Ray Wylie Hubbard to ‘Tell the Devil’ in Arkansas
I run over squirrel in Arkansas …
The opening line of “Lucifer and the Fallen Angels” on Ray Wylie Hubbard’s latest release, “Tell the Devil I’m Getting There As Fast as I Can,” places him in Arkansas. Fans will find him in Arkansas tonight at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville.
Hubbard, a Texas songwriter and singer, tends to be autobiographical in his songs, fans find. He offers a great, hearty laugh when asked if that line was, too.
“It seems that’s where I wanted to be when I wrote the song,” Hubbard says. “It’s a great, great place. I could have picked any state, but Arkansas was poetry.”
He also says he started to say “possum,” but “squirrel” was part of the poetry.
“It’s always a great time in Fayetteville,” Hubbard continues. “Everyone is very knowledgeable about Americana music, and that’s a big part of my songs. They sing along, dance and whoop and holler!
“And I hope I don’t run over any of your squirrels while I’m there,” he concludes.
“Tell the Devil” was released just last Friday, leaving fans with less than a week to learn the songs. But Hubbard doesn’t anticipate that will affect the performance.
“Hopefully, I’ll sing so well and be so good, they’ll have to buy the new record,” he says with a laugh. He promises to sing favorites like “Redneck Mother” and “Snake Farm,” along with three or four off “Tell the Devil.”
Hubbard’s 2015 autobiography, “a life … well, lived,” written with Thom Jurek, reveals the musician’s spiritual side. And with the recording’s title addressed to the devil — as well as songs “Lucifer and the Fallen Angels,” “God Looked Around,” “Spider, Snake and Little Son,” “Rebellious Sons” and “Prayer” — the listener might pick up a theme. But there’s not one, Hubbard reveals.
“I’ve gotten older, and now that I’m 70, I think about my mortality,” he says. “I hope God grades on a curve. I’m not Mother Teresa, but I’m not Attila the Hun, either.
“I’m looking back at life and where I am now. ‘Tell the Devil’ is a metaphor for where I am. I’m older, but I’m still going. It’s really close to truth to what I am, and that’s why (the song) is the centerpiece.”
The song “‘Tell the Devil’ is a rock and roll fable about hanging your life on a guitar, holding onto a dream no matter what or how long it takes, wagering your soul in a crooked game and falling in love with a bad-ass tattooed woman … hmmm, maybe it isn’t a fable,” Hubbard was quoted in a May 31 article by Jon Freeman in Rolling Stone.
Hubbard also says he is very proud of his work on the song with Eric Church and Lucinda Williams. “There was no guilt or shame at all in asking them,” he shares. “I asked them, and they said yes.”
Hubbard came on the music scene in the 1970s, when he wrote the now-anthem, “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother,” made a hit by Jerry Jeff Walker in 1973. Despite growth in his music, “Redneck Mother” is probably the song for which he will be remembered.
But Hubbard never really thought about a signature song.
“I try to be remembered as being a good husband, a good father and a good friend,” he says. “I want them to say, ‘Ray was a stand-up guy.’ Being a songwriter and songwriting is just who I am, what I do.”
After some thought, Hubbard listed “The Messenger” from 1999’s Crusades of the Restless Knights or “Prayer” from Tell the Devil as the legacy he prefers.
Ray Wylie Hubbard
WHEN — 9 p.m. today
WHERE — George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville
COST — $20
INFO — georgesmajesticlounge.com