: Bordello Records
Release Date: 11/02/2015
When Ray Wylie Hubbard was a kid, he threw a rock at his cousin Billy’s head. This is one of his earliest memories. Little Ray thought for sure that he had killed Billy, so he quickly bartered with God: “Oh Lord, if you let him live, I will go to church every Sunday for five years without missing a single day.” Billy lived, Hubbard went to church.
With the help (and persistence) of his friend and music writer, Thom Jurek, Hubbard’s memoir came to exist. “We were emailing, and I wrote him some story about when Willie Nelson kidnapped me,” Hubbard has said. Jurek told Hubbard that the story was funny, so Hubbard kept sending more. Hubbard isn’t big into nostalgia, which is why it took him close to two years to compile memories and tour stories.
Jurek suggested the book’s unique format– regular chapters that Hubbard says are the real biographical stuff, song lyrics throughout, and then there are stories from the road which are written in the way that Hubbard would send an email or a Facebook post- stream of consciousness without much regard to punctuation or capitalization. Those are the bits that really make Hubbard’s stories stand out. Readers will feel as though Hubbard himself is sitting next to them, laughing and telling the stories straight from his mouth.
His book isn’t all about laughs and life on the road though. This is a true story about growing up in the music business and surviving everything that comes with it. Sure, it’s cool he played with a Beatle and impressive that he quit drinking and smoking cold turkey, but now, at 69 years old, Hubbard is as strong as ever, if not stronger. It’s amazing to think that someone with such an impressive career, who is a true story-teller, waited this long to share tales of his childhood, the wild times of the Texas country boom, rock-bottom experiences and even the heavy, depressing stuff. Here’s hoping we’ll get some more stories out of him in the next decade or so.
– Brenda Hillegas